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 →