Articles Posted in Massachusetts Work Accident

Massachusetts construction companies are focusing on the risks created by opioid use and addiction and the role these drugs play in work injuries.

The Massachusetts chapter of Associated General Contractors sponsored a statewide opioid awareness day on June 5, to draw attention to the impact the opioid crisis is having on the construction industry in New England. Workplace overdoses have increased by 25 percent each year for the last 5 years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that unintentional overdose is now responsible for 5 percent of all workplace deaths, claiming nearly 300 lives each year.

Opioid addiction was declared a public health emergency in 2017, after the Centers for Disease Control reported opioid deaths surpassed motor-vehicle accidents as the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. However, construction workers face some of the highest risks.  Construction workers are at six times greater risk that the average Massachusetts worker, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and now account for 25 percent of workplace opioid deaths. Boston Workers' Comp

AGC has produced a manual to help contractors identify and mitigate the use of opioids at construction sites. Common signs include constricted or “pinpoint pupils,” falling asleep or losing consciousness, slow or shallow breathing, choking or gurgling sounds, blue or cold skin, and limp extremities.

Our Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyers know many construction workers become addicted to painkillers while seeking legitimate treatment for work-related injuries. In some cases, a doctor or medical professional may have inappropriately prescribed potent narcotics for too long a period of time. In other cases, a medical professional may withhold or eliminate a patient’s access to pain medication, forcing injured or addicted workers to turn to street narcotics to manage the pain. Prescription opioids may include hydrocodone, oxycodone and morphine, while illicit opioids most commonly include heroin and fentanyl.

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The U.S. Department of Labor is suing a Boston construction company for allegedly retaliating against an injured worker by having him arrested by immigration authorities. Our Boston work injury attorneys know immigrants are among the most vulnerable members of the workforce. Often working dangerous jobs, for law pay, off the books with no benefits. We want you to know our laws offer both financial help and legal protection if you suffer injury on the job, regardless of your immigration status.

The complaint was filed last month with the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts and alleges Tara Construction Inc. caused an employee to be arrested and detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement after the man was injured in a fall on the job. He was seriously injured after falling from a ladder in March 2017 and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration initiated an investigation into the workplace accident. Shortly thereafter he was arrested by immigrations officials as he left the work office.ladderfall-226x300

Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act protects workers who report an injury to an employer or who cause an OSHA inquiry. Law enforcement accounts indicate a company representative told a police officer when the employee would be present and that there were no objections to the arrest. Text messages back up those claims, according to the government’s case.

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Boston Channel 7 News reports a construction worker was killed after being struck by a utility vehicle in Concord. The badly injured worker was transported to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead, according to the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office. Investigators report the worker was on the side of the road when a backing utility vehicle ran him down.reverse-300x225

We recently wrote about the high risk of injury in construction work. And it’s true construction workers face greater and more frequent injury risks than those working in many other occupations. However, transportation accidents are a leading cause of fatal workplace injury across industries and occupations. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports more than one-third of all fatal workplace accidents are caused by transportation incidents, claiming more than 1,700 lives a year.

With the start of winter weather, a wide variety of workers in New England are at increased risk of transportation accidents. From law enforcement, to utility crews and snow-removal crews, workers are often at the mercy of passing motorists when it comes to avoiding serious or fatal on-the-job injuries.

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There is no question we are in the midst of a major opioid abuse epidemic in the U.S. Traditionally, the Greater Boston area always had more problems with heroin abuse as compared to many other areas in the nation. But now we are seeing more and more people struggling with addiction to prescription to painkillers that are opioid based.

While the effects of opioid addiction can be devastating whether a person is addicted to Oxycontin purchased at a local pharmacy or heroin bought in a hand-to-hand transaction on the street, many of those who have become addicted to painkillers started taking them as a result of an on the job injury.

workers' compensation attorney BostonOne thing to keep in mind is that an on the job injury can occur following a single traumatic event. But as our Boston workers’ compensation attorneys can explain, a workplace injury can also occur from years of wear and tear on the joints and human body.  We see repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) like carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), but we also see many cases where employees suffer serious back and joint issues as a result of working on a construction site or at other manual labor. These workers tend to be prescribed painkillers and they can become addictive, especially when they are over-prescribed as is a common problem in our area. Continue reading

Anytime someone is injured on-the-job in Massachusetts, the first course of action is typically a workers’ compensation claim. Pursuant to MGL c. 152 section 25A, most employers in the Commonwealth are required to purchase workers’ compensation that will provide coverage to employees who are injured at work or contract a job-related illness. This insurance provides no-fault coverage of reasonable and necessary medical treatment and lost wages (after the first five calendar days) or partial or full disability benefits and retaining for those workers who qualify. workers' compensation attorney

However, you may an option to pursue something called third-party liability if another party – not your employer or co-worker – was fully or partially responsible for what happened. If you have grounds to pursue a third-party claim, note that your workers’ compensation insurer and/ or health insurance company may file a lien on whatever you are ultimately awarded. This is allowed so that injured workers’ don’t collect double recovery (i.e., your workers’ comp insurer paid your medical bills and then you are subsequently awarded damages for medical bills in your third-party lawsuit). But that doesn’t mean these cases aren’t worth pursuing. In fact, it’s usually a good idea because third party litigation will allow you to obtain coverage for losses not included in workers’ compensation benefits. These would include things like damages for pain and suffering, full lost wages (workers’ compensation will only pay up to 60 percent of gross average weekly wage for temporary total incapacity benefits for up to 156 weeks, etc.), loss of consortium (for your spouse) and sometimes punitive damages.

That’s not the only difference. While workers’ compensation claimants do not need to prove fault – only that the injury occurred in the course and scope of one’s employment – third party liability lawsuits are just like any other injury lawsuit in that you must prove negligence. In many cases these claims are against contractors or subcontractors, owners of the property on which you were injured (if different from your employer), manufacturers of defective or dangerous tools or motor vehicle operators. Our Boston workers’ compensation attorneys will help you review all of your legal options, identify possible defendants and give you a sense of what damages you can reasonably pursue.  Continue reading

In Boston, a worker injured on the job is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits so long as they are an employee within the meaning of the the workers’ compensation act found in Chapter 152, Section 1 of the Massachusetts General Laws (M.G.L).  The question that often arises is whether the worker was actually on-the-job at the time of the injury.  This can be even more complex when the employee is given a company-owned vehicle or when the injury occurs in the parking lot of the worker’s place of employment.

In the context of company-owned vehicles, some jobs offer the “benefit” of a take home car, meaning the employee can drive the business’s car home at the end of a shift and take it back the next day.  This is not so much a “company car” as we see on TV with high-paying jobs, but more like a police car or other type of service vehicle.

Boston workplace InjuriesAccording to a recent news article from NECN, a worker employed by the City of Boston was sitting in a vehicle owned by his employer, the city, when someone approached and shot him.  Authorities have said the injured worker was in his neighborhood at the time of the shooting on his way to work and is a 54-year-old man who works for Department of Public Works (DPW).  Continue reading

When we think of workplace injuries in terms of Boston workers’ compensation cases, we are generally dealing with some type of accident. In many cases, it is simply an accident that was not anyone’s fault.  In some cases, the accident is actually the result of an employer’s negligence.  There is really is no distinction with respect to workers’ compensation cases because Chapter 152 of the Massachusetts General Laws (M.G.L) established a no-fault system.  There is however, a third category of workplace injuries where one worker is physically assaulted by an other employee, customer, or third-party criminal.

Boston workplace Injuries These situations happen more frequently than you might assume.  There are a lot of assaults between employees in jobs in Boston and across the nation. While there are the high profile cases involving active shooter situations that occur from time to time, we are generally talking about one worker punching another.  Contrary to what many people think and see in the movies, a single punch can result in serious injury or even death. Continue reading

Opioid addiction has become a major epidemic in Boston and across the U.S.  It is also become a hot topic for politicians and media outlets. While Massachusetts has long suffered from a major problem with heroin addiction,  many times it begins with workers injured on the job who start taking painkillers such as opioids like Vicodin and Oxycontin.  Once these injured workers become hooked on painkillers, the habit is often very difficult kick, even once the drugs are no longer medically necessary to fight the pain from the initial injury.

Boston workers' compensation lawyerIn an effort to address this issue, as discussed in a recent news article from the Union Leader, New Hampshire is looking to follow Massachusetts’ lead with respect to the two-year pilot program they started to get injured workers off dangerous and addictive opioids.  Continue reading

In a recent case form the Iowa Supreme Court, a worker who was injured on the job was seeking a permanent total disability (PTD) rating.  He was also seeking what is known as a partial computation of benefits via a lump sum benefits award.

workers' compensation lawyer Boston In this case, worker was injured while on the job and this resulted in permanent paralysis. His employer, through its workers’ compensation insurance company, argued that claimant was not entitled to a PTD status and also refused to pay lump sum benefits.  At this point, plaintiff filed a workers’ compensation lawsuit, as he alleged employer acted in bad faith when denying the claims, and, under state laws, this allowed him to seek compensatory plus punitive damages.  The jury returned a verdict in favor of plaintiff, complete with punitive damages. However, on appeal, the court reversed, holding that punitive damages were not appropriate. Continue reading

A recent article from Huffington Post features a commentary from a labor union president arguing that safety violations resulting in the death of workers should be punishable by prison time instead of mere fines, as if often the case. Every 12 days, a member of his union or one of their coworkers is killed in a workplace accident. This, he says, has been the status quo for a long time.

truckThe deaths he is talking about are not only preventable, but quite horrific.  He discusses how workers are crushed by heavy equipment, drowned in vats of toxic chemicals or even burned to death.  After these deaths occur, they will happen again and again to other workers, and this is what he is trying to stop. Continue reading