Massachusetts Appellate Court Upholds Award of Benefits to Injured Worker for Physical and Psychiatric Injuries

Although many people are aware that you can seek workers’ compensation benefits for a physical injury suffered on the job, many are unaware that the Massachusetts workers’ compensation system provides compensation for psychiatric injuries as well. If you believe that you suffered psychiatric harm as a result of your occupation, contact our seasoned legal team to start exploring your legal rights and options.In a recent appeal, a Massachusetts court considered an insurer’s appeal of an award of benefits to a woman based on an injury she suffered to her foot. The woman fell while walking down a flight of stairs and underwent a number of surgeries on her foot that did not result in any measurable improvement. The employer’s insurer accepted liability and provided benefit payments. The woman reported experiencing many physical limitations and difficulties associated with her foot injury over the course of her four surgeries. She reported experiencing physical limitations that limited her daily activities, such as experiencing significant discomfort in the injured foot during severely cold weather. The woman testified that as a result of these physical limitations, she often felt sad and experienced fits of anger and depression.

The judge assigned to the claim ultimately concluded that the woman was permanently and totally disabled as a result of her physical injury as well as her depression stemming from the work-related injury. The judge awarded her the full amount of disability benefits to which she was legally entitled, and the insurer appealed.

One of the assignments of error that the insurer raised on appeal was the award of benefits for the worker’s psychiatric injury. Specifically, the insurer alleged that the woman should not have been awarded benefits for this condition because the employee did not raise it at the hearing and that there was no medical report submitted regarding her psychiatric condition at the time of the hearing. More specifically, the insurer argued that the judge made an error by impermissibly expanding the medical issues at the hearing beyond those raised in the broader claim.

The appellate court ultimately rejected this challenge, citing to multiple aspects of the proceedings, including a number of psychiatric records that the worker submitted, such as a psychiatric examination performed by an impartial medical examiner. Although the doctor who performed this examination concluded that the employee did not currently suffer from depression, he concluded that the worker would benefit from treatment for her condition, including an antidepressant and psychotherapy. After rejecting the insurer’s other assignments of error, the appellate court upheld the award of benefits.

If you were harmed at work, we are standing by and ready to assist you with understanding your legal rights. As experienced Boston workers’ compensation lawyers, we know that the claims process can seem daunting and complicated. Our diligent team of responsive and compassionate legal professionals will ensure that you are guided through each step of the process and that you understand what is happening with your claim. To schedule your free consultation, call us at 781-843-2200 or contact us online.

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