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Massachusetts Appellate Court Upholds Award of Benefits in Multiple Injury Workers’ Compensation Claim Involving Psychiatric Injury

Workers’ compensation claims can be complex and lengthy endeavors, especially if this is your first time navigating the claims process. One of the best ways to ensure that you receive the compensation that you deserve is to speak with a seasoned Boston workers compensation lawyer. At Pulgini & Norton, our team has substantial experience handling a variety of work injury claims, including claims involving psychiatric injuries, and we are ready to help you fight for the outcome that you deserve.

In a recent appellate opinion, the injured worker suffered five different work injuries between 1987 and 2008. The first four affected his back while the last one affected his right leg and ankle. The man sought workers’ compensation benefits for his back injuries and the employer’s insurer at the time paid benefits. The insurer did not accept full liability for the injuries.

The employer was self-insured for the remaining four injuries and accepted liability for all of them. The employee underwent substantial medical treatment for his injuries, including his leg injury. He attempted to return to work but was eventually only able to perform sedentary tasks like office work, but this position still required him to walk extensively. He reported experiencing excruciating pain while also experiencing severe depression. He was hospitalized for a suspected suicide attempt at one point during the course of these events.

A judge ordered the self-insurer to pay benefits in addition to reasonable and necessary medical expenses regarding all four injuries and corresponding treatments, in addition to benefits for a 1987 work injury. The original insurer and the employer appealed, with the latter arguing that there was not enough medical evidence to establish that the man’s mental and emotional disabilities were related to his work injuries.

The reviewing court first noted that in cases where a physical injury leads to mental and emotional disability, a simple causation standard applies. Referring to the medical evidence in the record, the court noted that there was clear evidence supporting a link between his injuries and his emotional hardship. The medical reports showed that the man was unable to sleep and experienced depression as a result of his chronic pain. The medical evidence pointed to one of the injuries in particular as the predominant cause of the man’s psychiatric disabilities. Another doctor noted that at the time the employee received psychiatric treatment, he was totally and permanently disabled and unable to perform any work that he was trained to perform. As a result, the appellate court affirmed the award of benefits against the insurers.

If you were hurt at work, your injury may involve more than just physical pain and suffering. Psychiatric injuries are a common result of workers’ compensation accidents, especially when the injury leaves you facing a lifetime of limitations and pain. Our dedicated team of legal professionals is ready to help you understand your legal rights and whether you may be entitled to benefits as well as compensation for your medical treatment. To schedule your free consultation, call us at 781-843-2200 or contact us online.

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