What exactly is workers’ compensation?
Workers’ Compensation is a benefit providing for medical treatment, payments and wage continuation for employees who are injured on the job. Workers’ Compensation is controlled by M.G.L.C. 152.
Who administers workers’ compensation in Massachusetts?
The Department of Industrial Accidents is responsible for the administration of the Workers’ Compensation Act.
Are all private employers required to carry workers’ compensation
Yes. Any private employer who employs at least one person is required to
carry workers’ compensation insurance.
What should I do if I am injured on the job?
First, report your injury to your employer (supervisor) immediately to
avoid any doubt that the injury arose out of or in the course of employment.
Second, get the names of all persons who witnessed your injury. If possible, secure signed statements as to what each witness said or heard.
Third, seek medical attention from a doctor or hospital, making sure you
explain that you sustained your injury at work. If you company has medical facilities, you may utilize them for the immediate treatment of your injury.
What if my injury is only minor in nature?
An injury should still be reported to your employer no matter how slight
it appears to you. Complications may arise that result in disability, often occurring several days after the initial injury. You should protect your rights in the event that this happens.
Do I have to pay for my own medical treatment bills?
No. Part of the benefits to you is payment by the insurance company of your medical bills that are reasonable and necessary and related to your injury. Your prescription costs are also covered.
I’ve been injured at work and I’ve notified my employer. How do I get
the compensation I’m entitled to?
There are three possibilities.
First, the insurer may agree to pay you benefits without prejudice but may unilaterally terminate these benefits within 180 days.
Second, the insurer may agree that your injury was work related and accept liability. Then, you may enter into an Agreement to Pay Compensation, which must be approved by the Department of Industrial
Finally, if the insurer does not accept liability; you may file a claim wherein a proceeding will take place before a Judge at the Department of Industrial Accidents to determine whether or not you are entitled to benefits.
What should I do if my employer’s insurance company informs me that I am not entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits even though I have suffered a personal injury on the job?
I would advise you to immediately consult with an attorney. It is then a matter for an Administrative Judge at the Department of Industrial Accidents to decide whether or not you are entitled to compensation.
The insurance company does not have the final say.
I sustained an injury at work and am presently totally disabled from
gainful employment. How much compensation am I entitled to?
You are entitled to 60% of your average weekly wage not to exceed
the current maximum weekly compensation rate in effect, and is subject to change on a yearly basis.
I was injured on the job and am receiving workers’ compensation benefits.
The insurance company has requested that I be examined by its doctor.
Am I required to let this doctor examine me?
Yes. The insurer has a right to have its doctor examine you, and will pay your travel expenses to and from this doctor’s office.
What if I’m not sure if my injury is compensable? Who should I seek advice from?
In cases where you are uncertain as to whether or not your injury is compensable, I recommend you consult with an attorney and/or with your union representative.
I received a one hundred eighty (180) day extension form in the mail from the insurer. What is this form and should I sign it?
The law provides that the insurer and the employee may agree to extend the period during which the insurer may pay the employee without prejudice. Whether an employee should sign this form varies from case to case, and it is recommended that you consult your attorney and/or union representative before making such a decision.
I was injured at work. Can I apply for Social Security benefits as well as
workers’ compensation benefits?
Yes. In certain circumstances you may be eligible for Social Security
benefits as well as workers’ compensation benefits. I recommend that you seek competent advice in regard to the eligibility requirements and procedure to be followed when applying for Social Security Benefits.
As a result of a work injury, I have permanent limited use of a specific
body part. Am I entitled to any additional benefits?
Yes. The Workers’ Compensation Act provides for benefits in addition to
lost wages and medical costs, including, permanent loss of function for various body parts, as well as, disfigurement (face, neck and hands only). How much you are owed is based upon a schedule set out under Section 36 of the Workers’ Compensation Act.
My doctor feels that I will not be able to return to the same line of work. I
am not permanently and totally disabled. Am I eligible for any retraining?
Yes. You may be eligible to apply for vocational rehabilitation services
through the Office of Education and Vocational Rehabilitation at the Department of Industrial Accidents, 600 Washington Street, Boston,
Should I hire an attorney to process my workers’ compensation claim?
The Workers’ Compensation Act is a law to protect the interests of the injured worker. However, it is written in general terms to cover many different situations. Thus, the law is open for interpretation. Although you are permitted to represent yourself before the Department of Industrial Accidents, it is advisable to hire an attorney to protect your rights.
The insurance company has adjusters whose job it is to be very familiar with the law. In addition, if your case goes before a Judge at the Department of Industrial Accidents, the insurance company will have an experienced attorney representing them, and you should be equally represented.
What if I can’t afford an attorney?
Most attorneys take workers’ compensation cases on a contingent fee
basis so you don’t have to worry about paying them. If you win your case, your attorney will be paid. If you lose, your attorney will not be paid but will be entitled to receive reimbursement from you for his out of pocket