People who suffer injuries during the course and scope of their employment can often recover benefits for their medical expenses under the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act). Notably, the act covers harm that occurs during the performance of any normal job duties, even if they seem atypical. This was demonstrated in a recent Massachusetts case in which the court affirmed an employee’s right to recover workers’ compensation benefits after she was injured working as a chaperone on a ski trip. If you were injured on the job, it is prudent to contact a Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer to talk about your options.

History of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff, who was a math teacher at the defendant’s high school, suffered injuries in a ski accident while serving as a chaperone for a high school ski club trip. The plaintiff then sought workers’ compensation benefits for her medical costs. The defendant argued that the plaintiff’s injury was not compensable as it happened when she was voluntarily participating in a recreational activity. The Department of Industrial Accidents’ reviewing board granted benefits to the plaintiff. In doing so, the Board found the recreational aspect of acting as a chaperone was secondary to her duties of monitoring the behavior of the students and ensuring they were safe. The city appealed.

Work-Related Activities Under the Act

On appeal, the court affirmed the board’s decision, emphasizing that a teacher acting as a chaperone for a school-sponsored activity is within the course of employment and not engaged in “recreational” activity under the Act. Examining the facts of the case, the court noted that the school-sanctioned ski club had been operating for years, with teachers serving as chaperones without direct financial compensation. Continue reading →

The Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act) protects employees in that it allows them to seek compensation for workplace injuries. In exchange for that right, the Act precludes them from pursuing tort claims against their employers for work-related harm. As discussed in a recent Massachusetts case, however, it does not preclude all claims against employers. If you were hurt at work, it is important to understand your rights, and you should speak to a Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff initiated legal proceedings against his former employer and its parent company, the defendants, invoking the Massachusetts Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA) and alleging common law breach of contract. Initially, the court dismissed certain claims but allowed the breach of contract claim based on safety standards, reporting requirements, record-keeping, and quality assurance to proceed. Defendants subsequently sought a more definite statement, prompting the plaintiff to specify the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) of April 1, 2019, as the contractual basis for his breach of contract claims. The current matter revolves around the Defendants’ second Motion to Dismiss, seeking the dismissal of specific claims on preemption grounds.

Preclusion of Claims Under the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act

The court engaged in a comprehensive analysis of the claims, first addressing the preemption issue regarding the breach of contract claims in Count III. Defendants contended that Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA) preempted these claims, as they allegedly required interpretation of the CBA. The court invoked the “complete preemption” doctrine, emphasizing that claims falling within the ambit of LMRA § 301 could be deemed federal, thereby warranting removal. In this instance, the court concluded that Plaintiff’s breach of contract claims directly implicated the CBA, necessitating its interpretation, and thus fell within the scope of LMRA § 301 preemption. As a result, the court granted the Defendants’ motion to dismiss Count III, precluding state law claims based on the CBA. Continue reading →

The Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act) serves as the exclusive avenue for employees to recover benefits for injuries sustained in the workplace. While the Act provides a comprehensive framework for obtaining compensation for work-related harm, it also precludes employees from pursuing traditional tort claims. As explained in a recent Massachusetts case, this includes claims for emotional distress. If you suffered physical or emotional harm due to your workplace environment, it is advisable to confer with a Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney to determine what benefits you may be owed.

Factual Background and Procedural History of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff was employed by the defendant in 2008; she held various positions within the company and received positive evaluations, consistent bonuses, and promotions, eventually becoming the Regional Vice President for the Northeast Region. She alleged she experienced discriminatory treatment by her direct supervisor based on her race and skin color, however, and that the supervisor gave preferential treatment to light-skinned individuals. Additionally, the plaintiff claimed promises of promotion were unfulfilled, and she faced a salary reduction when relocating due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reportedly, the work-related issues exacerbated the plaintiff’s mental health conditions, culminating in her forced resignation in December 2022. She initiated a lawsuit against the defendant in December 2022. The defendant removed the case to federal court, after which the court granted the plaintiff’s motion to file a second amended complaint. The defendant then moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s intentional infliction of emotional distress claims, arguing they were precluded by the Act. Continue reading →

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. Continue reading →

Most states, like Massachusetts, have a workers’ compensation act (the Act) that protects workers in the event of employment-related injuries by granting them the right to recover benefits. While in most cases, it is clear what state’s workers’ compensation laws apply, in others, it is less evident. This was demonstrated in a recent Massachusetts case in which the court had to determine whether Massachusetts or Rhode Island law applied. If you sustained injuries on the job, it is smart to consult with a Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer to determine what benefits you may be owed.

Case Setting

It is reported that the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant construction contractor and defendant superintendent, seeking damages for injuries allegedly resulting from their negligent conduct. The plaintiff was employed by a temporary employment agency, which had a contract with the defendant construction contractor to provide laborers for a construction project at a Naval Station in Rhode Island. The project was contracted with the United States Department of Navy, and the defendant construction contractor, a Pennsylvania corporation, called upon the temp agency to supply temporary laborers.

Allegedly, despite the project being in Rhode Island, the defendant construction contractor, unaware of the temp agency’s Massachusetts connection, expected federal and Rhode Island laws to apply. The plaintiff, a Massachusetts resident, sustained injuries on the site, leading to a dispute over whether Massachusetts or Rhode Island law applied to his tort claims. The defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing that Rhode Island law applied and precluded his claim. Continue reading →

The Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act) affords workers the right to recover benefits for work-related injuries or illnesses. However, this right comes with a trade-off. Specifically, in exchange for these benefits, workers are generally precluded from suing their employers in tort for damages. This legal framework is designed to provide a streamlined and efficient process for compensating injured workers. Yet, complications can arise, particularly in cases where the identity of the employer is not immediately clear, as illustrated in a recent Massachusetts case in which the court ultimately dismissed the plaintiff’s claims in tort. If you were hurt while working, it is advisable to speak to a Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney about what benefits you may be able to recover.

History of the Case

Allegedly, the plaintiff filed personal injury claims against the defendant. The defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff’s claims were barred by the exclusivity provision of the Act. The plaintiff opposed the motion and argued that an entity distinct from the defendant was his employer at the time of the accident, thus challenging the defendant’s entitlement to immunity.

It is reported that the records indicated that the defendant retained and paid the entity for non-production payroll services, and while the plaintiff was hired as a union carpenter by the entity, he was outside the scope of the agreement between the entity and the defendant. The judge concluded that the defendant was the plaintiff’s employer, having a direct employment relationship, supervisory authority, and the ability to hire or fire the plaintiff. As such, the court granted the defendant’s motion. The plaintiff appealed. Continue reading →

It is well-established that the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act affords people the right to seek workers’ compensation benefits following workplace injuries. Issues in recovering such benefits can arise, however, if the employee suffers a second injury that is not work related. In a recent Massachusetts case, the court looked at what constitutes an intervening cause for the purposes of recovering workers’ compensation benefits. If you suffered injuries on the job, you should talk to a Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney about your possible claims.

Procedural and Factual Setting

It is reported that the employee suffered injuries following a fall at work and subsequent activities, including lifting steel rebar at work the following day. The employer acknowledges the compensability of these injuries but disputes the finding that the plaintiff’s later painting activity, specifically painting his brother’s kitchen, was non-work related. The employee sought workers’ compensation benefits, which an administrative judge granted. The employer appealed, and on appeal, the reviewing board of the Department of Industrial Accidents upheld the administrative judge’s decision. The employer filed a subsequent appeal.

Intervening Causes in Workers’ Compensation Cases

The central question on appeal was whether the administrative judge applied an incorrect legal standard of intervening cause. The court explained that it would examine the administrative judge’s findings and reasoning to determine if her decision was arbitrary or capricious. Continue reading →

People involved in workplace accidents often suffer critical harm. If they suffer from a pre-existing condition prior to the accident, though, their employer may argue that their workplace injuries are not compensable. As long as their work injury constitutes a major cause of their deficits, however,  they have the right to recover damages, as explained in a recent Massachusetts case. If you were hurt while at work, you should meet with a Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney to evaluate what benefits are available.

Case Setting

It is alleged that the employee, a fifty-five-year-old pipefitter, suffered a neck injury on December 29, 2008, while working for the self-insured employer. The injury, combined with a pre-existing degenerative condition, led to surgery and subsequent disability. The impartial medical examiner attributed 40% of the disability to the work injury and 60% to the pre-existing condition. The administrative judge, adopting the medical examiner but disagreeing with the “major cause” interpretation, ruled that the work injury was a major cause based on the evidence before him. The board affirmed this decision. The employer appealed.

Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Parties with Pre-Existing Conditions

The appeal centered on the interpretation of the “major cause” standard under the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act, particularly when an industrial injury combines with a non-compensable pre-existing condition to cause the employee’s disability. The employer contended that the board erred in not treating the impartial medical examiner’s opinion as binding and that the board’s interpretation of the statutory phrase “a major cause” was contrary to the law. Continue reading →

Work place injuries often cause not only physical harm but also psychological trauma as well. In many instances, people who suffer enduring loss of function due to physical impairments may be able to recover permanent loss benefits. As explained in a recent Massachusetts case, the Department of Industrial Accidents has the authority to assess whether such benefits are warranted. If you suffered mental or physical harm while working, you may be owed benefits, and you should contact a Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney.

Background of the Case

It is alleged that the claimant, a former heavy equipment mechanic for the employer, suffered an industrial injury to the elbow and shoulder, leading to the subsequent development of anxiety and depression. These conditions hindered the claimant from working and significantly affected his daily life, and he was awarded various benefits pursuant to the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act. He later filed a workers’ compensation claim for permanent loss of psychiatric function under the Act, which was ultimately denied. He appealed.

Grounds for Awarding Permanent Loss Benefits

The sole issue on appeal was whether benefits for permanent loss of psychiatric function should be available to the claimant. To resolve this issue, the court looked at the Department of Industrial Accidents’ authority in determining the applicable edition of the American Medical Association Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment (AMA Guides) for assessing psychiatric impairment. Continue reading →

Pursuant to the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act, employers must provide certain benefits to employees hurt at work, including cost of living benefits. In some instances, employers can seek reimbursement for such benefits from the Workers’ Compensation Fund. While the laws providing the right to seek such benefits do not indicate a time frame for pursuing such benefits, they nonetheless must be sought in a timely manner, as demonstrated in a recent Massachusetts ruling. If you have questions about your rights with regard to workers’ compensation benefits, it is in your best interest to meet with a Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer at your earliest convenience.

History of the Case

Allegedly, the University sought reimbursement from the Workers’ Compensation Trust Fund (Fund) for cost-of-living adjustments benefits paid to five employees from July 1, 2005, through June 30, 2010. The Fund denied reimbursement for payments made more than two years before the University filed its claims, citing the department regulation. The University appealed, and the administrative judge sided with the Fund, while the board reversed, contending the two-year limitation served no rational purpose. Both the University and the Fund filed cross-appeals for judicial review.

Cost of Living Benefit Reimbursements in Workers’ Compensation Cases

Under General Laws c. 152, § 34B, insurers are entitled to quarterly reimbursements for cost of living adjustment benefits, with no specified time limit for filing reimbursement claims. On appeal, the court employed a two-part test, considered the language of the statute, and considered whether the regulation could be reconciled with the governing legislation. Continue reading →