Disclaimer - By publishing this information on this Web site, the Boston, Massachusetts law firm of Altman & Altman LLP is not claiming to represent any clients or cases mentioned here. The content provided is designed to inform readers and is not intended as legal advice.

Articles Posted in Work Injury

If you’ve been injured in a work-related accident, your injuries may prevent you from performing the duties of your job. If you are unable to work for an extended period of time, the lost wages can be financially devastating. Fortunately, workers’ compensation exists to cover a percentage of your normal wages if you cannot work due to an on-the-job injury or illness. But when do those benefits kick in? For some people, even a few weeks without a paycheck can be disastrous.

As with most things in life, all workers’ comp cases are unique. However, the paragraphs below gives an idea of the general timeline you can expect once you file your workers’ comp claim. A MA workers’ comp attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured on the job.

Seek Medical Attention

Your injury is the official kickoff of your workers’ compensation claim. As such, you will want to take certain steps immediately following your injury to ensure that your claim is received and completed in a timely manner, namely, seek medical attention. Not to mention, medical treatment after an accident is in the best interest of your overall health and well-being. In MA, as in most other states, either the employer or its workers’ comp carrier must pay for an injured employee’s medical bills as soon as the claim is filed. In layman’s terms, you don’t have to wait for approval to receive compensation for medical expenses.

Report the Injury to Your Employer

Step two is to report your injury to your employer, and do so in writing. As soon as you report your injury, your employer is obligated to provide you with a claim form. Fill this form out completely and file immediately. And don’t forget to keep a copy for your records.

Employer’s Responsibility

At this point, your employer is required to notify its insurance carrier immediately to arrange for medical treatment and compensation. In some cases, the employer must also submit a wage verification form to the insurance company.

Wait on the Insurance Company’s Decision

Once the claim has been received by the insurance company, the insurer has 30 days within which to either accept or deny the claim. If approved, the insurer will begin paying benefits almost immediately. If denied, you have a small window within which to request a review hearing. In most cases, the hearing will occur within 30 days of your request, and a final decision will usually be made within 15 days.

To summarize, if you take immediate steps to ensure that your claim is processed as quickly as possible, and your claim is approved on the first try, you should start receiving benefits within one month. That being said, initial claims are often denied due to minor application errors or omissions. That is why it is so important to consult with an experienced Boston workers’ comp attorney. With skilled legal representation, you are more likely to receive the full benefits you deserve in a timely manner. Continue reading

The widow of one of two workers who died in a 2016 explosion at a New York asphalt company has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against her husband’s employer. At the time of the accident, the workers were using a blow torch, which ignited vapors coming from liquid asphalt in the holding-tank they were heating.

The Glenville, NY based Mohawk Asphalt Emulsions was cited for two safety violations that may have contributed to the tragic incident. As a result, Mohawk had to pay more than $17,000 in fines to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Now Karen Nichols, the wife of Joseph Nichols—the 56-year-old worker who was killed on the job—is suing the asphalt company, alleging negligence.

According to the lawsuit, Nichols was told to use a blow torch to loosen a clog in the line of a holding tank. A work crew had added a mixture of asphalt and kerosene into the holding tank, but it had thickened and become clogged. Nichols was instructed to heat the clogged area in an effort to soften the mixture so that it could flow freely through the line.

The lawsuit alleges that Joseph Nichols was wearing flammable clothing at the time of the explosion, and that a broken fire extinguisher prevented his co-workers from quickly extinguishing the flames. Due to severe burns covering most of his body, and other related medical complications, Nichols died two days after the accident. Failure to provide appropriate protective gear was one of the violations Mohawk was cited for by OSHA. A MA wrongful death attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve lost a loved one due to another’s negligence.

Wrongful Death or Workers’ Compensation?

Although the wrongful death lawsuit against Mohawk Asphalt Emulsions does not specify an exact dollar amount in damages, a lawyer working with Nichols’ widow says it “could be a substantial amount.” This case brings up an important question—when a worker dies as a result of an on-the-job accident, doesn’t workers’ compensation handle the claims of a surviving spouse? If the accident was the victim’s fault, workers’ compensation may indeed be the more appropriate solution. However, when another’s negligence was involved, the surviving spouse may be entitled to a far larger sum by filing a wrongful death claim against the negligent party or parties.

Was Negligence a Factor?

In order to prove that negligence caused another’s death, and that a surviving family member is entitled to damages, the following factors must have existed:

  • A person died;
  • due to the negligence of another; and
  • surviving family members have suffered damages as a result of the person’s death.

The fact that Mohawk had to settle with OSHA for safety violations will likely factor heavily into Nichols’ case. If you have lost a loved one to the negligence of another, a Boston wrongful death attorney can help you determine how to obtain compensation. Continue reading

If you are hurt on the job, you will likely be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. In exchange for accepting these benefits, you agree to not bring a lawsuit against your employer for any injuries suffered. Workers’ comp covers most work-related injuries, but there are certain rules you must follow to obtain benefits, and even a simple mistake can delay or reduce the benefits to which you are entitled.

If I am injured on the job, what’s the first thing I should do?

Following a work-related injury or illness, you should take the steps below:

  • Immediately report your injury or illness to a supervisor;
  • Ask to see a physician;
  • Request and fill out a workers’ comp form.

Remember, your employer is under no legal obligation to provide workers’ comp benefits until you have reported your injury and completed a claim form. Don’t wait until your condition is so bad that you can no longer perform the duties of your job. A Boston workers’ compensation attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured at work.

What Benefits Does Workers’ Comp Provide?

Although benefits can vary from case to case, the four basic benefits that a recipient of workers’ comp can expect to receive are as follows:

  • Medical care: Any treatment that is reasonably necessary for your injury should be covered by the insurance company that provides workers’ comp insurance to your employer;
  • Benefit payments: You should receive a percentage of your wages while you are unable to work;
  • Settlement for permanent disability: If you are permanently unable to return to work, you may be entitled to compensation based on the severity of your disability;
  • Vocational rehab: If you are unable to return to your old occupation but you can perform the duties of another occupation, you may be entitled to paid training.

Can My Employer Fire Me While I’m Receiving Workers’ Comp Benefits?

If you are receiving workers’ comp due to a temporary disability, your employer may not terminate you. If, however, medical evidence shows that you will be unable to return to your job, there may be an exception to this rule. If your disability will keep you from your occupation for an extended period, and this absence places an undue burden on your employer, a temporary worker may be used to replace you until your return. A MA work injury lawyer can help you obtain the compensation you deserve if you’ve been injured on the job.

Commonly Overlooked Work Injuries

If you have one of the injuries below, you may be suffering from a work injury without even knowing it.

  • Heart problems: Even if a heart attack or other heart problem occurs away from the workplace, it could be work-related.
  • Lung problems: Breathing problems and other conditions involving the lungs can be caused by long-term exposure to industrial chemicals and materials.
  • Hearing loss: If your workplace exposes you to loud noises on a regular basis, this can cause hearing loss, even if you wear hearing protection.
  • Back problems and hernias: If you regularly lift or move even moderately heavy objects, this can lead to serious back pain and hernias.
  • Eye injuries: Eye strain from staring at a computer screen all day, and airborne irritants in industrial occupations can both cause serious injuries to the eyes.
  • Hand injuries: If your job involves repetitive motions of the hands and wrists, you may wind up with severe wrist pain and injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis. Desk jobs are notorious for these injuries.

Continue reading

Repetitive stress injuries—including carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis—are extremely common, can be debilitating, and are often sustained on the job. In fact, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), more than 100 types of repetitive stress injuries may occur in the workplace. In order to obtain workers’ compensation for such an injury, however, you must be able to show that your job caused your injury.

Common Causes of Repetitive Stress Injuries in the Workplace

If any of the situations below apply to you, there is a good chance that your repetitive stress injury was sustained in the workplace. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured on the job.

  • You spend most of your day working on a computer. Sitting at a computer for hours a day may sound like an unlikely way to get injured, but it’s actually one of the most common. Performing the same movements over and over again throughout the day is the most direct route to a repetitive stress injury. Small movements that may seem benign—such as clicking your mouse, or typing and holding a desk phone between your ear and shoulder—can lead to painful, chronic conditions, many of which can make even simple tasks impossible.
  • You work in construction. Any time you perform repetitive movements for weeks or months in a row, you can develop a repetitive stress injury. Tasks like swinging a hammer, digging or running a jackhammer can result in damage to tendons, joints and muscles. A MA work injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured in a work-related accident.
  • You stand all day or sit all day. The human body is not intended to be in the same position all day. Studies have proven that excessive sitting can cause back, neck and shoulder pain, as well as other health problems…it can even shave years off your life! Excessive standing can also wreak havoc on your body. Hips, knees and back are especially vulnerable to these problems.
  • You work in retail. Cashiers and others who work in retail often stand for long periods. As stated above, this alone can lead to health problems. However, retail cashiers are particularly prone to repetitive stress injuries because of the limited but continuous motions they must make all day. Watch the cashier the next time you’re standing in line. Throughout a single shift, a cashier may have to turn, grab, lift, swipe, type and pull thousands of times.

Examples of Repetitive Stress Injuries

These injuries are among the most commonly reported causes of lost work time. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that repetitive stress injuries accounted for about 33 percent of all work injuries in 2013. The most common include:

  • Tendonitis
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Trigger finger
  • Rotator cuff injuries
  • Epicondylitis (tennis elbow)
  • Low back injuries
  • Muscle strains

Continue reading

Data provided by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reveals that, of the 4,693 worker deaths in 2016, more than 20 percent (991 workers) occurred in the construction industry. The top four causes of construction worker deaths – dubbed the fatal four – were falls, being struck by an object, electrocutions and getting “caught in” or crushed by equipment. The fatal four accounted for 63.7 percent of the fatal accidents. The exact breakdown is as follows:

  • Falls – 384 fatalities
  • Struck by an object – 93 fatalities
  • Electrocutions – 82 fatalities
  • Caught in or between objects – 72 fatalities

The above data is proof that construction sites are one of the most dangerous workplaces in the United States today. Due to heavy equipment, electrical work, temporary structures and extreme heights, serious injuries and deaths are shockingly common in this industry.

It is the employer’s duty to take the necessary steps to eliminate hazards in the workplace that could cause serious injury and death. When employers fail to do so, and a worker is injured or killed, the employer may be liable. Although workers’ compensation often provides benefits for work-related injuries, you may be entitled to additional compensation if the employer was negligent?

Was My Employer Negligent?

The help of an experienced MA work injury lawyer is essential when determining whether employer negligence was a factor. Some common indicators of negligence at construction sites include:

  • Falls due to unstable, slippery or cluttered walkways or platforms;
  • Lack of protection around platform edges;
  • Unprotected holes in the floor and walls;
  • Improperly positioned ladders;
  • Inadequate fall protection equipment and training;
  • Trench collapse due to lack of, or improper, safety guards;
  • Lack of proper supervision;
  • Poor equipment maintenance; and
  • Overall lack of training.

Filing a Lawsuit

If you are injured in a work-related construction accident, an experienced Boston work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed. If you lost a loved one in a work-related construction accident, you may wish to file a wrongful death lawsuit. In order to bring a successful wrongful death suit, you should be able to show that:

  • Your loved one died as a result of the employer’s negligence;
  • You have suffered losses due to your loved one’s death; and
  • If your loved one had lived, he or she could have recovered damages for pain and suffering from the defendant.

Losses may include, but are not limited to:

  • financial support;
  • love;
  • emotional support;
  • consortium between spouses; and
  • quality of life.

If you are concerned that your workplace is unsafe, speak to a supervisor immediately. If your supervisor is unable, or unwilling, to address your concerns, you can always report the problem to OSHA, the agency tasked with establishing – and enforcing – workplace safety guidelines. Employers that violate OSHA guidelines will be required to remedy the situation within a specified time period and may face fines for the violation. Continue reading

In hazard-prone work environments, such as manufacturing plants, it’s not uncommon for minor safety protocols to get overlooked in favor of more serious concerns. For example, while wearing a hard hat to protect against head injuries may be a non-negotiable, employees often  forego wearing cut-resistant gloves; it’s not like hand lacerations are life threatening. But even minor injuries, such as hand lacerations, can lead to bigger problems.

For starters, a worker is likely to become immediately distracted when a hand injury occurs. If she is working with complex machinery at the time, the distraction could be deadly. In some cases, the distraction can snowball into an incident involving multiple workers. A MA work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in a work-related accident.

The Real Cost of Minor Injuries

The hand laceration itself, although not life threatening, can still be devastating to a worker’s ability to perform necessary job duties. More than one million U.S. workers seek emergency medical treatment for lacerations annually. Just about every job requires the use of the worker’s hands. As such, hand lacerations can lead to time off work and lost wages for the worker, as well as insurance claims, increased premiums and employee-replacement costs for the employer. The average cost to a company for an employee who suffers a single laceration is $41,000.

Follow the steps below to dramatically reduce your risk of injury or death in the workplace.

  • Don’t overlook the “less serious” safety precautions; non-slip soles and cut-resistant gloves are just as important as personal fall protection equipment, for example.
  • Don’t engage in a hazardous work task when you are fatigued, distracted or stressed.
  • Take breaks at regular intervals throughout the day to prevent fatigue. In addition to resting during these breaks, drink some water and consider doing jumping jacks or some other energizing activity.
  • Your employer should perform regular inspections and maintenance of all equipment. If you are concerned that this isn’t being done properly, speak to a supervisor. If your concerns are not adequately addressed, you can always contact the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the agency tasked with establishing – and enforcing – workplace safety guidelines.
  • Your employer should also provide regular employee training, and established safety policies should be clearly stated, up to date and easy to locate. Posters, safety drills and the distribution of regular emails are effective ways of reminding employees of safety policies and the importance of following them.

Employees who don’t follow established safety policies should face tough consequences. When a worker’s noncompliance is allowed to continue, other workers will soon follow suit. Companies with zero-tolerance policies for safety violations have lower rates of worker injury and death. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured on the job. Continue reading

Work-related injuries can occur in any occupation, from secretaries and librarians to construction workers and miners. You don’t have to be working in a “dangerous industry” to get injured. In fact, repetitive motion injuries are most common among office workers. Repetitive motion injuries often affect the hand and arm, causing a wide range of complications, including carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis.

But hand and arm injuries can also be more catastrophic; thousands of crush injuries, lacerations and amputations occur annually in the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more than 50,000 workers suffer an arm injury every year. Arm injuries cause workers to miss an average of 11 days of work. And work-related hand injuries are even more common. The BLS estimates that more than 137,000 workers suffer a hand injury annually. These injuries typically result in less missed work, however, with the average being five days.

Combined, hand and arm injuries affect nearly 200,000 U.S. workers every year. With such staggering numbers, employers should consider reviewing their hand and arm safety policies. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured or become ill at work.

Repetitive Motion Injuries

Obtaining workers’ compensation for amputations and crush injuries is often easier than for repetitive motion injuries, which are more common but harder to prove. Further, repetitive motion injuries are not felt all at once after a single, traumatic event. Rather, the pain and complications associated with repetitive motion injuries reveal themselves over time as they continue to damage the nerves, muscles, and / or tendons. But when these injuries become apparent, they can be just as debilitating as a more “serious” injury. The pain from bursitis or epicondylitis (tennis elbow), for example, can be excruciating. If a worker is no longer able to perform his or her job due to this type of injury, the loss of income can be just as devastating as it is with sudden injuries, such as amputations or chemical burns to the eyes.

Traumatic Injuries

With the more event-based, traumatic injuries such as amputations and crush injuries, the cause is often related to poor employee training, lack of safety gear, and failure to implement proper lockout/tagout procedures, which protect against unexpected start ups while workers are performing maintenance on a machine. If employer negligence played a role in a hand or arm injury, the worker may be entitled to additional compensation – beyond workers’ comp benefits – for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages. For example, an employer may neglect to properly guard machinery and provide employees with appropriate safety gear. If the failure to do so results in a serious injury, the employer may be liable.

According to the BLS, thousands of U.S. workers lose a body part to workplace amputations annually, and about 21 workers die from these amputations. The most common pieces of equipment responsible for work-related amputations and crushing injuries are drill and mechanical power presses, meat grinders, food slicers, conveyors, portable and table saws, milling shears and machines, slitters and grinders, and power press brakes.

Lacerations

Serious lacerations account for up to 30 percent of all on-the-job injuries. Deep puncture wounds and lacerations that involve tendon or nerve damage are often due to poor training and safety protocol, failure to wear appropriate safety gear, and lack of guarding equipment. These injuries can occur because the worker simply wasn’t paying attention, but all too often employer negligence is a factor. A MA work injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured at work. Continue reading

Workers’ compensation exists to protect employees if they are unable to work due to a work-related injury, and employers from being sued for those injuries. Most work-related injuries and illnesses are covered by workers’ comp, but there are some exceptions. Further, even claims for covered injuries and illnesses may be denied due to application errors, untimely filing, or other issues. You may find the following information helpful if your workers’ compensation claim has been denied.

When a workers’ comp claim is denied, the claimant receives a letter informing him of the decision. One of the most common reasons for denial is untimely reporting or filling. When an injury or illness occurs, the law holds that the worker must report the claim right away, often within days. It is then the employer’s duty to immediately notify its workers’ comp carrier and the state. Failure to follow these steps precisely may result in a denial.

My Employer Disputed My Claim

This is another common reason for a denial. Let’s say you claim that your back injury is work-related, but your employer thinks you actually sustained your injury playing basketball. She might dispute the validity of your claim, which could result in a denial. If this occurs, you may need to gather additional evidence to substantiate your claim.

My Condition is Not Covered

Although most on-the-job injuries are covered by workers’ comp, there are some exceptions. If your injury is not serious enough to qualify, or the condition itself isn’t covered, your claim may be denied.

In MA, an injury that occurs outside of the scope of your job duties may not be covered. For example, if you and a co-worker decide to hit some golf balls in the field outside your office building, you aren’t likely to have a workers’ comp claim if you accidentally get hit in the head with a golf club. You may have been at work, during work hours, but hitting golf balls isn’t a work-related activity. The same would be true if you were inside the building at the time of your injury. On the other hand, if the same injury occurred at a golf course, during a work outing at which you were entertaining clients, you would likely be covered by workers’ comp.

Even if your injury or illness occurred on work property and in the scope of your job duties, the medical condition itself may not be covered. Some mental health conditions, such as stress, may not qualify you for benefits. A MA workers’ comp attorney can help you determine your eligibility for benefits. Continue reading

Mesothelioma is a particularly-deadly type of cancer that affects the mesothelium, a thin layer of tissue surrounding multiple organs in the human body. As the most commonly-affected area is the lining around the lungs and chest wall, shortness of breath is often one of the first symptoms. That being said, Mesothelioma is a slow-growing form of cancer, and initial symptoms can take decades to appear. For this reason, the disease is often quite advanced when diagnosed.

More than 80 percent of Mesothelioma cases are a result of asbestos exposure. Asbestos is a fibrous mineral that was used in insulation before the risks were known. Well, at least before the public knew about the risks. There is evidence that asbestos manufacturers knew about the dangers long before the federal government began regulating its use. In addition to asbestos-based products, the carcinogenic mineral occurs naturally underground. As such, construction workers, those who mine asbestos, and people who work with asbestos-based products are most at risk of developing this deadly disease.

Asbestos is Not a Thing of the Past

It is a common misconception that asbestos is no longer an issue in the workplace. For starters, any building built before 1980 may contain asbestos in the roof, walls, or insulation. And even buildings built after 1980 may have asbestos. For these reasons, construction workers still have an increased risk of asbestos exposure, and thus, of developing Mesothelioma or lung cancer. A MA work injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you are suffering from a work-related illness or injury.

Auto mechanics also have a higher risk of asbestos exposure. In 1989, the US Environmental Protection Agency began the process of phasing out asbestos-based brakes. But a federal court rescinded the ban in 1991. Recent analysis shows that dust samples taken from brake repair shops contain significant levels of asbestos. Unfortunately, the majority of auto-repair shops are ill-equipped to deal with this problem. In fact, compressed air used to blow dust from brakes can exacerbate the problem, filling the air with millions of asbestos-containing dust particles. All auto-repair shops should consider purchasing respirators and vacuums for mechanics who work on brakes.

Who is Most at Risk?

Although your risk of asbestos exposure is significantly lower today than 30 years ago, workers in many occupations are still at risk. Asbestos exposure remains a hazard for those who work in:

  • Auto-repair shops
  • Construction sites
  • Manufacturing plants
  • Paper mills
  • Refineries
  • Power plants
  • Ship yards

And in the following industries:

  • Auto-repair mechanics
  • Boilermakers
  • Bricklayers
  • Carpenters
  • Electricians
  • Insulators
  • Plasterers
  • Plumbers
  • Pipe fitters
  • Refinery workers
  • Shipyard workers
  • Steelworkers

A Boston work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve developed a work-related injury or illness. Continue reading

The waiting period built into workers’ compensation benefits functions as a type of deductible. If you are injured on the job, workers’ comp generally pays for associated medical treatment, a portion of your lost wages, and compensation for permanent disability. If you cannot work, these payments can mean the difference between financial disaster and financial stability.

Many workers’ comp applicants are surprised to discover that benefits rarely start immediately. In most cases, beneficiaries will be subjected to a waiting period. During this time, you will be unable to collect benefit payments, with few exceptions. A MA workers’ comp lawyer can help you determine how to move forward if you’ve suffered a workplace injury.

Waiting Period

Contact Information