Articles Posted in Work Place injuries

joshua-mancini-6fegAz1Us5U-unsplash-scaledIn the construction industry, there is a general rule of thumb often referred to as the “6-foot rule.”  The “6-foot rule” typically is applied to major commercial construction projects, as well as smaller residential construction projects, amongst others.  Essentially, the 6-foot rule requires employers to implement the use of fall protection when construction workers are working at heights of 6 feet or greater above a lower level.

At the Carney Law Firm, our attorneys have fought hard and successfully represented injured construction workers who were injured due to a “6-foot rule” safety violation. Recently, Attorneys Jeremy M. Carroll and Brendan G. Carney obtained a jury verdict in the amount of $925,000 for an injured construction worker who fell 10 feet because there was no fall protection.

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On October 29, 2020, The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued its ruling in Mark Mendes’s Case, No. SJC-12857, which held that the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents has subject matter jurisdiction over a claim involving an interstate truck driver based on his employment having “sufficient significant contacts” with Massachusetts.  This opinion expands Massachusetts’ jurisdiction over workers’ compensation claims, where in the past they were limited to circumstances where:

  1. The employee was employed by a Massachusetts employer; or
  2. The employee was injured while working in Massachusetts; or
  3. The employment contract was executed in Massachusetts.

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No. Typically, you do not pay a personal injury or a workers’ compensation attorney out-of-pocket.  At the Carney Law Firm, we focus on personal injury and workers’ compensation cases which operate on what is called a “contingency” fee.   A “contingency fee” means that we only get paid if we get you compensation, which typically occurs through either a negotiated settlement, mediation, arbitration, or a jury trial verdict.

Why Not?

The reason for a “contingency fee” is to be able to provide legal representation to injured workers and injured people from all levels of income.  If personal injury or workers’ compensation attorneys required clients to pay attorney fees out-of-pocket, only wealthy people would be able to afford an attorney when they are hurt. Injured workers and people from all income levels deserve an attorney to fight for them and to represent them for injuries that never should have occurred. Here at the Carney Law Firm, we take pride in fighting for injured workers and people who are injured needlessly due to safety violations which occur in construction sites, motor vehicle collisions, and many other types of dangerous situations.

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Injured by a Forklift?

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Forklift, or Powered Industrial Truck (“P.I.T.”), injuries are very common in the construction industry for both drivers and nearby workers.  According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), an estimated 85 deaths result each year as a result of forklift operation accidents, as well as almost 35,000 serious injuries and almost 62,000 non-serious injuries per year.  In the U.S., 1 in every 6 workplace deaths occur in forklift related incidents.

With roughly 856,000 total forklifts in the United States, this means that approximately 1 in 9 forklifts will be involved in an accident that results in injury or death.  Further, the Industrial Truck Association estimates the average use for the life of a forklift or P.I.T. is approximately 8 years.  Taking this factor into consideration, a fair projection calculates that almost 90% of forklifts will be involved in an incident that results in a worker getting injured over the course of the lifetime of the forklift.  At the Carney Law Firm, we have skilled and dedicated attorneys who are experienced representing people with personal injury and workers’ compensation claims resulting from forklift accidents.

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Judge gavel, scales of justice and law books in court

On June 4, 2019, a Middlesex County jury awarded the Plaintiff, Benjamin Roy, a total of $925,000.00, which was reduced by 26% to $684,500.00 for the comparative negligence of Mr. Roy.  With interest, the final judgment amounted to $828,301.18.

On February 5, 2015, Mr. Roy, age 37, was working as a foreman for a framing contractor Shawnlee Construction at the construction of an Avalon apartment complex in Marlborough, MA.  Shawnlee Construction had subcontracted a portion of the framing work to the Defendant Freitas Corporation.  Later in the day, while inspecting the work of the Defendant, Mr. Roy fell through an unguarded opening onto a concrete floor 8-9 feet below, causing him to fracture his right calcaneus (heel bone).  Mr. Roy alleged negligence on the part of Defendant Freitas Corporation, namely that Freitas was responsible for installing guardrails in his work area to protect workers from heights of greater than six feet, per OSHA regulations.  The Defendant denied that he had failed to install guardrails at any time on this construction project.  The evidence presented at trial established that Shawnlee Construction had been having issues with the Defendant adhering to industry safety rules on several prior occasions, including issues with failing to install guardrails in other areas of the construction project.  The Defendant also alleged that Mr. Roy was to blame for his injuries because Mr. Roy was looking up at the ceiling at the time that he walked off the edge of the hole in the floor.  Mr. Roy testified that as part of his job duties, he was responsible for inspecting the work in the ceiling and expected that the Defendant had installed stairs in the hole in which he ultimately fell, and if he hadn’t, that he would have put up a guardrail around the floor opening. Continue reading

If you are injured and it is due in part or in whole to someone else’s negligence, then you may have a personal injury case. Negligence is generally defined as a failure to use reasonable care. If you were hurt because someone else failed to use reasonable care, you may have a personal injury case.

If you were injured while at work you may also have a workers’ compensation case. Workers’ compensation is paid for by your employer’s insurance. The purpose of worker’s compensation is to provide an injured worker with a portion of his or her lost wages and to pay for all reasonable and necessary medical treatment related to the work injury. Personal injury cases differ from workers’ compensation because personal injury cases are intended to compensate you for the full amount of medical expenses, lost wages, as well as pain and suffering

A personal injury case is brought against the person or entity who is fully or partially responsible for causing your injury. Examples of personal injury cases include if you were hurt on a construction site, in a motor vehicle crash, or in a slip and fall injury on a defective walkway or on snow and ice.  Massachusetts’ workers’ compensation laws do not allow an injured worker to bring a personal injury case against their employer or a co-employee.  They are limited to workers’ compensation benefits.  Injured workers may, however, be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits and also have a personal injury case arising out of the same injury if a negligent third party (a person or entity other than the employer of the injured worker) caused or contributed to their injuries.  An example would be a construction worker who is injured while working for a trade contractor, and was injured due to the negligence of the construction project’s general contractor. Continue reading

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:

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Unfortunately for injured workers in Massachusetts, the short answer to this question is “yes”.  Although Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 152, Section 75B(2) provides a legal remedy to injured workers who are fired in retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim, the law does not provide any protection for injured workers’ to protect their ongoing health insurance paid for by their employer.  The exception to this is that most union member’s are subject to collective bargaining agreement provisions (negotiated by their respective labor unions) that provide ongoing health insurance coverage for injured workers for a certain period of time during a period of disability from work.  However, most non-union employees have no protection at all.  Although the general answer to the question posed by this blog is “Yes”, there are some federal laws that may protect an injured workers’ ongoing entitlement to health insurance coverage. Continue reading

Often times the first thought that employees have after suffering an on the job injury is whether their injury will cause them to be looked upon negatively by their employer.  It is common knowledge that an injury that requires medical treatment and lost time from work will cost the employer money, both by way of lost productivity and increased workers’ compensation premiums.  When an employee is injured on the job and requires more than six calendar days of disability from work, or requires medical treatment, shall be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits that compensate the injured worker for the lost time and medical treatment. These benefits are typically paid for by the employer’s workers’ compensation insurer, but may be paid directly by the employer themselves if they qualify for “self- insured” status.  Once an employer’s workers’ compensation insurer has paid benefits to a Massachusetts’ injured worker, that insurer will then subject the employer to an insurance premium adjustment based on cost incurred by the insurance company.  This adjustment typically passes some or all of the cost of the injured workers’ compensation claim from the insurance company back down to the employer.  Because workplace injuries can cause an employer to incur a substantial cost, often times injured workers may be reluctant to report injuries or seek medical treatment out of fear that they may alienate their employer or be terminated. Continue reading

Workers’ Compensation insurers must follow certain procedures in order to lawfully terminate or reduce Massachusetts workers’ compensation benefits.  The procedure for modification or termination varies greatly depending on how long the insurance company has been paying benefits.

THE FIRST 180 DAYS AFTER YOUR DISABILITY BEGINS

If the insurer has began to make payment of weekly benefits to you timely, namely within 14 days of notice, the insurer is allowed to stop payments to the employee without obtaining approval of the Department of Industrial Accidents (“DIA”) or the consent of the employee. However the insurer is required to give the employee seven(7) day written notice of their intent to stop benefits. The insurer’s written notice of termination must state their reasons and advise the employee of his or her rights to file a claim for further benefits.  If you return to work at the same rate of pay you were earning prior to your injury, the insurer may terminate benefits effective the last day you were disabled prior to your return to work.  If your own treating doctor clears you to return to your previous job, the insurer may terminate benefits regardless of whether or not your prior job remains available to you.

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