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Massachusetts Employee Appeals Denial of Workers’ Compensation Benefits to Reviewing Board

The Massachusetts Reviewing Board of Industrial Accidents recently considered an appeal of an administrative judge’s decision to deny an employee’s claim for workers’ compensation benefits. In Robert Correia v. Advanced Heating and Hot Water Supply, the employee worked for the employer for 11 years prior to his injury, performing work that included brazing, welding, and feeding metal tubes into a machine to fabricate residential hot water heater coils. The employee alleged that most of his time was spent coiling, during which he stood with his knees bent and the pedal depressed for up to an entire work day. On December 7, 2011, the employee felt pain in his right knee late in his shift and reported the injury to his supervisor. The employee sought medical attention and did not return to work for the next six days.welding-1240522-640x480

The testimony of the employee’s supervisor contradicted the employee’s testimony. It indicated that the employee rarely did coiling and that no injury had been reported on the day alleged by the employee. In addition, the plant supervisor testified that in a later meeting to discuss the employee’s medical restrictions imposed by his doctor, no mention was made by the employee or the doctor’s note that the physical restrictions were work-related. The administrative judge credited the supervisors’ testimony over the employee’s testimony, finding that the employee only performed coiling for 10-25% of the day.

The employee was examined by an independent medical examiner pursuant to § 11A, and the parties were allowed to submit additional medical evidence. In reviewing all of the medical evidence, the administrative judge adopted the independent medical examiner’s opinion that the employee suffered from a pre-existing arthritic condition that was unrelated to his job, and that the employee’s disability was likely caused by his pre-existing condition.

On appeal, the Reviewing Board affirmed the decision of the administrative judge. The Board disagreed with the employee’s argument that the judge did not consider all of the medical evidence, finding that the judge referenced all medical testimony. The Board also rejected the employee’s argument that the administrative judge mischaracterized the independent medical examiner’s opinion. Specifically, the Board found that, although the judge used different language than the medical examiner in the opinion, it was reasonable for the judge to construe it as such in light of her factual determination that there was no causal relationship between the work performed by the employee and the employee’s injury. Finally, the Board found no error in the judge’s decision to admit the employee’s prior medical records over objection, determining that it was appropriate to introduce relevant medical evidence. As a result, the decision denying the employee’s benefits was affirmed.

If you have been hurt while working at your job site, you may be owed compensation for your medical expenses and lost wages under the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act. At Pulgini & Norton, our injury lawyers provide knowledgeable and trusted legal guidance to individuals pursuing workers’ compensation benefits in Massachusetts. To discuss your case with one of our skilled attorneys, contact our office at (781) 843-2200 or online and schedule a consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Massachusetts Appeals Court Finds for Worker Claiming Partial Incapacity Benefits, Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog, published August 12, 2015

Massachusetts Court of Appeals Adopts Administrative Judge’s Findings Regarding Employee Credibility, Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog, published October 27, 2015

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