When a 60-year-old gentleman was injured on the job, he hired Attorney Chuck Pappas to represent him in his Massachusetts workers’ compensation claim. This man was a driver for a transportation company and was injured in a rear-end motor vehicle accident. He suffered a serious shoulder injury in the car accident and was unable to return to work. In the end, Attorney Pappas was able to secure a $67,500 lump sum settlement for this client.
The Accident, Injury & Treatment
One day this worker was was on his way to pick up special needs passengers. When he was traveling in Holliston, MA he came to a stop at a red light. A distracted driver failed to see the red light and the stopped transportation van our client was driving and crashed right into the rear of the van. The impact of the collision was significant and resulted in our client suffering a serious shoulder injury.
Initially, this client underwent conservative treatment including physical therapy and cortisone injections. This conservative treatment, however, failed to provide this worker with any relief of his painful symptoms. The worker was then referred to an orthopedic surgeon that specializes in shoulder injuries.
An MRI of his shoulder was obtained and revealed a severely torn rotator cuff. The surgeon recommended shoulder surgery. The worker had the surgery and spent many months recovering from the procedure. He continued to suffer significant pain, discomfort and restrictions in his shoulder. Due to the complications and symptoms, he was unable to return to work in any capacity.
Months after his first shoulder surgery, he was referred to another shoulder specialist. He was diagnosed with post-operative shoulder pain and a second surgery was recommended. This second surgery was a reverse total shoulder replacement. Because of the severe pain our client was in, he decided to move forward with the second surgery. After the second surgery, the injured worker continued with physical therapy. While the pain was reduced significantly, this client still had some discomfort and restrictions in performing routine movements in his shoulder. Although he made a decent recovery, he was still unable to return to work.
The Process of the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Claim
Following the motor vehicle crash that caused this client’s shoulder injury, his employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier voluntarily paid him temporary total disability benefits. In Massachusetts, total temporary disability benefits from workers’ compensation are available to injured worker for three years or 156 weeks. Two years into this client’s recovery from his injuries the workers’ compensation insurer filed a discontinuance request seeking to terminate his workers’ compensation benefits. Their request was based upon their position that this injured worker was capable of returning to gainful employment. That’s when Attorney Pappas took action.
In anticipation of the conference on the insurer’s complaint, Attorney Chuck Pappas obtained all the necessary and related medical records as well as an opinion letter from the treating surgeon. The surgeon’s opinion letter was crucial in opposing the insurer’s request for discontinuance. The surgeon detailed the extent of the injury, that this injured worker was unable to return to work and had a permanent partial disability in his shoulder. Armed with this evidence, Attorney Pappas was successful in opposing the insurer’s request to terminate the disability benefits and convinced the judge at the Department of Industrial Accidents to deny the insurer’s request.
Then, a year after the denial of the insurer’s request, Attorney Pappas strategically filed a claim for permanent and total disability benefits for this client before his temporary total disability benefits expired. The strategy was to have the claim for permanent and total disability benefits to be heard before the three years of total disability benefits ended. This was done so the client would not have a gap in receiving workers’ compensation benefits while he remained unable to return to work. If an injured worker collects all three years of total disability benefits in Massachusetts, the workers’ compensation insurer may refuse to pay the injured worker any further benefits. Thus, unless a judge orders the insurer to pay the injured worker additional benefits after the three-year expiration (e.g., permanent and total benefits or partial disability benefits) or the insurer agrees to pay additional benefits, the injured worker could be left in a position where he or she is unable to work and would not have any benefits to replace the wages he or she is unable to earn due to the injuries suffered on the job. Due to this risk, Attorney Pappas filed the claim in anticipation of the total disability benefits ending at the end of the three-year mark.
The claim for permanent and total disability benefits proceeded through the typical process of a Massachusetts workers’ compensation claim. After the conciliation, Attorney Pappas negotiated with the workers’ compensation insurer’s attorney for a lump sum settlement. Before the conference, Attorney Pappas was able to obtain a lump sum settlement of $67,500 for this client. The settlement represented approximately four and one-half years of future permanent and total disability benefits. With the settlement, this injured worker collected nearly seven and one-half years of disability benefits (three year of total disability benefits and four and one-half of permanent and total disability benefits). This client was very happy and appreciative of Attorney Pappas’ representation.