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Massachusetts Court of Appeals Holds Employer Liable for Workers’ Compensation Benefits for an Illness Diagnosed After Employment Ended

While most illnesses are apparent at the time of onset, many work-related illnesses are not diagnosed for several years. If you contracted an illness due to your employment, you should be entitled to recover compensation regardless of when the illness became apparent. In Jones’s Case (Gregory B. Jones vs. NSTAR & others, 2017-P-0951), the Court of Appeals of Massachusetts found that an employer was liable for a claimant’s disability benefits for an illness contracted during the claimant’s employment, even though the claimant was not diagnosed for several years after his employment ended. If you are suffering from a work-related illness, you should confer with an experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney to ensure you recover the workers’ compensation benefits you are owed.

Factual Scenario

Reportedly, the Claimant worked for Employer from 2001 to 2007. In 2006, he began feeling ill, and in 2011 he was diagnosed with Lyme disease. Shortly after that, he took a medical leave from his position with his new company.  After a year of treatment, he was able to resume work. A workers’ compensation benefits hearing was held in front of an administrative judge, during which the Claimant introduced testimony and evidence from medical experts which supported the finding that the Claimant contracted Lyme disease during his employment with Employer.

As such, the judge held that the Claimant became infected with Lyme disease while working for Employer, but his symptoms were latent until his employment ended. Therefore, the judge issued an order stating that Employer was required to reimburse the Claimant’s new company for disability payments and attorney’s fees. Employer appealed, and a reviewing board affirmed the administrative judge’s decision regarding the disability payments but reduced the amount awarded in attorneys’ fees. Employer then appealed to the Appeals Court of Massachusetts. 

Ruling of the Appeals Court of Massachusetts

On appeal, the court found the expert testimony from one doctor was an adequate basis for the administrative judge to find the Claimant contracted Lyme disease while working for Employer, regardless of conflicting evidence from other treatment providers. Moreover, the court noted the judge relied upon medical records the supported the argument the Claimant’s symptoms progressed from 2006 onward. As such, the court held that there was sufficient evidence to find that the Claimant contracted Lyme disease while working for Employer and found the administrative judge’s ruling to be valid. Further, the court found no error in the award of attorney’s fees. Accordingly, the court upheld the reviewing board’s findings.

Consult with a Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Attorney

While many work-related illnesses are obvious at the time they are contracted, many are latent and do not become apparent until after employment has ended. If you are suffering from a work-related illness, you may be owed workers’ compensation benefits and it is in your best interest to confer with a skilled workers’ compensation attorney in a timely manner to analyze your case. Karsner & Meehan’s workers’ compensation attorneys have the knowledge and skills needed to assist workers with work-related illnesses recover benefits they are owed. Contact our office at 508-822-6600 for a free and confidential consultation.

 More Blog Posts:

Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Law Requires Proof of Inability to Earn Wages to Show Permanent Disability October 11, 2018, Massachusetts Injury Lawyers Blog

Massachusetts Court of Appeals Holds Only One Insurer is Liable for Workers’ Compensation Benefits for a Disability Caused by Multiple Injuries October 11 2018, Massachusetts Injury Lawyers Blog

Employees Can Recover Benefits for Treatment Not Indicated Under Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Guidelines August 14, 2018, Massachusetts Injury Lawyers Blog