Workers' CompensationMassachusetts Court Holds Administrative Law Judge Did not Err in Adopting Independent Medical Examiner Opinion or Disregarding Vocational Expert Opinion

February 27, 20190

Massachusetts’ workers’ compensation system is meant to provide injured workers with benefits to replace the wages that they will miss while recovering from or dealing with a work-related injury. One of the core issues in the claim is the amount of benefits that the injured worker is entitled to receive. To that end, the parties can submit a variety of evidence and there are specific rules on the type of evidence that a judge must take into consideration or note in his or her decision. As seasoned Boston work injury lawyers, we are prepared to help you ensure that these rules are applied fairly in your claim.

The Massachusetts Court of Appeal issued an opinion recently in a case where the employer’s insurer filed a motion to discontinue or in the alternative to modify an injured worker’s benefit payments. The employee fell out of a large fuel truck that he was driving and suffered injuries to his elbow, shoulder, and head. The injuries prevented him from returning to work and he collected temporary total disability benefits. The insurer provided a medical report from an independent medical examiner in support of its motion to discontinue or modify the benefits.

Ultimately, the judge concluded that the employee remained totally and temporarily disabled and issued an order requiring the insurer to continue paying benefits. The insurer filed an appeal, arguing that the judge erred in relying on testimony from the independent medical examiner indicating that the employee’s post-concussion syndrome and other medical issues that he was experiencing were related to the fall from the truck. More specifically, the insurer asserted that the independent medical examiner cited nothing more than a temporal similarity between these injuries and the accident and did not sufficiently establish causation, rendering it a reversible error for the judge to rely on this opinion to require the insurer to continue paying benefits.

The appellate court rejected these arguments on appeal, finding that the judge did not commit an error in relying on the independent medical examiner’s report. Evidence in the record supported the judge’s findings and award of temporary total disability benefits including testimony from the worker that he did not feel capable of returning to work. It also disagreed with the insurer that the administrative law judge should have discussed in its statement of decision the vocational expert report submitted into evidence and the reason why the court did not adopt its findings. According to precedent, judges are not required to provide reasons for adopting or not adopting evidence admitted in a workers’ compensation claim.

If you suffered an injury at work, you should seek guidance from a tenacious Boston workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as possible to ensure that you receive the benefits and medical reimbursement payments that you deserve. At the Law Office of Michael O. Smith, we believe that injured workers have a right to be treated fairly and efficiently when their job duties result in them suffering serious physical injuries. We offer a free consultation to help you learn about our services and the claims process. Call us now at 67-263-0060 or contact us online to get started.

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