Massachusetts Court Examines Workers’ Compensation Benefits and Other Damages

While people who recover benefits pursuant to the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act cannot pursue claims against their insurers, they can often recover damages from other sources, including, in some instances, their personal insurance policies. Whether such damages will be offset by their worker’s compensation benefits depends on numerous factors, including, in part, the terms of their insurance policies, as demonstrated in a recent Massachusetts ruling. If you were injured on the job, you should meet with a Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer about your options.

The Setting of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff was a passenger in an MTA-owned van, which was involved in an accident with a vehicle driven by another motorist. The plaintiff sustained serious injuries, and he settled his personal injury claim against the motorist for $10,000, which was the maximum coverage under her liability insurance. The plaintiff had also received substantial workers’ compensation benefits related to his injuries. He subsequently filed a claim against his auto insurer for underinsurance benefits, seeking to enforce the policy provision.

Allegedly, the insurer argued that it was entitled to a contractual reduction in the plaintiff’s underinsured motorist coverage based on the plaintiff’s workers’ compensation benefits. The court found in favor of the plaintiff, and the insurer appealed.

The Impact of Workers’ Compensation Benefits on Other Damages

The central question on appeal was whether the contractual provision allowing for a reduction in underinsured motorist coverage based on workers’ compensation benefits was enforceable. After reviewing the language of the policy and relevant statutes, the court found that the policy’s reduction clause was unambiguous and should be enforced as long as it did not contravene statutory language or legislative policy.

The court then determined that the reduction clause did not violate the statutory requirements and was consistent with the legislative intent behind the underinsured motorist coverage laws. The purpose of such laws was to protect accident victims from injuries caused by negligent motorists with insufficient or no liability coverage, ensuring that they would be adequately compensated. The court concluded that the reduction clause aimed to prevent double recovery and reduce the cost of motor vehicle insurance without diminishing or circumventing the mandated minimum coverage limits.

Therefore, the court ruled that the insurer was entitled to a reduction in the underinsured motorist coverage benefits based on the amount of workers’ compensation benefits already paid to the plaintiff and those payable in the future. As such, it reversed the judgment and remanded the case to the trial court.

Speak to a Massachusetts Attorney Today

People hurt while working can often recover workers’ compensation benefits as well as damages from other sources. If you sustained harm on the job, it is wise to speak to an attorney. James K. Meehan of the Law Office of James K. Meehan is a skilled Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer who can advise you of your rights and aid you in seeking just results. You can reach Mr. Meehan to arrange a meeting through the online contact form by calling him at 508-822-6600.