Workers who are injured on the job are entitled to compensation in the form of payment of medical expenses and partial reimbursement of lost wages (in the form of disability payments). Even after a case has been settled, there is the possibility of pursing additional benefits under certain circumstances.
This is different from other types of personal injury cases, such as automobile accident lawsuits. In most tort cases, once a final settlement or judgment is reached, the plaintiff is without a further remedy.
Of course, the burden is on the plaintiff to prove entitlement to further workers’ compensation benefits, and insurance companies typically resist paying additional benefits without a fight.
Facts of the Case
In Daniel Wilson’s Case, the plaintiff was a heavy equipment mechanic who was injured while working on a hydraulic pump in a truck in 2006. He had surgery on his right shoulder in 2007 and settled his claim for workers’ compensation in 2008. Due to continuing bilateral shoulder pain, the plaintiff filed an additional claim for workers’ compensation benefits in 2011.
In the second claim, the plaintiff sought payment of medical benefits for injuries to both his right and left shoulders. His employer’s workers’ compensation insurer disputed the claim, but an administrative law judge found in the plaintiff’s favor. The reviewing board of the Department of Industrial Accidents reversed the administrative law judge’s decision and dismissed the plaintiff’s claim. The plaintiff appealed.
Decision of the Massachusetts Appeals Court
The appellate court reversed the reviewing board’s decision and reinstated the administrative law judge’s decision in favor of the plaintiff. According to the court, the administrative law judge acted within his discretion in finding a causal relationship between the plaintiff’s 2006 industrial accident and the left shoulder injury for which he sought benefits.
In so holding, the court noted that the administrative law judge had found the plaintiff to be a credible witness with regard to the nature and cause of his left shoulder injury and that an employee did not have to exclude all other possible causes of an injury in order to recover workers’ compensation benefits. According to the court, the fact that the doctor who performed an independent medical evaluation on the plaintiff opined that the injury could possibly have arisen from something other than the industrial accident did not destroy the probative force of the plaintiff’s testimony.
If You Need Assistance with a Work-Related Injury Claim
If you have been hurt at work, you have several important legal rights, including the right to hire an attorney of your choosing to represent you in proceedings involving your employer or your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company. At the Law Offices of John C. Manoog, III, we regularly assist injured workers as they strive to recover maximum compensation for injuries on the job. To schedule a free consultation with an experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney, call us at 888-262-6664. We have offices in Hyannis and Plymouth, and we serve clients throughout the Cape Cod area.
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