Avoiding a Statute of Limitations Problem and Successfully Obtaining Benefits in Your Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Case

Legal News GavelThere is a certain precision that is involved in pursuing a civil lawsuit or a workers’ compensation claim. Achieving a successful result is about more than knowing just the facts; it is about knowing how to use those facts and how to assert them properly in a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. Make a wrong assertion, and it could turn a potentially winning case into an unsuccessful one. That is one of many reasons why it is wise to consult a knowledgeable Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney if you’ve been hurt at work.

One of the common ways in which claims for benefits can be derailed is by procedural errors, such as filing too late. The statute of limitations governs how much time you have to file your claim for benefits or else lose your right to those benefits.

Francisca was a worker facing that type of a situation in her case. Francisca was an animal technician at a major hospital. She first experienced pain in her back on the job in 2008. It happened again in 2011, in January 2012, and once more in December 2014. In the last instance, the pain was in her back and leg. Francisca filed two claims for benefits. The first one, which she submitted in May 2015, related to the January 2012 injury. The second one, filed the next month, related to the 2014 incident.

The administrative judge ruled for the employee. The employer appealed that decision. In its appeal, the employer argued that Francisca’s claims for benefits were prohibited because she filed them too late. The limitations period, according to the employer, had already run out.

The review board was not persuaded by the employer’s argument and upheld the judge’s decision to award benefits. The review board’s ruling is very instructive in a couple of ways. The board stated that the employer’s statute-of-limitations argument was barred by procedural rules. These rules say that, with regard to most arguments of law, you must make them initially at the hearing; you cannot assert them for the first time in an appeal. That’s what the employer in this case did. It asserted the statute-of-limitations argument for the first time in its appeal, which the rules didn’t allow. This is a useful reminder of the profound importance of making sure you present all of your arguments at your initial trial or hearing, as well as making certain that you are compliant with all procedural rules.

Additionally, the review board went on to say that, even if the employer’s argument hadn’t been barred by the procedural rules, the employee still would have received her benefits because the deadline for filing had not passed. The employer argued that, since Francisca was treated for a similar injury in 2008, the limitations period started running in 2008. If that were true, the worker’s claims would have been late. The limitations period did not start running in 2008, however, since the worker never filed a claim or sought compensation for the 2008 injury. By focusing her claim solely on the later injuries, the employee was able to avoid having a problem with the statute of limitations.

This illustrates how a carefully drafted claim for benefits can be the difference between a ruling that the claim was timely and a decision that it was made too late. A skilled and knowledgeable advocate can help you present a strong claim. For reliable representation in your case, talk to knowledgeable Plymouth County workers’ compensation lawyer Michael S. Mehrmann. Our team has spent many years helping people from across Plymouth County, including in Kingston, Plymouth, Marshfield, Hanson, Carver, Pembroke, and Duxbury, pursue the workers’ compensation benefits they deserve. To find out more about how we can assist you, call (781) 585-3911 or contact us online.

More Blog Posts:

Making Sure That You File Your Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Claim Soon Enough to Avoid Statute of Limitations Troubles, Plymouth County Injury Lawyer Blog, Feb. 21, 2018

Massachusetts Psychiatric Hospital Worker Secures Award of Permanent and Total Incapacity Benefits, Plymouth County Injury Lawyer Blog, Jan. 12, 2018