Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Reviewing Board Decision Assesses The Cause of the Injury

In Massachusetts personal injury cases, an injured party must show that the other party owed a duty to them, that the party failed to uphold that duty, that the failure resulted in an injury, and the type and amount of damages suffered as a result of the injury. When an injury occurs on the job, proof of negligence or fault is not necessary for recovery, but proof of causation that the injury resulted from the workplace is required.

The Massachusetts Reviewing Board issued a ruling last month in Stephan A. Dugas v. Coca-cola that looked at whether or not an employee’s hip conditions were work-related. The employee had worked from 2003 to 2009 as a merchandiser and bulk account manager, the duties of which included stocking displays, shelves, and coolers, and moving products by lifting, carrying, pushing, and pulling carts with a non-electric hand jack. In 2009, the man sought treatment for pain in his hip and began to receive epidural steroid shots to relieve the pain. Eventually, the man received a diagnosis of congenital hip dysplasia with degenerative changes in his left hip and arthritis and osteophytes in his right hip.

The Reviewing Board Decision pointed out in its recitation of facts that the employee did not mention the hip as a work-related injury to either physician when he initially sought medical treatment. The Reviewing Board also addressed the employee’s history of playing football in high school and playing men’s field hockey three times a week until he injured his right knee in 2002. The employee filed for workers’ compensation and was denied, and he pursued compensation through a hearing. The judge, after hearing testimony from doctors, upheld the denial of payments for medical treatment. The judge ruled that the employee failed to show that the injury was the result of an industrial accident that occurred while working for his employer.

The Reviewing Board agreed with the prior ruling that the injury was not work-related and affirmed the prior decision. In the finding, the Reviewing Board assessed the testimony of the doctors and disagreed with the employee that the judge inaccurately characterized the doctors’ testimony. The judge adopted the opinions of the doctors’ depositions that the conditions of dysplasia and osteoarthritis were congenital and not caused or worsened by employment. The doctor provided by the insurance company even went as far as to say that the condition would have existed regardless of what the employee did. The Reviewing Board pointed out that it is the doctor’s judgments, taken as a whole from his deposition, that determine his final opinion.

In Massachusetts workers’ compensation cases, it is important to have attorneys who can review and understand medical conditions when pursuing a claim. We know that insurance companies want to minimize the money paid to employees. Our attorneys at the Law Office of James K. Meehan have the litigation experience you need to aggressively pursue the monetary relief you deserve. Contact our office today for a free consultation at 508.822.6600.

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