Massachusetts Appellate Court Discusses Application of Statute of Limitations in Neck Injury Workers’ Compensation Claim

Just like a civil claim for personal injuries, workers’ compensation claims are subject to statutes of limitations. In other words, there are certain time limits that apply to when you must file your claim for benefits. If you fail to file by the expiration of the statute of limitations, you are precluded from pursuing compensation. As seasoned Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyers, we have assisted many injured workers with asserting their claims before the statute of limitations expires.

A recent decision from a Massachusetts court discusses the application of a statute of limitations in a claim for work injury benefits. The worker was employed as a nurse when she injured her neck in 2007. After receiving treatment at the emergency room, she continued to work until the pain became worse later that year. She received a discectomy and fusion procedure and did not work for four months. The worker did not apply for workers’ compensation benefits for this injury but indicated that she received short-term disability payments. She also stated that she did not report the work-related injury to her employer.

The woman sought medical treatment again in 2009 but continued to work. One evening after a long shift, she became unable to turn her head. She received treatment for this injury and did not work for three months. She received short-term disability benefits but did not apply for workers’ compensation benefits. She came back to work in 2014 but left eventually, due to her neck pain. She underwent another discectomy and fusion procedure in 2015 and did not return to work.

The employee applied for workers’ compensation benefits in 2015, stating the date of the injury as April 15, 2014, which was the last date that she worked. The woman was awarded temporary total incapacity benefits, and the insurer appealed. After a series of hearings, the insurer challenged the woman’s claim as barred by the state’s four-year statute of limitations. According to its appeal, the woman was initially injured in 2007 but did not seek benefits until 2015. It also pointed to testimony indicating that the woman always associated her neck injury with her work.

On review, the appellate court first discussed how the insurer did not properly raise the issue of the statute of limitations. The insurer initially presented the defense in a brief filed before a hearing on the day that the record closed in the claim. This did not afford the employee fair notice of the grounds on which the insurer intended to rely at the hearing. Essentially, the insurer raised the statute of limitations issue too late and did not provide enough substance to support its argument.

If you were injured at work, time may be running out on your chance to claim workers’ compensation benefits. At Pulgini & Norton, our dedicated team of workers’ compensation lawyers has assisted numerous Massachusetts workers with understanding their right to compensation following a painful work-related injury. We provide a free consultation so that you can learn about your potential legal options and how we can assist you. To schedule your free consultation, call us now at 781-843-2200 or contact us online.

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