Out-of-state employees injured or killed in Massachusetts may be entitled to higher Massachusetts workers' compensation benefits if injured while in the course of their employment in Massachusetts

October 18, 2011
By Parker Scheer LLP on October 18, 2011 1:58 PM |

In today's mobile economy it is not unusual for a person hired in the Midwest to be assigned temporarily to work out of state. While one might think that this limits such an employee to workers' compensation benefits for the state in which he was hired or where his employer is located, this is not necessarily true.

Massachusetts law provides that it has jurisdiction over workplace injuries that occur within its borders regardless of the residence of the injured employee, or his employer. As Massachusetts benefits are amongst the highest in the country, it is essential that an employee injured in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts while working for an out-of-state employer consider filing his claim here.

Massachusetts also has jurisdiction over cases involving workplace injuries in other states if the injured employee was hired in Massachusetts. Several years ago, a New Hampshire resident working for a Pennsylvania corporation was injured while working in New Jersey. Under these facts one might assume that Massachusetts has absolutely no jurisdiction whatsoever. This was not the case, however, as that employee was hired in Massachusetts. In that case, the injured worker's weekly workers' compensation benefits increased by more than 35% over the payments made by the workers' compensation insurance company under New Jersey law after his claim was filed in Massachusetts.

Likewise, if an injured worker, hired in another state, is the victim of a workplace injury in Massachusetts, the Massachusetts rates will apply provided that a claim is filed in Massachusetts. These principles are applicable regardless of the nature of the claim or injury. If an employee is tragically killed in a Massachusetts workplace accident, his survivors are entitled to bring a claim in the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents seeking the typically higher Massachusetts workers' compensation rates.

The rate of weekly workers' compensation benefits are not the only reason that an out-of- state employee, injured in Massachusetts, may seek to establish jurisdiction in Massachusetts. Most states prohibit lawsuits against employers for work place injuries or death otherwise covered by workers' compensation. Massachusetts provides that workers' compensation payments, including those for medical expenses, are doubled "If the employee is injured by reason of the serious and willful misconduct of an employer or of any person regularly intrusted with and exercising the powers of superintendence." This involves a heightened standard, but is often applicable in situations in which an employer fails to provide proper safety equipment, fall protection, or forces an employee to use equipment known to be unsafe.

As in all instances involving serious injury or death, it is advisable to contact an attorney who is experienced in these complicated jurisdictional questions. To speak with a highly experienced workers' compensation lawyer, click here, or telephone Parker Scheer LLP seven days a week, toll free at 886-414-0400. There is no fee charged to discuss your case, and all information furnished, will be kept strictly confidential.