If you’ve been injured on the job, your injuries may render you permanently and totally disabled. These injuries and the workers’ compensation system can be incredibly stressful and difficult to navigate. You owe it to yourself and your family to contact a skilled workers’ compensation attorney to help you through the process.
The workers’ compensation lawyers at the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman understand the challenges of handling these types of complex cases. Our attorneys have the experience and resources to recover the maximum possible compensation for you.
We work with medical experts and vocational experts to prove that our clients have suffered injuries that rendered them permanently and totally disabled.
We understand the serious nature of these types of cases and what’s at stake. We pride ourselves on working tirelessly for our clients to replace their paychecks with total disability workers’ compensation payments.
Whether you were injured in an office, factory, construction site or some other workplace it’s critical that you hire experienced and aggressive legal representation to help with your permanent and total disability. A seasoned workers’ compensation attorney will fight for you and help you get your life back on track.A Workers’ Compensation Attorney can Help You Prove Total Disability
How do you prove that you have a permanent and total disability and can no longer work?
What should you do if your employer or your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier disputes that you have a permanent and total disability?
A workers’ compensation lawyer can help you answer these questions and many more. An attorney knows the importance of expert medical opinions in these cases. The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman works with respected physicians who can provide expert medical reports to support your claim and bolster your case.
Our office also works with vocational experts who can help establish that you’ve suffered a permanent and total disability. Vocational experts have expertise around the skills that workers need to perform various jobs. For example, a vocational expert can explain why a construction worker with a high school education and no computer skills would have a difficult time working in an office job. In addition, a vocational expert can weigh in on how long it would take to retrain a worker, whether retraining is likely to be successful, and what job opportunities may exist in the labor market once retraining is complete.
Older workers, in particular, are often more likely to suffer a work-related injury that results in permanent and total disability. They are often more susceptible to injuries and suffer a more devastating impact than younger workers. A vocational expert can develop a report that shows how difficult it will be for an older worker to get back into the workforce after a severe injury. They use studies and statistics to show how employers are less likely to hire older workers with physical disabilities, how limited the job market is, and how hard retraining is for these individuals.
A report or testimony by a vocational expert could be the most important piece of evidence in your case.A Workers’ Compensation Attorney Can Help Settle a Total Disability Case
Often, a workers’ compensation insurer will argue that a worker does not have a permanent and total disability and is capable of working. Insurance companies frequently base their decisions on what is best for the company and its bottom line and not necessarily what’s best for you as a an injured worker. Insurers are infamous for using tactics to delay, low-ball, and dodge payment on cases.
Having a workers’ compensation attorney will put a skilled professional, familiar with the intricacies of the laws and the tactics of the insurance companies on your side. A good attorney will be able to litigate your case to enforce your rights or negotiate an agreement with the insurance company that is in your best interests. They will work to make sure that you obtain the compensation you deserve for your serious and life-changing injuries.
If it makes sense for you and your case, a lawyer can pursue a settlement to resolve your workers’ compensation claim. For permanent and total disability cases, these settlements can sometimes be significant. All workers’ compensation lump sum settlements reflect future lost wages from work. Instead of receiving a weekly workers’ compensation check, you receive a one-time payment that reflects future weeks. It then becomes you responsibility to use that money responsibly until you can return to work. A settlement does not include pain and suffering, as you cannot obtain that in workers’ compensation cases.
If a settlement is not appropriate, your lawyer can guide you through the litigation process. Having a lawyer will be crucial in knowing which pathway is best given your situation.Steps to Take after You’ve Been Injured in a Work Accident
You’ve been injured while working. What should you do now?
First and most importantly, you should seek whatever medical treatment you need as soon as possible after the accident. Your health and well-being is always priority number one. In addition, if you refuse medical treatment or wait too long in seeking treatment, your employer or your employer’s workers’ compensation carrier could argue that you sustained your injury outside of the work. Obtaining treatment right away will provide a record of the incident, and the injuries caused by it. Many employers will tell you not to tell doctors you were injured on the job so they can avoid a workers’ compensation case. It is important that you’re honest with your doctors and tell them exactly what occurred. Being untruthful only hurts you in the end.
If possible and safe to do so, take photos of your injury and the accident scene. If co-workers or bystanders witnessed the accident, ask for their contact information. Witness statements can help your case later on.
Next, it is important to report the work accident to your employer. Your employer is responsible for filing a claim with their workers’ compensation carrier on your behalf. If you can, write them an email, text message, or letter or if available, complete an incident report and obtain a copy for your own records. Your employer is then required to report the incident to their insurance company and have a workers’ compensation case opened. Employers are known to deny knowledge of an incident. They frequently fail to report workplace incidents so they can avoid having their workers’ compensation insurance premiums increase.
If your employer fails to inform their insurance company, or if the insurance company denies your case, you can file a claim with the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents. In Massachusetts, injured workers have four years from the date of the accident or the date they discover a work-related injury to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. Of course, the sooner a worker files a claim, the sooner the worker will start receiving benefits. Contacting an attorney will greatly assist with this process and will help to ensure that no deadlines are missed.What is a Permanent and Total Disability?
A worker is considered to have a permanent and total disability when that worker is unable to perform any kind of work as a result of a work-related injury or illness. If a worker is unable to perform his or her previous job but can perform some other type of work, the worker does not have a permanent and total disability.
Permanent disabilities are ones that do not go away. The injured worker cannot work now and will not be able to in the future. This is different than a temporary total disability, as temporary injuries prevent a worker from working now, but not forever. If a worker has a temporary total disability, that temporary disability can become a permanent and total disability over time.
There are many factors that the courts consider when deciding if someone qualifies as being permanently and totally disabled. These factors include the age of the worker, their educational background, their language skills, their work history, what licenses/certifications they possess, and what their long-term medical outlook is.
Not all severe injuries result in a permanent and total disability. There are, however, some serious injuries that frequently lead to permanent and total disability claims. Some examples include:
- Severe Hearing Loss;
- Severe Vision Loss;
- Arm or Leg Amputations;
- Significant Back injuries;
- Exposure to toxic chemicals; and
- Respiratory diseases.
These injuries can occur in any workplace, but are especially common in dangerous work sites such as construction sites and manufacturing facilities.Permanent and Total Disability Benefits in Massachusetts
In Massachusetts, all employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance that covers any of their employees that are injured while working. This requirement applies regardless of the number of workers a company has or the number of hours an employee works per week. If a company fails to have insurance for their workers, the company can be shut down and fined.
If, for some reason, an employer fails to carry workers’ compensation coverage and an employee is injured on the job, that employee might be eligible to receive compensation from the Workers’ Compensation Trust Fund. The Trust Fund will later bring a lawsuit against the employer to collect any money they paid on a claim.
Massachusetts has a “No-Fault” workers’ compensation system. What this means is that an injured worker is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits regardless of who is responsible for the incident. Even if the accident was your fault, you are still typically eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
If your injuries are severe, they may render you permanently unable to return to the work force. Workers in this situation may qualify for permanent and total disability workers’ compensation benefits. The Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents is a great resource for workers’ compensation information. Their website provides some basic permanent and total disability information, such as the following:
- Who qualifies? You qualify if you’re totally and permanently unable to do any kind of work as a result of a work-related injury or illness. You do not have to exhaust your temporary benefits prior to applying for permanent benefits.
- What are the benefits? 66% of your gross average weekly wage. The minimum you can collect is 20% of the state average weekly wage, or SAWW, at the time of your injury. The maximum you can collect is the SAWW at the time of your injury. You also get an annual Cost-Of-Living Adjustment, or COLA.
- For how long? You can receive permanent and total disability benefits for as long as you are disabled.
In addition to wage replacement, permanently and totally disabled workers are also entitled to have their medical expenses covered. Under Massachusetts workers’ compensation laws, any employee that suffers an injury or illness qualifies for this benefit. An injured worker need not have private health insurance to obtain qualify.
Treatment is paid for by the workers’ compensation insurance company so long as the requested treatment is reasonable, necessary, and related to the work accident. Treatment includes coverage of:
- Medical care;
- Prescription; and
- Mileage to and from each medical visit.
Your employer is permitted to pick which medical facility you go to for your first treatment. However, after that, you have the right to choose your healthcare providers so long as the medical facility accepts workers’ compensation payment rates.
Your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company also has the right to send you periodically to see its doctor for an evaluation.
You’re entitled to medical benefits as long as medical services are required as a result of your injury or illness.
The insurance carrier has the right to deny or stop treatment it believes isn’t reasonable or necessary. Typically, your doctor will directly appeal a denial to the insurance company, and the request will be reviewed a second time. If the requested treatment is denied twice, you can then appeal the denials to the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents.
Once your claim has been reported to the workers’ compensation insurer, the insurer must provide you with an insurance card with a claim number and contact information on it. When you obtain medical treatment, present the insurance card or provide the claim number and the doctor’s office will bill the insurer directly and get pre-approval for any treatment. You should not receive any medical bills for co-pays or deductibles if your treatment is properly going through workers’ compensation.
Workers’ compensation attorneys help injured clients navigate the complex treatment process for work-related accidents. They assist by ensuring medical providers bill the appropriate insurance company, following up on medical treatment requests, and by filing claims to obtain coverage of medical treatment that has been denied.
To learn more about how a workers’ compensation attorney can help you with a claim related to a permanent and total disability, contact The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman, LLC today at (617) 367-2900 or using our online form.