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Massachusetts Industrial Accidents Reviewing Board Rules Precise Wording is Not Necessary for an Expert Report to Adequately State No Injury Arose Out of Employment

In analyzing whether an employee suffered a work-related injury, it is common for an employer’s workers’ compensation insurer to require an employee to undergo a medical examination, after which the examining physician will issue a report. The physician report can make or break an employee’s case, depending on whether or not the physician finds the employee suffered a work-related injury.

In Reymundo Villar v. Advanced Auto Parts, the Industrial Accidents Reviewing Board recently held that the specific phrase that an injury did not arise out of employment is not necessary to support a finding that an injury is not work-related in a Massachusetts workers’ compensation claim. If you suffered a work-related injury, you should meet with a skilled Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney to ensure your claim is evaluated properly.

Facts of the Case

Reportedly, the employee in Villar, injured his right shoulder and thumb while working for the employer. He was unable to work for a short period, after which he underwent physical therapy and returned to work light duty. He then felt pain in his left shoulder, after which he stopped working. The employee continued to undergo physical therapy for several years and ultimately underwent several surgeries on his right shoulder and thumb, with no improvement in his symptoms.

At his Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA) hearing the employee testified he could perform household tasks and felt he could perform any light duty job for 40 or more hours per week. The employee ultimately underwent an examination with a physician who found that the employee’s left shoulder injury “was not a workers’ compensation injury” and his right shoulder complaints seemed to be magnified. The DIA judge ultimately concluded the employee’s left shoulder injury was not work-related, after which the employee appealed.

Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents Reviewing Board Decision

On appeal, the DIA reviewing board affirmed the judge’s decision. The court was not persuaded by the employee’s argument that the judge merely adopted the examining physician’s opinion that the left-shoulder injury was not work-related, which amounted to the physician offering an opinion as to liability. The board stated that the examining physician must determine whether an employee has a disability, and if so to what extent, and whether the disability arose out of employment. The board further explained that the physician’s report is prima facie evidence and the judge is required to accept the opinions outlined in the report, absent facts to support a contrary opinion. It went on to note that while the phrase itself was not a workers’ compensation issue it was understood to mean that there was no work-related injury, and a specific statement that there was no causal relationship between the work and the injury was not required. Therefore, the board affirmed the judge’s decision.

Confer with an Experienced Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Attorney

It can be difficult to prove that an injury arose out of employment. If you sustained a workplace injury, you could be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits and should meet with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to discuss the circumstances surrounding your injury. The workers’ compensation attorneys of Karsner & Meehan have the experience necessary to aid injured workers in recovering the benefits to which they are entitled. Contact our office at 508-822-6600 for a free and confidential meeting.

More Blog Posts:

Massachusetts Court of Appeals Holds Employer Liable for Workers’ Compensation Benefits for an Illness Diagnosed After Employment Ended November 12, 2018, Massachusetts Injury Lawyers Blog

Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Law Requires Proof of Inability to Earn Wages to Show Permanent Disability October11, 2018,Massachusetts Injury Lawyers Blog

Massachusetts Court of Appeals Holds a Workers’ Compensation Insurer Is Not Barred from Re-Litigating Facts Determined in a Prior Proceeding September 6, 2018, Massachusetts Injury Lawyers Blog