Massachusetts Court Examines Employee Benefits and Workers’ Compensation Claims

The Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act), protects Massachusetts employees in that it allows them to recover workers’ compensation benefits if they were injured while working. The right to recover such benefits impacts other claims, though. For example, it may affect an employee’s ability to pursue certain employment claims, as demonstrated in a recent Massachusetts ruling. If you were hurt at work, your employer could owe you benefits, and it is wise to speak to a Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney about your options.

The Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff, a former flight attendant, and a former co-worker bought a lawsuit against the defendant, their former employer, arguing that the defendant negligently or fraudulently misrepresented what travel benefits they would retain after they retired. The defendant moved for summary judgment on the plaintiff’s claims arguing, in part, that her settlement in a workers’ compensation claim barred her from seeking any employment-related benefits after the date of settlement.

The Relationship Between Workers’ Compensation and Employee Benefits Claims

After reviewing the evidence of the case, the court found in favor of the defendant and dismissed the plaintiff’s claims. The court explained that the Act stipulates that when an employee accepts a settlement in a workers’ compensation claim, it creates a presumption that they are no longer physically capable of resuming work for the employer in the place where the alleged injury happened for a period of one month for each $1,500 that is included in the settlement for future weekly wages.

In the subject case, the plaintiff accepted $150,000 to settle her workers’ compensation claim. As such, it was presumed that she was physically incapable of returning to work for the defendant for 100 months, which endured through September 2022. The plaintiff pointed out that the presumption was rebuttable. The court noted, though, that she failed to offer evidence to rebut the presumption. In other words, she did not offer any medical records supporting the assertion that she would have been cleared to return to work during the presumptive period of disability.

Based on the foregoing, the court found that if the plaintiff had not voluntarily retired when she settled her workers’ compensation claim, she would have been on medical leave through September 2022. As such, the court found that she was not entitled to recover employment benefits during that time period limited based on the applicable statutes and her workers’ compensation settlement.

Meet with a Trusted Massachusetts Attorney

Employees that suffer workplace injuries can often recover benefits from their employer, but in some instances, they may be precluded from seeking other employment-related damages. If you were harmed while working, it is advisable to meet with an attorney to discuss what benefits you may be able to recover. James K. Meehan of the Law Office of James K. Meehan is a trusted Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney who can inform you of your rights and help you to seek the best legal outcome possible under the facts of your case. You can reach Mr. Meehan by calling 508-822-6600 or via the form online to set up a conference.