Massachusetts Appellate Case Discusses the Calculation of Benefits When Injured Employee is Deemed Capable of Returning to Light Duty Work

If you are injured at work, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. There are many procedural steps that are involved in securing your right to compensation, which can include payment for medical expenses associated with your injury as well as benefits to offset the loss of your wages. As seasoned Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyers, we have guided many injured workers through the claims process. A recent case demonstrates how a court may go about calculating the amount of weekly benefit payments you may be entitled to receive.

In the case, the employee was a registered nurse and provided in-home patient care for her career. She also worked as a charge nurse. Information presented in the claim indicated that she did not have experience with computers. It also revealed that she maintained her own business as a dance instructor. In 2004, the claimant suffered a broken ankle while working as a nurse, and she was unable to return to her nursing job. She did, however, return to dance instructing, which she was capable of doing while seated.

During a hearing regarding the determination of whether the employee was entitled to benefits, the judge concluded that the employee’s injury was a direct result of her employment duties. The judge also concluded that the woman experienced left knee pain as a result of the injury that limited her to performing only sedentary work. The judge determined that the employee could perform office work as a nurse or review files at a rate of roughly $20 per hour for 32 hours per week. The judge then awarded the employee benefit payments of $187.20 per week, based on the finding that the worker could still find gainful employment. The worker appealed.

On review, expert vocational testimony was presented to determine the extent to which the woman could earn an income in a sedentary occupation. The judge ultimately adopted the testimony of the workers’ compensation insurer’s expert, who testified that there were positions available in the nursing industry for experienced and older nurses. This expert also testified that these employers would provide training to help the worker learn about computers and related job functions. The worker unfortunately died shortly after this hearing. The representative of her estate appealed the judge’s adoption of the insurer’s vocational expert testimony. After a number of subsequent hearings and additional appeals, the employee’s estate was awarded benefit payments based on a finding that the employee was capable of performing sedentary light duty work for 32 hours per week. The retroactive benefit payments were awarded to the woman’s estate.

If you were hurt while at work, it is critical that you determine whether you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits as soon as possible. The claims process can be complicated, and it can be difficult to understand a strategic way to proceed. While you are dealing with the serious disruption and stress in your life, the legal professionals at Pulgini & Norton can ensure that your legal rights are protected and that you receive the maximum amount of benefits that you deserve. To schedule your free consultation, contact us at 781-843-2200 or contact us online.

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