When a worker is killed on the job, many do not realize that workers’ compensation is still the appropriate – and maybe only – remedy for surviving family members to obtain compensation for medical expenses, funeral expenses and lost wages. Pursuant to Chapter 152, of the Massachusetts General Laws (M.G.L), all of these types of recovery are available, however there is no possibility to recovery damages for pain and suffering unless there is a third-party defendant. Examples of this would be:
- A worker killed in a car accident caused by another negligent driver;
- A worker killed in a construction accident wherein the owner of the property (or other party aside from employer) was negligent;
- A worker killed in an accident involving a defective product or defective vehicle.
According to a recent news article from the Boston Globe, a man was killed in South Boston when he was on top of a crane. The construction site accident occurred around rush hour in front of crowds of passersby and other construction workers.
Authorities report the man was on top of the crane when he fell off, and then he was able to grab a rope and hold himself up. It first appeared as if he was going to use the rope to lower himself slowly to the ground, but it snapped and he fell to ground and landed on his back.
The issue of exactly what happened is still being investigated. Witnesses allegedly saw the man on top of the crane when he took his shirt off and started doing push-ups and pull-ups like the crane was some type of jungle gym. His movements were described as very causal prior to him falling off the crane. Authorities did not say whether the man was authorized to be there of it was just someone who climbed up the crane. An investigation was still ongoing at the time of this article.
This first issue a case such as brings up is whether a worker was at-fault or not, and if it would matter in a Boston workers’ compensation case. The system was set up so that there is no-fault with respect to both the employer and the employee who was injured on the job. This means that if an employee was injured on the job and it was his or her fault, this will not preclude that injured employee from being able to collect workers’ compensation benefits. On the other hand, if an employer was not in any way negligent in connection with an employee’s injury, injured employee will still be able to collect workers’ compensation because there is no requirement to prove fault on behalf of his or her employer.
This is part of the comprise between the needs of employers and the needs of injured employees and their families. The employers were concerned about being constantly at risk for civil lawsuits in the event that an employee was injured or killed on the job. Even in accidents in which there was no negligence involved, since this was the only chance an injured employee or his or her family had to recovery for the loss, they would have no choice but to file a personal injury claim. This means that employer would have to spend money to defend the claim, and it left a lot of uncertainly in how much it would cost them at any given time.
The injured and employees and their families needed a way to get the money quicker without having to prove an employer was at-fault in causing their respective injuries. When a worker is injured on the job and requires medical attention or will miss more than five days of work, injured employee must file a claim with employer. The most important thing however, employee can do is to make sure to report the injury to a supervisor or employer as soon as possible.
In some cases, there is an ambulance called to the job site so there is no question as to when the accident occurred, but many injuries occur when a supervisor is not around and the injury is not contemporaneously reported. If an injured worker goes to his or her doctor weeks later when the pain gets worse, employee will file a report. At this point, claimant will file a workers’ compensation claim and the claim will possibly be denied because employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company will claim that employee’s injuries were not the result of an on the job accident. This does not mean that the injured employee will not have a valid worker’s compensation claim, but it does meant that there is little time to waste in contacting an experienced Boston worker’s compensation attorney to get the appeals process started.
As for the number of work, the Massachusetts 2015 Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses Annual Report keeps detailed statistics and Compares the Commonwealth to other jurisdictions.
When an employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company denies a claim, they have between 2 weeks and 30 days to send a letter of denial to employee stating its intent to deny the claim. At this point, claimant must file a claim with the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA), which will start the formal appeals process. This is not a deadline which can be missed, so this is one reason to speak an attorney as soon as possible. The employee should not wait in doing so because the more time an attorney has to work on the case, before the deadline, the better your chances will be in obtaining a successful result as early in the process as possible. An injured employee also should not worry about not being able to afford an experienced attorney because the system is set up in such a way that an injured employee does not have to pay any legal fees unless the claim is successful. Any costs and legal fees will come from the workers’ compensation recovery.
If you or someone you love has been injured a Boston work accident, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.
Man atop South Boston crane falls to his death, September 14, 2017, By Danny McDonald, Boston Globe
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Report: Three Workers Burned in Natural Gas Explosion, Feb. 18, 2017, Boston Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog