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Court Denies Relief to Massachusetts Woman Who Sought Late Appeal of Workers’ Compensation Agreement

Cape Cod work injuries are common. In order to receive the benefits to which he or she is entitled, the injured employee must take several proactive steps. First and foremost, the worker must give the employee notice of the accident, injury, or work-related illness. A formal claim must also be filed within a set period of time. Having an attorney handle this aspect of the case is wise. After all, the employer and its insurance company are routinely engaged in such matters, and a worker who may be filing a claim for the first time can be at a substantial disadvantage.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case considered by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, the plaintiff was a woman who had filed a workers’ compensation claim some years prior. Her claim eventually proceeded to a hearing before the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents, which approved a “lump sum agreement” in 2016. Almost two years later, the plaintiff filed a motion asking that she be granted an extension of time in which to file an appeal from the agreement previously approved by the department. An administrative law judge denied the plaintiff’s motion for an extension of time in which to appeal, as well as her motion for reconsideration.

The plaintiff then filed a notice of appeal in the Massachusetts Appeals Court, seeking review of the administrative law judge’s orders denying her motions. The court (through a single justice) treated the plaintiff’s “notice of appeal” as a motion for leave to file a late notice of appeal and denied the plaintiff’s request. The plaintiff then filed documents in a county court, seeking review pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws ch. 211, § 3. The plaintiff’s efforts to have her case reviewed by that tribunal were likewise unsuccessful.

The Court’s Decision

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the lower tribunals’ decisions refusing to grant the plaintiff additional time in which to file an appeal from the 2016 lump sum agreement. Although Massachusetts General Laws ch. 211, § 3 did provide the court with “extraordinary power of superintendence,” this power was to be sparingly, according to the supreme judicial court. In order to obtain relief under the statute, the plaintiff would have to have created a record showing that a substantive right had been substantially violated and that this violation could not have been remedied during the normal course of trial and appeal.

Unfortunately, the plaintiff merely filed two pages of documents in the county court. This did not include any part of the record from the department or from the intermediate appellate court. Without these documents or other evidence that the usual remedial routes had been inadequate, the plaintiff was not entitled to relief under the statute upon which she relied. The court also pointed out that the plaintiff could have – but chose not to – appeal the single justice’s denial of her appeal to a panel of judges.

Get Help with a Cape Cod Work Injury Case

Workers who are injured on the job may be entitled to compensation for temporary or partial disability, as well as payment of certain medical expenses. If you have been hurt on the job and need advice about filing a claim – or, if you have already filed a claim and need to talk to a lawyer about a possible settlement of your case – please call the Law Offices of John C. Manoog III, and set up a free consultation with our experienced work injury team. You can reach us at 888-262-6664.