COVID-19 Update: We are open and fully operating. Click here to see how we are serving and protecting our clients.
NEW COVID-19 Cases: If you have been affected by COVID-19, call or email us to discuss your legal rights.

Articles Posted in Workers’ Compensation

Generally, workers’ compensation laws are enacted by state rather than federal legislatures. This does not mean that state workers’ compensation laws do not apply to federal employers. As noted in a recent ruling issued by the United State Supreme Court, however, a state workers’ compensation statute cannot treat the federal government or its contractors less favorably than state employers. If you were injured while working for the federal government, you may be owed workers’ compensation benefits, and you should consult a Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as possible.

History of the Case

It is alleged that in 2018, a state passed a workers’ compensation law that applied only to specific workers at a federal facility within the state who worked, either directly or indirectly, for the United States. The facility in question used to manufacture nuclear weapons but was in the process of being decontaminated. Most of the workers involved in the cleanup process were federal contractors or employees.

The United States brought a lawsuit against the state on the grounds that the law in question was unconstitutional. Specifically, the United States argued that it discriminated against the federal government in violation of the Supremacy Clause because it made it easier for federal workers to establish their right to workers’ compensation benefits, thereby increasing the government’s costs. The court found in favor of the state, and the United States appealed. Continue reading →

Most Massachusetts employers have an obligation to provide employees who suffer injuries while working benefits. While in most cases, the benefits owed are pursuant to the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act, in some instances, other rules apply. For example, pursuant to federal common law, boat owners have an obligation to provide care for their employees who fall ill while working on their vessels. A Massachusetts court recently examined the “duty of cure” imposed on boat owners in a case in which the plaintiff argued he was not adequately paid for his medical care. If you were hurt while working, you might be owed benefits, and it is in your best interest to speak to a Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer about your potential claims.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff contracted an infection while he was working on the defendant’s boat. He was hospitalized and received inpatient care for six months. He sought payment for his medical expenses from the defendant pursuant to the federal common law obligation in admiralty law referred to as the duty of cure. The defendant paid the plaintiff’s expenses in part, but failed to compensate him for the entire cost of his care. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging that it breached its duty of cure. The court entered judgment for the defendant, and the plaintiff appealed.

Benefits Available to Boat Workers Injured While Working Under Admiralty Law

The trial court ruling was largely reversed on appeal. The court explained that it was a general principle of admiralty law, that if a person working on a boat falls ill or is injured, the vessel owners are liable for the worker’s maintenance and cure. The court noted that although maintenance and cure are often referred to as a single duty, there were two distinct aspects. Continue reading →

While many Massachusetts employers provide their employees with a safe and respectful work environment, some do not.  Fortunately, the law provides avenues through which people who suffer harm or injustices at work can seek justice.  The laws regarding the process of seeking damages and benefits are strict, however.  For example, the Massachusetts workers’ compensation act (the Act) largely prohibits employees from seeking damages from their employers in civil lawsuits for personal injuries.  Notably, as demonstrated in a recent Massachusetts ruling, this includes claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress.  If you suffered losses at work, it is advisable to confer with a Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer to determine your options for seeking justice.

The Plaintiff’s Allegations

It is alleged that the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant, her employer, in which she asserted numerous employment discrimination claims.  She also asserted state law claims, including a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress.  The defendant moved for summary judgment asserting, among other things, that the plaintiff’s intentional infliction of emotional distress claim was barred by the exclusivity provisions of the Act.

Emotional Distress Claims in the Context of the Workers’ Compensation Framework

The court ultimately agreed with the defendant with regard to the intentional infliction of emotional distress claim.  The court explained that the Act is the sole remedy for common law personal injury claims that arise out of employment.  Specifically, it provides that an employee shall be deemed to have waived their right to pursue personal injury claims for damages that arise under the common law or under any other law with respect to an injury that is compensable under the Act. Continue reading →

It is well-established that the Massachusetts workers’ compensation act (the Act) affords people the right to recover benefits from their employers for work-related harm. If an employer or their insurer unjustly denies an employee benefits, the employee may be able to pursue claims against them. They must do so within the workers’ compensation framework, however, as demonstrated in a recent Massachusetts opinion. If you suffered injuries at work, it is prudent to contact a  Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer to determine your options for seeking justice.

The History of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff worked as a chemist for the employer. In 2013, he suffered injuries when he was exposed to toxic chemicals when working due to poor ventilation in his work area. He subsequently filed a workers’ compensation claim, despite efforts to dissuade him from doing so. He asserted that his employer’s workers’ compensation attorney mishandled his claim and wrongfully refused to pay him benefits, however. As such, he filed a civil lawsuit against them, asserting unfair trade practices and defamation claims. The defendants moved for dismissal of the plaintiff’s complaint, arguing his claims were barred by the exclusivity provision of the Act.

The Exclusivity of the Act

The court agreed with the defendants’ reasoning and dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint. Specifically, the court stated that all of the plaintiff’s claims were precluded because his sole remedy was through the Act. The court explained that it was undisputed that the plaintiff was an employee of the employer, he suffered harm that constituted a personal injury as defined by the Act, and it occurred during the course of his employment. Continue reading →

Pursuant to the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act), people who are hurt at work are typically barred from pursuing civil claims against their employers in exchange for the right to recover workers’ compensation benefits. The Act does not prohibit employees from seeking damages from other parties that may be responsible for their harm, however. Recently, a Massachusetts court analyzed the right to pursue third-party claims following a work injury in a case in which it ultimately granted the plaintiff the right to pursue contractual indemnification claims. If you were hurt while working, it is wise to talk to a Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer about your potential claims.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

It is alleged that the plaintiff was working when he suffered injuries to his lower body. Specifically, he was hurt when a dumpster he was emptying toppled onto him. The dumpster was manufactured and sold by the defendant. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant, and the defendant filed an answer. Two months later, the defendant moved to join a third party as a defendant.

It is reported that the defendant alleged the plaintiff was employed by the third party at the time of the incident and the third party was responsible for servicing the dumpster. The defendant further asserted that it had an agreement with the third party in which the third party agreed to indemnify the defendant. The third-party opposed the motion arguing that it was futile. Continue reading →

It is not uncommon for people who sustain injuries while working to suffer harm that is not work-related as well. In such instances, it can be difficult to differentiate whether an employee’s permanent incapacity and wage loss constitute a basis for awarding workers’ compensation benefits and, if so, to what extent. Recently, a Massachusetts court discussed the analysis undertaken by courts in workers’ compensation cases where the claimant’s losses were caused by numerous injuries. If you were injured at work, you might be able to recover workers’ compensation benefits, and it is in your best interest to meet with a Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as you can.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the claimant worked as a certified nurse’s assistant from 1972 to 2011. She suffered numerous injuries during that time; some of the harmful incidents occurred while she was working, while others happened outside of work. Regardless, she subsequently filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. An administrative judge awarded her permanent total incapacity benefits after hearing evidence of several of her work-related injuries.

Allegedly, the insurer appealed, arguing that she was not entitled to such benefits because her harm was not entirely work-related. The reviewing board vacated the administrative judge’s decision in part and affirmed it in part. Notably, the board vacated the permanent benefits award and replaced it with a temporary total benefits award. The insurer challenged the decision.   Continue reading →

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 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 →

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 →