The simple answer to this question is yes, but only in very limited circumstances. One cannot generally sue their employer for injuries that happen at work. There are, however, some exceptions where an injured worker may “sue” to be compensated for a workplace injury. Massachusetts’ workers’ compensation laws provide that if one is injured at work, then the injured person’s “exclusive remedy’ against their employer is compensation through the workers’ compensation system. The Massachusetts workers’ compensation system, much like those workers’ compensation systems in other states, provides only limited compensation for work injuries. In stark contrast, civil lawsuits for injuries allow an injured person to pursue compensation for 100% of past and future wage loss, 100% of cost of medical expenses (subject to the insurer’s lien), and pain and suffering. Many times, an injured worker is surprised to hear that they are limited to workers’ compensation benefits as a result of their work injury. Because the settlement value of civil lawsuit generally far exceeds the settlement value of a workers’ compensation claim, it is always necessary to investigate a work injury to determine whether a civil lawsuit may also be pursued. A few situations where an injured worker may be able to pursue additional compensation through a civil lawsuit include:
Injured workers in Massachusetts who are disabled from work and receiving workers’ compensation benefits may receive an unexpected “light duty” job offer from their employer. The light duty job offer by an employer to an injured worker can often times create a confusing situation for the injured worker because they are unclear what they should so in order to protect their own best interests. It is not uncommon for an employer to not contact an injured worker for many months, even perhaps years, and then all of a sudden a letter with a light duty job offer appears in the mailbox of an injured worker.
Workers’ Compensation insurers have a financial interest in getting an injured worker back to earning wages. Quite simply, if the injured worker returns to work, the insurer can either reduce or terminate their payment of weekly workers’ compensation benefits to the injured worker. This is a tremendous cost savings to the workers compensation insurer and will also reduce the employer’s insurance premiums. The more money that the injured worker is able to make, the less money the injured worker receives in workers’ compensation benefits, and, if the light duty job pays the same amount of money as the injured worker was receiving before he or she got hurt, they will not be entitled to receive any more weekly workers compensation benefits. So it is easy to understand why these light duty job offers are made by employers. Continue reading
As we turn the clocks forward in anticipation for spring, it will not be easy for Massachusetts’s residents to forget the past few wintry months. This certainly has been a winter to remember here in the New England region, and not for the most pleasant of reasons. Certain areas of Massachusetts have seen over 100 inches of snowfall in less than a month’s time, and the many difficulties it has caused have been well documented. In order to keep up with the rapid accumulation, companies and officials have been rushing to clear snow from roofs and roadways. Thus, Massachusetts’ workers have been exposed to dangerous working conditions that have led to devastating, and sometimes fatal, consequences. Continue reading