Articles Tagged with disability

workers compAchieving a successful result in your initial workers’ compensation benefits hearing is very important. If you succeed and your employer appeals, there are limited ways the employer can win. An appeal that essentially asks the Reviewing Board to reweigh the evidence very likely won’t succeed. The workers’ compensation judge is the trier of fact and has the authority to make decisions regarding witnesses’ credibility and the weight that various pieces of evidence should receive. As long as there was a reasonable basis for what the judge decided, your award of benefits will generally be upheld. Before you take on the workers’ compensation process, be sure you have representation from a skilled Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney.

C.D. was a worker who was able to achieve that successful result in his hearing. C.D. drove, loaded and unloaded a truck for his employer. One day, at the end of his shift, the driver fell out of his truck, hitting his elbows, shoulder and head. C.D. later filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. A hearing was held and, at that hearing, both the driver and a doctor gave credible testimony that the injuries resulting from the accident had left the driver temporarily totally disabled. The judge ruled in favor of the driver and ordered that he receive what’s known as “Section 34” benefits, which means temporary total disability benefits.

The doctor who gave the testimony was an independent medical provider who examined C.D. under the auspices of Section 11A(2) of the workers’ compensation law. In any workers’ compensation case, one of the most important things you’ll have to prove is causation. If you have a history of medical problems prior to your workplace accident, your employer (or employer’s insurer) may try to argue that your injuries are actually tied to those pre-existing conditions, not your workplace accident. Success, then, may be closely tied to having very credible and persuasive testimony that proves this connection with regard to causation.

wrist injuryWhen you find yourself in need of workers’ compensation benefits, it is important to be sure you make your best possible presentation and arguments at your hearing. It is generally much easier to defeat an employer’s appeal of your successful workers’ compensation hearing (and award of benefits) than it is to mount a successful appeal of your unsuccessful workers’ compensation hearing (and denial of benefits). When it comes to making that strong presentation, be sure you have the skill and knowledge of an experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney on your side.

As an example of this, take the case of N.F. N.F. was a woman with an eighth-grade education who had spent much of her working life in industrial jobs. For nearly two decades, she worked at a facility that made plastic buckets and lids. The work was strenuous, repetitive and it required near-constant use of the employee’s fingers and hands. After 19 years at this job, the work began taking its toll. At age 53, N.F. began experiencing pain and numbness in her hands and fingers. She had surgery and attempted to return to work, but had to leave again due to throbbing pain and numbness.

At that point, the woman filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. There are various types of workers’ compensation benefits you can obtain. There are disability benefits, which can be permanent or temporary. A workplace injury that leaves you unable to work at all for a period of time, but will allow for a return at a future date, may entitle you to temporary total disability benefits, which is written into the law in Section 34 of the Workers’ Compensation statute.

work injuryFor any worker who’s been hurt on the job, workers’ compensation benefits can serve as an essential aid, allowing them to meet their financial obligations while they are unable to work. This can be especially vital for manual laborers with limited academic backgrounds, as they may lack the skills to take on many types of jobs that involve lighter-duty work, meaning that they may take longer to get back on the job after an injury. Whether you are a manual laborer or not, getting the workers’ compensation benefits you need often comes down to how effective you are in demonstrating your disability and your wages. To be sure you get the benefits you need, reach out to an experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney about your case.

K.A. was an example of this type of manual laborer. He did not have a college degree or a high school diploma, and he had “reading comprehension issues.” The worker had no computer skills. He had worked in manual labor fields from the age of 18 until he suffered his workplace injury in his mid 50s. At that time, K.A. injured his back while shoveling gravel on the job. The accident happened in the completion of a public construction job.

In a case like this, there are essential calculations that must be made. Typically, calculating a worker’s average weekly wages involves taking the worker’s total gross wages (including overtime and bonuses) from the previous 12 months, then dividing that number by 52. That figure is then multipled by the appropriate percentage figure depending upon the type of disability the worker suffered.

A famous book once advised, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” While that advice may work well in many areas, the law is not one of those areas. In legal matters, including workers’ compensation cases, small details can make big differences in outcomes. To make sure you have all of your bases covered in your workers’ compensation case, both great and small, be sure you have representation from a skilled Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney.Legal News Gavel

C.P.’s workers’ compensation case was one example in which the details mattered a lot. C.P. was an assistant manager of a supermarket meat department in 2013 when, while pulling a box of chicken at work, he injured his back. The manager filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. The employer fought the manager’s request for benefits, but the workers’ compensation judge ordered the employer to pay temporary total disability benefits of $1,040 per week, starting on Dec. 2, 2013.

In the spring of 2016, the employee filed a request for permanent total disability benefits. The judge, however, only awarded the employer partial disability benefits. At the hearing, the judge had heard from a doctor who diagnosed C.P. with a protruding disc and, while concluding that the employee could not perform his old meat cutter duties, found that he could do light-duty work as long as it involved no prolonged standing or walking, and no lifting of more than 10 pounds.

Legal News GavelUnfortunately, workplace accidents are a reality in almost any field of employment. Whether you’re an office worker or a construction worker, you have some risk of getting hurt at work. If that happens, you may have to clear several hurdles in order to get the award of benefits you deserve. One of the key parts of this process can be determining whether or not you remained totally disabled or became partially disabled. To make sure that you have a strong opportunity to get the full amount of benefits you need, make sure your claim has representation from an experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney.

One recent case that involved an issue of total disability versus partial disability was the case of Shirley, who had worked for several years as a personal care assistant. One summer day in 2012, while Shirley was helping her bedridden employer, she felt a sharp knifing pain in her lower back that went down into her leg and foot. The following April, an impartial doctor examined Shirley and determined that she had a lumbar strain and a degenerative condition in her lower back. Her limitations caused by these conditions meant that Shirley was no longer able to do the work of a personal care assistant.

A different doctor examined Shirley in September and October 2013. After the September examination, the doctor concluded that the worker could resume doing light duty work if that type of work was available. In the second appointment, though, the same doctor said that Shirley had no capacity to work until she underwent additional treatment.

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.

Legal News GavelIn 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.

Legal News GavelIn 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.

Legal News GavelOnce 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.