Massachusetts Court Discusses Civil Claims Arising Out of the Workers’ Compensation Act

Under Massachusetts law, employers have a duty to provide workers’ compensation benefits to injured employees. As such, they must either carry workers’ compensation insurance or qualify as self-insurers. If they do not, they may face civil claims, as discussed in a recent Massachusetts ruling. If you sustained injuries while working, it is smart to speak to a Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer about whether you may be owed benefits.

History of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff, while working for the defendant corporation, was hit by a motor vehicle. The plaintiff claimed that the president of the defendant corporation informed him that they did not have workers’ compensation insurance. Consequently, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant, for neglecting to carry workers’ compensation insurance or qualify as a self-insurer.

Allegedly, the defendants subsequently contended that they had an active workers’ compensation policy with an insurance company at the time of the accident and submitted a claim to the insurer on approximately two months after the accident. This claim was denied by the insurer for several reasons, including a lack of evidence that the husband was an employee or that his injury was work-related. The plaintiffs did not appeal this denial, and no case was pending before the Industrial Accident Board. The defendants then moved for summary judgment.

Civil Claims Arising Out of the Workers’ Compensation Act

The court evaluated the defendants’ motion for summary judgment, which argued that the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction since the defendants had workers’ compensation insurance at the time of the accident. Under the Workers’ Compensation Act, if an employer has insurance or is a self-insurer, employees must seek remedies through the Act.

An employee can only sue in tort if an employer lacks such insurance. The plaintiffs argued that the president’s alleged statement about the lack of insurance should allow their common law claim to proceed. However, the court found that the plaintiffs could not prove that the defendants were uninsured on the date of the accident.

Specifically, the defendants had an active insurance policy, as evidenced by the processing and subsequent denial of the claim by the insurer. The court noted that the denial of the claim was due to lack of evidence of an employment relationship and work-related injury, not the absence of insurance. Consequently, the court ruled that the plaintiffs could not reasonably prove the lack of an insurance policy and, therefore, granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants.

Contact a Trusted Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

Massachusetts employers have a responsibility to give workers’ compensation benefits to employees who are hurt on the job, irrespective of fault. If you have been injured at work, it is advisable to contact a lawyer to learn about the benefits you may be eligible for. Attorney James K. Meehan is a reliable Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney with significant experience in helping injured employees defend their rights. To contact Attorney Meehan, use our online form or call him at 508-822-6600 to arrange a private consultation.