The injured employee in the case of James McDonald v. Brand Energy Services, Inc. was a union laborer who had worked and been injured at work several times dating back to 1991. In fact, the employee had injured his back four separate times prior to this particular work injury. With each of the four prior work-related back injuries, the employee received lump sum settlements. His last injury in which he received a lump sum settlement came in the year 2001. Approximately three years after his last work related injury he returned to work against the advice of several doctors in 2004. While employed he did not complete heavy-duty tasks but he did cope with daily pain by taking pain medication while completing lighter assignments. Continue reading
Beginning April 1, 2015 Massachusetts will extend employment protections to domestic workers. The Domestic Workers Bill of Rights will create new legal obligations for individuals or families who employ domestic workers including nannies, housekeepers, caregivers, and other domestic workers. The new law will create a number of new rights that will improve conditions for domestic workers such as a statutory right to privacy and how a live-in domestic worker may be terminated. Also, the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights definitively clarified that some existing state laws do extend to domestic workers. Included among existing Massachusetts laws that will extend to domestic workers are Massachusetts’ workers compensation benefits. Continue reading
In September of 2014, Massachusetts received a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to enforce activities centered on worker misclassification detection. The Massachusetts wage and hour laws allow workers who have been misclassified as independent contractors to bring lawsuits seeking monetary compensation against their employers. Those employers who have wrongly classified their employees as independent contractors are obligated to provide workers’ compensation benefits to those misclassified employees who are injured during the course of their employment.
The Massachusetts independent contractor statute makes it difficult for an employer to classify a worker as an independent contractor. Employers who misclassify an employee as an independent contractor may be subject to triple damages in accordance with Massachusetts wage and hour laws. Continue reading
The new year brought new changes to the United States Department of Labor, Occupational Health and Safety Administrations’ (“OSHA”) work injury reporting requirements for employers. Prior to January 1, 2015, employers were required to report fatalities occurring at the workplace and incidents that required three or more employees to be hospitalized. Beginning on January 1, 2015, OSHA now requires employers to report any injuries or illnesses that occur at the workplace and require only one employee to be hospitalized. The employer of the injured worker must report the work injury or illness to OSHA within 24 hours of their first knowledge of the hospitalization. Continue reading
Perhaps the most common reason why injured workers seek out a workers’ compensation attorney is because their employer’s workers’ compensation insurer is refusing to authorize and pay for medical treatment that their treating physician is recommending. Massachusetts workers’ compensation benefits provide for 100% payment of any and all medical treatment that is deemed to be reasonable, necessary and causally related to a work injury. However, it is very common for workers’ compensation insurance companies to either deny medical treatment or intentionally not respond to your doctor’s requests for medical treatment. One possible reason for this is because many injured workers give up, try to use their health insurance (so the workers’ comp insurer doesn’t pay) and never get a lawyer to guide them through this difficult process. Quite simply, although workers compensation insurers have laws and rules that they must follow in administering claims, they will do everything within those laws and rules (and sometimes outside of them) to frustrate injured workers so that they won’t seek medical treatment that they require. Continue reading
OSHA has completed its investigation into the April 2014 crane accident in Bourne, Massachusetts that took the lives of two electrical workers. Two linemen, John Loughran, Jr. and Michael Boyd, both age 34, were tragically killed when the crane truck from which they were working tipped over, causing them to fall more than 150 feet to their death. Both men were working for Massachusetts Bay Electrical Corp.
In late September, OSHA announced the findings of its investigation into the incident and the fines levied on Mass Bay Electric Corp. OSHA, stating that the accident was entirely preventable, has fined the employer $168,000 for two willful violations of workplace safety standards. OSHA found that Massachusetts Bay Electric Corp. did not refer to or use readily available and necessary information that would have allowed the work to be conducted safely, resulting in the loss of two lives. Continue reading
After you have been injured at work and need medical treatment, often times you will be contacted by your employer’s workers compensation insurance company or a nurse who works for the workers’ compensation insurer for the purpose of them trying to steer you to a certain doctor for medical treatment. If this happens to you, you should be very concerned about the intentions of the workers’ compensation insurance company. If you are receiving a weekly disability check from workers’ compensation, the workers’ compensation insurer does have a financial incentive to get you treated by a qualified doctor so that you can return to work as soon as possible and they can stop paying you your weekly disability benefits. However, some workers’ compensation insurance companies try to steer injured workers to certain doctors because they know the reputation of the doctor is such that he is more likely to recommend medical treatment that is less costly to the insurance company, such as ordering conservative medical treatment such as physical therapy or injections instead of surgery. Workers’ compensation insurance companies also are known to steer injured workers to certain doctors who are known to either not write disability letters for their patients (which are required in order for an injured worker to continue to receive a weekly disability check) or are likely to clear an injured worker to return to work well before that injured worker is actually physically capable of returning to his or her job (thus enabling the workers’ compensation insurer to stop weekly disability payments to the injured worker). Continue reading
In Massachusetts, when you are injured on the job and your work injury requires medical care, your employer’s workers’ compensation insurer is responsible for paying for 100% of any reasonable and necessary medical treatment. You are not responsible for any co-payments and your medical providers are prohibited by law from “balance billing” you. (Balance Billing is an illegal practice where a medical provider attempts to bill a patient for the difference between what the insurance company has paid them, pursuant to their contract with the insurance company, and what they would normally bill a patient who does not have insurance). Of course, just because Massachusetts workers’ compensation laws mandate that your employers’ workers’ compensation insurer pay for 100% of your work-related medical bills, it does not mean that they will always follow the law. Continue reading
The United States Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) has created a health and safety module for employers to follow which is aimed to help reduce workplace injuries to their employees. As OSHA states, employees and employers alike have incentives to maintain a safe workplace. Continue reading
Many Massachusetts and Boston area construction projects require work to be performed outdoors during our region’s harsh winter months. Construction workers are required to work in brutal winter weather conditions, such as extreme cold, snow and ice which can create dangerous working conditions. Because injuries caused by winter weather conditions on construction sites can be costly to both construction companies and construction workers alike, proper safety measures must be followed in order to prevent these injuries. Continue reading