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Ballin & Associates, LLC Ballin & Associates, LLC
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MVA Leaving Work


For many officers being injured in an accident, either on the way to or on the way home from work,  is a double-edged sword:  first, they endure the pain and suffering resulting from the motor vehicle collision; and second, many of their employers will deny them access to valuable injury on duty benefits to carry them through financially while they rehabilitate from their injuries.  When an accident occurs on the way to work or home from work, making a personal injury claim in connection with the accident can help offset the significant financial hardship which results from being unable to receive injury on duty pay and/or workers compensation benefits.   In this case, Officer Jeffrey had finished his shift and left the station on his way home in his personal vehicle.  He was close to home when Morgan Charles, traveling in the opposite direction, suddenly crossed over the center line and crashed into Officer Jeffrey’s vehicle.  The collision was severe enough to cause over $8,000 of damage to Officer Jeffrey’s vehicle and over $4,000 in damage to Morgan Charles’ vehicle.  Mr. Charles was arrested at the scene for Operating Under The Influence and Failing to Keep to the Right for an Oncoming Vehicle.  He submitted to a Breathalyzer at the station  with readings of .13 and .14 blood alcohol levels, far in excess of the .08 legal limit.  As a result of the collision, Officer Jeffrey suffered injuries to his back and left shoulder, which caused him to miss six weeks of work before he prematurely returned to full duty.  (In order to protect the privacy of the injured officer and witnesses, all names have been changed.  Any resemblance to names of real persons, past or present, is merely coincidental and not intended.  The injured officer agreed to have this article published in order that police officers around the Commonwealth be better educated about their legal rights to compensation when injured).

The accident occurred in the Spring, which made it especially difficult for Officer Jeffrey to stay out of work.  This normally would be the time of the year when he would take on road work and other details in order to supplement his base wages in order to meet his financial obligations and support his family.  It would be six weeks before he recovered enough to return to work, but even then, he found it necessary to continue with his medical treatment on his personal time to address the lingering effects of his injuries.  After his premature return to work, Officer Jeffrey continued to work through his pain during long hours operating his cruiser and while doing road work.   Unlike many Officers around the Commonwealth, Officer Jeffrey was fortunate to have his employer cover his accident as an “injury on duty”, which benefits covered the cost of the medical treatment and his base wages.   However, the injury on duty benefits he received did not cover the substantial amount he lost by not being able to do road work and other details during the six weeks that he was out of work.  

Following the accident, from his home Officer Jeffrey contacted his primary care physician, who advised rest and a heating pad for the injured areas.  When he awoke the next day, he was in so much discomfort that he went to the local emergency room where his shoulder and back injuries were examined and diagnosed.  During the next twelve months Officer Jeffrey would receive chiropractic treatment and physical therapy which included anti-inflammatory medications, pain killers, spinal manipulations, electrical stimulation, range of motion and therapeutic exercises, manual therapy, hot and cold packs, and traction.  He also had a series of x-rays and MRI’s to assist with the diagnosis of his shoulder and back conditions.  An MRI detected abnormalities in the discs between some of the vertebra in his spine, which his doctors causally related to the trauma from the motor vehicle accident.  His orthopedic surgeon advised against having surgery because it was too risky when weighed with the expected benefit, but recommended continuation of the anti-inflammatory medication, back exercises and chiropractic treatment.  When his left shoulder pain had failed to resolve after eight months, his primary care physician ordered an MRI, which revealed tendonitis in two of the tendons in his shoulder, as well as a partial tear in another tendon.  Again, rather than undergoing the risks of surgery, he was advised to continue with physical therapy and his home exercise program to strengthen the shoulder. 
Prior to the accident, Officer Jeffrey exercised regularly, ran and lifted weights.  He had also played golf and softball during the warm weather months.  As a result of this accident, Officer Jeffrey was not able to continue with his exercise program and could not golf or play softball.  He had difficulty sitting and driving for prolonged periods of time because of his ongoing back pain which became worse with lifting, standing, bending or twisting motions.  When driving, he had difficulty turning around to back up his vehicle or checking for traffic.  Anything that caused him to rotate his body caused pain and discomfort.  Officer Jeffrey experienced increased pain in his left shoulder with overhead motions, throwing or when pulling his arm from a cross over position, such as starting his lawnmower.  He also had difficulty sleeping because of the back and shoulder pain.  Officer Jeffrey is left hand dominant and when doing firearms re-training on a shotgun, he experienced increased aching, discomfort and pain in his left shoulder.  His injuries also hindered him from doing recreational activities with his  children.

The Defendant, Morgan Charles, had $100,000 of liability insurance on his vehicle, but the insurance company refused to offer more than $45,000.00, despite the fact that Morgan Charles had admitted to the OUI and other motor vehicle violations in Court.  The insurance company argued that regardless of Morgan Charles’ clear liability, Officer Jeffrey’s injuries were rather minimal as evidenced by his fairly quick return to work (six weeks);  he suffered no fractures and required no surgery; and had already received injury on duty benefits.  We countered that the injury on duty benefits did not compensate him for his lost pay from being unable to do details while he was out of work and did not compensate him for the substantial pain and suffering he endured as a result of the injuries, during the 12 months he treated and thereafter.  We also explained the financial duress he was under not being able to earn the valuable detail work which came with the warm weather months, which led him to prematurely return to work  in order to support his family.  We filed a lawsuit in Court against  Morgan Charles in order to obtain full and fair compensation for Officer Jeffrey.  After depositions we conducted of the defendant and Officer Jeffrey, the insurance company agreed to submit Officer Jeffrey’s claim to Binding Arbitration rather than resolve the matter by jury trial in Superior Court.

We frequently utilize arbitrations, as well as non-binding mediation, as an alternative to resolving injured officers’ cases by jury trial.  Among the advantages of such alternative dispute resolution methods is that the cases resolve fairly quickly, often in just a matter of a few months, the proceedings are private and informal and there is much less expense involved, which adds to the injured officers’ net recoveries.   

The arbitration agreement was negotiated to provide a high-low arrangement, whereby Officer Jeffrey would receive no less than $30,000 and no more than $80,000.   Under such an arrangement, if the arbitrator awarded an amount lower than $30,000, Officer Jeffrey would receive $30,000 and, similarly, if the arbitrator awarded more than $80,000, Officer Jeffrey would receive $80,000.00. Such an arrangement similarly protected Officer Jeffrey from an unexpected and unfair award beneath $30,000 and the insurance company from an unexpected award in excess of $80,000.00.  After a full hearing before the arbitrator, during which Officer Jeffrey appeared and testified, and his medical records, reports and bills were presented and fully discussed, the arbitrator awarded Officer Jeffrey $67,700.00, to the delight of Officer Jeffrey.

Injured officers throughout Massachusetts should always consider seeking a free consultation with us to determine his or her rights, benefits, and the probability of making a successful claim.  I am always available by telephone, email or a personal meeting.  Once I evaluate the case and the officer’s chances of success, the decision whether to go forward rests with the officer.  If the injured officer is out of work, the decision when to return to work rests, as it should, with the officer and his or her doctor.  We do not believe in, nor do we have any interest in, keeping officers out injured any longer than necessary to heal from their injuries.  As it is, many of our injured officers never miss a day of work and are still able to receive substantial compensation for their injuries which continue to nag at them during long hours spent behind the wheel of a cruiser and/or standing on a road job.

As with all claims involving an officer's injury on duty, there are no guarantees.  Many police injury cases involve sophisticated legal issues, problems of proof, technical insurance policy coverage disputes, and issues that arise under Massachusetts General Laws c. 41, §100 and §111F, Chapter 152, State Police Article 8 and/or other related laws.

When we work on these cases, we work on a contingent fee basis. That means the injured officer pays nothing up front and while the case is pending.  He or she only need pay for legal services and expenses at the end of the case, if we successfully collect money on the claim.   We typically will receive one-third of the money collected.   In the off-chance we are unable to collect money for the injured officer, the officer owes nothing for our legal services. Copyright, Steven M. Ballin, 2008.

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