Court Explains How To Establish an Injury is Work-Related Under Massachusetts Law

Under Massachusetts law, employees who suffer work-related injuries can often recover workers’ compensation benefits from their employers. Only injuries that arise out of and in the course of employment are compensable, however. As such, if a claimant cannot establish that the harm they suffered is work-related, their claim for benefits may be denied. Recently, a Massachusetts court discussed what evidence a claimant must offer to show that their harm was work-related in a case in which it ultimately denied the claimant’s claim for workers’ compensation benefits. If you were hurt while working, you might be owed benefits from your employer, and you should speak to a Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney about your options.

The Claimant’s Harm

It is alleged that the claimant worked as a night custodian for a charter school from 2007 through July 2015, when he was terminated. Three weeks after he lost his job, he had a heart attack when he was mowing his lawn. He subsequently filed two workers’ compensation claims. In the first, he alleged he suffered a workplace injury in August 2014 following a negative interaction with his supervisor that caused him to suffer psychological and emotional harm. In the second, he alleged he suffered a workplace injury on the day he was terminated that also caused him to suffer psychological and emotional harm and brought about his heart attack.

It is reported that both claims were brought before an administrative judge who determined that the bona fide personnel action defense barred the plaintiff’s claims. The claimant appealed to the Department of Industrial Accidents, and while it concluded that the administrative judge improperly applied the bona fide personnel action defense, the denial of the claimant’s claims was nonetheless proper. The claimant then appealed to the Appeals Court of Massachusetts.

Establishing an Injury is Work-Related

The court upheld the denial of the claimant’s claims. In doing so, it explained that in order for harm to be compensable, it must not only arise out of the claimant’s employment but must also occur in the course of such employment. Typically, a person’s termination terminates an employer’s liability for harm that person suffers after their discharge unless the post-termination activity that causes the injury is closely related to the employment, both temporally and spatially. In the subject case, the claimant’s harm occurred weeks after his employment ended and was not related to his employment in time or place. Thus, the court found that it was not work-related and affirmed the denial of the claimant’s claims.

Meet with a Trusted Massachusetts Attorney

Workplace injuries can be painful and costly to treat, but fortunately, many employees who suffer harm while working can recover benefits for the cost of their medical care and lost wages. If you were hurt while working, you could be owed workers’ compensation benefits from your employer, and you should meet with an attorney as soon as possible to discuss your rights. James K. Meehan of the Law Office of James K. Meehan is a trusted Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer who can aid you in pursuing any benefits you may be able to recover. You can contact Mr. Meehan by calling 508-822-6600 or via the form online to set up a conference.