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Yang v. Nissan N. Am., Inc.,: Mental and Physical Injuries in Workers’ Compensation Cases

Yang v. Nissan N. Am., Inc., a case from the Tennessee Supreme Court, involved an employee who worked for a car manufacturer on an assembly line. After working for a few years without incident, the employee injured his left shoulder.

1314902_medical_doctor.jpgAs a result of this injury, he was placed on restricted duty at the factory and had a job doing light janitorial work and some production duties. While working, he injured his right shoulder as a supervisor who wanted him to work faster was yelling at him.

He continued to work his light duty job until he needed surgery on both shoulders. After the surgery, according to the court records, he felt that he could not return to work, as there was nothing he could do in his condition. He also testified to becoming very depressed as result of his injuries.

Our Boston workplace accident lawyers understand that an on-the-job injury can lead to depression in addition to the physical condition. In Yang, the company offered him a buyout, and he left his job. He then filed for workers’ compensation benefits under a permanent disability rating for both his mental and physical conditions.

His employer agreed that he had a permanent disability of 18 percent due to his shoulder injuries but denied the mental illness claim. In proving the mental illness claim, the employee presented testimony from family members, friends, and former coworkers as to the change in his attitude from the time before his injury to the time for his filing a claim. It was clear to the court that before his accidents, he was outgoing, happy, enjoyed his work, and had a good relationship with his employer. All of this changed when he was injured, and he felt he was no longer of capable of doing any type of meaningful work.

In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the workers’ compensation statute does allow for psychological illness to count as an injury, though there is a higher burden of proof, and it must be established that the depression is work-related.

In Yang, there was a discussion about whether the employee had essentially agreed to a cap on his workers’ compensation benefits by taking the buyout. While this does not pertain to the law in Massachusetts, it is important to note that it would be a good idea to speak with an attorney who regularly handles workers’ compensation claims before taking a buyout. This can eliminate a lot of needless stress and worrying by knowing the law and facts, rather than just taking a risk and hoping things work out.

If you are injured on the job in Boston, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your workers’ compensation claim: 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:

Yang v. Nissan N. Am., Inc., August 11, 2014,Tennessee Supreme Court

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