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Massachusetts’ Highest Court Rules that Newspaper Delivery Person Was Independent Contractor and Thus Ineligible for Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Legal News GavelIn a Cape Cod workers’ compensation case, there are several things that a claimant must prove in order to recover benefits such as paid medical care and temporary disability benefits. First and foremost, the claimant must be able to prove that he or she was an employee of the entity from which he or she seeks compensation.

This may sound simple enough – either the claimant worked for the defendant, or he or she did not, right? Actually, the question of whether a claimant was an “employee” as that term is defined in the law can be a rather complex issue. If the alleged “employer” is able to show that the alleged “employee” was, instead, an independent contractor, the claimant’s case is likely to fail.

Facts of the Case

In a workers’ compensation case recently decided by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, the claimant was a woman who began working as a newspaper delivery agent in 2001. She worked for a company that provided home delivery service for newspaper publishers. The company itself did not publish newspapers. Contracts signed by the claimant over a period of years identified her as an independent contractor. In 2010, the claimant fell and hurt her knee and hand while loading newspapers into her personal vehicle, which she used to deliver papers to customers.

The claimant filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits in 2012, but her claim was met with an objection from the company’s workers’ compensation insurance company. An administrative law judge initially directed the insurer to pay temporary total incapacity benefits. After the insurer requested a hearing, however, the judge determined that the claimant was an independent contractor and thus was not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. The reviewing board affirmed. The claimant appealed, and the supreme judicial court transferred the case from the intermediate appellate court on its own initiative.

Decision of the Court

The court affirmed the determination of the reviewing board, holding that the claimant was an independent contractor rather than an “employee,” and, therefore, she was not entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits. In so holding, the court determined that the independent contractor statute codified at Massachusetts General Laws ch. 149, § 148B was not to be used in determining employment status for workers’ compensation claims under Massachusetts General Laws ch. 152.

Seek Legal Advice from a Cape Cod Work Injury Lawyer

If you have been hurt at work, you should talk to an attorney who can protect your legal rights. At the Law Offices of John C. Manoog, III, we routinely represent those who have been injured on the job. For a free consultation with an experienced Cape Cod workers’ compensation lawyer, call us at 888-262-6664 to schedule an appointment in our Hyannis or Plymouth offices. If needed, we can arrange for a visit to your home or hospital room so that we can get started on your case right away.

Related Blog Posts:

Massachusetts Court Refuses to Disturb ALJ’s Denial of Workers’ Compensation Benefits Without Supporting Medical Evidence on Appeal

When Causal Connection Existed Between Massachusetts Worker’s Industrial Accident and Subsequent Injury, Worker Was Due Workers’ Compensation Benefits