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Massachusetts Appellate Court Explains the Difference Between Compensable Injuries and Wear and Tear Injuries in Factory Worker Injury Claim

Work-related injuries can happen in almost any type of scenario, including sudden injuries like broken bones or muscle sprains in addition to injuries that arise from repetitive, wear and tear type activity. Understanding the nature of your injury and being able to demonstrate its link to your employment duties is a key step in any Massachusetts workers’ compensation claim. Our seasoned work injury lawyers are standing by and ready to help you evaluate your claim and whether you may be entitled to benefits.

A Massachusetts appellate court recently considered an appeal in which the employer challenged an award of weekly benefits and medical compensation to an employee who operated two machines that affixed labels to soda bottles. The fast-paced nature of the line on which she worked and the details that she was required to oversee resulted in her standing for 10 to 12 hours at a time during each shift. She also frequently carried boxes in excess of twenty pounds. On the date of the injury, she alleged that she slipped off a bar that she was standing on in order to reach into the machine to change out parts. She underwent medical treatment and returned to work eventually, but continued to experience pain in her left shin and leg. She indicated that she felt she was slowing down at the job and needed to take days off occasionally due to the pain.

She eventually filed a claim for benefits, which were awarded. Both parties appealed. The insurer argued that the judge erred in finding that the employee suffered a wear and tear injury resulting from walking and standing. The appellate court reviewed the distinctions between wear and tear and compensable injuries, noting that the Massachusetts workers’ compensation system does not provide compensation for wear and tear injuries or activities.

For an injury to be compensable, the injury must arise from a specific incident or a series of incidents at work, or from a condition that is not common and necessary to all or several occupations. Essentially, this means that normal activities that an individual would engage in during the regular course and scope of his or her life cannot serve as the basis for a workers’ compensation injury.

Reviewing the record and applying this test, the appellate court rejected the insurer’s argument that the injuries were simply wear and tear. It identified standing on the bar and climbing inside the machines to swap out parts as an identifiable condition that is not common and necessary to other occupations. The lower court relied on proper evidence including testimony from the injured worker in its decision to award benefits.

The workers’ compensation system can be overwhelming and it’s not always easy to understand the many different rules that govern how to proceed with your claim or whether you are entitled to benefits. We understand how stressful this situation is. Our team will investigate your claim and assist you with asserting your legal rights to the fullest extent possible while you focus on recovering. To schedule a free consultation call us at 781-843-2200 or contact us online to get started.

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