Section 33, Chapter 152: Burial Expenses
When a worker is killed on the job in Boston or elsewhere in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the workers’ compensation insurance carrier is responsible for reasonable burial expenses pursuant to Section 33 of Chapter 152 of the Massachusetts General Laws. The statute plainly states that in all cases, the insurer is required to pay reasonable burial expenses.
While this is generally not a heavily litigated point, our Boston workers’ compensation attorneys know some issues do arise. We work to help families obtain all the benefits to which they are entitled so that they are not swimming in debt as they mourn the loss of their loved one and grapple with the sudden loss of family income their death has caused.
Third Party Lawsuits in Boston Workers’ Compensation Death Cases
In cases where an employee was killed on the job, the family may suffer far more substantial an economic loss that is typically compensable under the workers’ compensation act. Families of deceased workers will often need to look at additional avenues of recovery, and where there is a third-party negligently responsible for the employee’s death, there may be such as avenue of recovery in the form of a personal injury lawsuit.
As our Boston workers’ compensation attorneys can explain, workers’ compensation is typically a single recovery system. This means that if you are an employee and you are injured or even killed on the job, a workers’ compensation claim is generally the only way to recover any compensation. You cannot file a civil personal injury lawsuit against your employer if you are eligible to apply for workers’ compensation benefits.
If you are injured due to the negligence of a third party while on the job, you can file a workers’ compensation claim AND a claim against the negligent third party in the form of a personal injury/wrongful death lawsuit. Special damages could potentially be recovered, including pain and suffering. If the claim is for wrongful death, your family could seek reimbursement for funeral expenses. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that there can be no double recovery. Under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 152, Section 15, the workers’ compensation insurance company is entitled to reimbursement for any wages or medical expenses they paid for as part of the workers’ compensation case.
For example, if your family received $4,000 in burial expenses pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 152 Section 33, and then your family received $9,000 from the third-party defendant, your family would have to reimburse the insurance company for the $4,000. While this might seem like an unfair result, your family would still receive the $5,000 from the personal injury lawsuit.
A typical third-party claim often arises in a Boston workplace accident when an employee is required to drive somewhere or ride in a car or truck. If that employee is injured in a car accident while working, and it was the fault of a person who does not also work at the company, there may be a third party claim. The driver of the at-fault vehicle would be considered a third party from whom the injured worker, or the injured workers’ family, could potentially recover. If the at-fault individual was a coworker, he or she would not be a third-party, so there would be no civil case that could be filed.
Another type of case in which a workplace injury is the fault of a third-party is when the injury was caused by a vendor or worker from another company. We see this a lot with construction accidents, where there are many different subcontractors working on the same project. If the forklift operator works for a different firm than the mason and hits the mason, he may be a third party. Big box stores may be another example where many different vendors come into the store to stock product and set up displays. If an employee was injured by an outside vendor, might be sufficient to file a personal injury lawsuit.
If your loved one was killed or injured at work, we understand money is not your top priority, but we also know it’s likely to be a looming concern. Our law firm will work to help you regain your financial footing by exploring every possible avenue of recovery.
Contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman today for a free and confidential consultation.