Articles Posted in Workers’ Compensation

Many different factors go into determining whether an injured worker is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, such as determining whether the injury is causally related to his or her job duties, the average weekly wage that he or she earned and whether the injuries prohibit the employee from performing his or her usual job duties. As seasoned Massachusetts work injury lawyers, we are standing by to assist you with ensuring that you receive the full amount of benefits that you deserve.

A recent claim discusses many of these key issues, including causation and average weekly wage calculations. The man hurt himself while lifting objects at working, experiencing a sharp pain in his back. Testimony at a hearing revealed that he was paid through many different forms, including personal checks, cash, and corporate checks. The judge determined that his average weekly wage was $800.00.  The judge also concluded that the man had received unemployment compensation.

The man underwent a medical examination with an independent medical examiner. This doctor determined that the employee could return to full-time employment with some restrictions and that he had a pre-existing condition that was made worse due to the work injury. The doctor estimated that the restrictions would no longer be necessary after March 2011. The judge also considered video surveillance of the employee and based on these videos the judge concluded that the worker was no longer experiencing a work-related disability as of September 2011.

The Massachusetts workers’ compensation system has many different procedural rules, including rules about what a judge must consider in determining whether to award benefits and how issues within a claim must be resolved. If a judge fails to follow these rules, an appeal may be proper. At Pulgini & Norton, we have diligently served injured workers in Boston workers’ compensation cases and we are ready to help you assert your right to benefits.

In a recent claim dispute, the injured worker was employed as a machinist for over 30 years. He experienced a series of three separate work injuries. The first was a slip on a wet floor in 010 that resulted in a head, back, and neck injury. He continued working with some restrictions following physical therapy while declining surgery to treat his symptoms. In 2013, he suffered an injury to his elbow, arm, and neck while tightening fixtures. he received a course of treatment for this injury including cortisone injections and radio frequency denervation. He did not miss work as a result of this injury but worked with some restrictions.

The next year, the employee accepted a retirement buyout package from the employer. On the day of his last day of work, he reported experiencing back pain and checked himself into a medical clinic.

Medical marijuana is legal in many states, including Massachusetts. This has created novel legal issues for the workers’ compensation system when it comes to whether an insurer is required to compensate an employee who obtains medical marijuana in order to treat his or her work-related injuries. As dedicated Boston work injury attorneys, we are well-versed in these issues and ready to help you fight for the fair outcome that you deserve after suffering an on-the-job accident.

In a recent case, a Massachusetts appellate court addressed the relationship between the Controlled Substances Act and the Massachusetts Act for the Humanitarian Use of Marijuana. Based on the facts presented in the underlying claim, the court held that when an injured worker requests that an administrative judge require an insurer to reimburse the employee for medical marijuana treatments, the Controlled Substance Act preempts the state law and prohibits the administrative law judge from issuing such an order.

In the underlying claim, the permanently and totally disabled employee sought medical expenses reimbursement for the cost of medical marijuana. The presiding administrative judge denied the claim and the employee appealed. Both parties agreed that the employee experienced a positive benefit from the use of medical marijuana to treat his chronic knee pain.

There are certain types of evidence that a judge can consider when deciding whether to award workers’ compensation benefits and knowing whether the evidence presented to the judge is appropriate is a key aspect of any claim. A seasoned attorney can make objections to improper evidence or help the judge determine whether a piece of evidence should be considered in the final decision regarding benefit payments. As dedicated Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyers, we are well-versed in the rules that apply to workers’ compensation proceedings and can help you ensure that your claim proceeds in an appropriate and timely fashion.

Recently, a Massachusetts appellate court discussed a claim in which the employer sought to discontinue paying benefits to an injured worker. The employee was a fuel truck driver when he fell backward out of his truck at the end of his shift, striking his elbow, head, and shoulder, He did not return to work following the accident. His employer’s insurer paid him temporary total incapacity benefits and eventually filed a complaint to modify or discontinue the weekly benefit payments. The insurer provided a copy of a report from the independent medical examiner in the matter in support of its complaint.

Additional proceedings took place and the presiding judge issued an opinion, finding that the employee was temporarily totally disabled as a result of the accident and ordered the insurer to pay benefits.

Although any work-related injury can be devastating and painful, permanent and total injuries are the most severe because they have a lasting impact on the worker’s life and future job prospects. Employers and insurance carriers often fight claims involving permanent and total disabilities because of the amount of benefits and medical expenses reimbursement that they may end up having to pay. As seasoned Boston work injury lawyers, we can assist you with ensuring that you receive the full amount of compensation that you deserve for your current and future accident-related needs.

In a recent claim, the worker experienced a back injury while he was lifting a garage door at work in February 2017. He missed six months of work and eventually returned to light duty for the same employer for roughly nine hours each week. A few months later, he was terminated and applied for unemployment.

He filed a claim for compensation for the back injury which resulted in him receiving temporary total incapacity benefits from the date of the injury to August 2007 and partial incapacity benefits from August 2007 ongoing. He filed a claim for permanent and total incapacity benefits in April 2011. The judge ordered the payment of these benefits.

Medical expert testimony and evidence play a significant role in a workers’ compensation claim. As seasoned Boston work injury lawyers, we have assisted many injured workers throughout the area with understanding the claims process and ensuring that they receive the best outcome possible. Although you may be tempted to navigate the claims process on your own, having an experienced and knowledgeable attorney on your side can help you ensure that you present the right medical evidence and that your injury is assessed correctly.

In a recent claim, the employee appealed from a decision awarding benefits to compensate him for his medical expenses and total incapacity benefits. He suffered a work-related back injury in 2003 and his employer provided weekly incapacity benefits for several months. The employer’s insurer later denied the worker’s application for ongoing benefits and a workers’ compensation judge affirmed the denial.

The worker filed an appeal and underwent an independent medical examination prior to the hearing. The report prepared as a result of the examination concluded that the worker endured a back strain related to his occupation and that the injury would have resulted in a disability lasting five to eight weeks. The doctor also noted that because the worker underwent what he characterized as excessive treatment and did not work for four years, the employee should start with sedentary work as he re-entered the workforce. The doctor also noted that the employee’s medical records were unremarkable.

Some occupations put workers at serious risk of injury, including working with patients suffering from mental diseases who may act out in physical ways. People who face this kind of stress on a daily basis may also suffer from psychiatric harm as a result of being exposed to dangerous and high-stress conditions on a regular basis. Ensuring that the court receives medical evidence regarding your psychological disability is a key step in protecting your rights. At Pulgini & Norton, our team of Boston workers’ compensation advocates has handled cases involving psychiatric injury claims in high-stress work environments and we are ready to put our experience to use for you.

A Massachusetts appellate court recently considered a claim in which the worker was awarded partial incapacity benefits after suffering injuries when a patient at the facility where she worked struck her on the head and face. The lower court denied the woman’s claim for benefits to address her psychological injuries. The woman appealed the denial of the request for psychological injury benefits on the basis that she provided medical evidence to the judge in a timely fashion by forwarding the documents electronically and that she used an encrypted record transmission service. The company’s records show that the documents were sent to the judge and his assistant.

The judge’s decision and other court records, however, did not list the documents as exhibits or show them as received. The record was absent of any evidence regarding whether the judge reviewed the documents. The employer’s workers’ compensation insurer argued that the appellate court should affirm the denial despite the confusion on the basis that the evidence was cumulative of other evidence that the employee had already presented regarding her alleged psychological condition. Although the insurer admitted that the evidence did not contain records from the worker’s psychiatrist and therapist, the insurer argued that reports from these doctors did not contain admissible medical opinion.

Even when you have been awarded workers’ compensation benefits, the employer can seek a discontinuance of those benefits down the road based on a variety of factors such as a claim that your disability has improved. In many cases, the worker receiving benefits still requires those payments. Having a dedicated Boston work injury lawyer on your side to ensure that you are treated fairly throughout the claims process, including any disputes regarding discontinuation of benefits, is critical.

In a recent opinion, the Massachusetts appellate court affirmed a lower court’s decision to dismiss an employer’s complaint to discontinue a worker’s permanent and total incapacity benefits. The worker received benefits initially in 1998 due to health conditions that she developed when the school where she worked was being renovated. The construction caused her to be exposed to thick smoke, noxious fumes, exhaust, paint, and other chemicals. The judge presiding over that clam concluded that there was a causal connection between the exposure and her symptoms of nausea, dizziness, pain in her extremities, cough, and asthma.

The worker received benefits from 1998 until 2017 when the employer sought discontinuation of the benefits. The worker submitted reports from medical experts indicating that she was still disabled and the judge accepted the testimony in those reports linking her continued disability to the toxic exposure at her job. The employer appealed the dismissal of its complaint for discontinuation on the basis that the reports were not submitted at the appropriate time, that the doctor did not examine the employee in close enough proximity to when the report was authored, and that the doctor’s reports must be excluded because they included a controversial medical diagnosis that is not accepted in the medical community, multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS).

Work-related accidents take many different shapes and forms, including environmental exposure cases. When your on-the-job injury is complex, it is important to have a seasoned Boston workers’ compensation lawyer on your side to ensure that you receive the outcome that you deserve. In a recent case, the employee worked for a City municipality where he was in charge of recapping landfills. Later, he was in charge of overseeing the City’s composting operations, which took place on a fifteen-acre, open-air space. The immediate neighbors made complaints about the poor condition and odors coming from the composting location.

The employee took note of these issues and made changes to the operation that made it more efficient. This included checking the temperature of the compost piles with a long stick, picking up the material with his hands, and walking around the compost facility to check for odors. In January 2008, he began experiencing cramping and fatigue. When he started coughing up blood, he went to the emergency room and was diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism. He suffered another episode six days after he was discharged. Several years later in 2013, he was diagnosed with another pulmonary embolism.

The employee then saw several medical professionals, including doctors at the Mayo Clinic in Florida. He testified that most of the evaluations were self-referred because he suspected that his condition was caused by aspergillum mold. The employer allowed him to manage the facility offsite out of concern for possible mold exposure. The insurer refused to pay for the medical treatment that the employee underwent and an administrative law judge affirmed the denial.

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If you are hurt at work, you can file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, which provides injured employees with compensation for their lost wages and reasonable medical expenses. The claim process can be complex, especially if the insurer denies the claim or challenges certain decisions like the calculation of the weekly benefits that you are owed. As experienced Boston workers’ compensation lawyers, we are standing by to help you understand the claim process and to ensure that you are treated fairly by insurance companies and the Department of Industrial Relations.

In a recent claim, a worker suffered an injury to his back while working in a warehouse. He missed a few days of work after reporting to the emergency room and eventually resumed light duty work and continued to work for eleven months following the injury. During this time, he underwent continued medical treatment consisting of MRIs, physical therapy, and steroid injections. His manager eventually informed him that he was being put on disability effective the next Monday.

The man filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. The judge ordered the employer to pay him temporary total incapacity benefits from the day the employer noted he was on disability and the insurer appealed. The employee underwent an independent medical examination and the reporting doctor indicated that the man had several work-related limitations, including only lifting no more than 10 pounds on an occasional basis. The judge concluded that this rendered him incapable of performing jobs that matched his skillsets, including his former job.

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