Massachusetts Appellate Court Upholds Finding of Total and Permanent Disability in Psychiatric Patient Attack Case

The Massachusetts workers’ compensation system provides benefits and medical expenses reimbursement to employees who are injured while at work. For serious and catastrophic injuries, ensuring that you receive the compensation that you deserve can be a long and difficult process. At Pulgini & Norton, our knowledgeable team of work injury lawyers is prepared to help victims of permanent injuries seek the financial assistance that they deserve.

A recent workers’ compensation claim discusses benefits in the context of a serious injury. The employee was working in a psychiatric ward when a patient attacked him, resulting in serious injuries. The patient kicked and hit the worker in his abdomen and chest, and he also lost consciousness during the attack. The worker required substantial treatment for his injuries, which consisted of chronic lumbar and leg pain, a fractured right lower leg, deep vein thrombosis, and more. The worker was not able to return to his regular occupation as a result of the injuries.

The employee filed a workers’ compensation claim seeking a variety of benefits, including temporary total incapacity benefits and reimbursement for medical expenses. The judge assigned to the workers’ compensation claim awarded the employee a variety of benefits, including temporary total incapacity benefits. The worker suffered from a pre-existing seizure disorder as well as a degenerative arthritis condition, but the judge found that these injuries did not combine with the work-related injuries or extend the worker’s need for medical treatment.

The employer appealed the award of benefits, and the reviewing board upheld the lower court’s decision. Some time thereafter, the worker filed a claim for additional benefits regarding his chronic pain. He also testified that he was unable to stand for more than 10 minutes and that he could not walk for more than 15 minutes. According to him, his right leg was prone to giving out unexpectedly, and he struggled to sleep because of his pain. The judge presiding over the hearing concluded that the employee was severely disabled as a result of his injuries and barely able to care for his own needs. An independent medical examiner also concluded that the worker suffered from permanent and chronic pain stemming from the accident. The judge awarded the employee the benefits he sought, and the insurer appealed.

On appeal, the employer argued that the court erred in relying on the independent medical examiner’s opinion to find that the employee was permanently and totally disabled because the doctor considered the employee’s pre-existing conditions in reaching this conclusion. In rejecting this argument, the appellate court stated that the court relied on the doctor’s finding that the worker was suffering from conditions related to the accident and that his conditions had a causal nexus to the accident. The judge also stated clearly in his decision awarding the employee additional benefits that the pre-existing conditions were not combined with the accident-related injuries. The appellate court rejected the employer’s remaining challenges and upheld the judge’s award of benefits.

If you suffered serious and permanent injuries on the job, you can file a workers’ compensation claim to pursue benefit payments and reimbursement for your medical expenses. The Massachusetts workers’ compensation system is complex, and knowing how to assert your rights can be daunting when you are suffering from painful disabilities. At Pulgini & Norton, we ensure that each client receives prompt, compassionate, and dedicated legal counsel at every step of the claims process. This includes gathering evidence, obtaining medical documentation, and negotiating with insurance companies. To schedule your free consultation, call us now at 781-843-2200 or contact us online.

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