Massachusetts Court Discusses Claims Against Negligent Employers

Generally, people who are injured at work are barred from pursuing claims against their employer by state workers’ compensation laws. There are some exceptions, though, that will allow parties to file lawsuits alleging their employers negligently caused them to suffer harm and should be held accountable for their losses, such as the Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA). Recently, a Massachusetts court discussed what constitutes sufficient evidence to demonstrate an employer acted negligently in violation of FELA in a case in which the plaintiff was injured in a fall. If you were hurt at work, you could be owed damages, and it is prudent to speak with a seasoned Massachusetts personal injury attorney about your options for seeking compensation.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

Reportedly, the plaintiff worked for the defendant, a railway company. When he was working one day, he slipped and fell down steps next to a locomotive, sustaining injuries. He advised other workers that he slipped on oil. He subsequently filed a lawsuit, alleging that in allowing oil to remain on the steps, the defendant negligently failed to maintain a safe work environment in violation of FELA. A trial was held, and the jury found in favor of the plaintiff, awarding him substantial damages. The defendant moved for a new trial, and in support of his motion, he argued that the verdict was against the weight of the evidence.

Evidence Sufficient to Establish an Employer’s Negligence

The court denied the defendant’s motion. Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the court may overturn a jury verdict and order a new trial if it finds that the verdict is against the weight of the credible evidence, violates the law, or otherwise equals a miscarriage of justice. A district court’s power to grant a motion for a new trial is much broader than the authority to grant a judgment as a matter of law.

While the court is free to weigh the evidence of record independently, it cannot displace the jury’s verdict merely because it disagrees with the outcome or because the evidence would have sufficiently supported some other result. Instead, the remedy of granting a new trial is only to be used when it is needed to correct a miscarriage of justice and the evidence weighs heavily against the verdict. In the subject case, the court found that there was sufficient evidence in support of the jury’s findings. Specifically, there was testimony introduced regarding oil on the railing of the steps, the defendant’s failure to clean up an oil spill that occurred shortly before the fall, and the wetness of the area where the plaintiff fell. Thus, the defendant’s motion was denied.

Speak to a Trusted Massachusetts Personal Injury Attorney

People injured at work can often recover compensation for their losses, and it is prudent for anyone who suffered harm in the workplace to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. If you were hurt at work, trusted personal injury lawyer James K. Meehan can advise you of your rights and help you to seek the maximum amount of damages recoverable under the law. You can contact us via our form online or by calling us at 508-822-6600 to schedule a meeting.