Massachusetts Workers' Compensation Lawyer Blog
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old-melbourne-goal-1443854-mIn a recent opinion, Marchand v. Department of Correction, Mass. App. Ct. (2015), the Massachusetts Appeals Court recently heard an appeal from a trial court decision, which found that the plaintiff was entitled to continue to receive assault pay benefits for as long as he also received workers’ compensation benefits. The issue stemmed from a disagreement regarding whether the employer was required to continuing paying assault benefits, which would amount to the plaintiff’s full salary, even though he was no longer employed by the state.

The plaintiff was employed as a correctional officer when he attempted to prevent an inmate from assaulting another officer, resulting in an injury to himself. The plaintiff thereafter applied for and was granted workers’ compensation benefits, in the form of temporary total disability benefits for a period of several months and partial disability benefits for a period of five years thereafter.

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isolation-goods-308470-mAccording to a statement made by the Massachusetts Attorney General this week, the owner of an asbestos abatement company was allegedly indicted this month and will face arraignment next month in connection with purportedly failing to report the nature of his company’s work accurately, in order to avoid having to pay thousands of dollars in workers’ compensation insurance premiums.

The business owner was indicted on six counts of larceny over $250 and six counts of workers’ compensation fraud. He was reportedly the sole owner of the business in question. At this time, it is unclear whether any employees were denied worker’s compensation on the basis of his actions.

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soccer-ball-1434014-mAlthough all workers’ compensation benefits require that the injury occur during the course of employment, injuries do not necessarily have to be physical in order to be compensable. Benefits can also be temporary or permanent, depending on the severity of the injury.

Workers’ compensation benefits used to require a physical element in order to be compensable, but mental injuries can potentially entitle injured employees to benefits as well. Often, while there doesn’t necessarily have to be a physical injury that occurs concurrently with the mental injury, there is typically a minimum requirement of some sort of contact.

Workers’ compensation benefits can be available in instances of extreme workplace stress. However, in order to be compensable, the stress must be so extreme that it goes beyond the ordinary day-to-day stress that employees are typically exposed to. Additionally, there must be a connection between the stress and the alleged injury.

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untitled-1398488-mThe Appeals Court of Massachusetts recently had before it an appeal from the decision of an administrative judge regarding a workers’ compensation benefit claim.

In the case, In Re Hines’s Case, Mass. App. Ct. (2015), the plaintiff, an employee who had been working as a personal care attendant, slipped and broke his right ankle. The injury required surgeries to put in place and later remove orthodontic hardware.

The employee applied for and received temporary total incapacity workers’ compensation benefits. Two years later, after conducting surveillance regarding the case, the insurer moved to terminate the employee’s benefits. At that time, the employee attempted to include a psychiatric claim.

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justice-srb-1-1040136-mIn another recent proposal to reform Massachusetts workers’ compensation law, the Massachusetts Legislature recently held a hearing in which it heard testimony regarding a change that is designed to increase access to workers’ compensation benefits and medical care for injured workers.

The proposal, Senate Bill 976, is designed to help low-wage workers by making interpreters and transportation to the doctor expenses the responsibility of the insurer. The Labor and Workforce Development Committee heard testimony by an attorney from a local organization in support of the bill.

In addition to making medical benefits more accessible, the bill would also lead to the increase of workers’ compensation benefits, since it would require the insurer and judge to take into account Massachusetts’ minimum wage and overtime laws when reaching a determination regarding the worker’s average weekly rate.

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slip and fallIn a concise opinion, the Massachusetts Appeals Court confirmed a lower court ruling regarding a wrongful termination following the commencement of a legal action related to a compensable workers’ compensation claim.

At issue in Santarpia v. Senior Residential Care, Mass. App. Ct. (2014), was an employee’s allegation that she was wrongfully terminated in contravention of public policy as retaliation for pursuing compensation following an at-work injury.

The plaintiff, a nurse, slipped and fell on some water that was leaking from a ceiling where she worked. Following the accident, she filed a workers’ compensation claim and received benefits. Two years later, she contacted an attorney regarding the case and was referred to a third attorney.

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granite2-1204751-mIn a recent Massachusetts Appeals Court case, Galvao v. Lowe, Mass. App. Ct. (2014), the court ruled to affirm a summary judgment motion that was granted on behalf of the defendant in a case where the plaintiff was seeking damages in lieu of workers’ compensation benefits.

The case involved a worker who was reportedly injured during the course of his work for a granite company. While the complete facts of the case were not included in the opinion, the plaintiff sued presumably his employer, and also his employer’s girlfriend, who later became his wife, for failing to carry workers’ compensation insurance. The subject of this particular appeal was as to the liability of the girlfriend/wife.

The plaintiff alleged that the girlfriend/wife was liable for the failure to carry workers’ compensation insurance, since he asserted that her involvement with the business rose to the level of her being a de facto partner. The trial court disagreed, which is why it granted her motion for summary judgment.

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lab-751198-mPrior posts on this blog have discussed the fact that many workers who become injured in Massachusetts, in some cases even those who lose a limb, may not be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits or may not receive the level of compensation that they deserve.

One category of injured workers that may not necessarily receive the compensation they deserve is those who are scarred from chemical burns, gas explosions, falling pallets, or machine injuries. That is because under current Massachusetts workers’ compensation laws, if workers’ injuries and resulting scars occur on their arms, legs, or torsos, they do not receive workers’ compensation benefits for their permanent disfigurement.

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taxi-bubble-sign-1442111-mIn a critically important recent case, Sebago v. Boston Cab Dispatch, Inc., Mass. Sup. Jud. Ct. (2015), the Supreme Judicial Court entered a decision on the issue of whether state wage laws are disharmonious with Rule 403, which extensively regulates the taxicab industry in Boston.

At issue in the case was the contention that several taxicab drivers believed that they were improperly classified as independent contractors, rather than employees, and that therefore they were properly entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, among other related claims.

In 1930, the legislature granted the authority to the police commissioner of Boston to create regulations for taxicabs and related methods of transportation. Then in 2008, pursuant to that prior regulatory system, the commissioner under the authority of that mandate promulgated Rule 403. This created a comprehensive system of rules and regulations that govern the ownership, leasing, licensing, rate setting, and operation of taxicabs in the city of Boston.

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tile-roof-2-1226071-mWorkers’ compensation is a system that was designed to provide compensation for workers who become injured or sick due to their job. As a condition of availing themselves of the system, workers forfeit the right to pursue any other potential legal remedies under the common law, and the employer gives up any judgments or determinations regarding fault. If an employee becomes injured or sick in a manner that arises out of their employment, they are entitled to workers’ compensation. However, in order for that system to work properly, it must be funded adequately.

The Massachusetts Attorney General recently announced a case of purported workers’ compensation fraud by two separate business owners that were reportedly indicted for failure to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in workers’ compensation insurance premiums, according to the Attorney General.

The Executive Director of the Insurance Fraud Bureau announced that his office will work in concert with the Attorney General’s office to investigate this case, and any similar cases that may attempt to defraud the Massachusetts workers’ compensation system.

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