Articles Tagged with Boston workers’ compensation lawyer

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

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

Whether you are in Boston, New York, or any other major city in the United States, working in the subway or in other areas of public transportation can be very dangerous.  We are typically dealing with fast moving trains and other moving machinery and it is not hard to imagine how workers could be injured or killed.

subwayAccording to a recent news report from the Gothamist, one New York City transit worker was killed and another was injured when a G train hit them.  Unlike some other cities, the system there runs all 24 hours a day, so it is important to be alert and wear reflective clothing whenever workers are on the tracks.  It is also imperative that safety controllers are constantly aware of the location of all workers and whether they will be near any moving trains.  There are hideouts alongside the tracks that should allow workers to hide if a train is coming, in order to prevent an injury, but the location and state of these protective hideouts is currently under review. Continue reading

According to a recent news feature from the Boston Globe, a construction worker was injured when he fell approximately three stories from scaffolding at a jobsite in the Longwood Medical area in Boston.

scaffold-1-1543984One witness said she was in the area, as she also worked in the neighborhood, when she heard the worker falling more than 30 feet.  She was he was screaming the entire way down and hit other scaffolding on his way, crashing down to the ground.  Once he hit the ground, other members of he crew came running over to help him and called emergency personnel to the scene. Continue reading

The U.S. Department of Labor recently reached an agreement with U.S. Steel Corp. in which the company agrees to drop its policy of mandating workers immediately report injuries or illnesses or else face swift and severe punishment. whistle1

The problem was not so much that the company required workers to report injuries. In fact, that’s what OSHA wants. The issue was the back-handed policy’s negative effect on workers who might not have realized the severity of their condition right away.

That meant that any worker who didn’t report a workplace injury the moment it happened faced retaliation – up to and including termination – for reporting it later. That created an incentive not to report the injury at all, which is exactly what federal regulators do not want. Punishing workers who report injuries is a violation of whistleblower statutes.  Continue reading

Employers in Boston and throughout the U.S. will have additional time to make sure they are compliant with the new anti-retaliation rules handed down by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).sad1

The agency recently announced it would delay its enforcement of the action, which will have an impact on workplace drug testing and certain safety incentives. Instead of enforcing the action in August, as originally intended, the agency won’t start ensuring those anti-retaliation and record-keeping provisions are in place until November.

The new anti-retaliation rule is part of an effort to block companies from discouraging workers from reporting workplace illnesses or injuries. Continue reading

Workers’ compensation in Massachusetts is generally what we consider a “no-fault” system. That means that if you are injured on-the-job in Boston, workers’ compensation benefits can still be paid to you no matter how the accident occurred or who was at-fault. But there are a few exceptions to this, and one of the biggest is when the employer has reason to believe the accident was caused by the injured worker’s use of alcohol and/or drugs.drinkinggirl

For this reason, companies started to make it standard practice to test workers for drugs and alcohol after an accident. But this has been met with mixed response from the courts. For example, the Ohio Supreme court struck down a part of state workers’ compensation law that allowed employers to automatically test workers for drugs and alcohol after a work injury, finding it a violation of workers’ Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches. Another case in West Virginia resulted in the same finding after a worker who injured his back was ordered to under drug and alcohol screening five days after the work accident.

Now, the issue has been raised again in the wake of the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA)s newest rules to prompt better reporting of all workplace injuries. Now, effective August 10, 2016, employers across the country are required to have a “reasonable procedure” for workers to report work-related injuries and illnesses both promptly and accurately. The rule forbids this procedure from discouraging or deterring an employee from accurately reporting a work-related injury or illness. Additionally, the rule specifically bars retaliation for a worker who reports workplace injuries or illnesses. Per this new standard, companies that require or request post-accident alcohol and/ or drug testing are going to face down additional scrutiny from OSHA under the new Final Rule to Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses because such post-incident testing may deter reporting of the injury.  Continue reading

A new report by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) reveals that while we know of 10,000 serious work-related injuries every year that result in permanent consequences to the workers and their families. But it also shows us that is probably only half the story.worker3

Under a new requirement that took effect Jan. 1, 2015, companies have to report any work-related amputation, in-patient hospitalization or eye loss to OSHA within 24 hours. They must also report fatalities to the agency within 8 hours.

Now that it’s been more than one year since this new rule was implemented, OSHA offices tallied nearly 10,400 “severe” work-related injuries in all of 2015. That is the first full year of federal data under the new reporting requirement. This figure included nearly 2,650 amputations and more than 7,640 hospitalizations. But officials say even this is a serious under-count. By how much?

“We think the actual number is twice as high,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor David Michaels in an interview with The Washington PostContinue reading