INSIGHTS On Massachusetts Personal Injury Law

Welcome to the SUGARMAN blog. We'll be sharing our perspectives on the state of the law and current legal issues in Massachusetts personal injury law. Issues relating to medical malpractice, construction site injuries, premises liability, product liability, motor vehicle accidents, insurance, and more will all be reviewed here by our team of lawyers who have prosecuted some of the most complex cases in Massachusetts personal injury law.

Articles Posted in Third Party Liability

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When DePuy issued the United States recall of the ASR artificial hip systems, it announced that it would pay for the necessary, medical replacement treatment for patients suffering complications as a result of the ASR hip.  But the manner in which DePuy is handling patient reimbursement is gaining criticism on several fronts. It is not uncommon when a medical device is recalled for the company to voluntarily pay out of pocket patient expenses associated with the recall. Usually the company will handle both the recall and the resulting expense claims directly.  When subsequent medical treatment is required, the recalling company typically accepts a treating physician’s recommendation about the need to remove or replace the device, and the cost associated with the necessary treatment.

Rather than follow this established procedure, DePuy has hired a third party — Broadspire Services Inc, — to administer patient claims for out of pocket expenses associated with the ASR hip recall. Broadspire advertises itself as providing “risk management services” for “employers and insurance companies.” Before being retained by DePuy, it typically managed workers compensation and other medical claims on behalf of insurance companies and employers.
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It is fairly common knowledge that if you get hurt on the job your employer has to provide Workers’ Compensation benefits while you recover from your injuries. Those benefits include a percentage of your average weekly wages and medical treatment for any work related injuries. Irrespective of who was at fault, your employer must provide these benefits by law. What many people may not know is that, in return, your employer enjoys complete immunity from any lawsuits arising out of work related accidents. An employee receiving workers’ compensation is barred from suing his employer (and fellow employees) for injuries sustained on the job. Immunity extends only to the employer, however, employees injured by third parties have the right to seek damages for injuries caused by another’s negligence.

For example, construction projects typically involve a variety of trades working on the same site. If an employee from a plumbing sub-contractor was injured because an electrical sub-contractor allowed a dangerous condition to exist, the injured worker has the right to sue the electrical sub-contractor for third party negligence. Another potential defendant in this scenario might include the general contractor for failing to have an appropriate safety procedure at the site that would have eliminated the dangerous condition. These liability claims against other contractors are known as “third-party claims”
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