Massachusetts Workers Compensation Lawyers Blog
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Each year in Boston and across the United States, many workers are injured at work. While some fatal accidents make the local or even national news, far more go unnoticed by media. It’s only occasionally that some on-the-job accidents involve unique circumstances that capture the public’s attention.

komodo-dragon-571597-m.jpgAccording to a news report from KETV 7, a zookeeper injury was one of those cases. A zoo employee in Omaha was reportedly seriously injured after being bitten by a lizard.

The female zookeeper was performing routine care on a Komodo dragon when it bit her on the hand. After the worker was bit on the hand, first responders were called to zoo and transported the zookeeper to a local hospital.

While this might not seem like it would cause a severe on-the-job injury, the problem has to do with fact the animal is venomous and typically has serious bacteria on the its teeth and in its mouth which can cause serious infections. Doctors first cleaned and closed the wound with stitches and then put her on a course of antibiotics and anti-venom. Due to the lizard’s venom and amount of type of bacteria and the potentially deadly infection it could cause she was initially listed in critical condition and admitted to the hospital to undergo additional to control and prevent infection.
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Around the time the Empire State Building was constructed, construction companies did not make workers’ safety a large concern. It was an accepted risk some of the workers would die during the construction of the building, and in fact, there were several deaths before the project was completed in 1931.

rockefeller-center-1445956-m.jpgHowever, in today’s world, worker safety is far more of a concern, and it is expected each and every worker employed on a major construction project will make it safely home at the end of the day. If there is a serious construction accident, especially one involving a fatality, there will be an investigation, and if there were any safety violations, fines may be issued to the construction company responsible for the accident.

According to a recent article in the Real Deal, a worker was killed while working on the construction of a major hotel in Midtown Manhattan. Authorities say worker fell 24 floors down an open elevator shaft in the unfinished building and was killed in fall, though he was rushed to Belleview Hospital where he was officially pronounced dead. Victim was 25-years-old at the time of the fatal workplace accident.
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According to recent news report from CBS Boston, a worker was filling a propane tank for a customer at an oil and gas distributor in Marshfield when the tank suddenly exploded. The propane company employee and the customer who owned the tank were serious injured as a result of shrapnel from the exploding metal propane tank.

propane-173-m.jpgWitnesses say the tank then turned into what was essentially a missile and flew towards the neighboring liquor store and extremely high speeds. When the tank flew from the propane distributor, witnesses say in narrowly missed hitting a car and then continued towards the neighboring business. Customers inside the store aid the sound and the shock was jarring and glass fell from the shelves of the store and a large clock was also knocked off the store wall.

A fire marshal who inspected the damage said the tank was old and heavily rusted and should never have been filled in the first place. He further said anyone filling the tank should inspect it to make sure it is proper condition, and if a tank in this condition is seen, it should be immediately taken out of service and never filled with pressurized propane liquid-gas.
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Even if someone has never actually seen a Cirque du Soleil performance in person, pretty much everyone is familiar with what the performance involves. Essentially, it is a circus with only human performers, meaning no animal acts, and it showcases the talent and artistry of the performers.

jugglingbalancing-2-1222378-m.jpgThere are a variety of different acts, and many of them involve a significant risk to the performers’ safety. While the performers use safety devices when appropriate, some do become seriously injured on the job and may be left without pay and must apply for workers’ compensation benefits, according to a recent article from the Wall Street Journal.

The article focuses on the story of one performer who had been with the show for a long time and played an important role in of the circus’s productions in Orlando, Florida. She was performing a flying stunt and had inadvertently forgotten to double loop her safety harness. Her co-performer did not notice the problem either, and she fell four stories from the high wire act to the stage below.
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According to a recent article from the Insurance Journal, the workers’ compensation industry is facing a very different challenge in adjusting to what amounts to an entirely new form of employment for many Americans. With the economy getting back on track and employments higher than they have been in many years, one would assume workers’ compensation insurance carriers couldn’t be happier with the new policies they must be underwriting. However, as it turns out, this might not be the case.

1398484_3d_illustration_of_computer_technologies__concept_notebook.jpgMany in the nation’s growing workforce are not working in traditional jobs where they punch a clock and have a boss. Through the use of advanced communications technology and mobile computing, many workers go online to find a temporary position for a job that needs to be completed and submit a bid for the job. If they are selected, they perform the required tasks from home or a local coffee shop with free WIFI and get paid electronically.

There are a large variety of job opportunities in this new and growing on-demand economy, as it often called. There are people who write content for publications, work-from-home paralegals for law offices, mobile app designers, web designers, and just about every other job that does not involve physically constructing anything.
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When legislatures across the country created their state’s respective workers’ compensation systems, they looked to see what other states had done when crafting their set of laws. Some states are more favorable to the workers and others are more favorable to employers and big business. Some states try to strike and equal balance between the needs of workers to make ends meet following and injury and employer’s needs to keep costs down.

trinity-church---boston-1-898867-m.jpgOne of the common themes in virtually all workers’ compensation systems is that elected officials are hesitant to create a system where an injured worker can make the same or even more money staying at home and collecting benefits than he could at work had it not been for the on the job injury. While this may seem fair to some, the problem is the injured worker generally cannot go back to work so he or she should not have to earn less in workers’ compensation benefits than he or she would had the accident not occurred, since his or her other bill are not going to down along with his or her income.

While this is not likely to change anytime to soon, Massachusetts lawmakers are trying to make the situation a little more tolerable for injured workers by adjusting how the state average weekly wage (SAWW) is calculated. Essentially, the workers compensation board looks at what a worker would be earning according to an average worker in the state working the same job, and pays a percentage of that amount as benefits.
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In 2011, a Walt Disney World ride mechanic was killed on-the-job while making repairs on an attraction at the park’s Animal Kingdom. According to a recent news article from Click Orlando, employee was performing work on the small roller coaster when another employee released a test car while employee was still on the tracks. Employee was 52-years-old at the time of his workplace death.

rollercoaster-in-motion-711249-m.jpgFamily members have recently filed a lawsuit in connection with employee’s death, arguing defendant was negligent in performing a test run while employee was still on the tracks. They also allege employee’s supervisor did not properly warn him that a car was about to release, which would have allowed him to clear the tracks in a safe manner before being struck by the incoming car.

Plaintiff’s lawyers are technically alleging more than mere negligence, as they contend employee’s supervisor either was not paying attention, or actually “knew where [employee] was and launched [the car] anyway.”
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It should come as a shock to no one that prescription drug costs in the United States are extremely high. We do not have many of the cost control measures implemented by governments of other countries, such as Canada and Europe. In fact, Congress has actually made it illegal to purchase and ship drugs to the U.S. from Canada or Mexico, where the same drugs are cheaper.

caduceus-1219484-m.jpgWith prescription costs being as high as they are and still getting higher each year, workers’ compensation insurance carriers are worried these high costs will make it costly to provide benefits to injured workers in need of expensive prescriptions.

In other words, as our Boston workers’ compensation attorneys can explain, large insurance companies, which collect trillions of dollars in premiums each year, are worried high prescription costs will cut into their profitability, which tends to upset investors, and that is the last thing way want. Essentially, the lobbyists from the pharmaceutical industry are having more success in keeping prescription costs high than insurance industry lobbyists are having in keeping them low or getting federal subsidies.

According to a recent article from Insurance Business Magazine, the cost increases in pharmaceuticals are due to what industry insiders call high price inflation for brand and specialty drugs. They also argue there are fewer big name drugs going generic in the near future, which in the past had served as a cost corrector, as insurance companies can require a patient to use a generic drug if one is available. While they have not said how this actually affects workers’ compensation claims, they claim specialty treatments for Hepatitis C are very costly, and this is having a big impact on the value of claims.

In context to drugs more obviously associated with on-the-job injuries, such as antibiotics, narcotic painkillers, and antidepressants, many of which are already generic, and still increasing in costs, which is contributing to higher costs for workers’ compensation claims. It is not small increases these insurance companies are claiming either, as they note some generic drugs have increase in costs nearly 1,000 percent in the past year alone.
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Anyone who has ever gone into a nail salon is familiar with the strong smell of chemicals and workers wearing face masks when doing client’s manicures. While these chemicals may not be harmful to customers who go into a nail salon a few times a month at most, they are proving very dangerous to nail salon workers who spend all day around toxic chemicals such as acetone throughout each work day.

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According to a recent investigation by The New York Times, nail salon workers are being poisoned. The author focuses on the lives at one popular nail salon in New York City. When a customer opens the door, seemingly happy workers greet her and ask her to pick a color for her nails.

At the first work station, an immigrant worker trims a client’s nails while talking about her two children. She does not mention a child lost in miscarriage. Another worker is on the internet looking for reasons she had a miscarriage, as well, along with four others before the most recent one.
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Dukane Precast, Inc. v. Perez, a case from the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, involved employee who worked at a concrete products plant. This workplace accident occurred when employee was standing in a large sand bin trying to scrape sand from the sides of the bin. The bin was about 10 feet wide at the top opening and narrowed down forming a cone, which was 18 feet deep.

abandoned-factory-369979-m.jpgWhile employee was scraping the sides of the bin, the sand on which he was standing gave way, causing him to sink into the sand and then get buried by more sand up to his neck. Employee screamed for help, and several employees heard him and came running to offer assistance. Despite their best efforts, they were only able to dig out the top portion of his body, so the tightly packed sand trapped him from his waist down.

At this point, other employees managed to find the plant manager to tell him what happened. This took about 10 minutes. Plant manager went to the bin and decided there was no emergency, as employee was in no immediate danger. Other employees told plant manager they believed they could dig him out, so manager left them on their own to try to free trapped employee. Employees tried their best to dig him out but were not trained in how to help him, and the sand removed only left a space for more sand to fall into the holes, thus increasing pressure exerted on trapped employee. He pleaded with everyone to dial 911, but, according to court records, nobody called for assistance.
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