Section 28 Chapter 152: Willful Misconduct of Employer; Defense; Reimbursement of Insurer; Employment of Minor; Mentally Retarded Persons; Injuries at Sheltered Workshops
Before we discuss the details and protections of Section 28 of Chapter 152 of the Massachusetts General Laws (MGL), it is important to understand the reason we have a workers’ compensation system. A better understanding of the historical backdrop helps with understanding the reasoning behind the legal framework.
As our Boston workers’ compensation lawyers can explain, at the start of the industrial revolution around the 1850s, workers were employed in factory jobs in numbers and ways that were never possible before. Even before Henry Ford invented the assembly system of production, there were workers at factories working many hours in terrible conditions, and they were being injured or killed on a regular basis.
This was seen not just with factory jobs but also into the next century with workers in the construction fields. With steel-frame concrete construction, and electricity to pump water up to higher levels, buildings were being constructed higher than ever. With the invention of electric pumps, water could be pumped to tanks on the tops of skyscrapers, and allowing for indoor plumbing at any height. However, constructing these building was dangerous work. Not only were many workers injured on the job, many were killed. Many considered this acceptable, as the workers were mostly immigrants and had few rights at that time.
Eventually, the workers who were injured on the job or their families would sue the employer for their losses. Employers, afraid of being sued all the time, lobbied for a system to protect them from liability. Similarly, injured workers sought protections to ensure their financial and medical security in the event they were unable to work. As a result, the workers’ compensation system was bor. In the 1970s, the workers’ compensation system was established in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
As our attorneys know, this system was put in place not only to protect the workers, but also to limit the exposure of the employers. Employers worked with workers’ compensation insurance companies, who were really driving this movement behind the scenes, to set up the system and to limit it to lost wage recoupment and coverage medical treatment. This meant injured workers could not collect damages for pain and suffering. Today, this remains true, and an injured worker on workers’ compensation cannot collect pain and suffering from their employer. There are some very limited exceptions to this rule.
The Massachusetts workers’ compensation system is known as an exclusive remedy system. This means that if a worker is eligible to apply for workers’ compensation benefits, he or she cannot file a personal injury lawsuit against his or her employer, fulfilling the hopes of the workers’ compensation law drafters.No-Fault System
In order to provide some benefits and incentives to the employees for the creation of workers’ compensation, the system was set up so that the injured worker does not need to prove fault of the employer to qualify for benefits. Unlike in civil personal injury lawsuits, in the vast majority of workers’ compensation cases whether your employer was at fault for your Boston workplace injury does not matter. If the worker was an employee within the meaning of the Workers’ Compensation Act, not an independent contractor, and was injured while working he or she is likely eligible to file a workers’ compensation claim. Even if the accident did not happen at the employer’s physical location, the injured worker may still be entitled to benefits of they were acting within the scope of their employment.Employer’s Fault in Boston Workplace Accidents
While fault doesn’t matter in the vast majority of workers’ compensation cases, it is possible to in very rare circumstances to get additional benefits when an accident occurs because of your employer’s actions. Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 152, Section 28 of the Workers’ Compensation Act allows for additional compensation if the employee is injured because of the serious and willful conduct of your employer. In such circumstances, a double recovery is possible. The conduct can technically be the actions of your employer personally or another person who is working as an agent of the employer, such as a manager or supervisor. Meeting the willful and wanton standard is very difficult and only exceptional cases will qualify. As a result, it is important to talk with an experienced worker’s compensation attorney who will best know if your accident meets the standard.
A section 28 claim for double payments can also be found if the employer knowingly hires a minor in violation of other sections of the Massachusetts General Laws. Employing a minor in violation of the general laws is considered a willful and wanton act, with respect to any injuries that are suffered by the minor while on the job. The term minor as used in the statute is defined as anyone under the age of 18, as well as persons mentally disabled regardless of age.
If you believe your employer has engaged in willful misconduct which resulted in your work accident injuries, you should speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. You will not be able to file a personal injury claim against your employer, but you may have a right to double the amount of workers’ compensation to which you would otherwise be entitled. Remember, few cases meet the necessary requirements, but you should speak with an attorney who can weigh the individual facts of your situation. When employers overstep bounds and exploit or fail to protect vulnerable employees, they can and should be held to account.
Contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman today for a free and confidential consultation.
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