When you are injured at work and deemed eligible for benefit payments, you have the option of requesting a lump sum settlement instead of weekly or periodic payments. This is a decision that should not be taken lightly. As experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyers, we have guided many injured workers through the claims process and helped them determine a strategy to maximize their recovery.
In a recent appellate opinion, the court considered whether accepting a lump sum payment affects the injured employee’s ability to appeal the amount of benefits awarded to the employee. The employee in the case was a materials handler who suffered an injury to his left arm while working. After filing a workers’ compensation claim with his employer’s insurer, the man received weekly benefit payments based on a $400 average weekly wage for a specific period of time. During the next four years, the employee changed jobs many times and eventually took work at a stable. He also claimed that his prior work injury still caused him pain. He did not suffer a new workplace injury but instead sought medical treatment. He eventually ceased working and did not return to work as a result of the pain he was experiencing. When he ceased working, his average weekly wage was determined to be $265. The worker filed a new claim for benefits, and the original insurer that provided benefit payments joined the action. The insurer claimed that the new job that the worker held created the basis for a new work injury.
The employee underwent a neutral examination by a doctor, and the doctor’s report was admitted as evidence in the new claim. The parties were also allowed to submit additional evidence, due to the complex medical issues in the case. Considering the report and the parties’ evidence, the judge concluded that while the employee was totally disabled at first, he was now capable of performing light-duty work. Based on this, he was awarded total disability benefits from the date that he ceased working and ongoing. The judge also determined that the man could earn roughly $64 per week and that his average weekly wage was $265. At the conclusion of this hearing, the worker requested a lump sum settlement from the insurer. He then filed an appeal.