Massachusetts Appellate Court Reverses Dismissal of Claim for Work Injury Benefits Based on Statute of Limitations Application

If you are injured on the job, it is important that you file your claim for workers’ compensation benefits within the appropriate time period. This is known as the statute of limitations. Determining when your right to benefits accrued and how long you have to assert your claim can be difficult. This is especially true where your injury is the result of ongoing or repetitive conduct, or where it involves a pre-existing injury. Our knowledgeable team of Boston work injury lawyers is prepared to assist you with investigating your claim and ensuring that you protect your rights during this stressful and painful situation.

A Massachusetts appellate court recently discussed the application of the statute of limitations doctrine in a work injury claim. The employee suffered an injury to his shoulder in 2004 that required him to eventually undergo surgery. He received benefits until he returned to work after the injury.

Four years later, the employee filed a claim for temporary total incapacity benefits as well as other benefits based on the 2004 injury. In the claim, he also requested that the insurer pay for a left shoulder surgery that his treating orthopedist recommended. The claim was denied and the employee appealed. He then underwent an impartial medical examination. The judge assigned to the matter retired while the claim was pending and a new judge was assigned who reviewed the matter de novo. The employee also suffered a second injury to his left shoulder in 2012 and filed a claim requesting medical benefits for this injury.

The judge issued a decision requiring the insurer to pay for the surgery related to the 2004 injury. Neither party appealed. The worker underwent medical treatment for his 2004 shoulder injury and attempted to join this claim with his new claim associated with the 2012 injury. The judge eventually issued an order awarding the employee benefits and allowing joinder of the claims over the insurer’s objection. The parties did not appeal.

The employee then filed claims for benefits related to both injuries. The judge denied the claims and dismissed them finding that they were not filed within the appropriate time period, and the employee appealed. The appellate court reversed the judge’s finding, stating the well-settled law that paying compensation for an injury through the workers’ compensation system or filing a claim for compensation tolls the statute of limitations for any benefits that are owed under the workers’ compensation system. The appellate court primarily relied on the fact that an award for benefits had been issued in the proceedings and that neither party appealed that award.

As dedicated Boston workers’ compensation lawyers, we understand how daunting it can be to navigate the process while ensuring that you obtain the maximum amount of compensation possible. While you focus on coping with your injuries and receiving the treatment that you need to get better, we will investigate your claim and ensure that the insurance companies are playing by the rules. We offer a free consultation to help you learn more about our legal team and how we can assist you. To schedule, call us now at 781-843-2200 or contact us online.

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