Workers' CompensationMassachusetts Appellate Court Upholds Denial of Claim for Right Shoulder Injury Due to Fall from Work Truck at Home

January 16, 20200

If you are hurt at work then you may experience a debilitating injury that impacts not only your ability to continue your job, but your future health over the rest of your lifetime. The workers’ compensation system is designed to provide injured workers with the financial support they may need to cope with missed wages and medical expenses, but obtaining benefits can take a long time and the system can be complicated. In some cases, a worker may experience a new injury while a claim involving a prior work injury is pending, creating issues about whether the new injury should be combined with the old injury. As dedicated Boston workers’ compensation lawyers, let Mass Injury Group help you ensure that you receive the outcome that you deserve.

Recently, the Massachusetts Court of Appeal considered a claim where a worker experienced a major injury: a torn rotator cuff. The man worked as a crane operator when the injury happened and had worked as an ironworker for the majority of his adult career. The insurance carrier for the employer accepted liability for the injury. The man then obtained medical treatment including surgery. He was eventually able to return to light duty work which largely involved clerical activities.

About two years on, the employee slipped when he was getting out of his vehicle while on his way home from the office. He experienced a right shoulder injury as a result. When the man testified about the accident, he stated that as he started to fall, he tucked his left shoulder inward to protect it from any further injury. This caused him to strike his right shoulder on the running board attached to the vehicle. The man was treated for this injury and was able to go back to work the next day. He underwent another surgery for his left shoulder after this. The man sought workers’ compensation benefits for the fall impacting his right shoulder.


The claim for the right shoulder was denied and the man appealed. An independent medical examiner reviewed the man’s case and performed a physical examination. The report that he produced concluded that he needed a prosthesis for his left shoulder and that returning to his job, which involved heavy labor, was not possible. The doctor next reported that the man experienced a rotator cuff tear in his right shoulder that needed immediate surgery. Finally, he said that even if the right shoulder injury were to resolve, he would still be unable to perform heavy labor.

The judge reviewed these facts as well as testimony that the man provided during a hearing and ultimately found that the injury involving the right shoulder was not related to the left shoulder injury. As a result, the man could not receive benefits for the injury in the same claim. An appellate court affirmed this finding. The right shoulder injury happened when the man was at home and not involved in work activities even though he was using his work truck. The fact that he had brought his work computer home with him was not significant to the court. The man performed clerical duties, which meant that he had a fixed place of work and did not work from another location once he left the office.

If you suffered an injury on the job, we are prepared to assist you with asserting your right to benefits and medical expenses reimbursements. You probably have many questions about the workers’ compensation system, how it works, and whether you will be provided with benefit payments. Call our office at 617-263-0060 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.

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