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Massachusetts Appeals Court Sides with Injured Correctional Officer in Workers’ Compensation Case

old-melbourne-goal-1443854-mIn a recent opinion, Marchand v. Department of Correction, Mass. App. Ct. (2015), the Massachusetts Appeals Court recently heard an appeal from a trial court decision, which found that the plaintiff was entitled to continue to receive assault pay benefits for as long as he also received workers’ compensation benefits. The issue stemmed from a disagreement regarding whether the employer was required to continuing paying assault benefits, which would amount to the plaintiff’s full salary, even though he was no longer employed by the state.

The plaintiff was employed as a correctional officer when he attempted to prevent an inmate from assaulting another officer, resulting in an injury to himself. The plaintiff thereafter applied for and was granted workers’ compensation benefits, in the form of temporary total disability benefits for a period of several months and partial disability benefits for a period of five years thereafter.

During the middle of his partial disability benefit period, the Department of Corrections, the plaintiff’s employer, held a hearing in order to determine whether the plaintiff was medically eligible to return to work. About a month later, the employer found that the plaintiff was medically unfit for duty and terminated him. The employer had been paying the plaintiff assault pay benefits until he was terminated. After he was terminated, the plaintiff employee ceased receiving the assault pay differential.

Thereafter, the relevant state board approved the plaintiff’s application for accidental disability retirement, and the plaintiff continued to receive workers’ compensation benefits until the end of the five-year period awarded to him initially.

The plaintiff employee instituted this action to recover the assault pay benefits he alleged were owing to him for the full extent of his workers’ compensation benefit period. The plaintiff’s employer denied the claim, stating its opinion that the payment of assault pay was contingent on his retained employment, and therefore his entitlement ceased when his employment was terminated.

The court found that the cessation of assault pay was improper, since it should have continued for the full extent of the workers’ compensation benefits. The entire premise of having assault pay is to compensate officers who are injured in the line of duty. Therefore, the judgment of the trial court was affirmed.

If you get injured on the job or become sick, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for your injuries and lost wages. As this case demonstrates, unfortunately, even when you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, actually receiving what you deserve may involve a legal fight. The experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyers at Pulgini & Norton offer comprehensive guidance and representation in these matters. We can assist you throughout the entire workers’ compensation claim process. Call our office today at (781) 843-2200, or you can contact us online in order to schedule an initial consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Alleged Workers’ Compensation Fraud in Massachusetts Asbestos Abatement Company, Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog, published June 19, 2015

Mental Injury Benefits from Workers’ Compensation, Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog, published June 12, 2015

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