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People who suffer injuries at work can often recover workers’ compensation benefits. Typically, though, they cannot pursue any other civil claims against their employers. This preclusion extends not only to claims arising out of bodily harm but also to those seeking damages for emotional trauma. Recently, a Massachusetts court discussed the exclusivity provision of the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act) in a case in which it ultimately dismissed the plaintiff’s intentional infliction of emotional distress claims on other grounds. If you sustained injuries due to workplace conditions, you might be owed workers’ compensation benefits, and it is in your best interest to confer with a Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney.

Factual and Procedural History of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff was terminated by his employer due to a reduction in force. The termination happened shortly after the plaintiff returned to work after being out on parental leave. The plaintiff subsequently filed a civil lawsuit against the employer, arguing that he was fired in retaliation for taking leave, in violation of his rights, and asserting various claims under state and federal law, including an intentional infliction of emotional distress claim. The employer moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims.

Generally, Massachusetts law limits people injured at work to the recovery of workers’ compensation benefits. In some professions, though, a person injured in the line of duty may be able to recover additional compensation. This was illustrated in a recent Massachusetts case in which the court found that a police officer qualified for assault pay in addition to workers’ compensation benefits pursuant to the General Laws. If you were hurt while working, you should speak to a Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer to discuss what benefits you may be able to recover.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

It is reported that the plaintiff worked for a county sheriff’s department. In January 2018, an incident occurred in a correctional facility where an inmate took a guard hostage. The plaintiff was called to assist a co-worker in carrying a metal footlocker to address the hostage situation. When he was helping move the footlocker, the plaintiff hurt his shoulder.

Allegedly, the plaintiff could not work due to his injuries. He sought and received workers’ compensation benefits pursuant to the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act). He then sought assault pay pursuant to numerous provisions of the General Laws. Continue reading →

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. Continue reading →

Generally, workers’ compensation laws are enacted by state rather than federal legislatures. This does not mean that state workers’ compensation laws do not apply to federal employers. As noted in a recent ruling issued by the United State Supreme Court, however, a state workers’ compensation statute cannot treat the federal government or its contractors less favorably than state employers. If you were injured while working for the federal government, you may be owed workers’ compensation benefits, and you should consult a Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as possible.

History of the Case

It is alleged that in 2018, a state passed a workers’ compensation law that applied only to specific workers at a federal facility within the state who worked, either directly or indirectly, for the United States. The facility in question used to manufacture nuclear weapons but was in the process of being decontaminated. Most of the workers involved in the cleanup process were federal contractors or employees.

The United States brought a lawsuit against the state on the grounds that the law in question was unconstitutional. Specifically, the United States argued that it discriminated against the federal government in violation of the Supremacy Clause because it made it easier for federal workers to establish their right to workers’ compensation benefits, thereby increasing the government’s costs. The court found in favor of the state, and the United States appealed. Continue reading →

Massachusetts employees who suffer workplace injuries can typically recover workers’ compensation benefits from their employers pursuant to the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act).  In exchange for the right to receive such benefits, however, they are generally precluded from pursuing civil claims for work-related injuries against their employers by the Act’s exclusivity provision. Recently, a Massachusetts court discussed the applicability of the exclusivity provision with regard to claims asserting harm caused by negligence supervision and hiring. If you were injured at work, it is smart to talk to a Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer about what benefits you may be able to recover.

The Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant, her former employer, in which she alleged that the defendant failed to provide a safe workplace and asserted claims of negligent hiring and supervision, among other things. The defendant moved to dismiss the aforementioned claims on the grounds that they were barred by the exclusivity provision of the Act.

The Exclusivity Provision of the Act

The court agreed with the defendant’s assertion and granted its motion to dismiss. The court noted that the exclusivity provision of the Act is a comprehensive preemption that precludes injured workers from pursuing tort actions that arise out of employment related injuries that are compensable through the payment of workers’ compensation benefits under the Act. Continue reading →

Most Massachusetts employers have an obligation to provide employees who suffer injuries while working benefits. While in most cases, the benefits owed are pursuant to the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act, in some instances, other rules apply. For example, pursuant to federal common law, boat owners have an obligation to provide care for their employees who fall ill while working on their vessels. A Massachusetts court recently examined the “duty of cure” imposed on boat owners in a case in which the plaintiff argued he was not adequately paid for his medical care. If you were hurt while working, you might be owed benefits, and it is in your best interest to speak to a Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer about your potential claims.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff contracted an infection while he was working on the defendant’s boat. He was hospitalized and received inpatient care for six months. He sought payment for his medical expenses from the defendant pursuant to the federal common law obligation in admiralty law referred to as the duty of cure. The defendant paid the plaintiff’s expenses in part, but failed to compensate him for the entire cost of his care. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging that it breached its duty of cure. The court entered judgment for the defendant, and the plaintiff appealed.

Benefits Available to Boat Workers Injured While Working Under Admiralty Law

The trial court ruling was largely reversed on appeal. The court explained that it was a general principle of admiralty law, that if a person working on a boat falls ill or is injured, the vessel owners are liable for the worker’s maintenance and cure. The court noted that although maintenance and cure are often referred to as a single duty, there were two distinct aspects. Continue reading →

While many Massachusetts employers provide their employees with a safe and respectful work environment, some do not.  Fortunately, the law provides avenues through which people who suffer harm or injustices at work can seek justice.  The laws regarding the process of seeking damages and benefits are strict, however.  For example, the Massachusetts workers’ compensation act (the Act) largely prohibits employees from seeking damages from their employers in civil lawsuits for personal injuries.  Notably, as demonstrated in a recent Massachusetts ruling, this includes claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress.  If you suffered losses at work, it is advisable to confer with a Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer to determine your options for seeking justice.

The Plaintiff’s Allegations

It is alleged that the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant, her employer, in which she asserted numerous employment discrimination claims.  She also asserted state law claims, including a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress.  The defendant moved for summary judgment asserting, among other things, that the plaintiff’s intentional infliction of emotional distress claim was barred by the exclusivity provisions of the Act.

Emotional Distress Claims in the Context of the Workers’ Compensation Framework

The court ultimately agreed with the defendant with regard to the intentional infliction of emotional distress claim.  The court explained that the Act is the sole remedy for common law personal injury claims that arise out of employment.  Specifically, it provides that an employee shall be deemed to have waived their right to pursue personal injury claims for damages that arise under the common law or under any other law with respect to an injury that is compensable under the Act. Continue reading →

It is well-established that the Massachusetts workers’ compensation act (the Act) affords people the right to recover benefits from their employers for work-related harm. If an employer or their insurer unjustly denies an employee benefits, the employee may be able to pursue claims against them. They must do so within the workers’ compensation framework, however, as demonstrated in a recent Massachusetts opinion. If you suffered injuries at work, it is prudent to contact a  Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer to determine your options for seeking justice.

The History of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff worked as a chemist for the employer. In 2013, he suffered injuries when he was exposed to toxic chemicals when working due to poor ventilation in his work area. He subsequently filed a workers’ compensation claim, despite efforts to dissuade him from doing so. He asserted that his employer’s workers’ compensation attorney mishandled his claim and wrongfully refused to pay him benefits, however. As such, he filed a civil lawsuit against them, asserting unfair trade practices and defamation claims. The defendants moved for dismissal of the plaintiff’s complaint, arguing his claims were barred by the exclusivity provision of the Act.

The Exclusivity of the Act

The court agreed with the defendants’ reasoning and dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint. Specifically, the court stated that all of the plaintiff’s claims were precluded because his sole remedy was through the Act. The court explained that it was undisputed that the plaintiff was an employee of the employer, he suffered harm that constituted a personal injury as defined by the Act, and it occurred during the course of his employment. Continue reading →

Pursuant to the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act), people who are hurt at work are typically barred from pursuing civil claims against their employers in exchange for the right to recover workers’ compensation benefits. The Act does not prohibit employees from seeking damages from other parties that may be responsible for their harm, however. Recently, a Massachusetts court analyzed the right to pursue third-party claims following a work injury in a case in which it ultimately granted the plaintiff the right to pursue contractual indemnification claims. If you were hurt while working, it is wise to talk to a Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer about your potential claims.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

It is alleged that the plaintiff was working when he suffered injuries to his lower body. Specifically, he was hurt when a dumpster he was emptying toppled onto him. The dumpster was manufactured and sold by the defendant. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant, and the defendant filed an answer. Two months later, the defendant moved to join a third party as a defendant.

It is reported that the defendant alleged the plaintiff was employed by the third party at the time of the incident and the third party was responsible for servicing the dumpster. The defendant further asserted that it had an agreement with the third party in which the third party agreed to indemnify the defendant. The third-party opposed the motion arguing that it was futile. Continue reading →

It is not uncommon for people who sustain injuries while working to suffer harm that is not work-related as well. In such instances, it can be difficult to differentiate whether an employee’s permanent incapacity and wage loss constitute a basis for awarding workers’ compensation benefits and, if so, to what extent. Recently, a Massachusetts court discussed the analysis undertaken by courts in workers’ compensation cases where the claimant’s losses were caused by numerous injuries. If you were injured at work, you might be able to recover workers’ compensation benefits, and it is in your best interest to meet with a Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as you can.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the claimant worked as a certified nurse’s assistant from 1972 to 2011. She suffered numerous injuries during that time; some of the harmful incidents occurred while she was working, while others happened outside of work. Regardless, she subsequently filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. An administrative judge awarded her permanent total incapacity benefits after hearing evidence of several of her work-related injuries.

Allegedly, the insurer appealed, arguing that she was not entitled to such benefits because her harm was not entirely work-related. The reviewing board vacated the administrative judge’s decision in part and affirmed it in part. Notably, the board vacated the permanent benefits award and replaced it with a temporary total benefits award. The insurer challenged the decision.   Continue reading →