Judge’s Error Was Harmless, So Randolph Worker Was Entitled to Her Award of Workers’ Compensation Benefits

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.

The reviewing board concluded that the ruling in favor of the worker should stand because the judge’s error was harmless. The woman’s success is an example of how having copious amounts of evidence can enhance your chances of a favorable outcome. The reviewing board stated that a judge is allowed to observe the state of a worker’s physical condition, but, if the judge intends to make findings related to it, the judge should make sure that his or her observations are put into the court record. This flaw wasn’t a fatal problem in Theresa’s case, though, since she had other proof, and the judge had made other findings about her physical condition, There was enough to support the ruling in the worker’s favor, even in the absence of that contested finding. As the reviewing board stated, “the observation was merely cumulative of the judge’s numerous other proper findings.”

For example, there was testimony from an impartial doctor that Theresa had a closed head injury, a cervical spine strain with disc bulges and protrusions, and an exacerbation of a pre-existing cervical spine degenerative condition. The doctor also testified that the woman’s workplace injury was the major cause behind the disc protrusion and the employee’s cervical spine condition, as well as the “need for treatment, disability and impairment related to it.” The doctor further testified that Theresa could not lift anything heavier than 10 pounds and could not engage in repetitive neck movements or lift anything over her head. This evidence, even without the judge’s observation of Theresa’s discomfort in the hearing, was enough to justify awarding her benefits.

Presenting a winning legal case is often about giving the judge or jury a wealth of evidence and multiple bases for ruling in your favor. To give your case the skilled representation it needs, contact experienced Plymouth County workers’ compensation lawyer Michael S. Mehrmann. Our team has been helping injured workers from across Plymouth County, including in Kingston, Plymouth, Marshfield, Hanson, Carver, Pembroke, and Duxbury, for many years. 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

Photo Credit: Stillwaterising, [CC0 License], via Wikimedia Commons