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Typically, Massachusetts employees who suffer harm due to workplace conditions have the right to recover workers’ compensation benefits. Harm includes not only physical injuries but also mental distress and trauma. There are some exceptions to the rule that psychological injuries are compensable, however, as demonstrated in a recent Massachusetts Ruling.  If you sustained psychological injuries due to your workplace conditions, you might be owed benefits, and you should speak to a skilled Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney about options.

The Claimant’s Harm

It is alleged that the claimant worked for the employer as a researcher in a laboratory that developed drugs. At some point, it became evident that the claimant was using a different protocol than he had been ordered to use. He admitted that he was using his own protocol because he disagreed with the methodology of his supervisor. He was subsequently terminated.

Reportedly, the claimant began seeking psychiatric care following his termination and sought workers’ compensation benefits for the psychological harm he sustained as a result of his work environment and subsequent termination. After a two-day hearing, an administrative judge determined that the employer’s actions were bona fide personnel actions, and therefore, any injuries he psychological harm he suffered was not compensable. The reviewing board affirmed the decision, and the claimant appealed. Continue reading →

In Massachusetts, employers are required to provide workers’ compensation benefits to employees who sustain work-related harm, pursuant to the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act). While generally it is clear whether an employee qualifies for benefits under the Act, in some cases, an employee’s rights are less certain. For example, in a recent Massachusetts ruling, a court examined whether a person working in Massachusetts for a Canadian consulate was entitled to benefits after she was injured at work. If you were injured while working, you might be able to recover benefits, and you should contact a trusted Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney to discuss your rights.

The Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the claimant is a United States citizen that lives in Massachusetts. She previously worked as an administrative assistant for the Canadian Consulate in Boston. In 2009, she suffered an injury when she tripped and fell while working. She subsequently sued Canada for workers’ compensation benefits under the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act. The trial court dismissed her complaint after concluding that Canada was immune from liability under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA). The claimant then appealed.

Eligibility for Benefits Under the Act

On appeal, the appellate court reversed the trial court ruling. The court explained that while the FSIA did largely provide immunity to foreign countries, there were exceptions. For example, parties could pursue claims that arise out of commercial activity. In evaluating whether a course of conduct or transaction is commercial in nature, as the term is defined by the FSIA, the court does not focus on whether the foreign entity undertook the action with the intent of making a profit. Continue reading →

Workers’ compensation matters are often complicated and involve multiple insurers and parties from numerous states. As such, there are sometimes disputes as to which state’s laws apply. Recently, a Massachusetts court issued an opinion setting forth a choice of laws analysis in a workers’ compensation matter in which the parties disputed whether a subrogation action was time-barred. If you suffered harm while working, you could be owed benefits, and it is in your best interest to confer with a Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney regarding your options.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that this matter arose out of an incident in which the claimant suffered serious harm while working at a construction site. The claimant’s employer and its insurer subsequently filed a subrogation claim against multiple third-party Connecticut-based construction companies to recover benefits paid to the claimant on the employer’s behalf. In part, the employer and insurer alleged that the companies provided a defective fall arrest system for the employee that failed, causing the employee to fall and sustain serious injuries. The defendants moved for dismissal on the pleadings on the grounds that the action was barred by the statute of limitations under Connecticut law. The trial court granted the motion, and the employer and insurer appealed.

Choice of Laws Analysis in Massachusetts Courts

On appeal, one of the primary points of contention was whether Connecticut’s or Massachusetts’ statute of limitations applied. The court explained that in terms of choice of law with regard to statutes of limitations, its rule was that the law of the State where the action was filed generally applies with regards to whether a claim is timely unless maintaining the claim would serve no substantial interest of the forum, and the claim would be barred under the statute of limitations of a state having a more significant relationship to the parties and the harm suffered. Continue reading →

Parties who disagree with the determination of a workers’ compensation court have the right to file an appeal. If they do not comply with the proper procedure, though, their appeals may be dismissed, regardless of whether they have merit. This was demonstrated in a recent ruling issued by a Massachusetts court in a workers’ compensation case. If you suffered injuries in the workplace, you might be owed benefits, and it is smart to contact a Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney to discuss your rights.

The Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the claimant sustained injuries at work. She subsequently filed a workers’ compensation claim. A hearing on her claims ultimately resulted in a proceeding before the Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA), in which the DIA approved a lump-sum agreement. Close to two years after the agreement was approved, the claimant moved for an extension of the time to file an appeal. An administrative judge denied the claimant’s motion and her subsequent request for reconsideration.

Reportedly, the claimant then filed a notice of appeal from the judge’s orders. A single judge treated the notice as a motion for leave to file a late notice of appeal and dismissed it as untimely. The plaintiff then filed a petition for relief based on the superintendence of inferior courts. The court affirmed the lower court’s rulings. Continue reading →

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 →