Construction projects both large and small are often the site for serious and potentially deadly workplace accidents in the Greater Boston area.  Some of these accidents are the fault of employers (typically a general contractor or a subcontractor), while others are due to the possible negligent actions of the employee. Finally, some accidents are accidents in the colloquial sense of the word and are not really anyone’s fault. The good news for the injured worker and his or her family is that fault is not generally relevant in Boston workers’ compensation cases. This is due mainly to how and why workers’ compensation law was drafted in Massachusetts.

Boston workplace injury Interestingly, it was employers who first pushed for what we know today as the Massachusetts workers’ compensation system. While the name implies it was designed to compensate workers, it was the employers who wanted to limit their exposure to personal injury lawsuits from employees who claimed they were injured on the job or suffered a work-related illness. This is because they are additional damages (financial compensation) available in a personal injury lawsuit that are not available in a workers’ compensation case.  Continue reading

In a typical workers’ compensation case in Boston, benefits include compensation for lost wages during the time a worker cannot go back to work, full or part-time, and payment for medical bills and rehabilitation expenses. There is no provision for pain and suffering damages as there are in personal injury cases.  However, pursuant to Chapter 152, Section 36 of the Massachusetts General Laws (M.G.L.), there is the possibility of the payment of lump-sum damages when an employee suffers certain types of injuries that are known as Specific Injuries in the state’s workers’ compensation act.

workers' compensation lawyerThese specific injuries can include accidents that result in the amputation one or more arms, legs, toes, fingers, hands and feet, as well as those that result in loss of an eye or loss of vision and other serious permanent injuries such as ones that result in some types of permanent scarring or disfigurement.  There are, however, special requirements for obtaining Specific Injury compensation when the injuries involving scarring alone, such as the location of the scars. Continue reading

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. 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

Workers’ compensation is designed as no-fault system within which it should be fairly easy for an injured worker to obtain benefits for lost wages and medical expenses. In practice, however, things are not always so easy since we are not only dealing with employers, but with workers’ compensation insurance companies. Like many insurers, workers’ compensation insurers have a habit of minimizing payouts by denying and delaying claims to the fullest extent possible.

This issue was recently weighed by journalists for the Civil Beat Honolulu. Writers describe a workers’ compensation system that is in many ways broken.

Boston Workers' CompAccording to the report, an injured worker who has been trapped in a bureaucratic nightmare that is the workers’ compensation system there since he was injured on-the-job. He was working on a construction project in which he was required to handle wet concrete. He was on a raised platform with a concrete pouring hose when the weather turned bad. Due to wet conditions, he fell to the ground and severely damaged his knee. He was in incredible pain. This on the job accident occurred 10 years ago, and he’s still fighting with the workers’ compensation insurer. Continue reading

Employee misclassification can cause serious problems for injured workers in Boston.  This issue is becoming even more prevalent as we find ourselves in what is being called, “the gig economy.”

The term is used to describe people who do not a have a traditional steady job, and instead work to earn a living by taking “gigs” that become available online. Although the phrase isn’t new (musicians have long been fond of it), it has taken on a new meaning. Today a gig can include driving for ride sharing services like Uber, signing up to perform handyman type jobs on demand and a variety of other activities such as writing articles for news services.

workers' compensation lawyer BostonEmployers are happy with this arrangement because it means they can get people to do work for them, while also avoiding the time and expense associated with having a traditional employees. There is typically no need to withhold taxes, provide healthcare or extend other benefits. Politicians also like this because these gig workers are earning money and considered employees for the purposes of state and federal unemployment numbers.  Continue reading

These days it seems like so-called active shooter incidents are occurring more frequently than ever before, given that Americans own an estimated 265 million firearms.  Aside from the intentional acts of terror, there are accidental shootings being reported in the media as well.  If an accidental shooting occurs on-the-job, any injuries may require a workers’ compensation claim be filed if the injured worker is to receive any compensation and medical benefits following the workplace shooing.

workplace Injury BostonAccording to a recent news article from CBS Boston, what was first reported as a leg injury at a local college ultimately turned out to be caused by a worker who allegedly accidentally discharged his weapon in such a manner that harmed his coworker. The school has said it did not release information about the shooting earlier because they were asked not to do so by investigators until the investigation was complete and denies that they engaged in any type of cover-up.  Continue reading

Working in a factory can be a dangerous job.  There are a lot of ways to get injured including slip and fall accidents, machine guarding accidents, heavy equipment accidents and falling inventory.  In some cases, there is a catastrophic failure at the factory such as one recently reported by Fox News where a cosmetics factory exploded resulting in one death and over 125 workers injured.

Boston workers' compAuthorities have said there were actually two separate explosions that occurred before cosmetics factory went up in flames.  Some of the injured were firefighters that were responding to the massive blaze. Once the injured had been triaged on the scene and taken to local hospitals, a count was taken and one worker was reported missing.  As investigators and first responders were combing through the wreckage, they discovered the remains of the missing worker.  He was 57-years-old at the time of his death. 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