Unfortunately, workplace accidents are a reality in almost any field of employment. Whether you’re an office worker or a construction worker, you have some risk of getting hurt at work. If that happens, you may have to clear several hurdles in order to get the award of benefits you deserve. One of the key parts of this process can be determining whether or not you remained totally disabled or became partially disabled. To make sure that you have a strong opportunity to get the full amount of benefits you need, make sure your claim has representation from an experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney.
One recent case that involved an issue of total disability versus partial disability was the case of Shirley, who had worked for several years as a personal care assistant. One summer day in 2012, while Shirley was helping her bedridden employer, she felt a sharp knifing pain in her lower back that went down into her leg and foot. The following April, an impartial doctor examined Shirley and determined that she had a lumbar strain and a degenerative condition in her lower back. Her limitations caused by these conditions meant that Shirley was no longer able to do the work of a personal care assistant.
A different doctor examined Shirley in September and October 2013. After the September examination, the doctor concluded that the worker could resume doing light duty work if that type of work was available. In the second appointment, though, the same doctor said that Shirley had no capacity to work until she underwent additional treatment.
Shirley filed a claim for workers’ compensation. The judge in her case determined that she was only eligible for a closed period of benefits. In some cases, a closed period of workers’ compensation benefits may be all a worker seeks and needs, providing necessary benefits when an accident keeps a worker out of work for a limited time.
In other circumstances, that type of award is wholly insufficient to meet a worker’s needs. Shirley was in the latter group, so she appealed. The case was reversed and sent back for a new hearing before a new judge. The problem with the original ruling was that the judge’s conclusions were not consistent with the reports of the doctors upon whom he relied. The judge concluded that Shirley’s period of disability ended in September 2013. All of the doctors upon whose testimony the judge relied saw Shirley in the first part of 2013, and none of them opined that she would cease being disabled at some future date, like September. When a judge’s decision cannot be squared with the evidence upon which he stated he relied, the party bringing an appeal is entitled to a reversal.
To make sure you have the representation you need to get the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve, reach out to Plymouth County workers’ compensation attorney Michael S. Mehrmann. This office is dedicated to helping injured workers from across Plymouth County, including in Kingston, Plymouth, Marshfield, Hanson, Carver, Pembroke, and Duxbury, in dealing with their legal needs. To find out more about how we can assist you, call (781) 585-3911 or contact us online.