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Massachusetts Court of Appeals Affirms Termination of Injured Employee’s Workers’ Compensation Benefits

A typical Cape Cod workers’ compensation case involves several different types of benefits, including medical care, temporary disability, and permanent disability. The determination of what is due an injured worker in a particular case can be a complex process. Oftentimes, there is a great amount of disagreement between the injured worker and his or her employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company regarding the benefits that are due.

Employees have a right to legal counsel during the benefits determination process. If you have been hurt and are wondering whether you should hire an attorney to represent you in your case, please keep in mind that workers’ compensation attorneys do not charge legal fees up front. Rather, your attorney’s fee will be paid out of any settlement or judgment that you receive, so that the inability to pay an attorney when you are already hurt and out of work is not a barrier.

Facts of the Case

The claimant in a recent (unreported) workers’ compensation case appealed to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Appeals Court was woman who injured her back in mid-March of 2014 while working as a law librarian for a law firm. The plaintiff first sought medical treatment for her back injury in June 2014. She permanently left her employment in December 2014, at which time she was allegedly still suffering from pain, muscle spasms, and swelling. In September 2015, the employer’s workers’ compensation insurer filed a complaint to discontinue the claimant’s disability benefits.

The administrative law judge held that the claimant was totally disabled from December 2014 to December 2015, that she was partially disabled from December 2015 to September 2016, and that any disability suffered by the claim after September 2016 was not work-related. Accordingly, the claimant’s disability payments were discontinued as of September 2016. The Board of the Department of Industrial Accidents affirmed the administrative law judge’s decision, and the claimant sought further review from the court of appeals.

Decision of the Court

The court of appeals affirmed the decision of the reviewing board. Although the claimant argued that the board’s decision to affirm the administrative law judge’s decision terminating her workers’ compensation benefits was arbitrary and capricious and/or an abuse of discretion, the reviewing court disagreed. The court began by explaining that the board’s decision would only be set aside if there was inadequate evidentiary and factual support or if it was not the product of a reasoned decision-making process within the requirements of Massachusetts workers’ compensation law.

In the court’s opinion, the claimant had failed to show entitlement to relief under the applicable standards, considering the opinions of multiple medical experts (one of whom was hired by the claimant and opined that there may have been at least some “symptoms magnification” by the claimant. With regard to the claimant’s argument regarding the pay rate upon her benefits were calculated by the administrative law judge, the court found that any error redounded in the claimant’s favor and was, thus, not prejudicial.

Legal Professional Here to Help with Your Cape Cod Work Injury Case

Many challenges and complications, both in the physical sense and in the legal sense, can follow a work-related accident. If you have questions about your legal rights and want to discuss your case with a seasoned Cape Cod workers’ compensation attorney, please contact The Law Offices of John C. Manoog III, via this website or by dialing 888-262-6664. We will be glad to schedule a time to discuss the details of your case with you and help you determine the best course of action going forward.

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