Massachusetts Court Discusses Indemnification Claims in the Context of Workers’ Compensation

Under Massachusetts law, employees who suffer injuries in the workplace can often recover workers’ compensation benefits pursuant to the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act). In exchange for such statutory protections, they lose the right to seek civil damages from their employers for personal injuries. They can, however, seek compensation from other parties that contributed to their injuries. If they do, such parties are barred from seeking indemnity from the injured party’s employer by the exclusivity provision of the Act, as discussed in a recent Massachusetts ruling. If you suffered harm at work, it is in your best interest to talk to a Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer to determine what benefits you may be owed.

The Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the employee, while working for the employer, visited a third-party property to empty a dumpster manufactured by the defendant. When he was emptying its contents, the dumpster fell onto him, causing him to sustain injuries to the lower half of his body. He filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant. In turn, the defendant filed a motion for leave to file a third-party complaint against the employer, arguing that it was liable on theories of contractual and common law indemnification.

The Exclusivity Provision of the Act Bars Third Party Claims Against Employers

The court denied the defendant’s motion to the extent that it sought to pursue common law indemnification claims against the employer. The court explained that motions for leave to join third-party defendants will not be granted when doing so would be futile. It elaborated that such a motion would be futile if the third-party complaint failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted.

As to the defendant’s common law indemnification claim, the court noted that it relied on the theory that if the defendant was liable, it would be due to the acts of the employer. In other words, it asserted that any liability the defendant owed to the employee was solely derivative of the employer’s liability.

The court explained that the employer paid the employee workers’ compensation benefits and that the acceptance of such payments release the employer from all liability, including third-party common law indemnification claims. As such, the court denied the defendant’s motion for leave to amend to the extent he sought to pursue such claims.

Talk to a Trusted Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

The exclusivity provision of the Act not only bars employees from pursuing damages from their employers for personal injuries, but it also bars third-party claims for indemnification against employers. If you were injured on the job, you might be owed benefits, and you should talk to an attorney as soon as possible. James K. Meehan of the Law Office of James K. Meehan is a trusted Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer who can advise you of your rights and help you to seek the maximum amount of benefits recoverable under the law. You can reach Mr. Meehan by calling 508-822-6600 or by using the form online to set up a conference.