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Pursuant to the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act), people who sustain injuries while working are often able to recover benefits from their employers. While some benefits are paid on a weekly basis, in other instances, an employer will offer a lump sum to resolve an employee’s claims. Generally, lump-sum agreements preclude parties from seeking further benefits for the same work-related harm. If the terms of the agreement are vague, though, a court may need to intervene to determine whether subsequent harm is compensable, as demonstrated in a recent opinion issued in a Massachusetts workers’ compensation case. If you sustained harm in a workplace accident, you could be owed benefits from your employer, and it is advisable to speak to a Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as possible.

The Subject Harm

It is reported that the plaintiff worked at an assisted living facility as a resident services assistant. In 2016, she was lifting a resident out of a wheelchair when she injured her right neck and shoulder. She subsequently underwent a surgical repair of her right shoulder; prior to the surgery, she was favoring her right shoulder, which caused pain in her left shoulder. She continued to have pain in her left shoulder after the surgery.

Allegedly, the insurer for the facility accepted liability for the right shoulder injuries and subsequent care about a year after the accident, and the parties entered into a lump-sum agreement. The agreement specified the diagnosis as a right shoulder tear and included a provision stating that it closed out any claim the plaintiff may have for harm arising out of the same incident. A year later, however, the plaintiff filed a second claim seeking benefits for injuries to her left shoulder. The insurer opposed the claim on the basis that it was barred by the lump-sum agreement. The administrative judge found in favor of the insurer, and the plaintiff appealed. Continue reading →

People involved in catastrophic workplace accidents often suffer not only physical harm but mental injuries as well. Thus, if they seek damages for their losses, they may have to undergo medical examinations to evaluate their physical and cognitive detriments. Typically, only physicians can conduct such examinations. Recently, a Massachusetts court evaluated whether neuropsychologists are considered doctors for the purpose of such examinations in a case in which the plaintiff sought damages for harm sustained in a workplace accident. If you suffered injuries at work, you might be able to recover benefits and pursue claims against third parties, and it is smart to meet with a Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer to assess your options.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

It is alleged that the plaintiff suffered critical injuries while working on a construction site. His co-conservators subsequently filed both a workers’ compensation claim seeking benefits from the plaintiff’s employer and a civil lawsuit seeking damages from the general contractor for the site on the plaintiff’s behalf. According to the report of a neuropsychologist, the plaintiff suffered from cognitive and physical deficits as a result of the accident.

Reportedly, the defendant’s neuropsychologist disagreed with the plaintiff’s assertion after reviewing his medical records, and the defendant moved to have the plaintiff undergo an independent medical examination. The plaintiff objected to the motion on the grounds that the neuropsychologist was not a physician and therefore was precluded from examining the plaintiff pursuant to Massachusetts Rule of Civil Procedure 35. The court granted the defendant’s motion, and the plaintiff appealed. Continue reading →

People injured while working can often recover workers’ compensation benefits from their employers. Typically, however, they are precluded from pursuing civil claims against their employers pursuant to the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act). In some cases, they may be able to recover damages from parties other than their employer, though; to do so, they must establish liability. Recently, a Massachusetts court examined what a plaintiff must prove to recover compensation in a third-party claim arising out of a work accident. If you were injured on the job, you might be owed benefits and damages, and it is advisable to confer with a Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer about your rights.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

It is alleged that the plaintiff was working on a residential construction site when he fell off of a scaffold. He sustained injuries to his left foot and knee in the fall. He then commenced a lawsuit against the general contractor for the project, alleging its negligence caused him harm. After the plaintiff presented his case at the bench trial held in the matter, the defendant moved for involuntary dismissal, arguing that it did not owe the plaintiff a duty of care and, therefore, could not be deemed liable for his losses. The trial court granted the motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

The Plaintiff’s Claims

Under Massachusetts law, a plaintiff setting forth a negligence claim must show that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care, the defendant breached the duty, the plaintiff sustained damages, and a causal connection between the harm suffered and the defendant’s breach. Usually, a general contractor will not be liable for physical harm suffered by the employee of a subcontractor. Continue reading →

Under Massachusetts law, employers can be held vicariously liable for harm caused by their employees in the performance of job duties. Currently, though, the law does not allow for the imposition of liability on an employer for the negligence of an independent contractor. The limit of Massachusetts’s vicarious liability law was the topic of a recent opinion issued by a court in a fatal car accident case. If you were hurt in a collision caused by a person performing job duties, you might be able to recover damages from the person and their employer, and you should speak to a Massachusetts personal injury lawyer about your potential claims.

The Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant trucking company entered into an agreement with the defendant truck driver, wherein the truck driver agreed to pick up a load of lumber and transport it to another location. The defendant truck driver performed his obligations under the contract and then went to drive to another location to fulfill another contract. On his way there, he proceeded through a red light and struck the decedent’s vehicle, causing fatal injuries.

It is reported that the decedent’s estate filed negligence claims against the defendants, arguing, among other things, that the defendant trucking company was vicariously liable for the defendant truck’s acts. After discovery closed, the defendant trucking company moved for summary judgment. The trial court issued a ruling in favor of the defendant, and the plaintiff appealed. Continue reading →

Pursuant to the Massachusetts Workers Compensation Act, employers have an obligation to provide employees that suffer work-related harm with medical benefits. Typically, such benefits include prescription medications. While the rules regarding medical benefits seem to be straightforward, workers’ compensation claims can become complicated when they involve drugs that are unlawful in certain capacities. For example, a Massachusetts court recently addressed the issue of whether a workers’ compensation insurer had an obligation to reimburse an injured employee for the cost of medical marijuana. If you were hurt at work you might be eligible to recover workers’ compensation benefits, and you should contact a Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney to examine your rights.

The Facts of the Case

It is alleged that in 2014, the plaintiff suffered an injury while working. Facts regarding the nature of the plaintiff’s work and the harm he sustained were not provided. He subsequently filed a claim with his employer’s workers’ compensation employer, seeking reimbursement for the cost of medical marijuana that he used to treat pain associated with his work injury. An administrative judge denied his claim. The denial was affirmed by the reviewing board of the Department of Industrial Accidents. He then sought review from the Appeals Court of Massachusetts.

Medical Benefits Under Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Law

Upon review, the Appeals Court of Massachusetts affirmed the decision of the reviewing board. The court found that, pursuant to prevailing Massachusetts case law, a workers’ compensation insurer cannot be compelled to pay for an injured employee’s medical marijuana expenses based on the terms of the marijuana act. Continue reading →

It is not uncommon for a person to suffer injuries while working due to the negligent acts of their coworker. In such instances, the injured party may seek to recover both workers’ compensation benefits and civil damages. Whether they are owed both depends on numerous factors, though, as discussed in a recent Massachusetts ruling issued in a case in which a police officer was injured during on-the-job training. If you were harmed due to the negligence of a co-worker, you could be owed workers’ compensation benefits, and it is wise to confer with a Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney concerning your rights.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

It is reported that the plaintiff, a police officer, was attending firearm training that was conducted by a co-worker. During a paid break, the co-worker got into his car and began to drive toward the gun range. He accelerated and lost control of his vehicle and ultimately struck the plaintiff, pinning him against a picnic table. The plaintiff filed a claim for benefits under GL 152, which were akin to workers’ compensation benefits for police officers injured in the line of duty. His claim was approved.

Allegedly, the plaintiff subsequently sent a written demand letter to the town’s insurer, arguing that his co-worker’s negligence caused him to suffer harm and, therefore, the insurer owed him damages. The insurer rejected his demand, arguing that the Massachusetts Tort Claims Act (the Act) precluded him from recovering damages. It then filed a declaratory judgment action. The trial court found in favor of the plaintiff, and the insurer appealed. Continue reading →

Generally, the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act provides that employees that suffer work-related harm can recover workers’ compensation benefits. There are some workers, however, that fall outside of the scope of the Act, like police officers and firefighters. Fortunately, numerous Massachusetts laws allow public servants to recover benefits that are akin to workers’ compensation benefits. Recently, a Massachusetts court discussed eligibility for such benefits in a case in which an injured firefighter sought compensation after he was injured on the job. If you sustained damages while working, you may be owed benefits, and you should consider meeting with a Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney regarding your rights.

The Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff worked as a firefighter for a Massachusetts town. He suffered injuries in 2009. The town’s insurer made payments to the plaintiff from 2009 through 2014. After the payments ended, the plaintiff made a claim for benefits under M.G.L.A. 32 § 85H ½. The town denied the claim arguing that the plaintiff was not eligible for such benefits, as the town did not accept the provisions of the statute until after the plaintiff’s injury occurred. The matter was brought before a court, which ruled that the town was owed the plaintiff benefits, as his injury did not have to post-date the town’s acceptance of the statute. The town appealed.

Firemen’s Eligibility for Benefits Following Work Injuries

The question on appeal was what date applied for determining eligibility for benefits under M.G.L.A. 32 § 85H ½. The appellate court ultimately agreed with the town and reversed the trial court ruling. The appellate court noted that its primary duty in interpreting a law is to effectuate the intent of the legislature in enacting it. If the statutory language is unambiguous and plain, its intent is evident. When the language of a law is unclear or vague, however, the court will assess the cause of its enactment to determine its intent. Continue reading →

Generally, while people hurt on the job can recover workers’ compensation benefits under Massachusetts law, they are precluded from pursuing civil claims against their employers. As such, if an injured employee files negligence claims against their employer, the employer may respond by filing a motion to dismiss. When parties ask the court to dismiss a claim at the onset of a case via a motion to dismiss, the courts are limited to evaluating the assertions set forth in the complaint. Thus, it is improper for an employer to rely on extrinsic materials to support their argument. This was demonstrated recently in a Massachusetts ruling in which the appellate court reversed a trial court ruling due to the fact that it relied on improper evidence. If you were hurt at work, you have the right to seek workers’ compensation benefits, and you should speak to a Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible.

The Procedural History of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff was employed by the defendant through a staffing agency and worked in one of the defendant’s facilities. When he was cleaning a work area, his hand got caught in a machine, causing him to sustain injuries. OSHA conducted an investigation after the accident, which revealed that another worker had removed the safety guard on the machine and neglected to replace it. OSHA also concluded that the defendant created the hazard and holds oversight over the employees.

Reportedly, the plaintiff filed a workers’ compensation claim and received benefits from the staffing agency’s insurer. He subsequently filed a civil lawsuit against the defendant, alleging its negligence caused his harm. The defendant moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s claim and attached numerous documents to its motion that showed the plaintiff waived the right to pursue any claims covered by workers’ compensation laws. The court granted the motion, and the plaintiff appealed. Continue reading →

In Massachusetts, if an employee dies due to a fatal work accident, their family members can often recover survivor benefits pursuant to the Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act). Only the survivors of deceased employees are owed such benefits, however. In other words, family members of independent contractors, volunteers, and other non-employees are not eligible for such benefits. Recently, a Massachusetts court discussed what factors they analyze in determining whether a person is an employee as defined by the Act. If you lost a loved one in a workplace accident, you may be owed benefits, and you should contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that a worker died a work-related death. His wife was subsequently awarded workers’ compensation survivor benefits in a claim against his employer and the employer’s insurance company. The insurer appealed the decision of the Department of Industrial Accidents reviewing board, which affirmed the decision of the administrative judge. The insurer argued, in part, that the administrative judge erred in determining that the worker was an employee as defined by the Act.

Determining if a Person is an Employee as Defined by the Act

Under Massachusetts law, the question of a person’s employment status within the meaning of the Act is essentially a question of fact for the board. As such, it should not be set aside if it is supported by the evidence. Further, the determinations of the weight to grant the evidence, credibility assessments, and findings of fact are the sole function of administrative judges. Thus, the courts grant weight to their specialized knowledge, experience, and technical competence. Continue reading →

It is well-established under Massachusetts law that the Worker’s Compensation Act (the Act) is the exclusive remedy for people who suffer work-related harm. It is not always clear, however, what constitutes harm as defined by the Act. Recently, a Massachusetts court addressed the question of whether the Act precluded an employee from pursuing intentional infliction of emotional distress claims against their employer. If you sustained injuries in the workplace, you may be owed workers’ compensation benefits, and you should confer with a dedicated Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible.

The Plaintiff’s Allegations

It is alleged that the plaintiff was employed by the defendant as a technician. The defendant reassigned the plaintiff to the night shift numerous times, despite the plaintiff’s request to remain on the day shift due to his ongoing anxiety and depression. Eventually, the plaintiff was terminated. He filed a lawsuit against the defendant alleging discrimination on the basis of disability, infliction of emotional distress that was intentional, and other claims. The defendant moved for summary judgment on the intentional infliction of emotional distress claim, arguing it was barred by the Act. The court agreed and granted the motion.

Personal Injury as Defined by the Act

The Act provides the sole remedy for Massachusetts workplace claims for personal injury. In other words, it bars common law causes of action that fall within its scope. The court explained that the exclusivity provision of the Act applies where it is established that the plaintiff is an employee, the plaintiff’s condition is a personal injury as the Act defines the term, and it is shown that the injury arose in the course of and out of employment. Continue reading →