Estate precluded from Wrongful Death Case against employer in MA because of Workers Comp. Statute
In Massachusetts, an employee cannot pursue a wrongful death case as a result of a fatal accident against his or her employer for an injury that happens at work unless he gives written notice at the start of the employment. Therefore, the decedent’s estate is limited to collecting damages as allowed by the Mass. Wrongful Death statute (Chapter 152). https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleXXI/Chapter152
This rule applies in all work related injuries including work related truck accidents, construction accidents, slip and fall, car accidents as well as premises liability claims. Of Course, the Estate for a decedent could still pursue damages against other third parties who are not the employer. For example, an the estate of an employee working as dump truck operator could file a wrongful death case against the negligent operator of motor vehicle who was involved in a fatal MA car collision which caused his death.
The MA Workers Compensation statute states in pertinent part:
“Section 24. An employee shall be held to have waived his right of action at common law or under the law of any other jurisdiction in respect to an injury that is compensable under this chapter, to recover damages for personal injuries, if he shall not have given his employer, at the time of his contract of hire, written notice that he claimed such right, or, if the contract of hire was made before the employer became an insured person or self-insurer, if the employee shall not have given the said notice within thirty days of the time said employer became an insured person or self-insurer.” THE TRAGIC CASE of SAAB v. MASSACHUSETTS CVS PHARMACY LLC, 452 – Mass. 564 (2008) http://caselaw.findlaw.com/ma-supreme-judicial-court/1146055.html
The Mass. Workers Compensation statute was enacted to make it easier for MA workers to receive quick compensation for personal injuries at work without proving any negligence on behalf of the employer. Please consult with a MA Personal Injury Attorney or Workers Compensation lawyer if you are in need of legal representation in Mass.
In Saab, an 18 year old young man attempted to apprehend a shoplifter while working at CVS . The Shoplifter pulled out a knife and killed the Young man. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that The young man’s parents were precluded from obtaining any recovery as a result of the language of the Massachusetts Workers Compensation Statute.
In Saab, the Young man who was killed while working “Giambrone was employed at a CVS store on Longwood Avenue in Boston. In February, 2004, while at work, Giambrone and other employees attempted to apprehend a suspected shoplifter. The suspect responded violently, stabbing Giambrone in the neck with a knife. Giambrone died at the scene shortly thereafter. At the time of his death, Giambrone was an eighteen year old high school student who lived at his mother’s home. He was financially dependent on both parents and had no dependents himself.” SAAB v. MASSACHUSETTS CVS PHARMACY LLC
The Saab Court set forth the issue presented: “We consider in this case whether an exclusivity provision of the Workers’ Compensation Act (act), G.L. c. 152, § 24 (§ 24), bars an employee’s parents from bringing a wrongful death claim against his employer where the employee is injured at work but no workers’ compensation payments are paid for the injury. Here, the employee, Cristian Ribeiro Giambrone, who had no dependents, died almost immediately. Accordingly, no benefits were paid under the workers’ compensation statutory scheme. See G.L. c. 152, § 31 (benefits payable to employee’s dependents on death of employee).” Id.
The Court ruled that: “Accordingly, any remedies against CVS for any wrong suffered as a result of his injury are subject to the strictures of § 24. To hold otherwise-to condition compensability on the payment of compensation-risks “undercut[ting] the legislative scheme.” Id.
Contact an experienced Massachusetts Attorney dealing with Work Injuries and related claims, to fight for your rights!