Workplace Personal Injuries in Massachusetts
As a Massachusetts personal injury lawyer, we often represent families where the person injured was engaged in his or her employment at the time of the injury. Frequently this is a construction type of accident, in which both worker’s compensation and Massachusetts third party liability is involved. Thus, it’s important to see what are the most dangerous jobs in Massachusetts.
In 2011, the most dangerous job in Massachusetts was firefighting. Perhaps it was particularly awful year, but in 2011, 13 firefighters died from work related injuries. That was 22% of all work related deaths in 2011. Firefighters face numerous job related dangers including exposure to carcinogens, lung disease and cardiac illness from stress.
The leader in 2010 was construction, with 10 deaths; construction related deaths were reduced to 8 in 2011. This information is from the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health report issued this month. The total number of workplace deaths in 2011 was 58, while the number in 2010 was 47.
It is not clear what this means statistically, but the loss is even more tragic when we learn that the leading causes of death was Massachusetts motor vehicle accidents. This was true in 2010 as well, with 12 fatalities each year. The next leading cause of workplace deaths was workplace violence, with 6 fatalities. Drowning was the third, with 5 losses.
What the study doesn’t highlight, but what we are concerned with as well, is that there were 50,000 serious injuries sustained at work in 2011. We will examine the breakdown of these injuries at another time.
One of the overall workplace injury problems is the temporary hiring of low skilled labor. This is especially true when the workers have limited English ability and the jobs are dangerous. Apparently this is especially true when the workers work for temporary agencies, where there may be less training.
Massachusetts does not have an independent Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration like many other states. OSHA laws tend to be responsible for increased workplace safety and are associated with employers taking action rather than simply paying nominal fines.
Firefighters and police officers tend to have excellent worker’s compensation systems. Union construction jobs have good plans as well, however, they are still subject to the Massachusetts worker’s compensation laws, which at best provide only 60% of your lost earnings. As a personal injury lawyer in Massachusetts, I see many “third party” injury cases. That is, those cases in which the worker has a claim against a third party for their injuries. For example, if you are driving for work and a truck rear ends you and you are injured, you have a third party claim against the driver and owner of that truck. The same is true if you are a construction worker on a worksite where another company’s worker’s negligence causes your injuries. Many times folks do not realize that they have a third party claim because they never consult with an experienced construction accident attorney.
Another issue in Massachusetts is repetitive injuries or stress related injuries where employers are more reluctant than in traumatic injuries to agree to pay a worker’s compensation claim.
For a consultation on a third party injury claim, call us for a free consultation at 617-227-7423.