Articles Posted in Workers Compensation

nurseThere 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.

Cervical XrayWinning your Massachusetts workers’ compensation case involves many things. Included among these is presenting a compelling array of evidence that persuades the judge to make multiple findings in your favor. A knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney can provide essential knowledge and skill when it comes to accumulating that evidence and making that winning presentation.

A recent example of a winning case was the one pursued by Theresa, an employee of a non-profit organization in Randolph. Theresa was working for the non-profit when she was injured in an auto accident that caused her to suffer head and neck injuries. She later filed a claim for workers’ compensation, seeking payment for her neck and head medical treatments. After the hearing’s conclusion, the judge ruled in Theresa’s favor. In the written opinion on the case, the judge found that Theresa appeared to be physically uncomfortable during the hearing and frequently switched between sitting and standing.

The employer’s insurer argued that this finding clearly established that the ruling in Theresa’s favor should be reversed. The insurer’s argument was that there was no evidence in the hearing transcript about the worker standing up, sitting down, or looking uncomfortable. The judge also never commented about Theresa’s movements during the hearing. In the absence of these things, the judge was not allowed to make a finding about the woman’s apparent discomfort, according to the insurer.

nurseIn Massachusetts, the law gives you only a limited period of time to pursue a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. This fact serves as a reminder that, if you’ve been hurt on the job, it is important to reach out to an experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney promptly. A knowledgeable lawyer can help you assess your case and the period of time that you have in which to act.

The recent case of a nurse from Lynn was an example of how the statute of limitations can potentially matter in a workers’ compensation claim. Tammy was a registered nurse at a hospital when she first hurt her neck at work in January 2007. Two months later, she had a discectomy and fusion surgery because her pain was getting worse. She returned to work that summer. In 2012, her neck problem flared again, and she couldn’t turn her neck. She missed three months but then went back to work. Her neck problem flared again in April 2014, and she never returned to work. In July 2015, she underwent another discectomy and fusion surgery.

Three months after the second surgery, she filed a claim for temporary total disability workers’ compensation benefits. In her claim, she listed the date of her injury as April 15, 2014, her last day of work.

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.

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.