Michael S. Mehrmann

hospital workerIn any workers’ compensation case, your medical history has the potential to be an issue. If you have pre-existing conditions that already afflicted you prior to your workplace accident, your employer may try to argue that your disability is a result of those pre-existing conditions, rather than your workplace accident. The key is to have a workers’ compensation case that is strong enough to overcome these arguments. An experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney can help by providing zealous representation as you seek to defeat these and other arguments against your claim for benefits.

Employees can face a wide array of risks on the job. For workers in a psychiatric care facility, that array is especially broad. Daniel was an employee of the Commonwealth’s Department of Mental Health, working in the psychiatric area of the Tewksbury State Hospital, and his case was an example of that. On Aug. 7, 2010, a patient attacked Daniel, punching him in the head and then kicking him in the chest and abdomen until the worker lost consciousness. The attack caused Daniel to have chronic lower back pain along with deep vein thrombosis, pain, and instability in his right leg (which were tied to the lower leg fracture he suffered in the attack).

In Massachusetts, the law has done away with competing medical experts providing opinions on behalf of the employer and the injured worker. Instead, the law now requires that the injured worker undergo an examination by an impartial examiner. The judge in Daniel’s case relied heavily on the independent doctor’s opinions to conclude that Daniel was totally disabled.

calendarWhen you are hurt at work, just as if you are hurt in an auto accident or in a slip and fall, it is important to take prompt action. In general, the law gives you a limited period of time in which to pursue a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. In order to make sure that you are doing everything possible to protect your rights, it pays to retain knowledgeable Massachusetts workers’ compensation counsel, who can make sure that your case is handled properly and in a timely manner.

An example of how limitations periods in workers’ compensation cases can work was the case of an injured Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority employee. Michael suffered an injury at work on July 8, 2004. That injury resulted in his undergoing shoulder surgery that October. In May 2008, Michael filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. Unfortunately for Michael, he injured that same shoulder a second time at work. Ten months after the second injury, in July 2013, the worker filed another claim, with this one seeking benefits related to the 2012 injury.

Eventually, the judge issued an award of benefits to Michael in 2014. In 2015, he filed another workers’ compensation claim, seeking additional benefits relating to each of the 2004 and 2012 injuries. The judge dismissed Michael’s 2015 filing, ruling that he filed it too late. The judge wrote that the law requires “claims for compensation to be filed within four years from the date” the worker became aware of his workplace injury, and Michael filed his 2015 case more than seven years after he became aware of his injury. This meant that the statute of limitations had expired, and Michael wasn’t allowed to pursue a claim for any more benefits, according to the judge.

slip and fallSlip-and-fall or trip-and-fall accidents are relatively common, but they also can potentially be very serious situations that cause long-lasting or even lifelong impacts upon the people hurt in them. When this harm is a result of the inappropriate action or inaction of others, the injured person may be entitled to a monetary recovery in court. If you’ve been harmed in a slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall accident, there are many things that you should do right away. At the top of your list should be retaining an experienced Massachusetts premises liability attorney to represent you in your case.

Frances was someone who found herself in a slip-and-fall case. She was walking on the property of a senior living facility in Norwood when she fell, allegedly suffering injuries as a result of that fall. When you are hurt in a trip-and-fall or slip-and-fall accident, there are several things you can do immediately to help yourself. For example, if you have ready access to a camera, you can take pictures of the area where you fell to preserve an image of the area as it existed at the time of your accident. You can also request a copy of any incident reports the property owner or manager has written up.

Of course, as discussed above, one of the important things you should do is retain skilled injury counsel. Whether you need to collect and present the factual evidence of your case or make legal and procedural arguments before a judge, all of these things can be enhanced by having knowledgeable counsel. In Frances’ case, the latter half of this list (legal/procedural issues) took center stage. The ownership structure of the senior facility involved several layers of business entities, including corporations and LLCs.

cowsThere can be many different ways that you can be hurt in an auto accident in Massachusetts. You may be a passenger in a vehicle whose driver was at fault in an accident, you may be a driver struck by another driver, or you may be a driver who hits some other object, like farm animals. Regardless of how your case begins, there are many ways to achieve a successful outcome, including negotiation and settlement, mediation, or a trial and judgment. In any situation, it pays to have a skilled Massachusetts car accident attorney on your side to protect your rights and help you navigate the system to get a fair recovery for you.

One case that involved mediation and a settlement was the lawsuit filed by Maureen, a driver who suffered serious injuries as a result of a single-car accident in Worcester County. Maureen crashed into two cows that had wandered away from a nearby farm and onto the road. Maureen brought a lawsuit against the farmers – a husband and wife pair – who owned the cows that Maureen’s vehicle struck. In Massachusetts, the law requires owners of livestock animals to keep their animals properly contained inside a pen or fence. Since the farmers’ cows were in the road, Maureen’s case was that they weren’t properly fenced in, that this failure amounted to negligence on the part of the farmers, and that, because of their negligence, the farmers were liable for the damages the accident caused to Maureen.

As occurs in many cases, Maureen’s case against the farmers went to mediation. The mediation was a success, and the two sides reached a set of mutually acceptable terms. Maureen signed the agreement, as did the husband. The attorney who represented both the husband and the wife signed as well.

paramedic uniformOnce you’ve successfully filed a workers’ compensation claim and obtained an award of benefits, your employer may attempt various techniques to stop paying, or avoid paying entirely, the benefits you were awarded. In one recent Supreme Judicial Court case, the employer tried to avoid paying because the benefits recipient was suspended from his job, and the law denies suspended public employees the right to receive any compensation. The High Court declared that a worker’s workers’ compensation benefits aren’t “compensation” in that context, so even a suspended employee can continue to receive his benefits. This important decision highlights the fact that, even if you have some unfavorable facts in your case, the law may still entitle you to a successful outcome, which is but one of many reasons why it is important to work with a knowledgeable Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney to pursue and protect your rights.

The case involved Brian, a man who had been employed by the City of Boston as an EMT and paramedic for nearly two decades when, in 2011, he suffered a significant ankle injury while transporting a patient. The injury was serious enough that the paramedic was able to pursue a claim for workers’ compensation benefits and receive benefits for nearly a year. Then, in 2012, Brian got indicted on drug charges related to the misuse of drugs intended for EMS patients.

The city suspended Brian indefinitely without pay. In addition to ceasing paying the paramedic his salary, moreover, the city stopped paying the man his workers’ compensation benefits. The paramedic complained to the appropriate governmental body, the Department of Industrial Accidents, and the department ordered the city to resume making the workers’ compensation payments. The city did not do so.

wheelchairsAccording to research by the Urban Institute, nearly 70% of people age 65 and older will develop disabilities during their lifetimes, and more than one-third (35%) of people in that age group will need nursing home care at some point. When we entrust a cherished loved one to the care of a skilled nursing facility, we are placing the highest level of trust in them. Unfortunately, sometimes, those facilities fail to meet the standard of care the law requires of them. When they do, and that neglect leads to harm (or even death), you are entitled to hold them accountable, which involves retaining an experienced Massachusetts nursing home negligence attorney and pursuing legal action.

When an injury or death happens, you may have to deal with multiple entities, including the facility, insurance companies, and outside entities hired by the insurers. In some situations, the mistreatment doesn’t end with the substandard care your loved one received in the nursing home. Sometimes, the facility’s insurers can continue the mistreatment by the way they interact with you after the injury or death has taken place. When that happens, your case may involve more than just pursuing a nursing home negligence action against the facility alone; it may also mean taking on the insurance companies. That was the case for one man, Garrick, who sued following the 2008 death of his elderly mother in a nursing home in Danvers.

Reports of the events leading up to Garrick’s mother’s death were horrific. The 92-year-old Genevieve was rushed to the hospital after she fell from her wheelchair. Hospital staff discovered that Genevieve had “a festering pressure sore on her back, acute appendicitis, a urinary tract infection so severe it had invaded her blood stream, kidney failure, uncontrolled diabetes, and severe dehydration,” according to a Boston Globe report.