Articles Posted in Workers’ Compensation

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Once you receive an award of workers’ compensation benefits, the process is far from over. The insurer that is required to pay your benefits may seek a modification or discontinuation of your payments. These companies do not always have injured workers’ best interests in mind, and they sometimes resort to complicated tactics to have a claim denied. Our knowledgeable team of Boston workers’ compensation lawyers is prepared to help you protect your right to compensation.car accident

A recent claim discussed an insurer’s request to discontinue, modify, or recoup benefit payments to an injured worker. The woman suffered an injury to her neck during a motor vehicle accident that the insurer originally accepted. The employee sought reimbursement for proposed medical treatments, but the request was denied. The worker appealed, and the judge ultimately required the insurer to pay for the treatments as well as to continue paying disability benefits. The insurer appealed, and the reviewing judge allowed the submission of gap medical records to provide more context. At the conclusion of this hearing, the judge ordered the insurer to continue paying the same amount of benefits to the employee.

The insurer appealed again, raising four specific assignments of error. First, the insurer alleged that the judge misstated expert medical opinion testimony in reaching a decision and that the judge relied on his own opinion regarding the employee’s apparent uncomfortable demeanor during the hearing instead of the independent medical examination. The insurer also alleged that the judge wrongfully rejected independent medical examination information and failed to make adequate findings regarding the worker’s prior occupations.

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maintenance workerAs dedicated Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyers, we have seen a wide variety of work-related injuries. Many individuals mistakenly believe that only physical injuries are compensable under this system. In reality, there are many psychiatric injuries that are eligible for benefits. A recent Massachusetts’ appellate court opinion discussed one such claim.

There were several hearings related to the man’s claim of psychiatric injury that stemmed from his time working as a maintenance mechanic aide. He worked for a company that maintained apartments, and his employer tasked him with enforcing a non-smoking policy. According to the man, he was subject of substantial harassment from the tenants.

The first hearing concluded in a determination that he was disabled due to anxiety resulting from his job, but that he was not disabled from working for other employers in a similar capacity. His initial claim for benefits was therefore denied. The man appealed and the reviewing board affirmed the decision, but an appellate court reversed, finding that the man had suffered a period of total disability and that he was entitled to full benefits until he found a suitable position for another employer.

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man on a roofIf you were injured at work, you may be entitled to benefits through Massachusetts’ workers’ compensation system. Although it may seem like your claim is straightforward, countless issues can arise. This is especially true where insurance companies are involved, since they don’t always have your best interests in mind. As dedicated Boston work injury lawyers, we are prepared to help you ensure that you receive the just outcome and fair treatment that you deserve.

In a recent appellate opinion, a man suffered injuries while working as a roofer. The tasks associated with his job required climbing up and down ladders and staging and working on pitched roofs. He would carry up to 60 pounds of aluminum sheets to a roof and there were substantial periods of kneeling. He sustained his first knee injury in 1981 while working for a union in New Hampshire. He underwent arthroscopic surgery and received benefits for two months while he was unable to work. Several years later, he experienced swelling in his left knee. In 1998, he reported experiencing a pop in his knee and was unable to finish work. He was prescribed surgery and was out of work for a few months before he returned to full-time. He was also diagnosed with arthritis in his left knee.

During the next several years, he received a series of cortisone shots in his knee that provided little relief. He did not seek additional treatment until three years later when he reported increased pain. He was laid off of work one year later and did not seek additional employment because he was scheduled to have a total left knee replacement surgery. The man filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits stemming from the 1998 injury. There was some dispute regarding whether other insurers should be included in the action.

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workers' compOne of the most important aspects of a workers’ compensation claim to address is the evidence that you intend to present to show the nature and scope of your injury, as well as its origin. At Pulgini & Norton, our skilled and dedicated Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyers are well-versed in the claims process and ready to help you ensure that you receive the maximum amount of compensation that you deserve.

In a recent appellate opinion, the court considered an injured worker’s appeal from an order that denied and dismissed his claim for medical benefit payments and weekly benefits. The employee alleged that the judge made a reversible mistake by denying his request to provide evidence at the hearing regarding his claim from a hearing before the Massachusetts Division of Unemployment Assistance (DUA)

The man was working as a custodian for the employer during 1999. He was involved in an altercation at work with the director of facilities for one of the public schools within the employer’s jurisdiction. The employer fired the worker after an investigation regarding the fight. A few years later, the employee filed a claim seeking benefits for weekly wages and medical expenses on the basis that he sustained severe emotional distress from the altercation.

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supermarket workersPre-existing injuries are one of the most complex issues that can arise in a Massachusetts workers’ compensation claim. Even if you suffered the injury over a decade ago, it may have implications for your ability to obtain benefits now. In a recent case, the worker suffered a back injury while working in a supermarket in 1991. The following year, the worker required a laminectomy and he returned to work the next year employed in a variety of capacities until he was laid off several years later for a two-year period. Then, he was ultimately rehired by the same employer. He was tasked with operating a device called a 4-slide machine. Some years later, he was laid off again. Throughout this time period, the employee alleged that he suffered an ongoing, repetitive, work-related injury that was sustained as a result of lifting and carrying motions.

The worker filed a workers’ compensation claim and the judge initially awarded temporary benefits but did not require the insurer to pay for the lumbar surgery. Both the worker and the insurer appealed. The worker underwent a medical examination by a board-certified orthopedic surgeon. The doctor’s report was deemed adequate and neither party asked for an opportunity to take the deposition of the doctor or to provide additional medical documentation. Based on this report, the reviewing judge concluded that the back injury constituted a pre-existing injury and that the employee suffered an industrial injury during his later years of employment. The judge also concluded that the newer injury was a primary but not predominant cause of his disability and ordered the insurer to pay section 34 and 35 benefits, as well as reimbursement for medical expenses.

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empty school cafeteriaSome work injuries heal over time, while others leave the victim with permanent disabilities or disfigurement. These cases raise special issues when it comes to making sure that an employee receives what he or she deserves after such a devastating accident. As tenacious Boston workers’ compensation lawyers, we have handled a wide variety of work injury claims, including those involving catastrophic injuries.

In a recent appellate opinion, an insurer appealed from a lower court’s order requiring it to pay permanent and total incapacity benefits, as well as bodily disfigurement benefits in the amount of $15,000. The lower court also awarded reasonable and necessary medical expenses, allowing the employee to obtain a motorized chairlift.

The employee worked for the city school system, where she prepared and distributed food to students. The employee was cleaning tables when she slipped and fell. She hit her right leg during the fall and sustained a serious injury. She attempted to return to work the next day but was sent home and advised to seek medical treatment. She was later diagnosed with a sprained ankle and various contusions.

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spinal fusion xrayWhen an employee suffers multiple injuries on the job over a period of time, the workers’ compensation claims process can become even more complicated. This shouldn’t stop you from receiving the benefits and fair treatment that you deserve. As seasoned Boston work injury lawyers, we are ready to help you maximize your right to recovery.

A recent decision from a Massachusetts appellate court highlights this situation. The employee worked for a city highway department as an operator of heavy equipment and general laborer when he was injured using a jumping jack compactor in 2008. Roughly one year later, the employee suffered another injury when he hit a pothole while driving a road paver, which caused him to jump out of his seat. The employee sought workers’ compensation benefits, and the judge ordered the insurer to pay total incapacity benefits on a continuing basis. The insurer appealed this finding.

The employee required a surgical lumbar fusion procedure, and the judge presiding over the case deemed the medical issues in the case to be complex. Although the insurer accepted liability for the first injury affecting the upper portion of the man’s back, it denied liability for the second injury affecting the lower portion of his back.

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Man with jackhammerInsurance companies will try many different tactics to avoid paying benefits to injured workers. As seasoned Boston workers’ compensation attorneys, we are well versed in dealing with insurance companies and ensuring that our clients are treated fairly. A recent decision from Massachusetts’ Department of Industrial Accidents highlights a common strategy that insurers take to avoid paying claims.

In the case, the insurer appealed a decision awarding the worker total incapacity benefits. The employee was a union laborer who suffered a variety of industrial accidents during a period of years. A series of back injuries were the primary subject of the appeal. The work accidents that gave rise to the back injuries occurred in 1991, 1995, 1996, and 2001. The insurer accepted liability for each accident and paid the worker benefit payments as well as lump sum settlements in each case. In 2004, the employee went against the advice of several doctors and returned to heavy work. He reported experiencing moderate pain but used methadone to control it, as well as Percocet. He attempted to refuse the most intense jobs like bricklaying and jackhammering.

In April 2012, the employee suffered another back injury when he was struck with a piece of staging that another employee dropped. He left work and did not return despite doctors giving him a light-duty clearance. The man reported the claim and sought workers’ compensation benefits. In response to the claim, the insurer argued that the man was not entitled to benefits because the accident occurred as a result of his serious and willful conduct. The insurer stated that despite the doctor’s recommendation that he not return to work, the man went back anyway and performed intense work duties. The insurer also argued that as a result of his four prior injuries and medical advice, the worker had actual knowledge that the risk of returning to the same level of work involved a substantial probability that he would suffer an additional and debilitating back injury.

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hands massaging shoulderAs dedicated Boston workers’ compensation lawyers, we have seen a multitude of work injury cases and assisted many employees with seeking the benefits they deserve. The claims process can be complicated, especially if you have a complicated medical history. As a recent opinion from the Department of Industrial Accidents shows, pre-existing medical conditions are a key consideration when developing a strategy to maximize your recovery.

The injured worker was employed in a position that required him to perform administrative tasks as well as occasionally restraining minors. During a fight between two clients, the plaintiff injured his right shoulder and lower back when he attempted to stop the fight. The injury required an operation to repair the torn rotator cuff as well as an operation to address his lower back injury.

The employee filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits and reimbursement of his medical expenses. The employee underwent a medical examination as a part of the claim, and the doctor issued a report regarding his findings. The doctor who performed the employee’s back surgery was deposed at a hearing, as well as the doctor who operated on the employee’s torn rotator cuff.

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men in courtroomUnder Massachusetts workers’ compensation laws, some psychiatric conditions that arise from a work-related situation are compensable. In order for your psychiatric injury to be deemed work-related, it is often necessary to consult with an experienced work injury attorney. We have seen firsthand just how complicated this type of legal action can be and how devastating it can be when an injured worker fails to receive the compensation and benefits that he or she deserves.

In a recent claim, an employee appealed a decision from an administrative law judge concluding that his physical injuries had resolved and that he did not have a psychiatric condition that impaired or limited his ability to find employment. The judge also concluded that the treatment that he received for post-traumatic stress disorder was not reasonably necessary or related to the work incident.

The employee worked as a court officer from 1997 to 2012 and performed a variety of duties, such as guiding prisoners throughout the courtroom and courthouse. He was involved in an altercation with a prisoner that required him to be taken to the hospital, where he was treated for injuries to his wrist, right arm, and ribs. He complained of experiencing headaches and vertigo several months after the incident.

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