Reviewing Board Upholds an Award of Temporary Total Disability Benefits for a Massachusetts Worker with Carpal Tunnel Injuries

When you find yourself in need of workers’ compensation benefits, it is important to be sure you make your best possible presentation and arguments at your hearing. It is generally much easier to defeat an employer’s appeal of your successful workers’ compensation hearing (and award of benefits) than it is to mount a successful appeal of your unsuccessful workers’ compensation hearing (and denial of benefits). When it comes to making that strong presentation, be sure you have the skill and knowledge of an experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney on your side.

As an example of this, take the case of N.F. N.F. was a woman with an eighth-grade education who had spent much of her working life in industrial jobs. For nearly two decades, she worked at a facility that made plastic buckets and lids. The work was strenuous, repetitive and it required near-constant use of the employee’s fingers and hands. After 19 years at this job, the work began taking its toll. At age 53, N.F. began experiencing pain and numbness in her hands and fingers. She had surgery and attempted to return to work, but had to leave again due to throbbing pain and numbness.

At that point, the woman filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. There are various types of workers’ compensation benefits you can obtain. There are disability benefits, which can be permanent or temporary. A workplace injury that leaves you unable to work at all for a period of time, but will allow for a return at a future date, may entitle you to temporary total disability benefits, which is written into the law in Section 34 of the Workers’ Compensation statute.

The judge in N.F.’s case concluded that the evidence she presented was enough to demonstrate eligibility for temporary total disability benefits under Section 34. The judge also concluded that the injured woman was also entitled to receive benefits to cover her medical expenses.

The employer’s insurer appealed but did not succeed. Winning your workers’ compensation hearing is very important because if the case goes before the Reviewing Board, the board will look at the workers’ compensation judge’s decision and ask a very narrow question. That is: was the ruling so unreasonable as to meet the legal definition of “arbitrary” or “capricious”? If it wasn’t, and if the judge didn’t make any rulings outside the scope of her authority, then the Reviewing Board will uphold the decision. This is true even if there are some discrepancies in the judge’s ruling. In N.F.’s case, the judge’s opinion said in one place that the worker could not carry grocery bags, cut meat or do the laundry. The testimony, though, seemed to indicate that N.F. had significant difficulty doing these chores, but doing them was not impossible for her. These discrepancies were considered minor, however, and they didn’t make the judge’s decision so unreasonable that it had to be thrown out.

What N.F.’s case highlights, in a substantial way, is just how important it is to put your best case forward from the very start. Skilled Plymouth County workers’ compensation attorney Michael S. Mehrmann can provide the representation you need in that hearing, having spent many years effectively representing people from across Plymouth County, including Kingston, Plymouth, Marshfield, Hanson, Carver, Pembroke, and Duxbury, in their workers’ compensation cases. To find out more about how we can help you get the benefits you deserve, call (781) 585-3911 or contact us online.