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People who suffer injuries while on the job may be owed worker’s compensation benefits. Additionally, if their harm arose out of the negligence of a party other than their employer, they may be able to pursue civil claims for damages as well. In such instances, the defendant will often try to introduce evidence of the workers’ compensation benefits the plaintiff received during the civil proceedings, but they are typically precluded from doing so on the grounds that it is prejudicial to the plaintiff. Recently, a Massachusetts court addressed the issue of whether the converse is true in a matter in which the plaintiff introduced evidence of his workers’ compensation claim during a civil trial. If you were hurt while working, you could be owed workers’ compensation benefits and other damages, and it is advisable to speak to a Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney regarding your options.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff, who worked as a mail carrier, covered a route for one of his co-workers. While he was delivering mail to the defendant’s home, the defendant’s dog approached him. He offered the dog a treat, but the dog proceeded to bite him on the wrist of his opposite hand and shake his head violently for several seconds. The plaintiff pried his arm from the dog’s mouth, after which the dog proceeded to bite him on the left leg. He ultimately broke free from the dog, after which the defendant came out of her house and asked him if the dog “got” him.

Allegedly, the plaintiff suffered a significant injury to his wrist and subsequently filed a workers’ compensation claim. He proceeded to file a civil lawsuit against the defendant as well, alleging the defendant was liable under the dog bite law. Prior to trial, the plaintiff moved to introduce evidence of the workers’ compensation benefits he received following the attack. The defendant objected to the admission of such evidence, arguing that the jury would treat it as proof of causation and damages. The court granted the plaintiff’s motion, and the jury found in favor of the plaintiff, awarding him $375,000. The defendant appealed. Continue reading →

Under Massachusetts law, people hurt at work have the right to seek workers’ compensation benefits from their employers. Some employers view employees that file workers’ compensation claims unfavorably, however, and will go so far as to terminate them for asserting their lawful rights. While employers who are fired for pursuing workers’ compensation benefits can pursue claims against their employers, establishing an employer took adverse action against an employee in retaliation for filing a claim can be difficult. This was demonstrated in a recent Massachusetts case, in which the court granted summary judgment in favor of the employer on a workers’ compensation retaliation claim. If you believe you were terminated for seeking workers’ compensation benefits, it is smart to confer with a Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney regarding your potential claims.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the claimant worked as an overnight maintenance person at the defendant’s warehouse store. When traveling from one store to another, he was involved in a car accident. He suffered injuries as a result of the collision and subsequently took a workers’ compensation leave of absence. Approximately three years later, the defendant terminated the claimant for allegedly stealing canned meat. The claimant subsequently filed a lawsuit against the defendant asserting, in part, a workers’ compensation retaliation claim. The defendant moved for summary judgment, and the court granted the motion, after which the claimant appealed.

Establishing Liability for Workers’ Compensation Retaliation

Under Massachusetts law, it is illegal for an employer to terminate or otherwise discriminate against an employer because the employee exercised a right afforded by the Workers’ Compensation Act. In order to establish a prima facie case of retaliation, an employee must prove that they engaged in an activity that is protected by the Act, the employer knew of the protected activity, the employer then engaged in an adverse employment action, which it would not have taken if not for the employee’s participation in the protected act. Continue reading →

It is well-established that employees who suffer injuries while working typically can recover workers’ compensation benefits from their employers. Employers generally do not carry the risk of having to pay their employees such benefits, though. Instead, they usually purchase workers’ compensation insurance. If an employer fails to pay its insurance premiums, however, it can impact a claimant’s right to recover benefits. Recently, a Massachusetts court discussed what notice an insurer who wishes to cancel a workers’ compensation policy due to non-payment of premium must provide to its insured, in a matter in which it was disputed who bore responsibility for the claimant’s benefits. If you suffered injuries at work, you might be owed benefits, and you should speak to a Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible.

The Facts of the Case

Allegedly, the claimants suffered injuries while working for their employer, a subcontractor. The employer obtained a workers’ compensation policy with the insurer via the assigned risk pool. The policy was ultimately canceled for non-payment of the premium, but the risk was again assigned to the insurer, who issued another policy to the employer. The employer once again failed to pay the premium, and its insurer mailed it a notice of cancellation.

It is reported that the claimants filed claims against the employer’s insurer, as well as the insurer of the general contractor for the project they were working on when they were injured. The administrative judge denied their claims against the employer’s insurer and directed the general contractor’s employer to pay benefits to the claimants. The claimants appealed, and after a hearing, the reviewing board ruled that the employer’s insurer did not effectively cancel the policy and ordered it to pay the claimant’s benefits. The employer’s insurer then appealed. Continue reading →

It is critical for people who suffer injuries at work to notify their employers of their harm as soon as possible. If they fail to do so, they may ultimately be denied workers’ compensation benefits. This was demonstrated in a recent Massachusetts ruling, in which the court affirmed a claimant’s denial of benefits in a workers’ compensation matter, in part because it found that his failure to report his injury supported the conclusion that he was not credible. If you were hurt at work, it is smart to retain a Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer to assist you in pursuing any benefits you may be owed.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

It is alleged that the claimant injured his back while operating a backhoe for his employer. Specifically, he asserted that in January 2015, he was using a backhoe when he hit an area of raised asphalt and stopped short, which caused him to lunge forward. He subsequently felt pain in his head that radiated down the left side of his body. He completed his shift but experienced headaches and pain in his neck the following day.

Reportedly, the claimant experienced similar incidents in February 2016, and in March 2016, he hit his head while exiting a truck. He alleged that the subsequent incidents aggravated his initial injury. The claimant filed a workers’ compensation claim, which the administrative judge rejected after determining that his testimony was not credible. The reviewing board affirmed the judge’s decision, and the claimant appealed. Continue reading →

The Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act) offers protection to employees in that it allows them to recover workers’ compensation benefits for harm sustained in the workplace. In exchange for the right to receive such benefits, however, the Act precludes employees from pursuing personal injury claims against their employers. Notably, as demonstrated in a recent Massachusetts ruling, this limits employees from seeking damages from their employers not only for bodily harm but also for emotional harm. If you sustained injuries at work, you could be owed benefits, and it is in your best interest to speak to a trusted Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer regarding your rights.

The Plaintiff’s Claims

It is reported that the plaintiff, a former instructor at a public high school, filed a lawsuit against the city where the school was located on multiple grounds. She asserted, among other things, that she was subject to verbal abuse from her supervisors, which caused her to suffer stress-induced illnesses. As such, the plaintiff’s complaint included a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress.  Following discovery, the city moved for dismissal of the plaintiff’s claims via summary judgment. The court granted the city’s motion, and the plaintiff appealed,

Limitations Imposed by the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act

On appeal, the appellate court affirmed the dismissal of the plaintiff’s claims. As to the intentional infliction of emotional distress claim, the court noted that the plaintiff alleged that the conduct in question occurred while the actors were in the scope of their employment when they were supervising the plaintiff. Continue reading →

The Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act) grants employees who suffer harm in the workplace the right to seek workers’ compensation benefits. The exclusivity provision of the Act generally precludes employees from pursuing personal injury claims against their employer, however. In other words, they are limited to recovering benefits under the Act. Recently, a Massachusetts court discussed whether claims for emotional distress are barred by the exclusivity provision in a case in which the plaintiff sought damages from her coworkers. If you were harmed by workplace conditions, it is smart to confer with a seasoned Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer to discuss what claims you may be owed.

The Plaintiff’s Claims

It is alleged that the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against her former coworkers and former employer. In the complaint, the plaintiff asserted that she suffered personal injuries as a result of the toxic work environment created by the defendants. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the exclusivity provision of the Act prohibited the plaintiff’s claims. The court agreed and dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint. The plaintiff appealed.

The Exclusivity Provision of the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act

On appeal, the plaintiff argued that the trial court erred in dismissing her intentional infliction of emotional distress claim because she sufficiently set forth an actionable claim, as much of her allegations focused on the actions of the individually named defendants rather than the actions of the employer. The appellate court stated that Massachusetts law required it to review, de novo, whether the motion to dismiss was properly granted. Continue reading →

When people die from injuries sustained at work, their surviving family members can often recover workers’ compensation benefits, including adjustments for the cost of living. Usually, such benefits are not actually paid by the deceased person’s employer but by their employer’s workers’ compensation insurer. In some cases in which multiple insurers are involved, one insurer may seek reimbursement from another. Recently, a Massachusetts court discussed the time limitations for pursuing such claims in a matter in which a town argued that the statute of limitations barred claims for reimbursement. If you suffered the loss of a loved one in a workplace accident, it is in your best interest to meet with a dedicated Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer to discuss what benefits you may be owed.

History of the Case

It is alleged that in 1976 an employee of the town died in an industrial accident. The town’s workers’ compensation insurer subsequently began paying the employee’s widow weekly benefits. Starting in 1986, the insurer also paid the widow supplemental cost of living benefits. Initially, the Workers’ Compensation Trust Fund reimbursed the employer. At some time prior to 1992, though, the town joined a licensed self-insurance group and became responsible for paying new workers’ compensation claims.

It is reported that in 1992 the new self-insurance group opted out of the trust fund, but the prior insurer continued to receive reimbursement for the cost of living benefits. The trust fund later advised the insurer it would no longer reimburse it for prior claims, after which the insurer submitted the claims to the town. The town argued such claims were barred by the two-year statute of limitations established by a Department of Industrial Accidents regulation. The town was ultimately ordered to pay the claims, after which it appealed. Continue reading →

Employees who sustain injuries in the workplace have the right to seek workers’ compensation benefits from their employers. Some employers will begrudgingly pay such benefits but then will retaliate against their employees for seeking such benefits. Employers who are terminated for seeking workers’ compensation benefits have a right to pursue additional claims against their employers, however. Recently, a Massachusetts court discussed what an employee must prove to recover damages for wrongful termination, in a case in which the plaintiff alleged he was fired for exercising his right to seek workers’ compensation benefits. If you were fired after being hurt at work, it is smart to speak to a Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer about your options for seeking redress.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiffs worked for the defendants as corrections officers. In 2010, the administration of their department was transferred from the county to the Commonwealth. This resulted in the department receiving a charge for the cost of insurance for employees who were out on leave for more than a year.

Allegedly, as the cost of the insurance was not in the department’s budget, they terminated employees who were on leave for more than a year, including the plaintiffs. The letters the department sent to the plaintiffs stated that they were out on leave for more than a year and were receiving workers’ compensation benefits, and were unable to return to their prior positions. Continue reading →

The Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act) provides the sole remedy for parties who suffer injuries arising out of the course and scope of their employment. There are exceptions to the exclusivity provision of the Act, however, that allow employees to pursue civil claims against their employers. The exceptions to the exclusivity provision were the topic of a recent Massachusetts opinion issued in a case in which a legal secretary sought compensation for harm caused by intentional acts. If you sustained harm at work, it is in your best interest to consult a capable Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer regarding what benefits you may be able to recover.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

Reportedly, the plaintiff worked for the defendant as a legal secretary at his law firm. Initially, she was his only employee, but he expanded his staff over the years. The evidence demonstrated that he regularly engaged in abusive behavior towards the plaintiff, such as belittling and verbally attacking her and screaming and shouting in her face.

It is alleged that the plaintiff ultimately left the defendant’s employ and filed a lawsuit against him, asserting intentional infliction of emotional distress and other claims. The defendant moved for dismissal of the plaintiff’s claims, arguing they were barred by the exclusivity provision of the Act. The case proceeded to trial, and a jury found in favor of the plaintiff. The defendant then appealed. Continue reading →

Massachusetts, like many states, enacted a Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act) that grants employees injured at work the right to recover benefits. The Act bars employees from pursuing civil claims against their employers, however. While employers will often assert that the exclusivity provision of the Act bars civil claims, it may not constitute grounds for dismissal of a case prior to the exchange of discovery, as demonstrated in a recent opinion issued by a Massachusetts court. If you were hurt at work, you could be owed benefits, and it is smart to meet with a knowledgeable Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer to determine your rights.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

It is alleged that the plaintiff was employed by a tool company as a machinist. The tool company was a wholly-owned subsidiary of the defendant. The plaintiff injured her hand on a machine while she was working and subsequently filed a civil lawsuit against the defendant. The plaintiff’s complaint asserted that the defendant should be held liable for negligence and negligent supervision.

It is reported that the plaintiff alleged the defendant breached its duty to provide a safe workplace, reasonably supervise the worksite, and ensure employees were properly trained. The defendant moved for judgment on the pleadings, arguing it was the statutory employer of the plaintiff and, therefore, her claims were barred by the exclusivity provision of the Act. The court denied the motion, and the defendant appealed. Continue reading →