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Articles Posted in Workers’ Compensation

Massachusetts workers who are injured on the job are often entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Depending on the nature and extent of their injuries, they may be owed not only medical benefits but also disability benefits. Generally, whether disability benefits are owed is based, in part, on whether a person is able to earn an income in any capacity. Recently, a Massachusetts court issued a ruling discussing what evidence is needed to demonstrate an injured employee is completely disabled in a case in which the plaintiff argued he was owed additional benefits. If you were injured at work, you could be owed benefits, and you should speak to a skilled Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney regarding your case.

The Claimant’s Harm

It is reported that the plaintiff was employed as an ironworker for a transportation authority. His job involved heavy lifting, and at one point, he suffered permanent injuries to his back and shoulder while performing his duties. As such, he filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits from his employer. He was ultimately awarded permanent partial disability benefits by an administrative judge at the Department of Industrial Accidents. As it was determined he could still perform light-duty work at a retail job, he was not deemed totally disabled. The reviewing board affirmed the judge’s decision, and the plaintiff appealed.

Disability Determinations in Workers’ Compensation Cases

The court noted that the nature and extent of the plaintiff’s injuries were not disputed on appeal. Rather, the sole issue before the court was whether the plaintiff was totally disabled. The plaintiff argued that, as he was employed for many years as an ironworker, being forced to take a low-paying retail job would be so degrading that such a position should not be considered when determining his ability to earn an income. Continue reading →

Employees that are hurt at work are generally entitled to medical benefits that cover the cost of any necessary treatment. In some cases, though, it may be disputed what is considered a required treatment or what a workers’ compensation insurer is obligated to cover. For example, in a recent opinion, a Massachusetts court addressed the issue of whether a workers’ compensation insurer could be compelled to reimburse an employee for the cost of medical marijuana, ultimately determining it could not. If you were hurt on the job, it is advisable to talk to a trusted Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney to discuss your rights.

Procedural History of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff suffered two work-related injuries, one in 2010 and one in 2012. He filed workers’ compensation claims for each injury. When traditional treatment methods failed, he began using medical marijuana to treat the pain caused by his harm. He then sought reimbursement of his medical marijuana expenses from his employer’s worker’s compensation insurer. The plaintiff’s claim was denied by an administrative judge. The plaintiff appealed, and on appeal, the denial was affirmed, as the reviewing board ultimately determined that marijuana’s classification as an illicit substance under federal law preempted any state authority to order a workers’ compensation insurer to pay for the plaintiff’s expenses. The plaintiff again appealed, this time to the Massachusetts state court.

Reimbursement Under the Medical Marijuana Act

On appeal, the state court affirmed the prior rulings but on different grounds. The court noted that the Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Act (the Act) was drafted to take into account that marijuana is illegal under federal law and deemed to have no medicinal uses under federal law. Thus, the Act contains a provision stating that nothing in the Act compels any government agency or authority or any health insurance provider to reimburse an individual for the cost of using medical marijuana.

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Massachusetts employees who are hurt while working are often eligible to recover compensation. There are certain prerequisites that must be met for harm to be compensable, however, and an employee that cannot demonstrate an injury is work-related may be denied benefits. Recently, a Massachusetts court addressed the issue of whether harm is compensable if neither the injury-inducing accident nor the signing of the employment contract occurred in the Commonwealth. If you work for a Massachusetts company and were hurt at work, it is in your best interest to speak to a seasoned Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney to determine whether you may be owed damages.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

It is reported that the plaintiff responded to the defendant’s advertisement for truck drivers that as posted in a Massachusetts newspaper. He then attended training at the defendant’s headquarters in Pennsylvania and signed an employment contract while he was there. Once he began working for the defendant, he delivered cargo throughout the northeastern states, including Massachusetts. He also made over one hundred trips to or from Massachusetts, which was more time than he spent in any other state.

Allegedly, the plaintiff suffered an injury while delivering cargo in Maine. He filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits pursuant to the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act). An administrative judge found that he suffered work-related harm but dismissed his claim regardless on the basis that Massachusetts was not the place where the plaintiff was hired or injured, and therefore the court lacked jurisdiction. The case went through numerous rounds of appeals and was ultimately presented to the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts.

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In its report dated November 4, 2020, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded an estimated 2.8 million non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2019 in the private industry sector. These estimates are from the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII).

Manufacturing accounted for 15% of all private industry non-fatal injuries and illnesses. These injuries include sprains, strains or tears, pain, soreness, lacerations, cuts, punctures and fractures. Ten occupations accounted for 33.2 percent of all private industry cases. Of these, laborers and freight, stock, and material movers had the highest number of cases with 64,160, followed by heavy and tractor-trailer drivers. Closing out this group of high-incidence injury occupations, in order, are nursing assistants, stockers and order-fillers, retail salespersons, light truck drivers, maintenance and repair workers, registered nurses, construction laborers, janitors and cleaners, (excluding maids and housekeeping cleaners).

Consistently over several years, data shows the following trends in injury incidence rates in the workplace. Injuries in order of frequency from highest to lowest include overexertion, falls, slips and trips, contact with objects or equipment, violence and other injury by persons or animals and finally transportation incidents.

Workplace injuries are common, and in many instances, they render the injured parties unable to work. Frequently, however, people injured at work are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Generally, such benefits continue until an employee’s injuries resolve. In cases in which it is disputed whether symptoms are work-related, an employee’s disability benefits may be terminated, however. Recently, a Massachusetts appellate court discussed what an employee alleging workers’ compensation disability benefits were wrongfully ended must prove in order for the benefits to be reinstated. If you were injured at work, it is in your best interest to speak to a skilled Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney regarding what benefits you may be owed.

Factual Background

It is reported that the claimant, who was a librarian for a law firm, suffered a back injury while working in March 2014. She began attending physical therapy in June 2014, which caused her to miss two days of work, and left work permanently in December 2014. Due to her injury, she sought and received disability benefits from her employer’s workers’ compensation insurer.

Allegedly, in September 2015, the claimant’s employer filed a complaint asking to terminate the claimant’s disability benefits. Following a hearing in October 2016, an administrative judge found that the claimant was totally disabled from December 2014 through December 2015, and partially disabled from December 2015 through September 2016, but that any disability after that time was not work related. Thus, her benefits were discontinued. The claimant appealed, and a reviewing board affirmed, after which the claimant appealed to State appellate court. Continue reading →

If a person sustains injuries at work, he or she may be able to pursue benefits from his or her employer via a workers’ compensation claim. While in some cases a person may be able to seek damages through a personal injury lawsuit instead of a workers’ compensation claim, if the harm arose out the person’s employment, the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (MCWA) provides the person’s sole remedy. Recently, the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts analyzed whether the intentional acts of a supervisor that harmed an employee were considered incidental to the employee’s employment, so as to bar a personal injury claim. If you suffered harm at work, it is in your best interest to speak with a trusted Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney to discuss what damages you may be owed.

Facts Regarding the Plaintiff’s Harm

It is alleged that the plaintiff worked for the defendant as a mechanic. The plaintiff’s work schedule changed, after which the plaintiff’s supervisor began subjecting the plaintiff to a hostile work environment. Specifically, the plaintiff was harassed for his religious beliefs, denied accommodations, and accosted after he took a picture of the supervisor smoking, which was prohibited.

Reportedly, the plaintiff began experiencing symptoms of fatigue. He was restricted from working temporarily, but when he returned to work, the harassment continued. The plaintiff was then terminated, after which he filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and violation of his civil rights. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the plaintiff’s claims were preempted by the MCWA.

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Under Massachusetts law, if a person is injured in the course of his or her employment during an activity that arises out of his or her job, the person may be able to recover workers’ compensation benefits. Thus, if a person is injured traveling for his or her job, the person can file a workers’ compensation claim. Recently, the Appeals Court of Massachusetts, Suffolk, analyzed when traveling constitutes an act taken in furtherance of a business so as to warrant workers’ compensation benefits for injuries sustained during travel, in a case in which the court denied benefits to the estate of a worker who died while traveling. If you were injured while traveling for work, you should meet with a capable Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney to discuss whether your employer may owe you workers’ compensation benefits.

Facts Regarding the Decedent’s Harm

It is alleged that the decedent, who was the principal of a family-owned business, died in a car accident in February 2014. The decedent’s widow subsequently filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. An administrative judge determined that the decedent was not killed during a trip that was undertaken in the furtherance of his company’s business and denied the decedent’s wife’s claim. The review board affirmed, after which the decedent’s wife appealed.

When Travel is a Work-Related Activity

The Massachusetts workers’ compensation acts covers injuries that arise out of work and occur in the course of work. Additionally, injuries suffered while traveling for the business affairs of an employer, that arise out of an ordinary risk of traveling are covered as well. In determining whether the risk of the trip was a personal risk or a risk of the employment, the court must assess whether the employment caused the employee to embark on the journey, or whether the trip was undertaken for other reasons. Continue reading →

In Massachusetts, when a person injured at work seeks workers’ compensation benefits, he or she must prove the elements of his or her claim, which includes establishing that his or her injury was caused by a work-related incident. Recently, the Appeals Court of Massachusetts discussed whether an administrative judge is required to adopt the opinion of an impartial medical expert with regard to causation, in a case in which the claimant appealed the denial of his request for benefits. If you sustained work-related injuries, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits and should speak with a skilled Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney regarding what evidence you must produce to recover damages.

Facts Regarding the Claimant’s Injury

Reportedly, the claimant injured his hip and back when slipped on wet plywood while employed as a laborer for a roofing company. He stated he slid down the roof but did not fall off, due to a safety harness. He continued to work the remainder of the day, passing shingles to other workers. He was twenty-six years old at the time of the incident. Two days after the incident, the claimant accepted an offer from the roofing company to shovel snow and subsequently shoveled snow throughout the winter.

Allegedly, the claimant began experiencing back pain shortly after the incident but did not seek treatment for over a month. He subsequently stopped working five months after the incident and filed a workers’ compensation claim against the roofing company, and because the roofing company was not fully insured, against the workers’ compensation trust fund. The claimant was denied benefits, after which he presented his claims to an administrative judge.

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Workplace injuries not only cause physical harm, they often inhibit a person’s ability to earn an income as well. Most employers carry workers’ compensation insurance, however, which provide wage loss benefits to employees injured in the workplace in certain instances. As recently explained by the Appeals Court of Massachusetts, however, wage loss benefits are meant to replace income lost due to a workplace injury and an injured employee will not be eligible for such benefits if he or she is able to earn more than he or she earned prior to the injury. If you suffered a workplace injury and can no longer earn an income, it is critical to retain a knowledgeable Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney to help you pursue any benefits you may be owed.

The Claimant’s Injury and Workers’ Compensation Claim

It is reported that the claimant suffered a work-related injury in January 2013. He underwent physical therapy, after which he attempted to return to work but claimed that he was unable to perform the functions of the job. The employer’s workers’ compensation insurer paid the employee total incapacity benefits initially but filed a request to discontinue the benefits. Subsequently, in July 2015, an administrative judge granted the insurer’s request. The judge found that the claimant was partially disabled but was able to return to light duty work at least three-quarters of the hours he previously worked. Additionally, the judge found that three-quarter time work exceeded the stipulated weekly wage, even at minimum wage. Thus, the judge terminated the claimant’s total incapacity replacement benefits. The claimant appealed.

A reviewing board then vacated the administrative judge’s decision and recommitted the case for further review, due to the fact that the administrative judge did not review the claimant’s medical documents. The administrative judge then reviewed the medical documents, and once again denied the claimant’s wage loss claim. The reviewing board then affirmed the judge’s decision.

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Under the Massachusetts workers’ compensation act, if a person is injured at work he or she can seek workers’ compensation benefits. Even if a person recovers benefits, he or she is still permitted to file a third-party negligence claim against the individual that caused his or her harm, as illustrated in a recent case decided by a Massachusetts Appellate Court.

Additionally, the court explained that the Massachusetts workers’ compensation act prohibits an employer from retaliating against an employee for pursuing a tort claim.  If you were harmed in a work-related injury, you should meet with a trusted Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney to evaluate your case and assess your avenues for seeking recovery of compensation.

Facts Regarding Plaintiff’s Employment

Reportedly, the plaintiff was hired by a temp agency to work at the defendant manufacturing facility. While working there, the plaintiff was injured when one of the defendant’s employee’s negligent operation of a forklift caused metal sheets to fall on her foot. The plaintiff filed a workers’ compensation claim with the temp agency and received benefits. She was then hired as a full-time employee by the defendant. The plaintiff subsequently filed a lawsuit against the defendant and its employee for the harm suffered in the accident, alleging theories of negligence and respondeat superior. The defendant then terminated the plaintiff, stating the lawsuit as the cause of her termination. The plaintiff amended her lawsuit to include a claim for retaliatory termination. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss the case in its entirety which the trial court granted. The plaintiff appealed. 

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