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Workers’ compensation is a benefit afforded to almost all employees in Massachusetts, including those who work primarily for tips. While this work arrangement is common in restaurants and other service industry jobs, it can sometimes complicate the question of benefits owed in the event of a work-related injury. restaurant

This is why it’s so important to have an attorney who is experienced in workers’ compensation law to fight not only for the right to benefits, but also for the full amount of benefits you deserve.

In a recent case before the Kentucky Supreme Court, justices were asked to consider whether the administrative law judge who weighed a plaintiff’s workers’ compensation claim appropriately calculated her average weekly wage. (This figure is important because it determines how much an injured worker receives in benefits. Massachusetts General Law offers up to 60 percent of a worker’s gross average weekly pay – up to the state maximum – for workers who receive temporary total disability.) Continue reading

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In a workers’ compensation action, claimant can request money for past medical bills associated with the on-the-job injury, lost wages, future medical expenses and the cost of rehabilitation.  Unlike in a civil personal injury lawsuit, the claimant cannot ask for benefits for pain and suffering.  However, also unlike a civil personal injury action, the claimant in a workers’ compensation case doesn’t have to prove any negligence of behalf of his or her employer or a fellow employee.

golf cartIn a case from the Louisiana Supreme Court, a golf cart hit claimant while he worked at a youth ranch.  According to his filing for benefits, he alleged that the golf cart collision resulted in him suffering a head injury and injuries to his shoulder, back, one wrist, hip leg, knee, and ankle. A pain management specialist treated him, and that medical professional recommended the employee receive treatment using a device known a spinal cord stimulator.   Continue reading

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In a recent case from the Oklahoma Supreme Court, an injured employee filed a lawsuit against her employer, who allegedly refused to comply with valid orders from the workers’ compensation court following an on-the-job injury.  Claimant further argued that this unwillingness to follow the orders of the workers’ compensation court were done in bad faith, and this would make the claim actionable before a civil court with subject matter and personal jurisdiction.

upsetIn this case, plaintiff argued that the workers’ compensation court had ordered her employer to compensate her following an on-the-job injury, but the employer failed to follow this order on 26 separate occasions through their bad faith in providing her with the benefits to which she was entitled. The benefits in this case were awarded for her temporary total disability. Continue reading

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It’s well-known that employees can be compensated for injuries they sustain the course of employment – and that includes medical expenses. However, what if you are injured in the course of receiving treatment for that work injury? Let’s say it is a case of medical malpractice. Should it be your employer that picks up the tab? shoulder

The Wyoming Supreme Court recently took on a case like this, and decided: Yes, but it didn’t apply here. It’s called the second compensable injury rule, and it applies when an initial compensable injury results in an injury or condition that requires additional compensation. Under this rule, a subsequent injury is compensable if it is causally related to the initial work injury that was compensable.

This relates to the general common law theory in Massachusetts under which a tortfeasor liable for the foreseeable consequences of their actions that are caused by subsequent tortfeasors. In layman’s terms, that means the person/ company that caused the original injury can be held responsible for medical malpractice – even if though those injuries weren’t directly a result of the original injury.  Continue reading

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A man shot repeatedly while sitting in a vehicle outside the convenience store where he worked. Now, the state high court in Pennsylvania has ruled that he is indeed eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits for those injuries. gun

Judges with the Commonwealth Court ruled the injuries were indeed work-related, noting he was shot shortly after he was threatened by the relatives of a woman he just had arrested for stealing. The state court ruling upheld the finding of a workers’ compensation judge and the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board. His employer had appealed to the top court in an attempt to try to deny payment for the incident, which happened in May 2008. A big part of the reason the store fought so hard against payment was likely because, as records show, the company didn’t have the required workers’ compensation coverage at the time of the incident. That meant payment for the injury was on the state’s uninsured employer guaranty fund.

The case, although out-of-state, highlights how we define covered injuries in the context of work-related violence. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration considers workplace violence to be any act or threat of physical violence, intimidation, harassment or other threatening disruptive behavior that happens at work. Approximately 2 million workers in America are victims of this every year. However, not all have an easy time securing workers’ compensation benefits.  Continue reading

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Black men and Hispanic immigrants have the highest rate of workplace injury in the nation, according to a new study on work injuries and disabilities.hard work

Researchers with the University of Southern California’s Schaeffer Center of Health Policy and Economics and the Keck School of Medicine and Boston University published the study in last month’s edition of the journal Health Affairs. They opined the findings should prompt policy makers to consider whether bias is a factor in disparities of workplace injury and disability.

The study authors said the risk was even higher when they factored in workers’ education and other demographic characteristics. Essentially, unequal opportunities in the workplace for minorities results in them taking on more dangerous jobs out of necessity. That in turn increase their risk of disabling injuries.  Continue reading

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The Ohio Supreme Court considered recently a workers’ compensation case involving two types of disability claimed by the same worker. woman

Although this isn’t a Massachusetts case, it’s worth a look from our Boston workers’ compensation lawyers because sister courts often take into account one another’s decisions in considering similar cases, especially those of first impression.

In this matter, claimant, S.R., was receiving permanent total disability payments on the basis solely of a psychological condition in her workers’ compensation case. However, she later applied for permanent partial disability benefits on the basis of physical conditions on the exact same claim. Should this be allowed? Continue reading

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Occupational diseases are every bit as compensable under Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation law as work-related injuries. However, causation in cases of disease is not always as easily provable. For example, a fall at work can be easily connected to an injury, but how do you prove your carpal tunnel syndrome – which develops over time and not as the result of a single incident – is in fact related to your job, as opposed to some other activity?firefighters

Recently, the Washington Supreme Court took on two cases wherein the industrial board and lower courts took a different approach to the question of proof burdens for causation of occupational disease for two firefighters. Each suffered from a condition called malignant melanoma, which is a cancer of the skin. Research has shown that firefighters have much higher rates of developing many different types of cancer as compared to the general population due to on-the-job exposure to numerous toxins.

In these cases, the question arose regarding the presumption given in favor of the worker that the disease was in fact work-related. Employer/ city had the burden of rebutting that presumption in order to deny benefits. The issue was whether the rebuttal was a factual determination properly given to a jury or a matter of law. In one case, the matter was sent to a jury and in another, the case was decided by a judge. The court ruled such matters should go before a jury, therefore it affirmed the decision in the first claim and reversed in the second. Continue reading

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In a case from the Supreme Court of Mississippi, an employee who worked at a petroleum refinery factory was seriously injured while on the job.  However, he was not technically a statutory employee, but rather a contractor.

truckIn a typical situation, a contractor would not be able to obtain workers’ compensation benefits, because he is not an employee, which is a requirement to collect worker’s compensation benefits. However, this does not mean that the injured worker would not have any recourse. Continue reading

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In a case from the Supreme Court of the State of Nevada, the claimant was working as construction driver for a paving company.  While he was at work one day, he was driving a truck, and another worker on the job site hit his truck with a backhoe.  When this occurred, he suffered severe injuries to various parts of his body, including his head, neck, knee, and back.

truckAfter this workplace accident, he filed a claim for workers’ compensation, and his employer accepted the claim.  After he had received workers’ compensation benefits and was treated for his injuries, his employer closed the claim and told him how reopen it should his condition get worse in the future, as they were required to do under the relevant state statute. Continue reading