Massachusetts Court Explains Recoverable Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Under Massachusetts’s Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act), most employers are required to provide workers’ compensation benefits for employees who suffer injuries while working. Typically, employers obtain workers’ compensation insurance to ensure they can pay such benefits if necessary. If an injured employee receives workers’ compensation benefits under the terms of such a policy, they cannot then refute their employment relationship at a later date in hopes of obtaining a double recovery, as explained in a ruling recently issued by a Massachusetts court in a workers’ compensation matter. If you were hurt while working, you might be able to recover workers’ compensation benefits, and it is in your best interest to talk to a Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer to evaluate what measures you can take to protect your interests.

Procedural History of the Case

It is alleged that in a lawsuit against the insurer of a workers’ compensation claimant’s employer, the claimant, acting as an intervenor, sought compensation from the insurer based on a default judgment obtained against the employer. The claimant argued that the workers’ compensation policy, from which they had already received benefits, was issued to an entity that was not their actual employer. The insurer moved for summary judgment, arguing that the claimant was precluded from recovering such benefits pursuant to their employment relationship with the insured, which the court granted. The claimant appealed.

Benefits Recoverable in Workers’ Compensation Claims

On appeal, the court found that the interveners failed to demonstrate any error by the trial court in granting summary judgment to the insurer. Noting the absence of evidence supporting the claim that the intervenor received benefits from an insurer covering a different party, which he deemed his actual employer, the court held that the intervener, having pursued and received benefits, could not now dispute the existence of the employer-employee relationship with the insured. The court cited case law supporting the principle that once benefits are received, challenging the employer-employee relationship is precluded.

Further, the intervener raised new arguments on appeal that he did not assert below, claiming entitlement to pursue their suit against the insurer. These arguments included the later addition of the intervenor’s purported employer to the policy in question, the insurer’s recognition of an error in naming the insured, and payments to the intervenor as an employee of the additional party.

The court rejected these arguments, emphasizing that new arguments could not be raised for the first time on appeal. Ultimately, the court affirmed the summary judgment in favor of the insurer, stating that, pursuant to the Act, the insurer was not obligated to indemnify the insurer, and the interveners were not entitled to payment for the losses resulting from the incident in question.

Meet with a Capable Massachusetts Attorney

If you were hurt in a job-related incident, it is smart to meet with an attorney to discuss what workers’ compensation benefits you may be able to recover. James K. Meehan of the Law Office of the Law Offices of James K. Meehan is a capable Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney who can advise you of your rights and help you to seek a good outcome. You can reach Mr. Meehan to arrange a consultation through the online form or by calling him at 508-822-6600.