Massachusetts workers’ compensation is available to employees of businesses who are injured while performing duties for the employer in the scope of their employment. Whether or not benefits are issued to an injured person hinges on whether the injured person is considered to be an employee. The Massachusetts Supreme Court recently reviewed in SJC 12368 whether or not an employee should be defined by the the workers’ compensation act in General Laws Section 152 or the independent contractor statute, found in G. L. c. 149,§ 148B.
The injured person in this case worked as a delivery-woman for a company acting as a middleman to deliver publications to subscribers. Over the course of her employment, she signed several contracts identifying her as an independent contractor. She was given a route, but she had the freedom to choose the delivery time and path she liked as long as the deliveries were completed by 6 AM on weekdays and 8 AM on weekends. The injured person made deliveries in her own car for 12 years. She was paid based on each newspaper delivered, with an additional stipend for delivering papers to those who did not receive a scheduled delivery.
In 2010, the appellant injured herself while loading papers in her car using a hand carriage. She fell off a ramp and injured her right hand and right knee. She reported it to her employer but continued on with her workday, seeking no medical treatment. The injured person experienced another accident a few months later, slipping on ice while delivering papers and hurting her right leg. For this injury, the injured person had to undergo two surgeries for her right leg and right hand.