The Workers’ Compensation Act (ACT) provides that an injury for which compensation can be provided is a personal injury arising out of and in the course of his employment.
What does “personal Injury” mean?
A ‘personal injury’ is broadly defined as any “lesion or change in any part of the system that produces harm or pain or a lessened facility of the natural use of any bodily activity or capability.” Any injury that decreases ones earning capacity is generally considered a personal injury.
Personal injuries do not include claims for things such as defamation, malicious prosecution, violations of civil rights, false imprisonment, or invasion of privacy. If an injury is not a personal injury, then the employee will not receive workers compensation payments, however, the employee is no longer bared from bring a suit against the employer.
Injuries may occur over a longer period of time, such as with exposure to a harmful chemical or stress-related injuries. However, the Act does not cover “wear and tear” caused by a particular type of work. Thus, while a single event is not necessary for coverage, it is necessary to point to a specific incident or series of incidents which caused the injury or that the condition is not inevitable in the particular line of work.
What does “arising out of” and “in the course of his employment” mean?
Generally this part of the definition of covered injuries is construed broadly. “Arising out of” refers to the cause of the injury – both direct duties and actives that are incidental to duties, such as breaking an ankle in the employer’s parking lot or while staying in a hotel while on a trip required by the employer. “In the course of” refers to the time, place, and circumstances surrounding the injury. One long standing rule that comes out of this is that employers are not responsible for the “comings and goings” of employees, their travel to and from work.
* This is the third of an eight part series on the Massachusetts Workers Compensation Act. Read part 2 here.
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