Massachusetts Court Discusses Reached Maximum Medical Improvement

The Massachusetts workers’ compensation system is intended to reimburse people injured on the job for missed wages as well as any reasonable and necessary medical expenses. Some workplace injuries heal over time, but others leave the victim disabled and in pain for the rest of their lives. In a workers’ compensation claim, the court ultimately evaluates whether an injured employee has obtained maximal medical improvement. The court’s determination that an employee’s ability to receive compensation for extra medical care and return to work in the same role, among other things, but the courts do not always rule in accordance with the evidence. Recently, a Massachusetts court discussed what recourse is available for an employee who disagreed with the lower court’s determination that he had reached his maximum medical progress. If you were hurt at work, you should contact a Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney to discuss your rights as soon as possible.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that in 2013, the employee injured his left shoulder. He then suffered a back injury in 2014. He initially received benefits for both injuries from the employer’s insurance company. The company ceased paying benefits in 2014, though, claiming it was not responsible for the injuries, the employee had a pre-existing condition, and the injuries were caused by something other than his profession. The court also determined that the employee’s shoulder injury had reached its maximum level of medical improvement. The employee appealed.

Determining Whether an Employee Has Reached Maximum Medical Improvement

On appeal, the court noted that in making his determination that the medical end result had been reached, the lower court judge relied on the assessment of the independent medical examiner. The judge overlooked the fact that the medical examiner’s report also stated that surgical repair of the should would be reasonable would be necessary, reasonable, and was a causally connected outcome of the shoulder injury. Essentially, the appellate court found that the lower court judge erred in equating a positive medical outcome with the absence of the necessity for further treatment.

Further, the lower court judge made reversible mistakes in the average weekly pay award, Specifically,  the appellate court determined that the lower court’s findings on the awarded average weekly wage were not supported by the evidence. The appellate court annulled the award, ordering the judge to produce the methodology and conclusions used to support the average weekly pay award, because the judge did not explain how he arrived at the amount of weekly benefits included in the order. The judge’s order omitted factual findings about how much the employee made the previous year, and the documentary evidence in the record contained contradictory information.

Speak to a Trusted Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

If you were injured at work, the Massachusetts workers’ compensation system may be able to provide you with benefit payments and reimbursements for medical expenses. James K. Meehan of the Law Office of James K. Meehan is a trusted workers’ compensation lawyer who can advise you of your rights and help you to seek the full extent of benefits recoverable under the law. You can reach him by calling 508-822-6600 or using the online form to set up a meeting.