by Kevin P. DeMello, esq.
Being injured on the job is a distressing and stressful experience. In addition to the pain of the injury, there is the worry about the financial impact to you and your family. Fortunately, in Massachusetts, the workers compensation statute provides for insurance coverage to replace part of your wages, and pay for your medical bills, when you are unable to work due to a workplace injury. The trade off for this coverage is that an injured worker is unable to make a claim against his or her employer or coworkers. However, what if there is some third party who caused your injury other than your employer or coworkers?
In Massachusetts the workers compensation statute specifically provides that an employee may sue a third party for tort damages in addition to filing a claim for workers compensation benefits. These claims are valuable because they provide access to additional compensation that otherwise would not be available under the statute alone. One common case, for instance, is an automobile accident where a delivery driver is rear-ended by another motorist. In that case, the delivery driver would have a workers compensation claim, and a third-party claim against the motorist.
Bringing a third party claim, however, can be a complex and bewildering legal proceeding because of the requirements of G.L. c. 152 s. 15. Under that statute, any amounts paid by the workers compensation insurer are recoverable from the proceeds of the third party case. The statute also gives the workers compensation insurer the power to proceed on its own against the third party if the injured worker fails to do so within seven months of his injury. Therefore, in order to maximize the benefit to the injured worker, it is vital pursue these cases as soon as possible and to understand precisely the pitfalls that could prejudice the injured worker’s rights.
At Keches Law Group, we have one of the largest workers compensation practices in the state. As a result of the volume of workplace injuries that we handle, our third party practitioners are highly experienced in successfully resolving these types of cases. As our firm can handle both the workers compensation and the third party claims, we have a significant advantage in handling these cases. The interplay between the workers compensation case and the third party case is complex and not always easy to manage. Having the attorneys that handle both claims working together in the same firm gives us the ability to maximize any recovery for the client. If you have been injured at work, please do not hesitate to contact our firm and schedule a free consultation.