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Work injuries can be absolutely debilitating, resulting in a major disruption in your life, as well as the possibility of a permanent disability. One of the most important aspects of a claim is ensuring that the medical records are consistent with the injury that you’ve sustained and that the court follows appropriate rules when making evidentiary findings regarding the relation between your injury and your job duties. At Pulgini & Norton, our Boston workers’ compensation lawyers are prepared to help you understand your legal rights and to claim the compensation that you deserve.

A recent case discusses some of the evidentiary standards that judges must use when considering medical reports prepared by independent medical examiners. At the time of the injury, the worker was employed as a picker for five years with the same employer. He suffered an injury to his right shoulder and thumb that caused him to miss a few days of work. When he returned, he was assigned to light duty. Sometime later, he experienced a sharp pain in the injured shoulder and sought medical treatment. He did not return to work. Physical therapy did not relieve his symptoms so he underwent a fusion surgery that resulted in additional pain, lack of motion, and the inability to pick up things with that hand. Additional rounds of physical therapy proved unhelpful.

Regarding his physical limitations, the worker indicated that he was unable to care for his minor children, to take care of household chores and that he felt capable of performing full-time light duty work. He was examined by an independent medical examiner who concluded that the worker was reporting greater levels of pain than what would be expected and that there was no evidence to explain the second shoulder injury. Ultimately, the judge adopted these findings and the report’s finding that the shoulder injury was “not a workers’ compensation issue.” It also adopted a finding that the worker’s complaints outweighed the medical tests and assessments regarding the mobility and functionality of his left shoulder.

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If you are injured on the job, it is critical that you report the injury to your employer as soon as possible. If you fail to report the work-related injury, you may experience issues and delays when it comes to receiving workers’ compensation benefits. At Pulgini & Norton, we have assisted numerous Boston residents with ensuring that they follow the correct procedures when asserting a claim for Massachusetts workers’ compensation benefits and we are ready to assist you.

A Massachusetts appellate court recently considered a claim involving an issue regarding whether the injured worker reported the injury appropriately. The worker was employed with a construction company as a journeyman ironworker since 2005. During the 1990s, he experienced back pain and he reported this to his employer at the time of hire. He did not seek any medical treatment for his back pain until 2009 when his primary care physician prescribed him painkillers. He continued to receive back pain treatment from this doctor until 2012. He was diagnosed during this time with spondylolisthesis and a minor disc herniation.

In December 2012, the man was lifting a heavy beam when he felt a sharp pain that radiated down his left leg and into his foot. He went home and the next day he continued to experience excruciating pain that caused him to fall at one point. He did not report the injury until this day when he called to say that he had suffered an injury while lifting the beam. He did not fill out an accident injury report and testified that he was afraid of losing his job if he reported the injury. He returned to work and continued to perform tasks for his employer for the next six months on light duty.

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Although injured workers are entitled to benefits for injuries that happen on the job, there are some procedural rules and defenses that employers and insurance companies can use to avoid paying benefits. One of these rules is called the serious and willful conduct rule. As experienced Boston workers’ compensation lawyers, we have handled numerous cases that involve this issue.

The Massachusetts appellate court recently considered a claim involving the serious and willful conduct rule. The employee was 48 at the time the injury occurred and was an immigrant from Albania. He did not speak or write English and provided testimony in the proceedings through an interpreter. He worked as a truck driver starting in 2006 and was involved in a rollover accident while on the job in 2012. He underwent a spinal surgery following this accident and settled the associated workers’ compensation claim in 2014. The settlement agreement excluded the disc herniation procedure and only encompassed liability for soft tissue injuries in his lumbar region.

The man started working for another employee in 2015 and was shortly involved in another accident while driving a truck on the job that resulted in injury to his lower back. He was driving with a suspended license at the time of this accident. The administrative law judge assigned to the claim initially denied his request for benefits. The employee appealed seeking payment of benefits along with reimbursement for medical expenses. The Workers’ Compensation Trust Fund defended against the appeal asserting many different arguments, including an argument that the employee acted serious and willfully and was therefore barred from seeking benefits.

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If you were injured on the job, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. There are many different steps that you must take in order to receive benefit payments. One of these steps includes an assessment of your injuries and a determination of the extent of your injury, i.e., whether it is total or partial and whether it is temporary or permanent. The evidence presented in support of this finding is critical and insurance companies often fight awards of benefits on the basis that there was not sufficient evidence to support the judge’s ruling. As determined Boston workers’ compensation lawyers, we will ensure that you are treated fairly during the claims process and that you receive the maximum amount of compensation possible.

A recent Massachusetts appellate opinion demonstrates a dispute about whether there was sufficient evidence to support an award of benefits. The employee was 53 years old at the time of the dispute and had an eighth-grade education. She worked for 19 years as a machine operator in a job that was repetitive, strenuous, and required constant use of both of her hands and arms. The machines she operated manufactured plastic buckets and lids. During 2015, she began experiencing numbness in her hands. She underwent surgeries in October and November of 2015. Although she tried to resume work in January 2016, she was sent home when she reported throbbing pain in her hands and numbness.

In the workers’ compensation claim, the judge concluded that she was experiencing bilateral carpal tunnel and awarded total incapacity benefits as well as compensation for medical expenses.

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Workers’ compensation cases involving pre-existing medical or health conditions can be complicated. The law entitles an employee to receive compensation to the extent a work-related injury exacerbates the pre-existing injury. Ensuring that your pre-existing injury is diagnosed correctly and that you receive the full amount of benefits you deserve for the exacerbating work injury is critical. At Pulgini & Norton, our Boston workers’ compensation attorneys proudly help injured workers negotiate with insurance companies and fight for their rights.

The Massachusetts appellate court recently considered whether an award of benefits to an injured employee with a history of back conditions should be terminated based on a medical finding that he reached maximum medical improvement. The employee was hurt while working as a glass installer during a motor vehicle accident in August 2015. The insurer for the employer paid temporary total incapacity benefits. During November 2016, it filed a complaint to discontinue payment of benefits or modify those payments base don a report from an independent medical examiner. A judge reviewing the request ordered a modification of the benefit payments to partial incapacity benefits and determined that the employee’s earning capacity was $250 per week. Both parties filed an appeal and the employee underwent another independent medical examination.

Another hearing was held at which the judge concluded that the matter was medically complex and deemed the examiner’s report inadequate. The parties submitted additional medical evidence and the judge concluded that the employee had a history of lower back pain that’s not related to his occupation, including a spinal fusion that happened when he was eight. In addition to listing other back-related injuries that the employee suffered, the judge adopted medical opinions concluding that the employee experienced a flare-up of an existing back condition and that he returned to his pre-accident level of capacity. The judge also adopted an opinion finding that the employee reached maximum medical improvement and that any impairment was based on pre-existing conditions and not the work-related accident. The judge also concluded that any additional medical treatment would not be related to the accident and would be related to his pre-existing conditions.

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A critical phase of any workers’ compensation claim is determining the extent of the disability and the date that the injury occurred. Having a tenacious Boston workers’ compensation lawyer to assist you with ensuring that the rules are being appropriately and fairly applied in your claim can make all the difference.

In a recent claim, the employee was a plumber who suffered an injury to his neck while sleeping in 2004 that required a surgical procedure. In 2008 or 2009, the employee left self-employment and worked for a plumbing company. In 2013, he reported stiffness in his neck after using a hammer drill for approximately one hour. He underwent treatment with a neurosurgeon and the employer paid section 34 benefits until April 5, 2014. The employee then filed a claim for section 34 benefits from April 6, 2014, and continuing. The judge ordered the employer to pay section 34 benefits from April 6, 2014, to August 25, 2014, and section 35 benefits from August 26, 2014, and continuing. Both parties filed an appeal and the employee modified his request to seek section 34 benefits from September 11, 2013, the date of the injury, and ongoing.

The employee underwent an independent medical examination with an orthopedic surgeon. The judge allowed the employer to submit additional medical evidence after concluding that the orthopedic surgeon’s report did not sufficiently describe the connection between the pre-existing neck injury and the work injury. The judge then concluded that the employee suffered an industrial injury and that accident was a major but not necessarily predominant cause of the injury and need for treatment. He ordered payment of weekly section 34 benefits from the date of the injury to January 5, 2015, and payment of section 35 benefits from that date and continuing.

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If you were injured at work, you may be entitled to benefits and reimbursement for your medical expenses. At Pulgini & Norton, we have helped countless Boston residents understand the Massachusetts workers’ compensation system while helping them secure the outcome that they deserve.

As a recent claim demonstrates, one of the most critical aspects of a claim is knowing when to assert certain defenses or objections. In the claim, the employee suffered an injury to her right knee while working as a registered nurse. She was unable to work for a period of time and underwent surgery to address the injury. She returned to work less than a year after the injury, but reported chronic pain and symptoms when she increased her activity. She left work again due to the pain and filed a claim for benefits. The insurance company accepted liability for her right knee injury and provided benefit payments.

The insurance company filed a motion to discontinue payment of benefits, which was denied. The insurer appealed and the employee underwent an independent medical examination for her right knee only. The parties then sought another independent medical examination that covered both knees to determine causation and the extent of her disability.  Medical evidence was presented at a hearing and both sides presented a vocational expert. The judge ultimately adopted the testimony and reports of the employer’s vocational expert, modified the employee’s benefits from section 34 to section 35 benefits, and ordered the insurer to pay for medical expenses associated with the right knee only.

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When an employee is injured on the job, he or she can submit a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. This provides compensation for missed wages as well as medical treatments that are reasonably related to the work injury. Unsurprisingly, many insurers will debate whether a medical treatment should be reimbursed, arguing that it was not a reasonable outcome of the accident. As dedicated Boston work injury lawyers, we have the skills and experience it takes to ensure that you are treated fairly.

Recently, a Massachusetts appellate court considered a claim in which an insurer argued that it should not be required to pay for certain treatments related to an injured workers’ spinal injury. The woman worked as a transporter and cleaner when she suffered an injury to her neck. She underwent several operations and treatments including multiple spinal fusions.

Eventually, the woman accepted a lump sum settlement for her neck injury. Next, she received a surgical treatment for her lower back. She then filed a claim seeking reimbursement for medical expenses to pay for a Duragesic patch that would treat her persistent neck pain. Before a hearing on the claim, the employer’s insurance carrier was paying for half of the cost of the patch. After the hearing, the judge ordered the insurer to keep paying for half of the cost of the patch but denied the woman’s claim for compensation for additional medical bills. Both parties filed on appeal.

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If you are injured on the job, it is important that you file your claim for workers’ compensation benefits within the appropriate time period. This is known as the statute of limitations. Determining when your right to benefits accrued and how long you have to assert your claim can be difficult. This is especially true where your injury is the result of ongoing or repetitive conduct, or where it involves a pre-existing injury. Our knowledgeable team of Boston work injury lawyers is prepared to assist you with investigating your claim and ensuring that you protect your rights during this stressful and painful situation.

A Massachusetts appellate court recently discussed the application of the statute of limitations doctrine in a work injury claim. The employee suffered an injury to his shoulder in 2004 that required him to eventually undergo surgery. He received benefits until he returned to work after the injury.

Four years later, the employee filed a claim for temporary total incapacity benefits as well as other benefits based on the 2004 injury. In the claim, he also requested that the insurer pay for a left shoulder surgery that his treating orthopedist recommended. The claim was denied and the employee appealed. He then underwent an impartial medical examination. The judge assigned to the matter retired while the claim was pending and a new judge was assigned who reviewed the matter de novo. The employee also suffered a second injury to his left shoulder in 2012 and filed a claim requesting medical benefits for this injury.

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Just like civil claims for compensation, the Massachusetts workers’ compensation system has statutes of limitations that dictate when an injured worker must file a claim in order to receive benefits. It can be difficult to know when your time may run out, which is why speaking with a Boston work injury lawyer about your situation is so critical. At Pulgini & Norton, we provide personalized and compassionate legal counsel to individuals throughout Massachusetts and are standing by to assist you with exploring your legal right to compensation after a work injury.A Massachusetts Court of Appeal recently considered an appeal regarding a challenge to whether the employee had filed her claim within the statute of limitations. The employee was working as a nurse at the time of the dispute. She suffered an injury to her neck in 2007 that required her to seek treatment at the emergency room. Although the employee continued working, her pain worsened, requiring her to undergo spinal surgeries. She was out of work for several months and later returned. Although she did not file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, she received short-term disability benefit payments for the time that she was out of work. Her testimony also indicated that she did not report her work-related injury to her employer in 2007.

During 2009, the employee sought treatment for her neck injury and continued to work. During 2012, she reported being unable to turn her neck after what she described as a heavy assignment. She underwent treatment and was unable to work for three months. During this time, she once again collected short-term disability benefits.

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