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Workers’ Compensation for Co-worker Assaults in Boston

When an employee is on the job in Boston and is assaulted by a co-worker, the injured worker is generally prohibited by the Workers’ Compensation Act codified in Chapter 152 of the Massachusetts General Laws (M.G.L.) from filing a civil lawsuit.  This is because an injured employee has the remedy of filing for workers’ compensation and this what is known as an exclusive remedy.  There are some cases where an injured employee can file a claim for workers’ compensation and then file a lawsuit against a negligent or intentional tortfeasor, but these cases involved a tortfeasor who is not an employer of coworker.  In these cases, the tortfeasor must be a bona fide third party such as customer or a vendor.

Boston Workers' Compensation According to a recent news article from NECN, a constructor has been arrested after assaulting a coworker in Boston.  Authorities say the defendant assaulted his coworker on a construction project and then allegedly tried to cover up the attack.  The specific charges included witness intimidation, obstruction of justice, and aggravated assault and battery.  He was arraigned along with a co-defendant who was charged with being an accessory after the fact and the same charges as the alleged assailant. Even though these are serious allegations, they are only allegations and both defendants are presumed innocent unless and until they are proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by a judge or jury in the Suffolk Superior Court in downtown Boston.

As for the specific allegations, defendant was working as a night supervisor on a construction site in Copley Place when he began arguing with a coworker.  There were allegations that the coworker (victim) was intoxicated according to reports. The argument turned into a physical altercation and victim was allegedly punched in the face.  The resulted in him falling down and hitting the back of his head on the pavement. At this point, the alleged assailant and his coworker, also a night supervision, allegedly moved his body and told others he slipped and fell while working. Unfortunately for both defendants, there were security cameras on the job site that allegedly corroborated what was in the police report. Following the alleged attack, the construction worker was a in a coma for nearly a week and is said to have suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) as result of hitting his on concrete when he fell backwards.

Workers’ Compensation in Boston Operates Under a No-Fault System

As our Boston workers’ compensation attorneys can explain, the workers’ compensation system in Massachusetts is a no-fault system in addition to being a single-recovery system.  This means that in the vast majority of cases, it does matter if the employer was at-fault in the accident or if the injured worker was partially or completely at fault.  All that is necessary to obtain workers’ compensation benefits is to establish that the injured employee was an employee within the meaning of the workers’ compensation act, as opposed to independent contractor, and that the injury or illness was work-related.   In the case of an on-the-job accident, that typically involves a single accident that occurred while at work, but it can also be repeated stress injury (RSI) like carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).   In the case of a work-related illness, it must be established that the illness was caused by some type of workplace exposure such as exposure to harsh or caustic chemicals.

Workers’ Compensation in Boston Operates as a Single-Recovery System

With respect to the system being a single-recovery scheme, it doesn’t matter if the injury was an accident, as we see in most Boston workplace injury cases, or if it was the result of an intentional act such as being attacked by a fellow employee. In these cases, standard workers’ compensation benefits will apply including payment for lost wages and medical expenses.  This can include medical expenses associated with the injury when it occurs and any followup care and rehabilitative surgery that may be needed. In some cases, there may also be emotional trauma associated with the workplace injury that results in the need for therapy or medication.  The cost of these services can be included in the workers’ compensation benefits award if they are recommended by a treating physician.  The employer may try to argue against the payment for some needed medical expenses, but this is something that should be discussed with your attorney in the course of your legal representation.

Types of Benefits in Boston Workers’ Compensation Case

Workers’ compensation benefits does not include a component for pain and suffering damages as there may be in a civil personal injury case, but there is also no need to prove any negligence on behalf of the employer due it being a no-fault system in Massachusetts. This is a trade-off that also allows an injury worker to obtain benefits much faster than are typically possible in a personal injury case.  However, even though this system was designed to provide for much quicker compensation, some employer’s and their workers’ compensation insurance companies will often deny a perfectly valid claim to save money.  When this happens ,the best thing a claimant can do is to speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney in Boston as soon as possible.  There is often a lot that can be done to settle the matter quickly, and if that is not possible, there can be a hearing before the workers’ compensation commission.  If this does not result in the award of benefits, at this point, it is possible to file a court case and appeal the denial.  While this is not the quickest process in every case, the employee should have no fear that they cannot afford a Boston workers’ compensation attorney because not only is there no fee for the consultation, there are no legal fees unless the claimant is successful in obtaining an award of workers’ compensation benefits.

If you or someone you love has been injured a Boston work accident, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:

Construction Workers Face Charges of Assaulting Coworker in Boston, January 3, 2018, By Monica Madeja, NECN

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