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All employees are entitled to a workplace free from hazards and dangers.  When workers in the Boston area suffer injuries, they are entitled to file a Boston workers’ compensation claim according to Massachusetts law.  Workers’ compensation provides employees with medical care, partial wage replacement, and benefits for injuries or medical conditions suffered in the course and scope of their employment.  Additionally, federal and state laws ensure that employers provide a safe workplace that meets safety regulations and standards.


OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, has recently issued a press release detailing the results of an investigation that determined Boston, Massachusetts behavioral health facility employees had been exposed to serious workplace hazards. The health facility faces $207,690 in proposed penalties from the U.S. Department of Labor’s OSHA for the violations, which were exposed during follow-up inspections.

In June 2017, OSHA had issued the facility a notification based on their failure to stop exposing employees to workplace violence.  This included physical as well as verbal assaults, kicks, bites, scratches, and hair pulling.  The notification made clear that the employer’s workplace violence prevention program had not adequately addressed the hazards posed by the patients’ verbal and physical assaults.  Specifically, employees were kicked in the stomach by patients, scratched, and punched, and in one case, a Nursing Supervisor suffered a concussion that resulted in her losing 15 days of work.

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Massachusetts workers’ compensation is designed to help employees who suffer from work-related injuries or medical conditions.  The Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents, Reviewing Board, addressed benefits available to the spouse of a deceased worker.  An administrative judge had awarded the claimant (the spouse) burial benefits but denied her claim for dependency benefits. On appeal, the Board was to analyze whether the insurer had, through its failure to appeal the award of burial benefits, recognized that the worker’s death was caused by work.

After suffering back and neck injuries at work, the employee in this case had received workers’ compensation benefits until the date of his death.  He died from excessive aspirin ingestion.  The employee was married but living apart from his spouse at the time of his death.

Since Massachusetts workers’ compensation laws provide for benefits to the spouse of a fatally injured worker, the claimant filed for benefits.  The insurer for the employer contended that she was not entitled to burial or funeral expenses, but the judge awarded her those benefits, while denying her claim for dependency benefits. She appealed.

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) affects workers throughout Boston and the surrounding communities.  Employees who have received a medical diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome can file a workers’ compensation claim for benefits, since this type of injury is covered by the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (WCA). It is important for workers to understand that they maintain a legal right to file a claim and may be entitled to recover benefits and compensation for their work-related carpal tunnel syndrome.  A Boston workers’ compensation attorney can help ensure that timelines are met and that a claim for benefits is presented in a strong manner.

carpal tunnel syndrome

According to the WCA, an “injury” includes physical injuries as well as diseases or illnesses that are caused by the worker’s employment.  Carpal tunnel syndrome falls under this category, as do other work-related illnesses, potentially work-related asthma, for example. The National Institute of Health makes clear that carpal tunnel syndrome affects the median nerve, the long nerve that runs from the forearm into the palm of the hand.  This nerve becomes squeezed or pressed at the wrist, and the carpal tunnel, the passageway that houses the nerve, can narrow and cause the nerve to be compressed. Irritated tendons are often the culprit behind a narrowed tunnel.  Symptoms can include weakness, pain in the wrist or hand, and numbness.

Carpal tunnel syndrome can have many different causes, and it often results from a combination of causes, such as fluid retention, wrist trauma, or repetitive motion.  Those with diabetes may be more susceptible to compression and to suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome. Workers who engage in assembly line work, including sewing, finishing, meat packing, and manufacturing, may be more at risk of developing CTS.

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In a recent appeal involving a dispute over an injured employee’s weekly wage, the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents, Reviewing Board, held that since the employee had not appealed a conference order, he was not entitled to a better result than what he had received in that order.   The Board examined whether the judge had properly adjusted the employee’s award upward, without an appeal by the employee.


In this case, the employee worked as a carpenter and was injured at work when moving a large piece of machinery that tipped.  His claim for benefits was granted, since there was not a dispute regarding his coverage under workers’ compensation, nor was there a dispute regarding liability for his injury.  After the insurer for his employer began paying weekly benefits, based on a weekly wage of $800.00 a week, the employee then sought an adjustment to his wage.

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The Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents, Review Board, recently analyzed whether an employee could receive workers’ compensation for injuries sustained while driving home from a nursing job.  According to the “going and coming” rule, employees who are traveling to and from work are barred from recovering compensation for their injuries.  In the case before the Board, the workers’ compensation insurance company argued that the employee had a fixed place of business, and she had been merely commuting home.

commute injury worker

The Board turned to caselaw to determine whether the facts supported a finding that the employee could recover benefits.  In this case, the 71-year-old employee worked as a nurse of the employer.  The employer assigned her to work at a facility in Vermont, while the employee lived in Danvers.  She would travel to Vermont at the start of the work week and return home after her shift ended, five days later.

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Following a workplace accident, injured employees have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim for benefits.  The Reviewing Board for the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents recently assessed whether an employee was entitled to costs for a total hip replacement after suffering injuries in a work-related accident.  At issue in the case was whether the judge had erred when he found that the medical issues were not complex, and therefore there was no need for additional medical evidence.

hospital room

The employee worked for over 30 years for the same company, first as a machine operator and then as an x-ray technician. An accident occurred at work, and the employee received a double knee surgery. During his period of recovery, the employer paid weekly indemnity benefits.

After filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits that alleged his left total hip replacement was caused by the work injury, an administrative judge rejected the claim, and the employee appealed.  The employee was examined by an impartial physician.

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In a recent case before the Massachusetts Appeals Court, the issue was whether an employee should receive interest on hiscalculator unpaid claim for benefits as of the date of filing the claim that eventually led to an award, or whether the filing date for an earlier claim that was eventually terminated should serve as the date that interest would begin to accrue.

Massachusetts law holds that interest is to be assessed on unpaid workers’ compensation claims as of the date the Department of Industrial Accidents receives notice of the claim.  The statute dictates that when payment for an award of benefits is not made within 60 days of being claimed by an employee, interest accrues on sums due.

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In a decision addressing the successive insurer rule in workers’ compensation cases, the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents, Review Board, recommitted a case in which the judge had erred by holding that an employee had not suffered an injury to her right shoulder while working for her most recent empemergency roomloyer. The Board held that the judge inappropriately substituted his own opinion for that of the medical examiner and mischaracterized that opinion so that he would not have to abide by the legal effect. In other words, since the employee’s shoulder injury was worsened while working for the second employer, that employer was required to compensate her, according to the successive insurer rule.

According to the successive insurer rule, employers must pay compensation to employees who suffer a worsening of an injury caused while working for a previous employer.  Before working for her most recent employer, in October 2007, the employee suffered injuries to her shoulder and right knee. She had fallen down a flight of stairs and was paid weekly total incapacity benefits through March 2008.

The employee had undergone shoulder surgery and in December 2012 secured a lump sum settlement agreement with her first employer for medical treatment and benefits. Liability had been settled regarding injuries to her left shoulder and a sprain/strain to her right shoulder.

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In a decision assessing whetherclassroom a judge erroneously denied an employee workers’ compensation benefits, the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents Reviewing Board upheld the order.  According to Massachusetts law, an employee who engages in conduct that is serious and willful misconduct is prevented from recovering benefits under § 27 of the Workers’ Compensation Act.

Additionally, employers that make a bona fide personnel decision under § 1(7A), including terminating an employee, can preclude that employee from receiving compensation. In this case, the Board determined that the facts supported a finding that the employee was not entitled to benefits.

The employee in this case worked as a custodian for public schools within the Town of Milton.  He was involved in a verbal and physical altercation with the Director for Milton Public Schools.  The employer conducted an investigation of the verbal and physical incident and ultimately terminated the employee.

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In a case before the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents, the Reviewing Board assessed an injured worker’s claim for § 34 or, alternatively, §34A benefits from March 30, 2012 forward.  Turning to previous decisions concerning the employee’s claim that he suffered mental injuries while working as a maintenance mechanic aide for his employer, the judge had found that while the employee was incapacitated from working, this incapacity as of March 30, 2012 had not been caused by a work accident in 2003 but was due to “non work related issues.” The Massachusetts Reviewing Board of Industrial Accidents affirmed this holding.


In 2003, while working for his employer and performing housekeeping, mowing, and general maintenance, the employee alleged that he suffered verbal harassment from tenants.  He had been enforcing a non-smoking policy for his employer at the time. While he attempted to return to work, he had been diagnosed with anxiety and was unable to return to his position. The employee began to work in his own business, but that eventually failed.

Shortly afterward, the employee and his wife separated, and he moved from the family home. He was diagnosed with chronic depression, and according to one medical doctor, non-work events triggered a depression.  The judge found there had not been a causal connection between the employee’s condition and the history of his injury.

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