Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Cases with Harm Arising From Multiple Sources

It is not uncommon for people who sustain injuries while working to suffer harm that is not work-related as well. In such instances, it can be difficult to differentiate whether an employee’s permanent incapacity and wage loss constitute a basis for awarding workers’ compensation benefits and, if so, to what extent. Recently, a Massachusetts court discussed the analysis undertaken by courts in workers’ compensation cases where the claimant’s losses were caused by numerous injuries. If you were injured at work, you might be able to recover workers’ compensation benefits, and it is in your best interest to meet with a Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as you can.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the claimant worked as a certified nurse’s assistant from 1972 to 2011. She suffered numerous injuries during that time; some of the harmful incidents occurred while she was working, while others happened outside of work. Regardless, she subsequently filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. An administrative judge awarded her permanent total incapacity benefits after hearing evidence of several of her work-related injuries.

Allegedly, the insurer appealed, arguing that she was not entitled to such benefits because her harm was not entirely work-related. The reviewing board vacated the administrative judge’s decision in part and affirmed it in part. Notably, the board vacated the permanent benefits award and replaced it with a temporary total benefits award. The insurer challenged the decision.  

Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Cases with Harm Arising from Multiple Sources

On appeal, the insurer argued that the reviewing board erred in not applying the major cause standard imposed by Massachusetts law to the claimant’s injuries and asserted that the claimant would have been unable to meet the burden of proof under that standard. The appellate court explained that it might modify or reverse the reviewing board’s decision where it is based on an error of law or is capricious, arbitrary, or otherwise fails to comply with the law.

It noted, though, that the reviewing board is entitled to substantial deference in its reasonable interpretation of workers’ compensation statutes, as it is the agency tasked with administering the law. In the subject case, the appellate court found that there was ample evidence support to substantiate the reviewing board’s assessment that the major cause analysis was not warranted in this case. Further, the appellate court found that the reviewing board’s interpretation of the applicable laws was reasonable, and it found no error in it. As such, it affirmed the reviewing board’s decision.

Confer with an Experienced Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

People who are hurt at work can often recover workers’ compensation benefits, but if non-work-related injuries contribute to their disability, it may result in a reduction of benefits. If you sustained an injury while performing job duties, you should talk to an attorney about your rights. James K. Meehan of the Law Office of James K. Meehan is a trusted Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer who can assess the circumstances surrounding your losses and assist you in seeking any benefits you may be owed. You can reach Mr. Meehan by calling 508-822-6600 or by using the form online to set up a conference.