Workers’ compensation laws are designed to give those who are hurt at work a less contentious path toward benefits (such as disability payments and medical expenses) than a traditional personal injury lawsuit, in which the plaintiff would have to prove that the defendant was negligent in order to recover compensation.
However, certain procedural requirements are still in place, and the burden remains on the plaintiff to prove his or her case.
Facts of the Case
In the recent case of Clarissa Perez’s Case, the plaintiff was a woman who had worked as an employment specialist since 2004. According to the plaintiff, she suffered three work-related injuries: a tripping accident in 2005, an injury while attempting to move a desktop printer in 2008, and a fall-down accident in 2010. In earlier litigation back in 2011, an administrative law judge denied the plaintiff’s claims of incapacity with regard to the 2005 and 2008 injuries; the board later affirmed.
In 2012, the plaintiff filed two new claims for benefits, one pertaining to the 2010 fall-down injury and the other for further physical deterioration allegedly resulting from the 2008 accident. The plaintiff’s claims were denied by an administrative law judge and thereafter by the board.
Decision of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Appeals Court
The plaintiff appealed her case to the Massachusetts Appeals Court, arguing, among other things, that the administrative law judge and the board had incorrectly applied the doctrine of claim preclusion to her 2010 injury claim. The court rejected the plaintiff’s argument, holding that the doctrine of claim preclusion was applicable to workers’ compensation cases and that the doctrine served to preclude the woman’s claim for benefits for her 2010 injury because she could have brought that claim along with the 2005 and 2008 claims that she litigated in 2011. In so holding, the court pointed out that the alleged injury occurred on November 15, 2010, and the evidentiary record on the other claims did not close until May 6, 2011.
The court also rejected the plaintiff’s argument that the administrative law judge had committed an error in discounting a portion of a medical provider’s opinion regarding the plaintiff’s 2008 injury. Since the medical provider had relied on erroneous information as to the details of the injury, the administrative law judge was not bound to accept the medical professional’s opinion on causation.
Do You Need Help with a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Receiving fair compensation for a work-related injury can be difficult, especially in situations in which a claimant has been involved in multiple accidents or may have had a pre-existing condition. The capable Cape Cod workers’ compensation attorneys at the Law Offices of John C. Manoog, III, are here to help your family and you following an on-the-job injury or illness. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at (888) 262-6664. We serve clients in Hyannis, Plymouth, and elsewhere in the greater Cape Cod area.
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