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Articles Posted in Workers’ Compensation

Massachusetts, like many states, enacted a Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act) that grants employees injured at work the right to recover benefits. The Act bars employees from pursuing civil claims against their employers, however. While employers will often assert that the exclusivity provision of the Act bars civil claims, it may not constitute grounds for dismissal of a case prior to the exchange of discovery, as demonstrated in a recent opinion issued by a Massachusetts court. If you were hurt at work, you could be owed benefits, and it is smart to meet with a knowledgeable Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer to determine your rights.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

It is alleged that the plaintiff was employed by a tool company as a machinist. The tool company was a wholly-owned subsidiary of the defendant. The plaintiff injured her hand on a machine while she was working and subsequently filed a civil lawsuit against the defendant. The plaintiff’s complaint asserted that the defendant should be held liable for negligence and negligent supervision.

It is reported that the plaintiff alleged the defendant breached its duty to provide a safe workplace, reasonably supervise the worksite, and ensure employees were properly trained. The defendant moved for judgment on the pleadings, arguing it was the statutory employer of the plaintiff and, therefore, her claims were barred by the exclusivity provision of the Act. The court denied the motion, and the defendant appealed. Continue reading →

In Massachusetts, people hurt at work are limited in terms of recovery for their losses. Specifically, while work-related harm garners them the right to recover workers’ compensation benefits, it is at the exclusion of other civil damages pursuant to the provisions of the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act). If an employee’s injury is not work-related, though, it may not fall under the terms of the Act. A Massachusetts court recently addressed the issue of what constitutes a work injury in a case involving an employee’s accidental overdose. If you lost a loved one because of a work-related injury, it is wise to confer with a skilled Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney about your right to recover benefits.

The Facts of the Case

Allegedly, the decedent, who was 16 years old, worked at a fast-food restaurant. She visited the restaurant during one of her days off and obtained narcotics from a co-worker. Later that day, she died of an accidental overdose. The decedent’s mother filed a wrongful death lawsuit against numerous parties, including those that had managerial, supervisory, and ownership interests in the restaurant.

It is reported that her complaint alleged that the defendants knew or should have known that the co-worker regularly used illegal drugs, and their failure to enforce their zero-tolerance drug policy caused the decedent’s death. The defendants moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint, arguing, among other things, that her emotional distress claims were barred by the exclusivity provision of the Act. Continue reading →

In Massachusetts, if a person dies because of a work-related accident, the person’s family members can generally cover workers’ compensation benefits. The exclusivity provision of the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act) extends to a deceased workers’ estate, however, which means that the estate cannot pursue civil claims against the deceased workers’ employer. In some instances, though, it may not be clear whether an employment relationship existed between a company and a deceased worker. Recently, a Massachusetts court discussed the test for determining whether a part is immune from liability under the Act in a matter in which the decedent died in a trucking accident while working. If you lost a loved one due to a work-related accident, you might be owed benefits, and it is smart to meet with a knowledgeable Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the decedent was resting in the sleeper compartment of a commercial truck when the truck driver crashed into another tractor-trailer that was stopped on the highway. The decedent died due to the injuries sustained in the crash. Both the decedent and the driver of the truck worked for the defendant company. The driver was an independent contractor of the defendant company and entered into a lease agreement with the company, through which he obtained the right to use the truck.

Allegedly, the driver also entered into an agreement with a staffing company through which he “leased” driver trainees, such as the decedent, who could assist him in transporting freight. Pursuant to the staffing lease agreement, the driver was responsible for the conduct and supervision of leased drivers. Following the decedent’s death, his estate received workers’ compensation benefits from the staffing company. They then filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the defendant driver’s estate and the defendant company. The defendant driver’s estate moved for summary judgment, arguing the estate’s claims were barred by the exclusivity provisions of the Act. Continue reading →

People who sustain injuries in the workplace may be eligible to recover benefits under the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act). In exchange for the right to such benefits, the Act bars injured employees from pursuing personal injury claims against their employers for harm caused by injuries that arise out of employment. While in some cases, it is clear that a claim is precluded by the exclusivity provisions of the Act, in others, it may not be evident whether the harm in question constitutes a personal injury. This was demonstrated in a recent opinion issued in a Massachusetts case, in which the court discussed whether the Act barred an employee from seeking damages for emotional distress caused by workplace conditions. If you suffered injuries at work, it is advisable to speak to an experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney to determine what benefits you may be owed.

The Plaintiff’s Allegations

It is reported that the plaintiff worked for the defendant at a power plant. His managers began to harass him, causing him to suffer panic attacks, anxiety, and stress. He sought medical leave, but his request was denied. He was subsequently terminated. He then filed a civil lawsuit against the defendant, asserting numerous claims, including intentional infliction of emotional distress. The defendant responded by filing a motion to dismiss.

The Exclusivity Provision of the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act

The defendant argued that the plaintiff’s intentional infliction of emotional distress claim was both untimely and was barred by the Act’s exclusivity provision. The plaintiff did not submit a response to the defendant’s workers’ compensation allegations but argued that his claims were timely due to a complaint he filed with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. Continue reading →

The Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act is the sole remedy for employees who suffer injuries, which means they have the right to recover benefits but are generally precluded from pursuing civil lawsuits against their employers. They can seek damages via civil claims against other parties, however. In some instances, a party will attempt to avoid liability by arguing it engaged in a joint venture with the employer of the injured individual. Recently, a Massachusetts court discussed joint ventures in the context of workers’ compensation claims, in a matter in which the plaintiff was denied the right to recover damages. If you suffered harm at work, it is advisable to speak to a trusted Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney to discuss your rights.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff suffered injuries while working for his employer, a chain steakhouse. He filed a workers’ compensation claim and received benefits that listed the two defendant companies and the chain steakhouse as insureds. He then filed a civil lawsuit against the two defendant companies, alleging negligence.

Reportedly, the defendants filed an answer arguing that the plaintiff’s claims were barred by the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act). The case proceeded to trial, and the jury found that the defendants were engaged in a joint venture with the plaintiff’s employer. As such, the plaintiff’s claims were barred by the Act. The plaintiff filed a motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict, but the court denied her motion. She then appealed. Continue reading →

People who are hurt at work are often eligible to recover workers’ compensation benefits for their losses. It is not uncommon, however, for employers to argue that injured employees should not be granted benefits because their harm did not arise at work. An employer that fails to set forth such arguments at hearings related to a claim for benefits, though, cannot assert such defenses at a later date. This was demonstrated in a recent ruling issued in a Massachusetts workers’ compensation case in which a court affirmed a ruling in favor of the claimant. If you were hurt at work, you should meet with a skilled Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible to discuss what benefits you may be able to recover.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the claimant was hired by the defendant to work as a personal care nurse for the defendant’s mother. Initially, the claimant agreed to work for two hours a day in exchange for room and board. She also performed secretarial work and various domestic tasks, like washing dishes, taking out the garbage, and cleaning. It was understood that if she performed more than two hours of work a day, she would receive additional compensation, but the defendant never paid her for additional work.

Allegedly, the claimant slipped and fell, taking out the garbage, and injured her back and neck. She could not work after the accident and filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. The administrative judge found that the claimant was employed as a domestic worker on the date of the injury and that she worked thirty to forty hours a week and was therefore owed benefits. The defendant appealed the award, which was affirmed by the reviewing board. The defendant appealed again. Continue reading →

While most people think of workers’ compensation claims as arising out of bodily injuries, claimants can also seek benefits for illnesses they develop due to workplace conditions. In many cases, occupational illnesses take years to develop, and it can be difficult to demonstrate a causal link between a workplace and an ailment. A claimant the fails to adequately prove causation may be denied benefits, as demonstrated in a recent Massachusetts ruling issued in a workers compensation case. If you sustained an illness because of your work environment, you might be owed benefits from your employer, and you should speak to a knowledgeable Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney about your rights.

History of the Case

It is reported that in 1968, the claimants assisted in the cleanup of radioactive materials that were released at a United States military base in Greenland. During the process, they were exposed to plutonium radiation. They later developed illnesses that they alleged were the result of their exposure and filed claims for workers’ compensation benefits under the Defense Base Act, which is an extension of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA). The administrative law judge conducted a series of hearings but ultimately denied their claims. The claimants then filed a petition for review.

Recovering Benefits for Occupational Illnesses

The LHWCA provides compensation for injuries that arise out of and in the course of employment. The LHWCA provides, in part, that injuries include occupational infections and diseases that arise naturally out of employment or as an inevitable result of an accidental injury. Thus, in order to receive benefits under the LHWCA, a claimant must demonstrate that there is a causal nexus between his ailment and his employment activities. Continue reading →

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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