Massachusetts Worker Was No Longer Entitled to Workers’ Compensation Benefits When Continuing Disability Was Caused by Obesity and Pre-Existing Condition – Robert Amaral’s Case

When an employee is injured due to a work-related accident, the employee may be entitled to several forms of workers’ compensation benefits. These include medical care at the employer’s expense, temporary disability benefits, and, in cases involving more serious injuries, permanent disability benefits.

Of course, the burden is on the employee to show that he or she is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Recently, the Massachusetts Court of Appeals was called upon to determine whether an employee who had been receiving benefits due to a work injury was still disabled because of the accident that happened on the job or whether something else was to blame for his ongoing disability.

Facts of the Case

In the recent (unreported) case of Robert Amaral’s Case, the plaintiff was a man who worked with youths. He hurt his shoulder and back when he fell while trying to restrain two youths who were in a fight in 2009. After he had been receiving workers’ compensation benefits for a time, his employer filed a complaint with the Department of Industrial Accidents, asking that the employee’s benefits be discontinued. A hearing was held, and the administrative law judge ordered that the employee’s total incapacity benefits be discontinued but that his partial incapacity benefits be continued. Both the employer and the employee appealed.

After a de novo hearing, the administrative law judge decided to discontinue the employee’s weekly benefits on the basis that his continued disability was caused by obesity and a pre-existing condition rather than by the work injury in 2009. The reviewing board affirmed.

The Court of Appeals’ Decision

On further appeal by the employee, the court affirmed. Although the employee argued that the administrative law judge had erred in using a faulty analysis and had abused her discretion by adopting the opinion of a particular medical expert, the court found no such errors. In so holding, the court noted that an administrative law judge is free to accept or reject – in whole or in part – the opinion of a medical expert witness tendered by either of the parties. The court also noted that the expert whose testimony the plaintiff urged should be rejected was consistent with the findings and deposition of the impartial medical examiner.

For Advice About Your Work Injury Case

If you have been hurt on the job, you have a right to understand the benefits to which you may be entitled. To schedule an appointment with an experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney, call the Law Offices of John C. Manoog, III, at 888-262-6664 and ask for a free consultation. We will gladly review your situation and advise you of your legal options. In most cases, an employee’s relief is limited to workers’ compensation benefits from his or her employer (or its insurer), but occasionally the facts of a particular case will give rise to potential tort liability against a third party. There are strict time limits for the filing of both workers’ compensation claims and personal injury lawsuits, so do not delay in contacting an attorney about your injury.

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