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Types of Health Issues from Work

There are many different types of injuries that can occur at work and are typically seen in Boston workplace injury cases. In some cases, we are dealing with an employee who has a pre-existing condition that is aggravated by a workplace accident. In other instances, injuries and illnesses could have numerous potential causal factors. It is our job to prove they are workplace injuries that will entitle the employee to workers’ compensation benefits.

There are also specific injuries allowing for special benefits awards paid above and beyond the typical workers’ compensation benefits award for lost wages and medical expenses. According to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 152, Section 36, injuries that involve the amputation or loss of function of a limb or extremity such as such as leg, arm, hand, foot, finger, or toe will qualify for these additional benefits, as they are considered specific injuries within the meaning of the statute.

Our workers’ compensation attorneys in Boston handle cases involving many different types of injuries. Some of the many injuries and medical issues we have seen include:

  • Aggravation of a pre-existing condition
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) / Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD)
  • Exposure to Toxic Substances
  • Industrial Disease
  • Loss of Vision
  • Loss of Hearing
  • Musculoskeletal Disorders
  • Nerve Damage such as Ulnar Neuropathy
  • Overexertion
  • And many others.
Aggravation of a Pre-Existing Condition

In many cases, a worker will suffer from a pre-existing condition that gets worse as result of a workplace accident or illness, or simply the stress and exertion of doing the job on a regular basis. The aggravated pre-existing condition may still be compensable under M.G.L. Chapter 152, Section 1(7a), so long as the workplace accident was a major cause of the disability included in the Boston workers’ compensation claim.

For example, if a worker has osteoporosis, and she (the condition is much more common in women) is lifting a heavy piece of merchandise, this might cause her to suffer a fractured arm. This can include a closed or stable fracture, where the bone does not slide apart, or it can include an open fracture, where the bone actually breaks through the skin. This would not have happened to an employee who did not suffer from osteoporosis, which is a pre-existing condition. However, the lifting of the box was a major cause of the accident, as the accident would not have occurred during the course of her employment had she not been lifting that box at work. As a result, this may allow the employee to receive workers’ compensation benefits for what is the aggravation of a pre-existing condition.

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) / Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD)

Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) and reflect sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) are conditions that can occur following an injury. A common example would be a worker who slips and falls while on the job and suffers a knee injury. Following the injury, the employee starts to experience pain and numbness in the affected limb. It becomes a chronic condition that is quite painful and may entitle the employee to workers’ compensation benefits.

One complication with this condition is that the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company may argue that employee is malingering and does not really have CRPS or RSD. The best thing the employee can do is speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who will fight for a full and appropriate benefits award. Fortunately, the Massachusetts workers’ compensation system is set up in such a way that there is no fee for the experienced workers’ compensation attorney unless the employee is successful and obtains benefits.

This is similar to the issues we often see with bone diseases such as osteoporosis, as mentioned above, and osteoarthritis and joint diseases. Osteoporosis is a bone disease that is caused by bone loss due to holes forming in the bone. This makes bones porous, which is where the condition gets its name. Osteoarthritis is joint disease where the cartilage that acts as a shock absorber between the bones degenerates. This, again, is a pre-existing condition, but it can be aggravated by an on-the-job injury or the above-average wear and tear from the job. This may allow for an employee to be compensated for his or her injuries.

Industrial Disease

There are many jobs that expose workers to toxic chemicals and hazardous substances on a regular basis. One of the more common types of industrial disease we see in our workers’ compensation cases in Boston involves diseases caused by exposure to deadly asbestos fibers.

This can include the following:

  • Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma (MPM)
  • Malignant Peritoneal Mesothelioma
  • Malignant Pericardial Mesothelioma
  • Asbestosis
  • Pleural plaques
  • Pleural thickening
  • Lung cancer

Lung cancer is on this list because lung cancer can be caused by exposure to deadly asbestos fibers. This is a distinct form of cancer from the various types of mesothelioma listed above, but if it occurs due to occupational asbestos exposure, a worker may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.

Loss of Vision

Loss of vision in one or both eyes due to a workplace accident is considered a specific injury under M.G.L. Chapter 152, Section 36. Included is both the loss of an actual eyeball, which is called enucleation, as well as loss of vision to the point where it is not correctable with contact lenses or glasses to 20/70 vision. If the injury is to one eye, the benefits an injured employee may be owed are calculated by taking the state average weekly wage (AWW) at the time of the injury and multiplying that figure by 39. If the loss of vision is to both eyes, the state average weekly wage will be multiplied by 96.

Loss of Hearing

Loss of hearing to one or both ears is also considered a specific injury that may entitle the employee to additional benefits above and beyond the standard workers’ compensation benefits that include money for lost wages and medical bills. This money will be paid in a single lump sum payment that will not have any effect on the standard award of workers’ compensation benefits. In cases where employee loses vision in both eyes, the specific injury benefits will be significantly higher than the loss of only one. Many people who only lose vision in one eye will lose binocular vision, but are able to compensate fairly well and get used to the depth perception issues.

Contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman today for a free and confidential consultation.

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