Massachusetts Court Examines Grounds for Discontinuing Incapacity Benefits

It is not uncommon for people to suffer injuries in slip-and-fall accidents in the workplace. People who sustain such harm may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. If it is later determined that their injuries have resolved, however, their benefits may be discontinued. Recently, a Massachusetts court discussed grounds for discontinuing disability benefits in a case in which it denied a workers’ appeal. If you were hurt while working, it is advisable to speak to a Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney about your potential recovery of benefits.

History of the Case

It is alleged that the claimant suffered an injury while working for the employer. Specifically, she sustained a back strain, ankle sprain, and hip contusion when she slipped and fell on a throw rug. Her employer accepted liability for her injury and began paying her temporary incapacity benefits. One year later, the employer moved to discontinue the benefits. An administrative judge denied the request, after which the employer appealed.

It is reported that the claimant then submitted to an IME; the doctor found that the claimant had fully recovered from her work injuries. The administrative judge found the claimant’s injuries to be medically complicated, however, and allowed the parties to offer additional medical evidence. Ultimately, the court found in favor of the employer. The claimant then appealed.

Grounds for Discontinuing Disability Benefits

The claimant made three arguments in her appeal. First, she claimed that the administrative judge failed to consider all the issues presented because she did not explicitly address the employee’s left hip injury. However, the board disagreed, stating that the administrative judge did not fail to address all of the issues in controversy. The court noted that it is within the discretion of the administrative judge to credit the opinion of one expert over another, and in so doing, provide adequate evidence to support its ruling.

The claimant’s second argument was that the administrative judge did not consider all the evidence submitted, specifically that the judge did not list or comment on the claimant’s additional medical information admitted in evidence. However, the board found there was ample evidentiary support for the judge’s findings, responding that administrative judges have never been required to list separately exhibits that are attached to a deposition, nor does the judge need to comment on every single piece of evidence to ensure it was reviewed, but merely must identify and address those items of evidence that she finds persuasive or that she adopts.

The claimant’s third argument was that the administrative judge erroneously denied her request to supplement the medical evidence with respect to the employee’s right ankle sprain. However, the board found no error on this point because, having found the IME report to be adequate regarding the right ankle injury, the judge properly adopted his medical opinion pertaining to that injury. As such, the court affirmed the administrative judge’s ruling.

Meet with a Trusted Massachusetts Attorney

People injured in the workplace can often recover workers’ compensation benefits, but they may have to provide medical records or submit to a medical examination to support their claims. If you sustained harm while working, it is smart to meet with an attorney as soon as possible. James K. Meehan of the Law Office of James K. Meehan is a trusted Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney who can advise you of your rights and aid you in pursuing a just outcome. You can contact Mr. Meehan to set up a meeting by using the form online or by calling him at 508-822-6600.