The Winter Weather Causes An Increase in Slip and Falls at Work in Massachusetts

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that this is the season where there is typically an increase in slip and fall accidents. While a lot of slip and fall accidents occur in parking lots and walkways, there is a legal difference between a slip and fall accident while on the job versus when you are out for leisure.

Slip and fall accidents on the job would be covered by workers’ compensation whereas other slip and fall accidents would fall under general personal injury claims and laws. A major difference is that accidents on the job do not require the injured worker to prove that anyone was negligent. Other types of slip and fall would require the injured party to prove the property owner was negligent by failing to remove or treat the snow and ice before he or she would be entitled to any compensation.

During the winter months, slip and fall accidents make up a significant number of work-place injuries. Slip and fall accidents can cause injuries that range from minor requiring conservative care to very serious that necessitate surgical treatment. It’s crucial for an injured worker to understand their legal rights to workers’ compensation in Massachusetts after a fall at work.

About Workers’ Compensation in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, there are specific laws in place that require employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance to protect and offer specific benefits to workers who are injured in the course of their employment. These laws are all under The Workers’ Compensation Act in Massachusetts (Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 152).  

These specific benefits include medical benefits, which are available to pay any reasonable and necessary medical treatment related to the employee’s injuries on the job.  Other benefits, known as disability benefits, are available to replace a portion of the wages an injured employee is unable to earn due to their work injury.

It is important for an injured worker to be familiar with what benefits he or she would be entitled to if they are injured on the job. Also, it is important to know if your accident and injuries are covered by workers’ compensation.

Workers’ Compensation Coverage Depends On Where You Slip and Fall

Generally, when a worker is injured while in the course of their employment, they would be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, including the benefits mentioned above. This is usually a simple issue to resolve. For example, if a worker falls off a ladder in the employer’s warehouse, he or she would be entitled to workers’ compensation.

Slip and Fall Accidents That Happen on Your Employer’s Property

If you are injured from a slip and fall accident on your employer’s property, you would be entitled to workers’ compensation in Massachusetts. For example, if you slip and fall in your employer’s building (e.g., the warehouse), you would be entitled to workers’ compensation. Also, if you go to work and exit your car in your employer’s parking lot and then slip on ice and fall injuring yourself, you would similarly be covered by workers’ compensation.

Slip and Fall Accident Not on Work Property

If a worker slips and falls on another person’s or company’s property while they are on the job or in the course of their employment, they would be entitled to workers’ compensation. For instance, if a worker for a snow removal company slips and falls on a customer/client’s property while they are shoveling, the injured worker would be entitled to workers’ compensation even though the accident happened on another’s property. Similarly, if a contractor slips and falls on another’s property while on the job, he or she would be entitled to workers’ compensation.

Be Mindful of the Going & Coming Rule

A question arises when an employee is injured in a slip and fall accident and the accident happened off the employer’s property while the worker is on their way to or from work. There is a rule that will bar recovery of workers’ compensation by an injured employee in this situation. The rule is known as the “going-and-coming” rule.

In Massachusetts, case law has held that workers’ compensation for an injury arising out of and in the course of employment does not extend to employees going to and coming from their work. This means that if an employee is walking to work and slips and falls on the sidewalk seriously injuring himself or herself, workers’ compensation benefits would not be available. Likewise, if an employee is driving to work and stops to get a coffee and then slips and falls on ice in the coffee shop’s parking lot, that employee would not be entitled to workers’ compensation under the “going and coming” rule.

However, as with all injury cases, the specific facts of each accident must be carefully examined. Sometimes, a worker injured going to or coming from work may still be entitled to workers’ compensation. For instance, we recently met with a gentleman from Ashland, MA that was going to work in Brockton, MA. When this worker pulled into his employer’s parking lot, he exited his car and slipped and fell on the employer’s property. Although he was going to work, because his injuries happened on his employer’s property in Brockton, MA, his injuries suffered in the fall would be covered by workers’ compensation.

Injuries would also be covered by workers’ compensation when an employee is traveling between locations during work and is injured in a slip and fall accident. Even though this could be considered “going to or coming from” work, in this situation, injuries from a slip and fall when traveling between work locations during work hours would be covered. 

Were You Injured in a Slip and Fall Accident at Work?

If you were injured in a slip and fall accident at work, you should report your accident and injuries to your employer right away. Additionally, seek medical treatment immediately and don’t forget to tell your doctor that your injuries happened at work. Then you should speak with an experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney.

Mahaney & Pappas, LLP specialize in helping injured workers get the workers’ compensation benefits they deserve. For a complimentary case evaluation, call Mahaney & Pappas, LLP at (508) 879-3500 or contact us on-line. We will explain the whole workers’ compensation process and how workers’ compensation lawyers are paid in Massachusetts.

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