In 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.
The nurse won her workers’ compensation hearing, but the employer appealed. In its appeal, the employer argued that the statute of limitations, which was four years for workers’ compensation cases like Tammy’s, had expired before she filed her claim for benefits. The basis of the employer’s argument was that the nurse was initially hurt in 2007 and that she stated that she “always thought” that her neck problems were work-related, but she did not file a claim until 2015, eight years after the original injury.
If the appeals court were to agree with the employer, that would invalidate the nurse’s claim and mean that she would be entitled to no benefits. The nurse successfully defeated the employer’s appeal, however. While the employer accused Tammy of failing to file on time, it was a procedural problem that destroyed the employer’s statute of limitations argument. The employer made that argument in its appeal but did not bring it up at the original workers’ compensation hearing. There are many types of legal arguments that you are not allowed to raise in your appeal if you did not assert them in the underlying hearing. The appeals court concluded that the employer’s statute of limitations argument was one of those. By not bringing it up at the original hearing, the employer was legally barred from asserting it later on appeal.
Many types of injuries that potentially trigger certain legal rights to seek compensation or benefits give the injured person only a limited period of time to take action. Make sure that you don’t lose your opportunity for benefits because you delayed too long. Reach out to skilled Plymouth County workers’ compensation lawyer Michael S. Mehrmann. Our team is proud to have provided reliable representation to injured workers from across Plymouth County, including Kingston, Plymouth, Marshfield, Hanson, Carver, Pembroke, and Duxbury. To find out more about how we can help you, call (781) 585-3911 or contact us online.
More Blog Posts:
Massachusetts Psychiatric Hospital Worker Secures Award of Permanent and Total Incapacity Benefits, Plymouth County Injury Lawyer Blog, Jan. 12, 2018
How the Statute of Limitations Can Affect Your Claim for Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Massachusetts, Plymouth County Injury Lawyer Blog, Jan. 8, 2018