Workers' CompensationMassachusetts Appellate Court Reverses Wage Earning Capacity Decision for Injured Public School Teacher

January 18, 20210

One of the key steps in a workers’ compensation claim is calculating the amount of weekly wages that you earned prior to the accident and the amount of compensation that you may be able to still earn performing different work or light-duty tasks. This figure is used to determine the amount of benefits that you will receive as part of your workers’ compensation support. If the court makes a mistake or uses the wrong information, you could end up receiving less than you actually deserve. For many injured workers, this can have a devastating financial impact on their well-being and family health. Scheduling a consultation with a Boston work injury lawyer to make sure that your rights are protected is one of the best decisions you can make.

Recently, the Massachusetts Court of Appeal issued an opinion in a claim where a full-time public school teacher filed a claim for benefits. The woman hurt her right shoulder performing tasks in her classroom. She informed her supervisors about the injury. Over time, it did not heal, and the pain became more severe until she suffered a severe injury while using a device to cut paper. Despite the injury, the teacher continued her job duties until her retirement in 2010. She reported the paper cutting device injury later in the year.

The teacher filed a claim seeking workers’ compensation benefits, but an issue came up about her earning capacity. The judge determined that the teacher could earn $500 per week. The teacher alleged that the judge assigned a significantly higher earning capacity than necessary and that the record did not include enough evidence to support the finding. The teacher appealed, and the appellate court concluded that the judge made an error. After reviewing the medical evidence in the record and the teacher’s testimony, the appellate court found that there was no change in her condition and that, in fact, her pain persisted.


Although the teacher testified that her pain was occasionally improving, the appellate court did not find enough evidence to show that there was a substantial or meaningful change in her condition. The appellate court noted that the medical records offered into evidence actually showed that the teacher had a limited range of motion and persistent right shoulder pain. As a result, the appellate court reversed the lower court’s ruling finding that the teacher could still earn $500 per week.

Additionally, the appellate court rejected the workers’ compensation insurance company’s position that using a paper cutting device was a common task that could not be the basis of a work injury. The appellate court pointed to evidence in the record stating that the teacher used the device on a daily basis and was injured while using it on two other occasions.

If you were hurt at work, you might be entitled to benefits and other financial support. It is critical for you and your family to get the compensation you need to support you throughout this difficult time, especially if you are unsure of whether your injuries will ever truly heal. The Boston work injury lawyers at Mass Injury Group offer a free consultation so that you can discuss your situation with one of our staff members. Call now at 617-263-0060 or contact us online to get started.

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