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Mass. Appellate Court Reverses Denial of Psychiatric Injury Benefits Due to Confusion about Supporting Medical Evidence Submission

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.

First, the appellate court noted that the insurer failed to object to the admissibility of information from the therapist and psychiatrist during earlier proceedings, which means that it waived its right to raise the objection again on appeal. Turning to the issue of whether the evidence was properly reviewed, the appellate court concluded that the order must be vacated and the matter remanded for additional proceedings. The appellate court noted that because the insurer also failed to object to the admissibility of any of the records contained in the medical records submission, the judge should have considered them.

The appellate court also noted that each party had submitted a relatively vast number of documents and that on remand the parties should only provide information that is not already in the record in the evidence submissions. It is appropriate for parties to communicate with one another regarding their evidence submissions containing additional medical evidence to identify documents that can be submitted as joint exhibits.

If you suffered a work-related accident involving either physical or psychological injuries, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. It is important that you submit the right evidence at the right time to ensure that your injuries are addressed completely and appropriately. Our dedicated team of Boston work injury lawyers are standing by to assist you with navigating the claims process and ensuring that you receive the outcome that you deserve. Call us now at 781-843-2200 or contact us online.

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