Massachusetts Court Discusses Civil Claims for Workplace Injuries

It is not uncommon for people to suffer harm at work. While such harm is generally caused by accidents, it can be brought about by intentional acts as well. Regardless of the source of workplace injuries, the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act permits employees hurt on the job to recover benefits. In exchange for such rights, however, they are generally precluded from pursuing claims in tort against their employer, as explained in a recent Massachusetts ruling. If you were injured while working, it is smart to speak to a Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney about what benefits you may be able to recover.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff, proceeding pro se, filed a lawsuit alleging defamation and workplace injuries against his former employer and its officers. He sought permission to proceed in forma pauperis as well. The plaintiff’s complaint alleged that while working as a seasonal employee for the defendant, he suffered a back injury that impacted his ability to work full-time. Further, he alleged that his supervisor authored a report containing false and defamatory statements about the plaintiff’s conduct at work, leading to his termination.

Civil Claims for Workplace Injuries

The court granted the plaintiff’s motion to proceed in forma pauperis but ordered the plaintiff to file an amended complaint. In doing so, the court notes that the plaintiff has not alleged violations of state or federal laws related to his termination, such as discrimination or wrongful termination. Additionally, the court found that his claims regarding workplace safety and injury were unlikely to succeed as a violation of OSHA regulations does not create an independent cause of action.

Finally, the court explained that the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act likely precluded the plaintiff’s state law claims for workplace injuries. Under the Worker’s Compensation Act, there are two exceptions to the exclusive remedy provided against an employer for personal injuries that occur during employment.

First, an employee can choose to opt out of the workers’ compensation scheme and retain the right to sue the employer by expressing this intention in writing upon hire. Second, if an employer is uninsured in violation of the Act, the injured employee can bring legal action for personal injury or failure to obtain worker’s compensation coverage.

With regard to the plaintiff, the court stated that if he wanted to pursue a claim against his former employer for workplace injuries, he needed to clarify whether he opted out of the Worker’s Compensation Act in writing or if the employer lacked workers’ compensation insurance coverage.

Meet with an Experienced Attorney

People injured at work may be able to recover a variety of benefits under the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act, but in most instances, they are precluded from pursuing civil claims against their employer. If you were injured while working, you should speak to an attorney about your rights. James K. Meehan of the Law Office of James K. Meehan is an experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney who can aid you in seeking the full amount of benefits recoverable under the law. You can contact Mr. Meehan to set up a meeting by using the form online or by calling him at 508-822-6600.