With the spring weather on its way into Massachusetts, many residents and businesses are scheduling their spring yard cleanup and landscaping. After a long cold winter, everyone looks forward to getting the mulch beds, flowers, and grass looking sharp, clean, and ready for the nicer weather. The experts relied upon are the landscapers.
Landscaping is tough work. Landscape work includes the installation and maintenance of lawns, shrubs, plants, and trees. To get all the yards and grounds looking good, it takes a lot of physically demanding manual labor. This demand and labor-intensive workplace landscapers at risk of injury from a wide variety of hazards in their industry. In Massachusetts, if a landscaper is injured on the job, he or she may be entitled to workers’ compensation.
Risks of Injury to Landscapers
Landscaping tough business. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), landscaping is one of the highest hazard industries in the service sector. Studies have found that non-fatal injuries for landscapers are disproportionately high in comparison to other industries. Similarly, the CDC has found that the fatality rate per 100,000 workers in the landscaping industry is greater than 6.5 times that for all industries.
The most common injuries to landscapers include:
Contact with Objects or Equipment. These types of accidents and injuries happen when a landscape worker is either struck by, struck against, or compressed by objects or equipment. The use of machinery or equipment is the most common type of contact-related accidents and injuries. For instance, trimming trees and bushes, mowing, or digging all require the use of equipment. Also, workers can be hit by falling objects such as logs, trees or branches, which has accounted for a surprisingly high death rate.
Falls from Elevation. Falls for landscape workers often occur when workers fall from trees, off of ladders, or into holes. These types of falls can be caused by a broken tree branch, compromised safety lines, and slippery or unsteady ladders or structural equipment. Similar to slip and fall accidents, landscaping falls can also occur when a worker slips, trips, or stumbles on or over a hazardous condition.
Transportation. Landscape workers usually travel to the different homes and businesses they serve. Transportation-related injuries are similar to motor vehicle crashes where the landscapers are injured in a crash on their way to or from a customer’s location. Transportation accidents can also occur when transporting tools and machinery or when a tractor or mower rolls over onto a landscape worker.
While these are just a few types of landscaping injuries, the possibilities are endless. A landscape injury for purposes of workers’ compensation doesn’t need to occur from typical accidents. Landscape work is physically demanding on the body. Many other types of injures include back strains, shoulder injuries, knee injuries, etc…from over-exertion and hard work. Just about any part of the human body can be hurt performing landscaping services.
Legal Options Available to Injured Landscapers in Massachusetts
With the risk of injury being so high for landscapers and the seriousness of some of these injuries, workers should know what legal options they have available to them if they are hurt on the job in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation
The Workers’ Compensation Act in Massachusetts requires the vast majority of employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance for the benefit of their employees. Landscaping businesses are included. The workers’ compensation insurance policies are in effect to offer specific benefits to workers who are injured on the job.
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. Disability benefits are another form of benefits available to injured workers. Disability benefits act to replace a portion of the wages they are unable to earn because of their work injury.
Additionally, worker compensation in Massachusetts offers certain benefits for loss of function, scarring and disfigurement as well as education and vocational rehabilitation benefits to qualifying workers.
Landscape service workers should be familiar with what benefits are available if they are injured on the job, especially considering the risk of injury is so high. If you are a landscaper and have been injured on the job and are not sure if you are entitled to workers’ compensation, you should contact an experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney right away.
Third-Party Personal Injury Actions
Third-party claims arise often in work-related accidents and injuries. It is a situation where a worker is hurt on the job in an accident caused by a third party (someone other than your employer or a co-worker). The reason for this distinction is that the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act precludes, in the majority of circumstances, an injured worker from suing his or her employer for an injury suffered on the job.
A great way to understand this type of legal situation is with an example. We represented a landscaper who was severely injured on the job in Dover, Massachusetts. The landscaper was struck by a motor vehicle while he was loading equipment onto the landscaping trailer. This injured worker was able to collect workers’ compensation benefits because he was hurt on the job and, in addition, recovered significant compensation from the negligent third party motor vehicle that struck him.
Recovery on the third-party claim happened because our office was able to establish that the third-party was negligent. That’s the key in these matters - the third-party must be shown to have been negligent or careless in order for an injured worker to recover compensation from the third party. In contrast, workers’ compensation benefits are considered no-fault benefits. That means it doesn’t matter who was at fault. If the worker was hurt on the job, regardless of how it happened, he or she would be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
Where Can Injured Landscapers Get Legal Help?
Here at Mahaney & Pappas, LLP, we specialize in helping injured workers after being seriously injured on the job. We also specialize in personal injury law, which includes third-party claims and lawsuits.
We understand how hectic and stressful it is to be seriously hurt and unable to work and earn money for yourself and your family. Matters are only made worse when the expensive medical bills begin piling up. It can be difficult and confusing to navigate the Massachusetts workers’ compensation process. We are here to help.
If you have been injured in a landscaping accident in Massachusetts, feel free to reach out to our experienced attorneys at (508) 879-3500. We are more than happy to explain to you your legal rights, answer your questions and concerns, and protect your legal rights to compensation and benefits.