In a recent decision, the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents, Reviewing Board, affirmed an award of workers’ compensation benefits on behalf of an injured employee who sought total incapacity benefits, meaning that she was unable to work as a result of her injury and requested compensation based on her average weekly wage.  The issue in this case was whether the employee’s work-related injuries were caused by an industrial accident or were a result of prior medical conditions.  According to the employer’s workers’ compensation insurer, the work-related incident did not cause her disability or need for treatment. Ultimately, the Board held the employee’s burden of proof had been met, since her prior medical conditions were in fact work-related and combined with an industrial accident, entitling her to benefits.


From 1972 to 2011, Cheryl Briere worked a certified nurse’s assistant.  Over this period of time, she suffered injuries, some of which were work-related.  Ms. Briere hurt her back in 1994 while lifting a 350-pound man into a car.  She received workers’ compensation benefits as a result of this injury. Four years later, Ms. Briere was injured in a vehicle collision but was not absent from work as a result. Beginning in 1991, Ms. Briere worked for Lowell General Hospital.  She suffered multiple injuries, some of which she reported, and most involved injuries to her back and hips. Unfortunately, in 2004, Ms. Briere was treated for injuries resulting from another vehicle accident. She underwent hip and back pain treatment in 2005 and back and neck pain in 2008.

On the date of the incident at issue, December 4, 2011, Ms. Briere had assisted her co-workers in moving a 400-pound patient. She suffered injuries to her neck, back, and hands. She completed her shift that day and returned on the following day. Two days later, Ms. Briere sought a leave of absence. She contended that the injury she suffered from lifting the patient made it impossible to successfully perform her job.  She did not return to her employment at Lowell General Hospital.

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The death of a 10 year old boy from Kansas while riding the world’s tallest water slide has revived a call for change in the amusement park industry. Many advocates say there is a lack in federal oversight of our nation’s water park safety.

The ten year old boy was killed while sliding down the 168 foot tall water slide located in Kansas City. Details surrounding his death remain unclear. Some witnesses that rode the ride earlier in the day say the harnesses to the ride were not working properly. It appears the boy fell out of the raft and slid down the slide himself and was decapitated. This is a horrific tragedy.

The police said the boy was decapitated in the accident and was found dead at the bottom of the ride in a pool. The two other passengers both suffered minor cuts and scrapes on their face in the incident, according to authorities.

The Company that operates the “Duck Boat” tours in Boston will now require two staffers to be on all duck boats in light of the recent death of a 28 your old women that was struck and killed by a duck boat while riding a scooter. Allison Warmuth, 28, was driving a motor scooter near the Boston Common in April when she was struck and killed by the duck boat. A passenger on the scooter was injured.

The Women’s death also prompted the filing of legislation in Massachusetts that would prohibit duck boat drivers from simultaneously serving as narrator and tour guide on the vehicles. The parents of the women killed when struck by a Duck Boat also pushed for the passage of a bill which would require all duck boats to be equipped with blind spot cameras and sensors. Seattle also imposed new rules, including separate tour guides when a duck boat crashed last year, killing five passengers on the bus.

The majority of the duck boats used for tours are World War II era reproduction vehicles that were not designed navigate busy city streets. Furthermore drivers of the tour bus can be distracted because they sometimes are required to give verbal narratives of historical sites for the patrons. The addition of another employee on a duck boat is a welcome safety procedure. This way, there will be another set of eyes to ensure the duck boat is free and clear of all pedestrians before proceeding. Sensors and cameras will also aid the driver and confirming the boat is free and clear of hazards before proceeding.

road-rage[1]A new study by the AAA Foundation for traffic safety found nearly 80% of drivers expressed significant anger, aggression or road rage behind the wheel at least once in the past year. The study shows that some drivers even resorted to purposefully ramming another vehicle or getting out of the car to confront another driver. The director of the research for the AAA Foundation study said “bad traffic and daily frustrations can transform minor frustrations into dangerous road rage and drivers find themselves lashing out in ways that could turn deadly.”

A significant number of U.S. drivers reported engaging in angry and aggressive behaviors over the past year, according to the study’s estimates:

  • Purposefully tailgating: 51 percent (104 million drivers)

recognitionThe Law Offices of Michael O. Smith has been named as one of the best personal injury lawyers on Boston by Expertise for the year 2016. looked at 285 Personal Injury Lawyers in Boston and picked The Law Offices of Michael O. Smith as one of the top 20.  The List was hand picked by using a number of criteria including:

REPUTATION – A history of delighted customers as a signal of outstanding service.

CREDIBILITY – Building customer confidence with licensing, industry accreditations and awards.

car-accident1A Plaintiff involved in a Motor Vehicle accident who was struck by another vehicle without Insurance filed suit in the Superior Court’s in an action she brought for bad faith denial of uninsured motorist (“UM”) coverage.

An uninsured driver crashed into the Plaintiff’s car by improperly turning into her lane. The Plaintiff suffered a fractured rib, trauma to the right knee requiring arthroscopic surgery, trauma to the left knee for which she was a candidate for arthroscopic surgery, abrasions, and soft tissue injuries. Throughout the settlement negotiations and the processing of Plaintiff’s claim, the insurance company expressed concerns about whether the Plaintiff’s knee injuries were caused by pre-existing conditions. The record was unclear as to why there were large lapses in time during the settlement negotiations. While the parties were waiting for the Independent Medical Examiner report, the Plaintiff filed suit against the Insurance Company, seeking benefits up to the $100,000 policy limits, as well as punitive damages against the Insurance Company for bad faith by refusing to pay up to those limits. In support of the bad faith claim, The Plaintiff alleged that the Insurance Company refused to compensate her up to the UM policy limits without any reasonable justification. The Superior Court severed and stayed the bad faith claim pending resolution of the UM damages claim. The parties then stipulated to a partial dismissal of the bad faith claim without prejudice.

The jury returned a $260,000 verdict. The Insurance Company appealed on an evidentiary issue. The Insurance Company ended up paying the full Policy Limit of $100,000.00 as well as costs and interests.

A New Jersey furniture manufacturer has reached a settlement with a federal safety agency to pay $123,000 and fix a slew of health and safety violations, including exposing workers to a cancer-causing chemical.

North Arlington, New Jersey-based Sterling Seating Inc. manufactures commercial furniture for restaurants, bars and churches. It agreed to correct hazards found during a 2015 safety inspection. Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors issued more than 40 citations.

OSHA’s regional administrator in New York, Robert Kulick, says the settlement “will go a long way in ensuring that Sterling Seating workers are protected from exposure” to “potentially deadly” methylene chloride.

Police in Michigan have arrested a man suspected of plowing his pickup truck into a group of bicyclists, killing five of them and seriously injuring four others. The driver left the scene, but a suspect, described as a 50-year old man, was apprehended a short while later, according to law enforcement.

The District Attorney Office said “We don’t have any motive for why this happened. As far as I know, the bicyclists were not doing anything other than simply riding their bikes in a proper way along the road”. The District Attorney also said the local police department received a call about the pickup truck driving erratically shortly before the crash.

A man who said he witnessed the incident said the truck was moving erratically and almost hit him. He said he didn’t have time to warn the cyclists. The truck later hit the bicyclists killing five.

Attorney Smith has been named as one of the top 100 civil litigation attorneys in Massachusetts by ASLA for the year 2016.  The American Society of Legal Advocates, ASLA, is an invitation-only, nationwide organization of elite lawyers in practice today. ASLA draws its membership from lawyers who combine stellar legal credentials with a proven commitment to community engagement and the highest professional standards.

Through ASLA’s Top 100 Lawyers, they recognize exceptional legal talent and early promise among the next generation of great lawyers.

ASLA’s list of attorneys are carefully-selected, highly-qualified community of lawyers with experience in wide-ranging practice areas in virtually any jurisdiction in the United States.

workers-compensation-jpgHere are 10 items to consider if you or a loved one have sustained a work related injury.  This list is not an exhaustive and should only be used as a potential guideline for injured workers seeking information.

  1. 1.  Seek medical treatment immediately. Obviously, if you sustain a severe injury, you may be transferred to the Emergency Room directly from your workplace. There are other times you may think you can hold off on seeking immediate treatment. This could be making a big mistake. There are occasions where you think you do not need treatment, only to find out your symptoms worsen to the point where you need to see a doctor. If you wait too long before seeking treatment, you may jeopardize your Health. Furthermore, your Employer’s Workers Compensation Carrier my DENY your WC claim because of a delay in treatment from your initial work related incident date.
  2. Report your injury to your Employer/Supervisor immediately. You should always report any work related injury to your employer and/or supervisor. Even if the injury is minor and you do not think you need medical treatment, you should always report an injury immediately. IF you fail to report your injury in a timely manner, the workers compensation insurance carrier may use your late reporting to your disadvantage and deny your claim.