Articles Posted in Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Opioid addiction is a major public health problem in Massachusetts, and tragically, many people become hooked on these powerful painkillers as a result of a workplace accident. workers' compensation attorney Boston

The latest quarterly statistics on opioid-related overdose deaths among Massachusetts residents, as supplied by the state Department of Public Health, reveals there were 1,977 opioid-related deaths in 2017 – slightly lower than the 2,155 reported the previous year but more than the 1,768 reported a year earlier and still 62 percent higher than the number reported five years ago.

Many workers are prescribed these pain medications in the immediate aftermath of a work-related injury in Massachusetts and quickly become addicted. Without adequate pain management, they may die accidentally of a drug overdose. When an employee dies of an overdose as a result of consuming pain medications prescribed after a work injury, the question of compensation is unclear. Some states have tackled this question with mixed results.  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

When workers suffer from mental disorders or psychiatric injuries as a result of a job-related issue or incident, they may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits may include coverage of medical bills for therapy and medication. It could also cover a portion of lost wages if the condition leaves you unable to work. However, these claims are often treated with a high dose of skepticism by employers, insurers, doctors and even courts. workers' compensation

Seasoned Massachusetts work injury lawyers understand how crucial it is to have extensive knowledge of statutory and case law as well as how to assert our clients’ rights vigorously throughout the claims process.

Determining whether mental disorders or psychiatric injuries are work-related can be a tedious process and requires extensive documentation and medical assessment. Mental disorders and psychiatric injuries can be the result of job-related:

  • Stress
  • Bullying
  • Violence
  • Injury

In each of these scenarios, the condition may be compensable under Massachusetts workers’ compensation laws.  Continue reading

According to a recent news article from CBS News, a worker was killed on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. died in what investigators are calling a freak accident.  The worker was a pipefitter employed in the Maintenance Division of the Capitol Grounds.  He had been working in this capacity for many years.

TreeAuthorities say the fatal workplace accident occurred a few minutes after 9 a.m. when a massive branch fell off an American oak tree.  Victim was working on some irrigation pipes near the tree when the branch snapped off and landed on him.  As there is no shortage of police on the Capitol grounds, it did not take long for first responders to arrive. Continue reading

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

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

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

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

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

The greater Boston area has a serious problem with opioid addiction among broad sectors of industry. In some cases, it’s heroin and other illicit street drugs. However, we are also seeing a major problem with an addition to prescription painkillers among injured workers, according to a recent news article from the Lowell Sun.

needleThis statewide problem has gotten to the point where Governor Charlie Baker and his administration have decided to start a two-year pilot program. This pilot program is for workers in Boston and around the Commonwealth who have already settled their workers’ compensation cases. All of the workers who will participate in this program are currently being treated with opioid-based painkillers for their on-the-job injuries. Continue reading