In 2016, a married woman and mother of two young boys was rear-ended in Weymouth, Massachusetts. She was employed as a visiting nurse and was on her way to a patient’s home and, thus, in the course of her employment at the time of the motor vehicle crash. She suffered a cervical spine injury in the accident and required extensive medical treatment.
When negotiations stalled in this woman’s third-party personal injury claim, the parties agreed to arbitration. Arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution. The arbitration was before a former Massachusetts Superior Court judge, who listened to the testimony of the witnesses and reviewed the evidence in this case. After the arbitration, this injured woman was awarded $110,857.74 in financial compensation.
Summary of the Injuries and Treatment
This injured worker suffered a painful and debilitating neck injury in the rear-end accident. Over the course her treatment, our client completed several courses of physical therapy. While the therapy helped, it did not completely resolve her symptoms. She was then referred to a neurosurgeon in Norwood, Massachusetts.
The neurosurgeon ordered and obtained an MRI of her cervical spine. She was diagnosed with spinal stenosis of the cervical region, spondylolisthesis and cervical disc disorder with radiculopathy. The neurosurgeon causally related the injuries to the motor vehicle accident. While under the care of the neurosurgeon, this injured worker was given injections of trigger points of her cervical region and surrounding areas. Additionally, the neurosurgeon recommended and administered epidural steroid injections in our client’s neck.
Following extensive treatment, the injured worker made a great recovery and was released back to work.
The Two Injury Claims From This Accident
Since this client was on the job at the time of the accident and the crash was caused by a third-party, she had two separate injury claims: a Massachusetts workers’ compensation claim and a third-party personal injury claim.
The Workers’ Compensation Claim
In Massachusetts, a worker injured while in the course of his or her employment is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. In this case, since our client was on the job at the time of the accident, workers’ compensation benefits were available. Her neck injury rendered her temporarily, totally disabled from her work. As a result, she received total disability benefits from her employer’s workers’ compensation insurer. Additionally, all of her medical treatment and bills were covered by workers’ compensation.
When this injured woman returned to work, her disability benefits stopped. Since liability was established in this workers’ compensation claim, even though she returned to work, her medical treatment continued to be covered by workers’ compensation.
The Third-Party Personal Injury Claim
While, generally, injured workers are prevented from suing their employers as a result of a work-related accident and injury, they are permitted to pursue a personal injury claim for financial compensation against a third-party. As with all personal injury claims, however, the injured worker must prove that the third-party was negligent and their negligence caused the accident and injuries.
Shortly after the accident, this injured worker hired Mahaney & Pappas, LLP to represent her. A bodily injury claim was filed with the third-party’s auto insurance carrier. While they accepted that their driver was responsible for causing the rear-end accident, they disputed the fact that the accident caused her injuries. They contended that the accident was minor and that she couldn’t have been injured and that, if she did have injuries, they were preexisting and unrelated to the crash. These are typical auto insurance tactics used in defending personal injury claims.
Initially, the third-party’s auto insurance company offered $7,000 to settle our client’s personal injury claim. Following negotiations, their offer slowly increased to $14,000. The parties, thereafter, agreed to attend an arbitration to resolve this case. Following the arbitration before a former judge of the Massachusetts Superior Court, this injured woman was awarded $110,857.74 in compensation.
The Workers’ Compensation Lien Issue
Since this woman received workers’ compensation benefits as a result of the accident, her employer’s workers’ compensation insurer had a lien on her personal injury claim. Her lien was more than $62,000. Attorney Chuck Pappas was able to negotiate the lien down to just over $23,000, which resulted in our client receiving more money from the personal injury claim.