Workers' CompensationMassachusetts Court Upholds Award of Benefits to Injured Machine Operator over Insurer’s Normal Wear and Tear Challenge

December 28, 20180

Workers’ compensation accidents take many different shapes and forms. Some of the most obvious injuries are sudden and traumatic like a broken leg and strained muscles. Other injuries result from wear and tear over a long period of time. One of the most common issues in any workers’ compensation claim is linking your injury to your job duties, and insurance companies often attempt to argue that your injury stemmed from something else and that they are therefore not liable. Our seasoned team of Boston workers’ compensation lawyers is standing by to assist you with ensuring that you receive the outcome that you deserve.

Recently, the Massachusetts Court of Appeal considered a claim where the insurer challenged a benefits award and medical expenses reimbursement for an employee that was in charge of operating two large machines that attached labels to bottles. The daily course of the employee’s job was extremely fast-paced and she was required to attend to several aspects of the machine to ensure that it ran smoothly and efficiently for 10-12 hour shifts at a time. A large part of her responsibilities involved climbing in and out of the machine and to be on her feet monitoring the machine.

She was injured one day during her shift when she slipped off of a bar that she was standing on to swap out parts in the machine. She received immediate medical care and attempted to go back to work but she reported ongoing pain that caused her to be too slow on the job. She occasionally took days off due to the pain.

The worker filed a claim seeking benefits and her claim was awarded. The insurer and the woman appealed and the insurer argued that the judge should have classified her injury as a wear and tear injury instead of a work-related injury. The insurer claimed that the walking and standing that the employee performed at work was normal wear and tear. The appellate court first noted that for an injury to be compensable under a workers’ compensation claim it must be derived from the worker’s job conditions or requirements. In other words, injuries that are sustained as the result of normal activities that an employee would engage in as part of his or her normal life cannot be compensated under the workers’ compensation system.

Applied here, the appellate court concluded that the worker’s injuries were not the result of normal wear and tear associated with walking and standing. Instead, the appellate court associated the injuries with the woman’s need to climb inside the machine and change out parts. Based on this, the appellate court upheld the award of benefits.

Our seasoned team of Boston work injury lawyers knows just how difficult it can be to understand whether you deserve benefits after suffering an injury at work. We provide a free consultation to discuss your situation and to help you understand how we might be able to help you gather evidence, identify witnesses, and ensure that insurance companies treat you fairly. To schedule your free consultation, call us at 617-263-0060 or contact us online.

Auto insurance policies take many different shapes and forms. It can be difficult to understand the extent and limits of your coverage, especially if your policy is written in legalese. Although it is best to have a clear understanding of your coverage before an accident occurs, sometimes questions come up following an unfortunate crash. As dedicated Boston car accident lawyers, we have assisted numerous individuals and families with understanding whether they are entitled to coverage following a car accident and we are standing by to assist you. Recently, the Massachusetts Court of Appeal issued an opinion in a case where the plaintiff filed suit against an insurance company seeking coverage as a household member under a policy held by the mother and step-father of his partner. The plaintiff and his long-term partner had a child together. The court was asked to interpret the phrase “related by blood” when it comes to people who do not share a blood relation but who share a blood relationship through a third party. At the time of the accident, the plaintiff was living with his partner and her mother and step-father. He was injured while riding as a passenger in a vehicle owned by a third party. The injuries were severe, resulting in several days of hospitalization, long-term disabilities, and medical bills exceeding $40,000. The plaintiff settled with the at-fault driver for her policy limits in the amount of $100,000. The plaintiff’s partner’s mother and step-father maintained an insurance policy providing coverage for two of the vehicles in the home providing $250,000 coverage per person in the event of an underinsured motorist claim. Under the policy, the term household member was defined as someone living in the household who is related to the policyholder by blood, marriage, or adoption including wards, step-children, or foster children. The insurer rejected the plaintiff’s claim that he was a household member due to his relation to the policyholders through his biological son. The plaintiff filed suit and on cross-motions for summary judgment, the court concluded that the plaintiff was not a household member. The plaintiff appealed and the reviewing court affirmed the decision finding that there was no genetic relation between the plaintiff and the policyholders. The language of the policy covers persons “related to [the policyholder] by blood, marriage, or adoption” which the court distinguished from persons who are related by blood through a third party. Had the plaintiff been married to his long-term partner, his injury-related damages would be covered under the terms of the policy. The court chose to adopt the plain and ordinary meaning of the words. To adopt the plaintiff’s suggested interpretation would potentially open the floodgates of coverage and allow many different persons to claim coverage through a third-party relation. If you were hurt in a motor vehicle collision, you may be entitled to damages and/or insurance coverage. Our seasoned team of car accident lawyers is prepared to assist you in investigating your potential claim and defending your rights against insurance companies that don’t always act in their insureds’ best interests. To schedule a free consultation, contact us at 617-263-0060 or contact us online to get started.
Massachusetts Appellate Court Issues Opinion Regarding Meaning of “Related by Blood” in Auto Insurance Policy
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