Massachusetts Appellate Court Discusses Claim where Employee was Injured on the Way Home from Work

Severe injuries can be devastating for a worker and cause serious disruption in his or her life. Workers’ compensation claims can take a long time, especially if the injury requires ongoing medical treatment. When other injuries happen while another claim is pending, it can be difficult to determine whether the new injury is also associated with the original injury. Our seasoned team of Boston work injury lawyers are ready to assist you with asserting your right to workers’ compensation benefits.

In a recent claim, the worker suffered a major rotator cuff tear in his left shoulder while working as a crane operator. He worked as an ironworker for his entire adult life. He often was required to demonstrate tasks to other workers. His employer’s insurer accepted liability for the accident and the worker underwent surgery and other medical treatments. He returned to light duty work including clerical tasks.

Roughly two years later, the employee slipped while getting out of his work truck on his way home from work suffering an injury to his right shoulder. The employee testified that when he started to fall, he tucked his left shoulder into his body in a protective posture, causing him to strike his right shoulder on the vehicle’s running board. He went to the emergency room and received medical treatment. He returned to work the next day and worked until he underwent a second left shoulder surgery. The employee filed claims seeking benefits for his left shoulder injury and right shoulder injury. The claim involving the left shoulder was filed against a second insurer

The workers’ compensation’ judge ordered the insurer to pay for the treatment related to the left shoulder but denied the claim for benefits involving the right shoulder. The employee appealed and an independent medical examiner conducted an examination of the worker. The doctor’s report concluded that the man would require a prosthesis for his left shoulder and that he could not return to manual labor-related employment. The doctor also determined that the employee tore the rotator cuff in his right shoulder and that surgery was required promptly. The doctor also concluded that even if the right shoulder healed, the left shoulder would prevent the man from returning to manual labor.

Reviewing this report, additional medical evidence, and testimony from the worker, the judge concluded that the right shoulder injury was not a natural consequence of the original left shoulder injury and that the insurer was not required to provide coverage for the expenses associated with its treatment. The first insurer appealed the denial of the employee’s claims against the second insurer.

On review, the appellate court affirmed the denial of the claims seeking benefits for the right shoulder injury on the basis that the employee was not working at the time he fell from his truck. The employee left work at his normal time and had no intention to continue working. Although the employee had a work computer and cell phone, the judge concluded that the clerical nature of the employee’s duties meant that he had a fixed place of employment and that he could not have worked from another location once he left the office.

If you were hurt at work, you may be entitled to benefits and reimbursement for your medical expenses. We will assist you with navigating the workers’ compensation claim system from start to finish, which can be a daunting process if it is your first time. Call us now at 781-843-2200 or contact us online to set up your free consultation.

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