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Massachusetts’ Three-Year Statute of Limitation Applied to Subrogation Claim for Injuries to Construction Worker from Another State

Most people are at least vaguely aware that there are deadlines for filing a claim in a Cape Cod work injury case. The particulars of those procedural rules, however, are not as widely understood. As the following case indicates, sometimes the statutes of limitations can even be a matter of dispute, due to the unique facts of a given case.

If you or someone in your family has been hurt at work, it is best to talk to a lawyer right away. A knowledgeable work injury attorney will talk to you about the details of your accident and advise you of the procedure for protecting your claim and your legal rights.

Waiting too long to take legal action can result in total forfeiture of an otherwise valid claim, so it important to understand the necessary steps in your particular case. It is important to note that, while there are general statutes of limitation for workers’ compensation cases, the circumstances of your particular case may alter that general timeline. This is especially true in cases involving product injury, injuries out of state, and accidents that were caused by the negligence of a governmental entity.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiffs were the employer of a construction worker who was seriously injured on a construction site at a high school in Massachusetts  and the employer’s workers’ compensation carrier. The plaintiffs filed suit against the contractor, various subcontractors, the maker of a retractable lifeline that allegedly failed (thus causing the accident), and others, asserting various claims (including subrogation, negligence, breach of warranty, and breach of contract, among others). Notably, the construction worker, the contractor, and several of the subcontractors were residents of Connecticut; the manufacturer of the lifeline was a German company.

The trial court dismissed the plaintiffs’ suit on the grounds that it was time-barred by Connecticut’s two-year statute of limitations for negligence actions.

The Appellate Court’s Decision

On appeal to the Massachusetts Appeals Court, the plaintiffs argued that the lower tribunal had erroneously applied Connecticut law to the case. In the plaintiff’s view, the trial court should have measured the limitations period according to the three-year statute of limitations codified at Massachusetts General Laws ch. 260, § 2A, rather than the shorter period allowed under Connecticut law. After weighing the respective arguments of the parties, the appellate court agreed with the plaintiffs and reversed the lower court’s order dismissing the suit on limitations grounds.

In so holding, the court found that an appropriate approach for determining which state’s law applied was to consider the statute of limitations that would have governed the suit had the construction worker himself filed the action. Given that the accident took place in Massachusetts, the construction worker’s right of action would have been in Massachusetts, and hence the three-year limitations period would have applied. The fact that the plaintiffs were “standing in the shoes” of the construction worker via a subrogation claim did not alter the result.

To Get Legal Advice About a Cape Cod Work Injury

Work-related injuries are common and can sometimes lead to lifelong physical and vocational disability. It is important to understand your legal rights as you go forward in the pursuit of fair compensation for an on-the-job accident or injury, as there are many nuances in this area of the law that can complicate what may initially seem like a straightforward case. If you have questions that you need answered by an experienced workers’ compensation attorney, call the Law Offices of John C. Manoog III at 888-262-6664. We handle a wide variety of construction accident and workers’ compensation cases throughout the Cape Cod area, including cases arising in or around Hyannis and Plymouth.

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