Massachusetts Appellate Court Upholds Award of Benefits to Truck Driver who Suffered Traumatic Brain Injury at Work

When you suffer an injury at work, the workers’ compensation insurance company may try to argue that it is not required to pay benefits based on a number of theories and defenses. For example, the insurer may allege that your injury did not stem from a work-related event. As seasoned Boston workers’ compensation lawyers, we have assisted countless injured workers in fighting for their rights when they are suffering from serious and painful work-related injuries.

In a recent claim dispute, the worker was reportedly injured when he fell backward out of his fuel delivery truck, causing injuries to his elbows, shoulder, and head. He did not return to work after the injury and received temporary incapacity benefits. The insurer eventually filed a claim to modify or discontinue the weekly benefit payments and provided a copy of an independent medical examiners report in support of the petition. Eventually, the judge concluded that the employee was temporarily totally disabled as a result of the accident and ordered additional benefit payments. In reaching this decision, the judge relied on the independent medical examiner’s report.

The insurer raised a number of issues on appeal. First, it claimed that the judge should not have relied on the report because the doctor’s findings were based on nothing more than a temporal relationship theory. The appellate court rejected this, finding that there was substantial evidence that the worker was suffering from post-concussion syndrome, post-traumatic head injury pain, causalgia, and other conditions stemming from the accident. The employee testified to suffering memory issues, difficulty focusing, and vertigo, which were all in line with the doctor’s diagnosis and findings.

The appellate court also rejected the insurer’s argument that the doctor improperly relied on nothing more than the employee’s testimony to conclude that he was totally disabled. The judge made independent findings relying on information about the worker’s daily activity limitations and concluded that the worker was a credible witness who genuinely believed that he could not return to any type of work.

The court also found no error in the judge’s failure to mention testimony from a vocational expert. The judge listed the evidence as an exhibit but was not required to make any mention of it in the event the judge did not credit it. If the judge had failed to list the evidence as an exhibit, there may have been a basis for reversing the award of benefits. Finding no other errors in the lower judge’s conclusions, the appellate court upheld the award of benefits. The appellate court also awarded the worker attorney’s fees to cover the cost of defending against the appeal.

If you were hurt at work, you should speak with a compassionate and dedicated workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as possible to make sure that you assert your right to benefit payments. Pulgini & Norton, LLP knows how overwhelmed you probably feel and how complicated things can be when you are unable to work. We provide a free consultation to help you learn about our legal team and whether we can assist you. To schedule a free consultation, call us at 781-843-2200 or contact us online.

Contact Information