A man was seriously injured in an accident in Framingham, Massachusetts. The accident occurred while the man was at work and was caused by a negligent third-party. In Massachusetts and under these circumstances, when a worker is hurt on the job in an accident caused by another person, the injured worker is eligible for workers’ compensation benefits and may seek compensation from the at-fault third-party.
A bodily injury claim was filed on behalf of the injured man against the negligent third-party and a Massachusetts workers’ compensation claim was filed with his employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier. In the end, Attorney Pappas recovered $100,000 from the negligent third-party and secured a $240,000 lump sum settlement from workers’ compensation.
Here’s How the Accident Happened
On a beautiful summer morning in late June, this man reported to work at a donut shop in Framingham, Massachusetts. He punched in as he did every morning and began his daily tasks. An hour or so into his workday, he began gathering some rubbish that needed to be thrown out. There was a dumpster at the back of the parking lot of the donut shop. Our client pushed a trash barrel full of rubbish in the parking lot toward the dumpster.
While he proceeded to the dumpster, a woman who had bought her morning coffee got back into her car and hurriedly began to back out of her parking spot. She was distracted by the morning rush and her coffee and didn’t look behind her as she backed up. Regrettably, she struck our client with her car knocking him to the ground and injuring him.
An Overview of the Injuries Suffered
This accident caused the man to suffer serious injuries. After being hit by the car, an ambulance was called to the scene. He was transported to a local emergency room in Natick, Massachusetts. The emergency room doctors had x-rays taken, which revealed a fracture in the man’s left foot. There was also an injury to his right shoulder and cervical spine (neck). He was released with a boot for his foot and his arm in a sling. He was given a referral to an orthopedic doctor.
The orthopedic doctor ordered an MRI of the man’s right shoulder due to the symptoms and limitations. The MRI showed an irreparable rotator cuff tear. Initially, our client underwent a cortisone injection and attempted physical therapy. When conservative treatment failed, the orthopedic doctor recommended a reverse total shoulder arthroplasty. After this surgical procedure, our client again commenced a course of physical therapy.
Luckily, the broken bone in the man’s foot did not require surgery. He also had some ligament injuries in his left foot. He completed several courses of physical therapy for his left foot and ankle. Fortunately, the physical therapy helped him regain his strength and mobility in his foot.
The Workers’ Compensation Claim
As stated above, since this man was on the job at the time of the accident, he was eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. In Massachusetts, when a worker is injured at work and his or her injuries prevent the return to work, the worker is eligible for temporary total disability benefits. This is precisely what Attorney Pappas was able to obtain for the client.
When our client began receiving his temporary total disability benefits, Attorney Pappas uncovered that the insurance company should have been paying his client much more than they were. This is because the worker had more than one job at the time of the accident. In Massachusetts, when an injured worker has concurrent employment at the time of a work-related accident, the wages earned at both jobs are added together when calculating the employee’s average weekly wage. This is very important because the workers’ compensation disability benefits are based on the employee’s average weekly wage. Thus, a greater the average weekly wage results in more weekly disability benefits. Immediate action was taken to include the wages from the concurrent employment, which in turn recovered nearly double the amount of the weekly disability benefits for the client.
Since the man’s injures were very serious and he treated for an extensive time period, his temporary total disability benefits ran out. Remember, in Massachusetts temporary total disability benefits are available for three years (or 156 weeks). When the three years ends, the benefits either end completely or they can revert to temporary partial disability benefits. However, in cases like this one where the injuries are very severe, permanent and total disability benefits may be sought. In some situations, the workers’ compensation insurer will voluntarily pay the permanent and total disability benefits. In others, the injured employee will need to file a claim for them. In this case, Attorney Pappas was able to successfully negotiate the voluntary payment of permanent and total disability benefits with the workers’ compensation insurance company. The advantages of permanent and total disability benefits are they do not expire (they are available for life or as long as the injured worker remains permanently disabled) and they offer more weekly disability benefits than total or partial disability benefits.
After obtaining permanent and total disability benefits for this workers, Attorney Pappas began to seek a lump sum settlement for his client. After extensive negotiations, Attorney Pappas secured a $240,000 lump sum settlement for his client.
The Third-Party Negligence Action
Normally an injured workers’ only source of compensation comes from their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company. However, if a worker is injured on the job and the accident was caused by a negligent third-party (e.g., a person or entity unrelated to the employer) the injured worker may pursue additional compensation against the third-party who caused the accident.
Because this accident was caused by a third-party (the customer of the coffee shop), this client had the ability to seek additional compensation from the third-party. This was done by way of a personal injury claim. Attorney Pappas filed a bodily injury claim with the third-party’s auto insurance company. In the end and after thorough negotiations, Attorney Pappas secure a $100,000 settlement from the auto insurance carrier.
Handling the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lien
Because this worker was injured on the job and was receiving workers’ compensation benefits, the workers’ compensation insurance company had a statutory lien on any recovery from the third-party. This is generally referred to as the workers’ compensation lien.
Initially, the workers’ compensation insurer would not agree to a reduction in the lien. Attorney Pappas took strategic legal action and filed a lawsuit specifically to seek a reduction in the workers’ compensation lien. This is exactly what happened. Attorney Pappas was able to obtain a significant reduction in the workers’ compensation lien, which resulted in more money for his client.
This injured worker recovered the total amount of $340,000 ($240,000 from the worker’s compensation lump sum settlement and $100,000 from the third-party personal injury claim).