We just had our first snowstorm of the new year here in Massachusetts. Snowstorms can create some beautiful and amazing scenery. However, during winter storms and underneath all the snow can lie hazards that can cause accidents and severe injuries to workers.
During the winter season, certain types of work-related injuries become more prevalent due to cold temperatures, slippery conditions, and other winter-specific hazards. This article highlights some of the most common winter-time work-related injuries and what you can do if you are injured on the job in Massachusetts.
Need Help? Our Framingham workers’ compensation lawyers are here to answer any questions you have and explain the benefits you may be eligible for if you were hurt on the job. You may call us at (508) 879-3500 or contact us online for a free consultation.
Winter Weather Can Cause Various Types of Accidents & Injuries
Of all the seasons, winter may pose the highest risk of injury to workers in Massachusetts for obvious reasons. Below is a list of some of the most common work-related accidents and injuries.
Slips and Falls
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that slips and falls on icy surfaces is a major cause of work accidents and injuries during the winter months. Icy sidewalks, parking lots, and work areas can lead to slips and falls. These incidents often result in fractures, head injuries, sprains, or other types of injuries.
Motor Vehicle Accidents
During the winter months, especially here in Massachusetts, we see a rise in car accidents. It’s no surprise that winter weather often creates hazardous driving conditions. Many times, certain workers do not have the ability or option of taking a day off because of snow or ice storms. These winter storms increase the risk of car crashes particularly for those who operate vehicles as part of their job (i.e., truck drivers, delivery personnel, snowplow operators, etc…).
Strains from Snow Removal
Snow can be expectedly heavy during and after a snowstorm. Many workers in the snow removal business are required to shovel large areas of heavy snow as part of their job requirements. These same type of workers may also be using snow blowers as part of their jobs. While pushing a snow blower may not often cause injuries, maneuvering this heavy piece of machinery on and off a truck or in and out of a garage may result in injuries on the job. Workers required to shovel and/or use snow blowers can experience muscle strains and overexertion injuries.
Accidents from Snow and Ice Removal Equipment
Workers using snowplows, salt spreaders, snow blowers or other heavy equipment can be at risk of accidents, including collisions and equipment malfunctions. We have helped several injured workers who have suffered amputations from accidents with a snow blower and severe back injuries from lifting and moving other heavy snow removal equipment get the workers’ compensation benefits they deserved after their winter-time work-related accidents.
Hurt At Work in the Winter? You May Be Eligible for These Benefits
Workers who suffer injuries on the job may be eligible for certain benefits from their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance policy. The types of benefits an injured worker may be eligible for depends on several factors. These include the extent of the injury, whether the injury prevents the worker from returning to work, and if medical treatment is necessary.
In the common workers’ compensation case in Massachusetts, there are two primary types of benefits that most injured workers seek: Disability Benefits and Medical Benefits.
If a worker in Massachusetts is hurt on the job and their injuries prevent them from returning to work and earning their wages, they may be eligible to receive disability benefits. These benefits are weekly payments from workers’ compensation to replace a portion of the wages they are losing because they are out of work.
Under the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (M.G.L. c. 152) there are three (3) types of disability benefits:
For a detailed explanation of these disability benefits, see our article Massachusetts employees injured on the job are entitled to certain Workers' Comp benefits. Be sure you are getting what you deserve.
If a worker hurt on the job requires medical treatment, Massachusetts workers’ compensation also offers medical benefits.
Medical benefits from workers’ compensation is available to cover the cost of medical treatment that is reasonable, medically necessary, and causally related to the work injury. (See Massachusetts General Laws c. 152 §§ 13 and 30). Medical benefits will cover the medical bills, costs, and expenses for treatment of your work-related injuries.
Benefits for Scarring, Disfigurement, and Loss of Function
Certain injuries may afford injured workers in Massachusetts eligibility for benefits beyond the disability and medical benefits stated above. These include injuries that result in scarring, disfigurement, and/or loss of function. These types of benefits are commonly referred to as Section 36 Benefits because they fall under M.G.L. c. 152 § 36. These benefits offer compensation to the injured worker for scarring, disfigurement, and/or loss of function (i.e., permanent impairment).
Winter-time work accidents can result in permanent scarring, disfigurement, and/or loss of function. For example, Our Framingham workers’ compensation lawyers represented a young gentleman that was working for a snow removal company. He was using a snowblower in Lowell, Massachusetts and the machine became jammed. This worker tried to unclog the jam and inadvertently got his hand stuck in the snowblower. He suffered a partial amputation of two fingers and several lacerations that required sutures. The lacerations resulted in permanent scarring to his hand. Attorney Pappas was successful in recovering compensation for the amputation (disfigurement), the permanent scars, and disfigurement that this worker suffered.
Similarly, another one of our clients suffered a severely broken hand and fingers when attempting to put on a snowplow in anticipation of a snowstorm. While guiding the plow into the plow truck, his hand became caught in between the blow mount and the plow frame. This injury required surgery and resulted in permanent scarring to this worker’s hand. Attorney Pappas was successful in the Massachusetts workers’ compensation claim for Section 36 benefits and recovered compensation for scarring and loss of function.
How Do You Get Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Massachusetts After an Accident on the Job?
Many times, when a worker in Massachusetts is injured on the job, if the accident and injuries are clear and the worker takes the proper steps after an accident on the job, the workers’ compensation insurance company may voluntarily pay benefits.
However, sometimes, just because an employee may be eligible for the above benefits, the workers’ compensation insurance carrier does not automatically or voluntarily pay them. If an injured worker doesn’t receive any of these benefits after a work-related accident or is denied benefits from the insurance company, then the injured employee may file an Employee’s Claim for Benefits. After the Claim is filed the case will go through the normal process of a workers’ compensation claim within the Department of Industrial Accidents in pursuit of benefits.
After a work-related accident, it is always recommended that the injured worker seek legal advice from an experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney. An experienced and knowledgeable injury lawyer will be able to review your case, answer any questions you may have, and explain the options and benefits available. If you are not receiving benefits, a workers’ compensation lawyer can take legal action to seek the benefits you deserve.