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Employer Cannot Get Credit for Lump Sum Previously Paid in Workers’ Compensation Case, Rules Court

According to a ruling by a state Supreme Court, an employer is not allowed to get credited for the full amount of a lump sum workers’ compensation settlement that it already paid in a case that was later re-opened after the employee’s occupational disability worsened. The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled that the employer Gardens Glen Farm did not have a right to receive dollar-for-dollar credit for payments made previously to the claimant.

The employee, Bethany Balderas, was seriously injured while working as an exercise trainer for Gardens Glen in 2006. The horse she was riding fell and rolled over her, causing her to fracture two vertebrae. She underwent fusion surgery before going back to work. For her harm suffered, Balderas negotiated a $100K lump sum payment based in part on a 29% disability impairment rating.

However, according to court filings, she petitioned to have her workers’ compensation claim re-opened because her occupational disability had worsened. An administrative law judge ruled two years later that Balderas had demonstrated that with a decreased range of spinal motion and other impairment issues, her impairment had increased by 30%. She also was no longer able to work as an exercise trainer.
The judge awarded her 425 weeks of permanent partial disability benefits at a rate of $275/week. That amount was determined in part by Balderas’s eligbility of $456.25 in benefits a week, with $180.42/week credited to offset her claim when she had settled earlier with Gardens Glen.

The company, however, appealed, claiming that the $100,000 lump sum should have been used to offset the new amount instead. The judge’s ruling was upheld by the state’s Workers’ Compensation Board, an appeals court, and now the state Supreme Court.

In Massachusetts, like in other U.S. states, workers are usually entitled go workers’ compensation benefits for injuries and illnesses sustained on the job. However, disputes may arise, which is why you want to have an experienced Boston work injury law firm handling your case.

Sometimes, a Massachusetts workers’ compensation claim may even end up in court when there is a disagreement over how much (if any) is owed. Getting paid your work benefits is so important, especially as typically a worker cannot sue for personal injury or wrongful death.

In Boston and throughout Massachusetts, contact Altman & Altman, LLP today and ask to speak with our Boston work injury lawyers.

Earlier cash settlement doesn’t reduce workers comp benefits, Business Insurance, May 19, 2015

Workers’ Compensation, Massachusetts Gov.

Massachusetts Law about Workers’ Compensation, Massachusetts Court System

 

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