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People who sustain injuries in the workplace may be eligible to recover benefits under the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act). In exchange for the right to such benefits, the Act bars injured employees from pursuing personal injury claims against their employers for harm caused by injuries that arise out of employment. While in some cases, it is clear that a claim is precluded by the exclusivity provisions of the Act, in others, it may not be evident whether the harm in question constitutes a personal injury. This was demonstrated in a recent opinion issued in a Massachusetts case, in which the court discussed whether the Act barred an employee from seeking damages for emotional distress caused by workplace conditions. If you suffered injuries at work, it is advisable to speak to an experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney to determine what benefits you may be owed.

The Plaintiff’s Allegations

It is reported that the plaintiff worked for the defendant at a power plant. His managers began to harass him, causing him to suffer panic attacks, anxiety, and stress. He sought medical leave, but his request was denied. He was subsequently terminated. He then filed a civil lawsuit against the defendant, asserting numerous claims, including intentional infliction of emotional distress. The defendant responded by filing a motion to dismiss.

The Exclusivity Provision of the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act

The defendant argued that the plaintiff’s intentional infliction of emotional distress claim was both untimely and was barred by the Act’s exclusivity provision. The plaintiff did not submit a response to the defendant’s workers’ compensation allegations but argued that his claims were timely due to a complaint he filed with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. Continue reading →

The Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act is the sole remedy for employees who suffer injuries, which means they have the right to recover benefits but are generally precluded from pursuing civil lawsuits against their employers. They can seek damages via civil claims against other parties, however. In some instances, a party will attempt to avoid liability by arguing it engaged in a joint venture with the employer of the injured individual. Recently, a Massachusetts court discussed joint ventures in the context of workers’ compensation claims, in a matter in which the plaintiff was denied the right to recover damages. If you suffered harm at work, it is advisable to speak to a trusted Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney to discuss your rights.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff suffered injuries while working for his employer, a chain steakhouse. He filed a workers’ compensation claim and received benefits that listed the two defendant companies and the chain steakhouse as insureds. He then filed a civil lawsuit against the two defendant companies, alleging negligence.

Reportedly, the defendants filed an answer arguing that the plaintiff’s claims were barred by the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act). The case proceeded to trial, and the jury found that the defendants were engaged in a joint venture with the plaintiff’s employer. As such, the plaintiff’s claims were barred by the Act. The plaintiff filed a motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict, but the court denied her motion. She then appealed. Continue reading →

People who are hurt at work are often eligible to recover workers’ compensation benefits for their losses. It is not uncommon, however, for employers to argue that injured employees should not be granted benefits because their harm did not arise at work. An employer that fails to set forth such arguments at hearings related to a claim for benefits, though, cannot assert such defenses at a later date. This was demonstrated in a recent ruling issued in a Massachusetts workers’ compensation case in which a court affirmed a ruling in favor of the claimant. If you were hurt at work, you should meet with a skilled Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible to discuss what benefits you may be able to recover.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the claimant was hired by the defendant to work as a personal care nurse for the defendant’s mother. Initially, the claimant agreed to work for two hours a day in exchange for room and board. She also performed secretarial work and various domestic tasks, like washing dishes, taking out the garbage, and cleaning. It was understood that if she performed more than two hours of work a day, she would receive additional compensation, but the defendant never paid her for additional work.

Allegedly, the claimant slipped and fell, taking out the garbage, and injured her back and neck. She could not work after the accident and filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. The administrative judge found that the claimant was employed as a domestic worker on the date of the injury and that she worked thirty to forty hours a week and was therefore owed benefits. The defendant appealed the award, which was affirmed by the reviewing board. The defendant appealed again. Continue reading →

While most people think of workers’ compensation claims as arising out of bodily injuries, claimants can also seek benefits for illnesses they develop due to workplace conditions. In many cases, occupational illnesses take years to develop, and it can be difficult to demonstrate a causal link between a workplace and an ailment. A claimant the fails to adequately prove causation may be denied benefits, as demonstrated in a recent Massachusetts ruling issued in a workers compensation case. If you sustained an illness because of your work environment, you might be owed benefits from your employer, and you should speak to a knowledgeable Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney about your rights.

History of the Case

It is reported that in 1968, the claimants assisted in the cleanup of radioactive materials that were released at a United States military base in Greenland. During the process, they were exposed to plutonium radiation. They later developed illnesses that they alleged were the result of their exposure and filed claims for workers’ compensation benefits under the Defense Base Act, which is an extension of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA). The administrative law judge conducted a series of hearings but ultimately denied their claims. The claimants then filed a petition for review.

Recovering Benefits for Occupational Illnesses

The LHWCA provides compensation for injuries that arise out of and in the course of employment. The LHWCA provides, in part, that injuries include occupational infections and diseases that arise naturally out of employment or as an inevitable result of an accidental injury. Thus, in order to receive benefits under the LHWCA, a claimant must demonstrate that there is a causal nexus between his ailment and his employment activities. Continue reading →

In Massachusetts, people injured in the workplace are generally precluded from filing negligence actions against their employers pursuant to the Workers’ Compensation Act. They may be able to seek damages from other parties who caused or contributed to their harm, though, as long as they have not otherwise waived the right to recover damages. Sometimes, however, it is not clear whether such a waiver occurred. In a recent opinion, a Massachusetts court analyzed whether a release issued in a workers’ compensation claim barred a plaintiff from pursuing damages in a negligence action, in a matter in which the plaintiff argued that collateral estoppel did not apply. If you sustained injuries while working, you might be able to recover damages, and you should meet with an experienced Massachusetts personal injury attorney about your potential claims.

The Defendant’s Claims

It is reported that the plaintiff was involved in a motor vehicle collision with a driver insured by the defendant. The plaintiff, who was working at the time of the collision, suffered substantial injuries. As such, he received workers’ compensation benefits from his employer’s insurer, who secured a lien against any compensation recovered from those at fault. Two years later, the plaintiff entered into a settlement agreement with the defendant, which stated that the defendant would pay the plaintiff $25,000 to resolve his claims against the insured driver, half of which would satisfy the workers’ compensation insurer’s lien and the other half of which would go to the plaintiff.

Allegedly, the release stated the plaintiff waived any and all claims against the defendant or the insured driver. The plaintiff then filed a negligence lawsuit against the insured driver, arguing that the agreement did not bar his action. The defendant moved for summary judgment, which the court granted, and the plaintiff appealed. Continue reading →

Fast food restaurants handle a high number of customers per day, and it is not uncommon for there to be debris or spills on their floors. It seems inevitable, then, that people would be injured in slip and fall accidents in their establishments. In many instances, a person injured in an accident at a business will seek damages from the owner. In a recent Massachusetts opinion, the court discussed what a party alleging liability for a slip and fall accident at a fast-food restaurant must prove to recover damages. If you were injured in a fall, it is advisable to speak to a trusted Massachusetts personal injury lawyer to evaluate what claims you may be able to pursue.

The Plaintiff’s Fall

It is alleged that the plaintiff went to eat lunch at the defendant fast food restaurant. She ordered her food, received her order, and sat down. She then proceeded to walk to the condiment counter while using a cane when she slipped in a puddle of an identified liquid which caused her to slip and fall. The liquid soaked through her clothes, but she did not know what kind of substance it was or how long it had been on the floor.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant, alleging it negligently failed to maintain the property in a safe condition. The defendant argued the plaintiff could not prove it breached a duty owed to her and filed a motion for summary judgment, which the court ultimately denied. Continue reading →

Generally, people who are injured at work are barred from pursuing claims against their employer by state workers’ compensation laws. There are some exceptions, though, that will allow parties to file lawsuits alleging their employers negligently caused them to suffer harm and should be held accountable for their losses, such as the Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA). Recently, a Massachusetts court discussed what constitutes sufficient evidence to demonstrate an employer acted negligently in violation of FELA in a case in which the plaintiff was injured in a fall. If you were hurt at work, you could be owed damages, and it is prudent to speak with a seasoned Massachusetts personal injury attorney about your options for seeking compensation.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

Reportedly, the plaintiff worked for the defendant, a railway company. When he was working one day, he slipped and fell down steps next to a locomotive, sustaining injuries. He advised other workers that he slipped on oil. He subsequently filed a lawsuit, alleging that in allowing oil to remain on the steps, the defendant negligently failed to maintain a safe work environment in violation of FELA. A trial was held, and the jury found in favor of the plaintiff, awarding him substantial damages. The defendant moved for a new trial, and in support of his motion, he argued that the verdict was against the weight of the evidence.

Evidence Sufficient to Establish an Employer’s Negligence

The court denied the defendant’s motion. Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the court may overturn a jury verdict and order a new trial if it finds that the verdict is against the weight of the credible evidence, violates the law, or otherwise equals a miscarriage of justice. A district court’s power to grant a motion for a new trial is much broader than the authority to grant a judgment as a matter of law. Continue reading →

In many personal injury matters involving a defective product, it is not immediately evident to the injured party who is ultimately responsible for the harm suffered. Thus, in some cases, the defendant will join another party as an additional defendant based on information unknown to the plaintiff and will argue that the additional defendant is liable for the plaintiff’s injuries. Recently, a Massachusetts court issued an opinion discussing pleadings involving additional defendants in a case involving defective machinery in which the parties filed opposing motions. If you were hurt by a dangerous product, it is prudent to meet with a skillful Massachusetts personal injury attorney regarding your potential claims.

The Plaintiff’s Harm and Defendant’s Claims

The plaintiff was working at a construction site when he was injured by a defective pile driver. He filed a lawsuit against the construction company and the rental company that owned the pile driver. The rental company then sued the companies that manufactured and sold the pile driver, claiming that they were ultimately responsible for the plaintiff’s harm. The manufacturer moved for a judgment on the pleadings while the rental company sought leave to amend the complaint to join to assert additional facts and allegations.

Leave to Amend a Complaint to Join

The court denied the manufacturer’s motion but granted it the right to seek similar relief in the future and granted the rental company’s request for leave to amend the complaint in part. With regards to the rental company’s proposed contribution claim, the court explained that despite the assertion that such a claim did not require the manufacturer to defend against a new theory of liability, whether the amendment was prejudicial was not the focal point. Continue reading →

Car accidents often cause extensive injuries and damages. While injured parties can seek compensation from the drivers that cause collisions, they will often also file claims directly with the motorists’ insurers. Insurers have a duty to promptly investigate claims and, if appropriate, make reasonable settlement offers, and if they do not, injured parties can pursue claims against them as well. Typically, such claims must be litigated after the claims against the negligent driver are resolved, however, as explained in a recent opinion issued by a Massachusetts court.  If you were hurt in a crash caused by a reckless driver, you should meet with a Massachusetts personal injury attorney to evaluate your possible causes of action.

The Facts of the Case

Reportedly, the plaintiffs were driving on a highway in New Hampshire when they were hit by a car driven by the defendant driver. Both plaintiffs suffered serious injuries. The police who investigated the accident determined that the defendant driver was at fault and cited him for driving under the influence of alcohol. The plaintiffs then filed a claim with the defendant insurer, the company that insured the defendant driver.

Allegedly, although the plaintiffs provided the defendant insurer with a comprehensive demand package, it failed to make an offer. Thus, the plaintiffs filed a lawsuit, asserting negligence claims against the defendant driver and unfair settlement practice claims against the defendant insurer. The defendant insurer then moved to sever and stay the plaintiff’s claims against it. Continue reading →

In many instances, a person injured by a harmful product will live in a different state than the company that manufactured the product. As such, if the injured party decides to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer for damages, it may be able to file the case in federal court. There are multiple factors that must be assessed when evaluating fault in a product liability case between parties from different jurisdictions, though, including which state’s laws ultimately apply. In a recent opinion, a federal court situated in Massachusetts discussed the process a court will undergo to determine which state’s laws govern the plaintiff’s claims in a case in which the plaintiff suffered harm due to a dangerous medical device. If you were injured by a defective product, it is advisable to speak to a knowledgeable Massachusetts personal injury attorney to determine what claims you may be able to pursue.

The Plaintiff’s Injuries

It is reported that the plaintiff suffered from a hernia that required surgical repair. During the surgery, mesh developed by the defendant was inserted into the plaintiff’s abdomen. The mesh ultimately deteriorated, causing her to suffer significant internal injuries. She then filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging multiple causes of action, including negligence, strict liability for defective manufacturing and defective design, negligent misrepresentation, and fraudulent concealment. As the plaintiff lived in Nebraska and the defendant’s principal place of business was in Massachusetts, the case was filed in a Massachusetts federal court. The defendant then filed a motion asking the court to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims.

Choice of Law Analysis in Federal Cases

Prior to assessing whether the plaintiff’s claims were sufficient to withstand the defendant’s motion to dismiss, the court explained it must conduct a choice of law analysis to determine what state’s laws applied to the plaintiff’s claims. In cases pursued in federal court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction, the court must conduct an analysis applying the choice of law rules of the forum state to evaluate which laws apply. Continue reading →