Workers’ Compensation Court Discusses the Appellate Process

Parties who disagree with the determination of a workers’ compensation court have the right to file an appeal. If they do not comply with the proper procedure, though, their appeals may be dismissed, regardless of whether they have merit. This was demonstrated in a recent ruling issued by a Massachusetts court in a workers’ compensation case. If you suffered injuries in the workplace, you might be owed benefits, and it is smart to contact a Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney to discuss your rights.

The Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the claimant sustained injuries at work. She subsequently filed a workers’ compensation claim. A hearing on her claims ultimately resulted in a proceeding before the Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA), in which the DIA approved a lump-sum agreement. Close to two years after the agreement was approved, the claimant moved for an extension of the time to file an appeal. An administrative judge denied the claimant’s motion and her subsequent request for reconsideration.

Reportedly, the claimant then filed a notice of appeal from the judge’s orders. A single judge treated the notice as a motion for leave to file a late notice of appeal and dismissed it as untimely. The plaintiff then filed a petition for relief based on the superintendence of inferior courts. The court affirmed the lower court’s rulings.

The Superintendence of Inferior Courts

Under Massachusetts law, courts rarely employ their power of superintendence. Thus, a party who seeks such relief must create a record that not only provides copies of any relevant pleadings, motions, dockets, and any other parts of the records needed to substantiate their allegations. Further, they have to demonstrate both that their substantive rights have been violated and that the violation was not one that could have been remedied via the normal course of a trial and appeal or by any other typical means.

In the subject case, the court found that the record the claimant provided, which was merely two pages, was inadequate to satisfy that burden. In part, the claimant neglected to provide any part of the record from the DIA or the appellate court, and she failed to assert, let alone show, that the remedies available to her were inadequate. The court explained on those bases alone, the single judge could have denied her the relief requested. Thus, the court affirmed the prior judgment.

Speak to a Trusted Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

Claimants have the right to challenge workers’ compensation rulings, but they must do so promptly; otherwise, their claims may be dismissed. If you sustained harm while working, you could be owed workers’ compensation benefits, and it is in your best interest to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. James K. Meehan of the Law Office of James K. Meehan is a trusted workers’ compensation lawyer with the skills and experience needed to help you seek a just outcome, and if you hire him, he will advocate zealously on your behalf. You can reach him via the form online or by calling 508-822-6600 to set up a meeting.