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Under the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act, an injured employee must file a

claim “within four years from the date the employee first became aware of the causal relationship

between his disability and his employment.” M.G.L. c. 152 § 41. This statute of limitations provision

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Under Massachusetts General Laws 152 which is the worker’s compensation statute, 1[4] “employees are described as every person in the service of another under any contract or hire, expressed, or implied, oral or written excepting…”  As to the exceptions the key exception is that there must be an employer, employee relationship and there must be a contract for hire. In order for there to be a valid contract for hire there must be an offer of employment, acceptance of the offer and consideration for the services rendered. Arguably, in a volunteer situation there is no offer of employment no acceptance, and no consideration, i.e., no salary. So under that analysis the volunteer would not be eligible to collect worker’s compensation.

However, there are exceptions to that rule. A student offered a job as a volunteer may be an exception. An employer has the benefit of that work. The volunteer has the benefit of obtaining experience and knowledge in that field. Currently in Massachusetts, there is a clear exception for high school students in this volunteer role. There is not a clear written exception for college or law school students.

On the backside of that argument is the fact that if the employee is not protected by worker’s compensation the employer is not protected by the exclusivity of worker’s compensation.  As a result, a volunteer/student could sue the employer under a direct negligence theory.

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Perhaps you voted yes on Question 4 on the state ballot on November 4, 2014 when voters passed a new sick leave law, and perhaps you’re wondering: “What now?”

Starting on July 1, 2015, employees who work at an employer that has 11 or more employees will have 40 hours of unpaid sick time each calendar year. Employees will be able to use sick time and miss work for reasons such as (1) caring for their child, spouse, or parent who has a physical or mental illness, (2) to handle their own illness, (3) to attend a routine medical appointment for themselves or a family member, or (4) to deal with the psychological, physical, or legal effects of domestic violence.

Employees do not receive 40 hours of sick time at the start of each calendar year. Instead, most employees will earn and accrue one hour of sick time for each 30 hours working. If an employer already provides paid sick time to its employees, the new law does not require an employer to provide additional time off so long as the existing policy allows employees to take time off for the same reasons outlined in the new law. When an employee leaves his or her job voluntarily or is fired, unlike accrued vacation time, an employer is not required to compensate an employee for accrued but unused sick leave. Importantly, the new law prohibits employers from retaliating against an employee who uses sick time under the new law or supports a co-worker for doing so. That means an employer cannot fire or demote an employee for using sick time under the new law.

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There are many questions to be asked when your employment ends, whether that be through a termination, lay-off, or your resignation. One such question is when will you receive your final paycheck, and how much will you be compensated for in that check? Below I briefly outline what you are entitled to, and when you should receive it, pursuant to Massachusetts wage laws.

First off, unless you have a golden-parachute clause in your employment contract, an employer is not required to provide you a severance payment. Even if other employees have received severance or you had worked for the company for a decade, Massachusetts law does not require a company make a severance payment.

The next question is “when will my former employer pay me my last paycheck.” Massachusetts law is clear; if you were terminated or laid-off, you are owed your last paycheck on the same day, if you quit, you are owed your final paycheck by the next regularly scheduled payday. To reiterate, if you are not paid your last paycheck on the day of your termination, your employer has violated Massachusetts wage laws. If your employer is late in providing you your final paycheck, or it is not for your full wages, you should contact an employment attorney at Keches Law Group.

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Steve ZoniNursing has long been considered a stable, well-paying career. Year after year, labor experts, schools, guidance counselors, and others, have steered people into the field and promised continued growth in the number of available jobs and in salaries. However, nurses face the same challenges as employees in any field. One such challenge that seems to be occurring more frequently within the medical field are employers closing down or being bought out by larger medical groups. When it comes to workplace injuries, nurses and others who work in a direct care setting may be especially prone to on-the-job injury, and many such injuries occur over the course of years.

What happens when healthcare workers are injured and their employer closes down or gets bought out?

Under the Massachusetts workers’ compensation laws, which provides injured workers with medical treatment and weekly paychecks, employers are required to provide workers’ compensation insurance coverage. In general, the workers’ compensation insurance that employers pay for cover the employer for injuries that occur during a particular period of time. Even if the employer is no longer in business, whether it closes down, gets bought, or changes its name, the insurance policy continues to stay in effect for whatever period of time it covers.

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Lauren_VanCase law in Massachusetts tells us that an injury may arise in the course and scope of an Employee’ s employment, even though the Employee is not engaged in the actual performance of his duties at the moment of the injury.

The obvious questions is, how?

“‘All that is required is that the Employee’s activity be incidental to and not inconsistent with his employment.’ ”D’Angeli’s Case, 369 Mass. 812, 816 (1976), quoting Bator’s Case, 338 Mass. 104, 106 (1958). Stated otherwise, “[t]he ‘obligations or conditions’ of employment [must] create the ‘zone of special danger’ out of which the injury arose. Id. at 817, citing O’Leary v. Brown-Pacific-Maxon, Inc., 340 U.S. 504, 506-507 (1951).

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By Steve Zoni, Esq.steve_z

10/22/14 – The Boston Globe recently ran a story titled “Mass. Nurses worry about Ebola preparedness” after two healthcare workers in Texas were diagnosed with Ebola that they contracted while caring for a patient who carried the virus. The Globe quoted Donna Kelly-Williams, President of the Massachusetts Nurses Association, as having noted that the only people who have contracted the virus within the United States have been nurses.

In the context of workers’ compensation law, the Globe’s article highlights the fact that healthcare professionals are uniquely exposed to contagious diseases. What happens when the risk becomes reality?

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Lauren_VanWhen determining whether a mechanical device, such as wheelchair, or specially equipped private transportation is compensable, and the responsibility of the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Carrier, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will evaluate your case based on a three prong approach.

PRONG #1:         Whether the accepted work injury is in any way related to the need for the

mechanical appliance sought. Do you need the wheelchair or specially equipped van as a result of injuries you sustained in a work-related accident?

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When an injured workers misses time from work, workers’ compensation laws provide a system of wage replacement. In other words, workers’ compensation insurance companies must pay the injured workers a percentage of his or her former wages. It is often said that workers’ compensation is meant to compensate injured workers for having lost the ability to earn wages.

Generally, a totally disabled worker in Massachusetts is entitled to sixty percent of the former wage, and a person who is partially disabled is entitled to forty-five percent.

Often, issues arise when determining what the employee’s former wage is. The former wage, known as the “average weekly wage,” is generally determined by taking all compensation paid to the employee during his or her last fifty two weeks of work before the injury, divided by fifty two.

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George N Keches                Brian C Dever

A 50 year old carpenter was employed installing sheet rock at a construction site.  Plaintiff was working in a staircase with a co-worker who was passing the sheet rock down to the Plaintiff from the floor above.  The Plaintiff fell off the ladder and onto the mid-floor landing below sustaining head injuries and a fractured wrist.  The precise manner of the fall was unknown.  The co-worker heard the fall, responded and found the ladder upright in the designated location.  The Plaintiff was unconscious lying on the lower mid- floor landing, approximately three feet below the upper landing.

Plaintiff alleged negligence on the part of the General Contractor for failing to conduct a Job Hazard Analysis and by allowing the use of a ladder and not scaffolding while the Plaintiff was installing the sheet rock in the stairwell.  Further Plaintiff alleged that Defendant failed to provide fall protection, as Plaintiff was exposed to a fall of more than six feet based on the open stairwell behind the Plaintiff.

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