The existence of a pre-existing condition can be an important factor in a workers’ compensation case, but a pre-existing condition, in and of itself, does not necessarily mean that the matter will be resolved in the employer’s favor.
Under Massachusetts law, the work injury does not have to be the predominant cause of the injury for which the worker seeks workers’ compensation benefits. Instead, the decisive consideration is whether the work-related injury was a major cause of the worker’s disability.
Facts and Procedural Posture of the Case
In the recent unreported appeals court decision of Adrian Aleman’s Case, the plaintiff was a parking meter attendant supervisor who filed a workers’ compensation claim against the defendant city for which he worked following an alleged on-the-job injury. An administrative law judge granted disability benefits to the plaintiff pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 152, § 34. The reviewing board of the Department of Industrial Accidents reversed that decision based on a pre-existing condition suffered by the plaintiff, and the plaintiff appealed.
Decision of the Massachusetts Appeals Court
The court affirmed the board’s decision. Although the employee argued that his pre-existing condition was compensable and that the pre-existing condition, combined with his present claimed injury, was the major cause of his current disability, the court disagreed. The court noted that the plaintiff had suffered non-work-related injuries to his back in two separate car accidents, in addition to a prior work-related injury in 2008.
In reviewing the plaintiff’s various injuries over the past several years, the court agreed with the employer that the plaintiff had failed to meet his burden of showing that his current injury was a major cause of his current disability. Massachusetts Gen. Laws ch. 152, § 1(7A) imposes a heightened proof of causation requirement on an employee in cases in which a claimed injury is a result of a combination of past events, including non-compensable, pre-existing conditions. The medical experts on whom the plaintiff relied to establish his disability did not offer an opinion in their reports as to the significance of the plaintiff’s pre-existing condition as compared to his current disability. Without proof that his new injury was a major cause of his disability, the plaintiff’s case failed.
Get Help with Your Cape Cod Workers’ Compensation Case
Work-related injury cases, especially those in which an aggravation of a pre-existing condition may be at issue, can be challenging. If you have been hurt on the job, you should talk to a lawyer about your case as soon as possible. To schedule an appointment with a skillful Cape Cod workers’ compensation attorney, call the Law Offices of John C. Manoog, III, at (888) 262-6664. We do not charge a fee unless your case is successfully concluded by settlement or judgment, and we can come to your home or hospital if you can’t come to us for an appointment. Nos falamos Portugues!
Related Blog Posts