Articles Posted in Workers’ Compensation

Work-related injuries can be incredibly stressful, especially if you fear losing your job or the financial consequences of taking time off to let your injury heal. Work injuries can also be difficult to diagnose when they are caused by repetitive tasks like lifting, bending, or sorting compared to a sudden injury or accident that is clearly linked to your job duties. At Pulgini & Norton, our Boston workers’ compensation lawyers provide legal guidance to individuals who have suffered work-related injuries. We are ready to put our experience and knowledge to use on your behalf so that you can receive the benefit award or settlement that you deserve.

In a recent case, the plaintiff worked as a sorter for a common mail carrier, which required lifting and overhead work as well as squatting. In 2009, she began complaining of pain in her neck, back, and shoulder. She reported a repetitive motion injury to her back and was out of work for a short period of time. Eventually, she returned to work against her doctor’s advice because she was afraid that she might lose her job. In 2011, she left her job due to increasing pain in her back. Three days later, she stated that she hurt her back while she was performing yard work at home. The worker received short and long-term disability payments followed by Social Security disability payments.

In 2015, the worker filed a claim for benefits based on a repetitive back strain injury. The judge assigned to the matter eventually adopted the opinion of one expert finding that the woman suffered a degenerative disc disease and that they were causally related to work for her employer and that she was permanently and totally disabled as a result. The judge rejected any insinuation that the injury stemmed from a non-work-related injury due to her many years on the job and awarded temporary incapacity benefits as well as permanent and total incapacity benefits.

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Construction workers experience some of the most severe injuries and work-related physical ailments due to the serious demands of their jobs. It’s not uncommon for a construction worker to experience several injuries during his or her career, which can make workers’ compensation claims more complicated. If you experience a work-related injury that affects a pre-existing injury, the claim process will involve determining whether the new injury that occurred at work was a substantial cause in your pain and injury or whether it is primarily the result of your pre-existing injury. Although it may be tempting to navigate this process on your own, a seasoned Boston work injury lawyer can help you ensure that you are being treated fairly.

Recently, an appellate court considered a workers’ compensation claim involving a construction worker who experienced a number of work-related injuries throughout his extensive career, including a back injury that caused him to miss a year of work. In 2014, the employee filed a claim for weekly incapacity benefits as well as medical expenses reimbursements related to an injury he suffered while moving 50-pound sandbags that resulted in low back pain and pain in his right shoulder. He was unable to work the next morning because the pain was so intense, making it difficult for him to walk and to move his shoulder. The judge awarded benefits and required the insurer to pay for medical expenses, including a potential surgery.

Both parties appealed the order, and the worker was examined by an independent medical examiner. The parties resolved their dispute and the man underwent a series of medical treatments that did not improve his condition. He filed another claim for benefits, which the judge ordered along with additional medical benefits. The insurer appealed and the employee underwent another impartial medical examination. The judge concluded that the employee suffered a work-related injury to his shoulder and that the accident was a major cause in exacerbating his lower back injury and awarded benefits accordingly.

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One of the most complicated aspects of any workers’ compensation claim is determining how your pre-existing injuries may be involved. If you have a pre-existing injury and it is exacerbated by a work-related accident, you may still be entitled to benefits and medical expenses reimbursements but proving that your work-related duties caused the exacerbation can be tricky. At Pulgini & Norton, we proudly provide diligent and experienced legal representation to injured workers throughout Boston and are prepared to help you fight for your rights.

A recent case discussed a situation where a worker had a pre-existing lower back condition and suffered an injury to that same area. Insurance companies will often try to use pre-existing injuries to have benefit awards modified or terminated on the basis that the injury was not to blame for the exacerbation. In the case, the worker was a glass installer for a vehicle repair company. He was reportedly injured in a motor vehicle accident while on the job in November 2016. The insurer filed a motion seeking to discontinue the benefits that it paid to the employee as a result of the crash. The judge ruling on the petition modified the award to partial benefits and both parties filed an appeal.

After an independent medical examination, the judge concluded that the worker had a history of non-work-related lower back problems and that he had a spinal fusion procedure when he was eight-years-old. The judge only gave partial credit to the employee’s testimony about his history of back illnesses and did not entirely believe the employee that he was pain-free prior to the accident. Based on these findings, the judge set a date terminating benefits for the employee.

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Workers’ compensation claims often involve multiple injuries, which can make an evaluation of your injuries and the benefits that you deserve to receive complex. In some situations, a worker may file several claims for different injuries or for the worsening of an existing injury. At Pulgini & Norton, we have substantial experience representing injured workers as Boston workers’ compensation lawyers. We are not intimidated by complex claims and will ensure that you receive fair treatment no matter how complicated your situation may be.

In a recent case, the Massachusetts Court of Appeal reviewed a case that involved six claims for benefits with a long and complex history. The worker appealed from a remand decision that awarded her partial incapacity benefits for a left ulnar neuropathy that she suffered at work in 2007 as well as medical expenses reimbursement payments. She also received medical expenses reimbursement payments for cervical and thoracic spinal injuries involved in the same work injury. According to the worker, the judge’s decision included inconsistent findings and that the judge made an incomplete assessment of the evidence offered at the hearing.

The Court of Appeal agreed with the employee, finding that the judge did not rely on the ultimate conclusions and medical opinion from an expert witness at the hearing. The judge did not incorporate the final opinions and ultimate medical conclusions from the expert that were provided during the second day of testimony regarding the worker’s fibromyalgia condition.

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If you were hurt at work, you may be entitled to benefits and medical expenses reimbursement through the Massachusetts workers’ compensation system. Our Boston-based team of work injury lawyers has handled a wide variety of injuries on behalf of workers throughout the state. As a result, we have encountered countless different issues and legal challenges when helping our clients ensure that they are treated fairly and receive the outcomes that they deserve.

One issue that often comes up in workers’ compensation claims is surveillance footage. Insurance companies don’t always have the worker’s best interests in mind, so they will frequently enlist the help of surveillance companies and private investigators to obtain footage that shows the claimant behaving in a way that suggests he or she is not injured. In a recent appellate claim, the Massachusetts Court of Appeal upheld a lower court’s award of benefits that was based in part on surveillance footage that showed the injured worker fishing.

An impartial medical examiner initially stated that the employee could work on a limited part-time basis for only four hours a day. The video surveillance showed the employee actively engaged in fishing, however, which led the examiner to change his testimony to state that the employee would be capable of sitting and standing for five to six hours and that he could work 30 hours per week. The judge credited this testimony and made an award of benefits based on the examiner’s findings.

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When you suffer an injury at work, the workers’ compensation insurance company may try to argue that it is not required to pay benefits based on a number of theories and defenses. For example, the insurer may allege that your injury did not stem from a work-related event. As seasoned Boston workers’ compensation lawyers, we have assisted countless injured workers in fighting for their rights when they are suffering from serious and painful work-related injuries.

In a recent claim dispute, the worker was reportedly injured when he fell backward out of his fuel delivery truck, causing injuries to his elbows, shoulder, and head. He did not return to work after the injury and received temporary incapacity benefits. The insurer eventually filed a claim to modify or discontinue the weekly benefit payments and provided a copy of an independent medical examiners report in support of the petition. Eventually, the judge concluded that the employee was temporarily totally disabled as a result of the accident and ordered additional benefit payments. In reaching this decision, the judge relied on the independent medical examiner’s report.

The insurer raised a number of issues on appeal. First, it claimed that the judge should not have relied on the report because the doctor’s findings were based on nothing more than a temporal relationship theory. The appellate court rejected this, finding that there was substantial evidence that the worker was suffering from post-concussion syndrome, post-traumatic head injury pain, causalgia, and other conditions stemming from the accident. The employee testified to suffering memory issues, difficulty focusing, and vertigo, which were all in line with the doctor’s diagnosis and findings.

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Nurses and hospital employees face some of the most common work-related injuries, especially if their job duties involve lifting and repositioning patients. As dedicated Boston work injury lawyers, we have handled workers’ compensation claims on behalf of countless nurses and medical professionals. Many medical professionals also suffer multiple work-related injuries over the course of their careers, creating additional issues that can make it challenging to establish a right to benefits. Our team is standing by and ready to help you navigate the claims process while ensuring that you receive the compensation that you legally deserve.

In a recent case, the injured worker was a nurse who suffered a series of injuries during her career, including an injury to her back while she was lifting a 350-pound patient into a vehicle. She was also involved in two car accidents throughout her career for which she received medical treatment. The final injury that the worker sustained happened in 2011 when she was assisting her coworkers in lifting a 400-pound patient. She finished her shift and reported to work the following day, but she ultimately decided to take a leave of absence from her job due to the pain, wear and tear, and work injuries that she sustained throughout her career.

She filed a claim for benefits and the insurer denied it, raising a number of defenses including causal relationship, disability, liability, and more. The judge ordered the insurer to pay temporary benefits as well as reimbursement for medical expenses. Another hearing took place and the commission awarded the plaintiff additional benefits. The insurer appealed, raising the same issues and defenses.

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There are many important aspects of a workers’ compensation claim, including a determination of your average earning capacity and the wages that you might be able to earn following your work-related injury. There are clear rules regarding how these figures must be calculated, but parties are allowed to offer up various evidence to help guide the judge in making the calculation. A seasoned Boston workers’ compensation lawyer can help you ensure that the earning capacity portion of your claim is calculated correctly and fairly.

In a recent case, an employee who worked as a full-time educator for a public school suffered a strain in her right shoulder when she was working in her classroom. She reported that the pain continued to get worse over time until she suffered a sharp pain while using a paper cutting machine. She continued to work until the date that she retired in 2010, but she did not report the injury until later that year.

The employee sought workers’ compensation benefits. During the process, an issue arose regarding her earning capacity, with the employee asserting that the judge’s earning capacity conclusion was too high and that there was not enough evidence to support a calculation concluding that her earning capacity was beyond $500.

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A common question that we receive as Boston workers’ compensation lawyers involves situations where the employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance, but the employee suffers a work-related injury.  This situation often arises for in-home care providers who are hired by a family to take care of a disabled, sick, or elderly person. In many instances, the terms of these employment relationships can be vague and unclear. Our diligent team of knowledgeable attorneys is standing by to help you ensure that you are treated fairly and that you receive the compensation that you deserve.

In a recent case, an in-home care provider filed a claim against the Workers’ Compensation Trust Fund (WCTF) seeking benefits for an on-the-job injury. She filed the claim against the WCTF because her employer did not have workers’ compensation insurance on the date of the injury. The WCTF and the employee entered into a settlement, but the employer was not part of that settlement agreement and many procedural issues arose in the matter that created confusion among the parties. A judge has the power to join an uninsured employer in the claim, which the judge did so here.

The worker was working as a personal care assistant taking care of an elderly woman when she fell down the backstairs of the house. She did not return to work and eventually moved in with a cousin. Prior to starting employment, the worker and the elderly woman’s daughter entered into a verbal agreement about the job and the duties that it would involve. The worker testified that she often worked 30 to 40 hours per week providing assistance to the elderly woman, household maintenance, and clerical responsibilities. The court concluded that the worker was a formal employee of the daughter and the daughter appealed, stating that the parties had created an employment contract that covered only two hours a day to take care of the elderly mother and that there was no “firm agreement” requiring the worker to perform tasks during the rest of the time.

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Many people know that work-related injuries can cause serious physical pain and suffering. In many instances, however, an injury can also lead to psychiatric injuries, especially if the injury will prevent the employee from returning to work or if it will leave them with a permanent disability that severely limits their daily activities. As Boston workers’ compensation attorneys, we are prepared to help you fight for the outcome that you deserve after sustaining an injury on the job.

In a recent claim,  the injured worker was a developmental aide for her employer, which included engaging with developmentally disabled clients to assist them with using the bathroom. The job was physically demanding. In 2011, she suffered two accidents on the job, starting with a fall while assisting a patient that resulted in injuries to her back, left knee, shoulder, and neck. The second injury affected her left knee. The employee received immediate benefits from her employer’s insurance carrier and later filed a claim for injury-related benefits as well as psychiatric benefits.

After the initial hearing, the judge concluded that the employee was unable to lift objects and stand for a long period of time and that her mobility was otherwise very low due to her injuries. He also concluded that her psychiatric injury was a result of the serious limitations that she now faced in her daily life. She was even hospitalized as a result of suicidal thoughts for five days. The judge concluded that she was totally disabled but did not find her permanently disabled, noting that one doctor indicated that psychotherapy and pain management medications could be promising.

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