Massachusetts Court of Appeal Upholds Award of Benefits to a Nurse who Suffered Total Incapacitation while Assisting Patient

Nurses and hospital employees face some of the most common work-related injuries, especially if their job duties involve lifting and repositioning patients. As dedicated Boston work injury lawyers, we have handled workers’ compensation claims on behalf of countless nurses and medical professionals. Many medical professionals also suffer multiple work-related injuries over the course of their careers, creating additional issues that can make it challenging to establish a right to benefits. Our team is standing by and ready to help you navigate the claims process while ensuring that you receive the compensation that you legally deserve.

In a recent case, the injured worker was a nurse who suffered a series of injuries during her career, including an injury to her back while she was lifting a 350-pound patient into a vehicle. She was also involved in two car accidents throughout her career for which she received medical treatment. The final injury that the worker sustained happened in 2011 when she was assisting her coworkers in lifting a 400-pound patient. She finished her shift and reported to work the following day, but she ultimately decided to take a leave of absence from her job due to the pain, wear and tear, and work injuries that she sustained throughout her career.

She filed a claim for benefits and the insurer denied it, raising a number of defenses including causal relationship, disability, liability, and more. The judge ordered the insurer to pay temporary benefits as well as reimbursement for medical expenses. Another hearing took place and the commission awarded the plaintiff additional benefits. The insurer appealed, raising the same issues and defenses.

On review, the appellate court first noted that the worker only sought benefits from the date of her 2011 accident. Reviewing the record, the court concluded that there was sufficient evidence to find that the worker was totally disabled as a result of the 2011 accident. The appellate court amended the judge’s order and issued an average weekly wage of $592.85 and indicated that the employee could file another claim for weekly benefits if she chose.

The appellate court rejected the insurers’ allegation that the worker’s job duties were not the primary cause of her injury. The court noted that when an insurer raises issues regarding causation, the worker is not required to meet a higher burden of proof showing that the new work-related injury was the major cause of his or her disability, where the preexisting conditions are work-related. Because the worker had suffered multiple other injuries that stemmed from her work as a certified nursing assistant, the appellate court rejected the insurer’s argument.

If you were hurt at work, it is essential for you to understand the full scope of your rights and to ensure that you are treated fairly by insurance companies. At Pulgini & Norton, we provide diligent, compassionate and responsive legal counsel to injured workers throughout Massachusetts. We offer a free consultation to help you learn more about how the claims process works and whether you have a viable claim. Call us now at 781-843-2200 or contact us online to get started.

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