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The Workers’ Compensation Act is the sole remedy for Massachusetts employees who sustain harm at work. In other words, they cannot pursue civil claims for damages against their employers for harm that they suffered at work. They can seek compensation from other parties that caused or contributed to their harm, however. In such instances, the parties will often disagree as to whether any workers’ compensation claim arising out of the same incident as the lawsuit is relevant. This was the case in a recent Massachusetts personal injury matter in which the court permitted the plaintiff to preclude information regarding his workers’ compensation claim. If you were hurt at work, you could be owed benefits from your employer and damages from other parties, and it is in your best interest to speak to a Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney about your options.

The History of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff sustained injuries in a slip and fall accident that occurred in the parking lot of his employer. He subsequently filed a workers’ compensation claim and was awarded benefits. At the same time, he filed a civil lawsuit against the defendant, asserting that the defendant’s failure to properly clear the ice and snow on the parking lot caused his accident and subsequent harm. The parties in the civil case conducted discovery, during which the plaintiff produced his workers’ compensation records. Prior to trial, the parties filed numerous motions in limine in which they asked the court to determine what evidence could be used at trial; two of the motions pertained to the plaintiff’s workers’ compensation records.

Evidence of Workers’ Compensation Claims in Personal Injury Matters

The court first dealt with the plaintiff’s motion in which he requested a ruling that prohibited the introduction of evidence relating to his receipt of workers’ compensation benefits, noting that the defendant did not file a response to the motion. Thus, the court granted it as unopposed. The plaintiff also asked the court to prohibit the plaintiff from introducing any evidence related to other harm he suffered at work or workers’ compensation claims he filed following other work accidents on the grounds that it was prejudicial and irrelevant. Continue reading →

People that suffer injuries at work do not always agree with their employers as to how their workers’ compensation claims should be handled. Merely because a party disagrees with the administration of their claim, though, does not mean that they have the right to pursue claims against their employer under other causes of action. This was demonstrated in a recent Massachusetts opinion in which the court dismissed the plaintiff’s civil claims against his employer that arose out of a dispute over the settlement of his workers’ compensation claim. If you sustained injuries at work, you should talk to a Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer regarding your rights.

The History of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff was convicted of workers’ compensation fraud. He then filed a civil lawsuit against representatives of his former employer, his former employer, and other entities, alleging that they conspired to extort funds from him while they were in the process of negotiating his workers’ compensation claim settlement and that his lump sump workers’ compensation settlement was the product of extortion. In his complaint, he alleged negligent infliction of emotional distress, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, loss of consortium, and violations of the unfair trade practices act claims. The defendant employers moved for dismissal of the plaintiff’s emotional distress and violation of the unfair trade practice act claims via summary judgment. The trial court granted the motion, and he appealed.

Exclusivity of the Workers’ Compensation Act

On appeal, the appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling on the motion for summary judgment. The court noted that even assuming the conduct alleged in the plaintiff’s complaint was true, it arose out of his employment and the administration of his workers’ compensation claim. Thus, such allegations were fundamentally encompassed within the overall framework of workers’ compensation and fell outside of the cope of unfair or deceptive business practices between arms-length entities as alleged in the plaintiff’s complaint. Continue reading →

If you sustain harm in the workplace, you may be prescribed medication to treat your injuries and manage the pain. Pursuant to the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act, employees who are injured on the job in are entitled not only to weekly wage loss benefits to replace their missed pay, but also reimbursements for medical expenditures that arise out of their injuries. Despite the clear provisions of the act, however, many insurers try to refuse coverage for medical procedures and medications, as demonstrated in a recent Massachusetts workers’ compensation case. If you were hurt at work, it is smart to contact a Massachusetts workers’ compensation to discuss what benefits you may be owed.

The Claimant’s Harm

It is alleged that the employee suffered harm in an accident during a company barbecue. Specifically, he slipped and injured his left knee. He attempted to resume work but was unable to do so. He subsequently underwent numerous surgeries on his ankle and knee. He filed a claim for  workers’ compensation benefits. The court found that the claimant’s harm was work related, and ordered the insurer to pay the claimant benefits for any medical care that was reasonable and necessary, including prescriptions. The insurer appealed the lower court’s decision to award benefits and medical reimbursement payments, arguing the connection between the alleged harm and the treatment sought was not clear.

Medical Benefits in Workers’ Compensation Cases

On appeal, the insurer argued the award of workers’ compensation benefits was improper, as the lower court judge failed to conduct an adequate analysis of the causal relationship between the damage and the treatment. It further claimed that the lower court misinterpreted information about the claimant’s obesity status. Continue reading →

The Massachusetts workers’ compensation system is intended to assist injured workers with the costs and hardships that arise as a result of an on-the-job accident. However, benefits are only available to employees harmed while performing their job obligations. When an accident occurs while the employee is on their way to or from work, proving benefits should be granted can be challenging. Recently, a Massachusetts court discussed what evidence an employee must produce to show that an injury that happened while they were traveling is job related. If you were hurt at work, you should contact a Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney to assist you in determining if you are eligible to recover benefits.

The Claimant’s Harm

It is reported that the claimant was working as a nurse pursuant at the time of her injuries. Her company assigned her to work in a rehab facility in Vermont, although she lived in Massachusetts. She drove home from Vermont at the end of each five-day stint, assuming she would be reimbursed for her lodging and meals for the whole five-day period. She did not request reimbursement for travel expenditures because she believed the policy was unclear and that she was not obligated to show receipts.

Allegedly, the claimant was leaving her five-day duty and traveling back to her home in Massachusetts on the day of the accident. Specifically, on the way home, she was injured in an accident that necessitated multiple operations and rehabilitation. She was seriously hurt and has no recollection of the accident. She sought workers’ compensation benefits, but her employer’s insurer argued that she was not owed benefits because she was not working at the time of the accident. A judge ruled in favor of the claimant, and the insurer appealed. Continue reading →

Workplace injuries can, in certain situations, be cured with adequate rest and therapy. In some cases, though, a workplace injury is serious enough to result in lasting disabilities. The Massachusetts workers’ compensation system is intended to compensate employees for lost pay and reimburse them for medical expenses while they recover. Cases involving severe and lasting injuries, though, can become complicated, and insurers may dispute whether continuing care is necessary. This was demonstrated in a recent Massachusetts workers’ compensation case, in which an insurer attempted to avoid paying an employee benefits. If you were harmed at work, you should speak to a skilled Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney regarding your rights.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the claimant sustained traumatic injuries while working in a psychiatric ward of a hospital. He was attacked by a patient, who continuously kicked him until he passed out. He needed continuous medical care for a right leg fracture, deep vein thrombosis, persistent pain, and instability as a result of the attack, and sought workers’ compensation benefits. The judge granted the worker’s application for benefits but noted a variety of pre-existing diseases that were not linked to the accident in the award, like the claimant’s degenerative arthritis of the spine. The judge ultimately determined that the employee’s pre-existing conditions did not increase the need for treatment or the duration of his disability.

Reportedly, the claimant filed a claim for additional benefits. Based on the facts presented at the hearing, the judge found that the worker suffered severe injuries, and was permanently and fully incapacitated as a result of the attack. He further stated that his findings did not change the judge’s previous decision that the employee’s pre-existing ailments were unrelated to the attack. The insurer filed an appeal. Continue reading →

The Massachusetts workers’ compensation system is intended to reimburse people injured on the job for missed wages as well as any reasonable and necessary medical expenses. Some workplace injuries heal over time, but others leave the victim disabled and in pain for the rest of their lives. In a workers’ compensation claim, the court ultimately evaluates whether an injured employee has obtained maximal medical improvement. The court’s determination that an employee’s ability to receive compensation for extra medical care and return to work in the same role, among other things, but the courts do not always rule in accordance with the evidence. Recently, a Massachusetts court discussed what recourse is available for an employee who disagreed with the lower court’s determination that he had reached his maximum medical progress. If you were hurt at work, you should contact a Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney to discuss your rights as soon as possible.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that in 2013, the employee injured his left shoulder. He then suffered a back injury in 2014. He initially received benefits for both injuries from the employer’s insurance company. The company ceased paying benefits in 2014, though, claiming it was not responsible for the injuries, the employee had a pre-existing condition, and the injuries were caused by something other than his profession. The court also determined that the employee’s shoulder injury had reached its maximum level of medical improvement. The employee appealed.

Determining Whether an Employee Has Reached Maximum Medical Improvement

On appeal, the court noted that in making his determination that the medical end result had been reached, the lower court judge relied on the assessment of the independent medical examiner. The judge overlooked the fact that the medical examiner’s report also stated that surgical repair of the should would be reasonable would be necessary, reasonable, and was a causally connected outcome of the shoulder injury. Essentially, the appellate court found that the lower court judge erred in equating a positive medical outcome with the absence of the necessity for further treatment. Continue reading →

Typically, Massachusetts employees who suffer harm due to workplace conditions have the right to recover workers’ compensation benefits. Harm includes not only physical injuries but also mental distress and trauma. There are some exceptions to the rule that psychological injuries are compensable, however, as demonstrated in a recent Massachusetts Ruling.  If you sustained psychological injuries due to your workplace conditions, you might be owed benefits, and you should speak to a skilled Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney about options.

The Claimant’s Harm

It is alleged that the claimant worked for the employer as a researcher in a laboratory that developed drugs. At some point, it became evident that the claimant was using a different protocol than he had been ordered to use. He admitted that he was using his own protocol because he disagreed with the methodology of his supervisor. He was subsequently terminated.

Reportedly, the claimant began seeking psychiatric care following his termination and sought workers’ compensation benefits for the psychological harm he sustained as a result of his work environment and subsequent termination. After a two-day hearing, an administrative judge determined that the employer’s actions were bona fide personnel actions, and therefore, any injuries he psychological harm he suffered was not compensable. The reviewing board affirmed the decision, and the claimant appealed. Continue reading →

In Massachusetts, employers are required to provide workers’ compensation benefits to employees who sustain work-related harm, pursuant to the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act). While generally it is clear whether an employee qualifies for benefits under the Act, in some cases, an employee’s rights are less certain. For example, in a recent Massachusetts ruling, a court examined whether a person working in Massachusetts for a Canadian consulate was entitled to benefits after she was injured at work. If you were injured while working, you might be able to recover benefits, and you should contact a trusted Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney to discuss your rights.

The Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the claimant is a United States citizen that lives in Massachusetts. She previously worked as an administrative assistant for the Canadian Consulate in Boston. In 2009, she suffered an injury when she tripped and fell while working. She subsequently sued Canada for workers’ compensation benefits under the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act. The trial court dismissed her complaint after concluding that Canada was immune from liability under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA). The claimant then appealed.

Eligibility for Benefits Under the Act

On appeal, the appellate court reversed the trial court ruling. The court explained that while the FSIA did largely provide immunity to foreign countries, there were exceptions. For example, parties could pursue claims that arise out of commercial activity. In evaluating whether a course of conduct or transaction is commercial in nature, as the term is defined by the FSIA, the court does not focus on whether the foreign entity undertook the action with the intent of making a profit. Continue reading →

Workers’ compensation matters are often complicated and involve multiple insurers and parties from numerous states. As such, there are sometimes disputes as to which state’s laws apply. Recently, a Massachusetts court issued an opinion setting forth a choice of laws analysis in a workers’ compensation matter in which the parties disputed whether a subrogation action was time-barred. If you suffered harm while working, you could be owed benefits, and it is in your best interest to confer with a Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney regarding your options.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that this matter arose out of an incident in which the claimant suffered serious harm while working at a construction site. The claimant’s employer and its insurer subsequently filed a subrogation claim against multiple third-party Connecticut-based construction companies to recover benefits paid to the claimant on the employer’s behalf. In part, the employer and insurer alleged that the companies provided a defective fall arrest system for the employee that failed, causing the employee to fall and sustain serious injuries. The defendants moved for dismissal on the pleadings on the grounds that the action was barred by the statute of limitations under Connecticut law. The trial court granted the motion, and the employer and insurer appealed.

Choice of Laws Analysis in Massachusetts Courts

On appeal, one of the primary points of contention was whether Connecticut’s or Massachusetts’ statute of limitations applied. The court explained that in terms of choice of law with regard to statutes of limitations, its rule was that the law of the State where the action was filed generally applies with regards to whether a claim is timely unless maintaining the claim would serve no substantial interest of the forum, and the claim would be barred under the statute of limitations of a state having a more significant relationship to the parties and the harm suffered. Continue reading →

Parties who disagree with the determination of a workers’ compensation court have the right to file an appeal. If they do not comply with the proper procedure, though, their appeals may be dismissed, regardless of whether they have merit. This was demonstrated in a recent ruling issued by a Massachusetts court in a workers’ compensation case. If you suffered injuries in the workplace, you might be owed benefits, and it is smart to contact a Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney to discuss your rights.

The Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the claimant sustained injuries at work. She subsequently filed a workers’ compensation claim. A hearing on her claims ultimately resulted in a proceeding before the Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA), in which the DIA approved a lump-sum agreement. Close to two years after the agreement was approved, the claimant moved for an extension of the time to file an appeal. An administrative judge denied the claimant’s motion and her subsequent request for reconsideration.

Reportedly, the claimant then filed a notice of appeal from the judge’s orders. A single judge treated the notice as a motion for leave to file a late notice of appeal and dismissed it as untimely. The plaintiff then filed a petition for relief based on the superintendence of inferior courts. The court affirmed the lower court’s rulings. Continue reading →