What Happens When I'm Injured At Work?
A work-related accident in Massachusetts can leave you reeling.
At The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman, our Boston workers’ compensation attorneys understand the complex legal maze you are about to navigate. We know the pitfalls you’re going to encounter. We work at every turn to be ready for all potential obstacles and to streamline the process and make is as painless as possible.
All states require some form of workers’ compensation coverage, but the process for filing, the burdens of proof and the timelines vary from state-to-state.
In all claims, there are three important steps you must take:
- Report your injury to your supervisor.
- Seek immediate medical attention.
- Request your employer submit Form 101 – Employer’s First Report of Injury/ Fatality.
Recognize that while you technically have four years in which to file a workers’ compensation claim, you still need to make an immediate reporting to your company as soon as you become aware of the injury. The statutory timeline for filing is liberal because there are some claims that don’t manifest immediately after the injury. But it’s incumbent upon the injured worker to take immediate action to ensure evidence will be preserved. It usually makes for a less uphill battle.
Understand that work injuries may not always be the result of some singular accident or incident. Work-related illnesses due to chemical exposure or overexertion and repetitive motion injuries often accrue over time. You are entitled to receive benefits for these injuries as well.
Workers’ compensation claims may also include:
- Aggravation of pre-existing conditions
- Injuries that were sustained on company property or at a company-sponsored event
- Injuries caused by assets owned by the company, such as certain mechanical equipment
Even when cases are straightforward and employers have a clear process for filing claims, many employees aren’t familiar with it.
The best way to be prepared for a disputed claim is to have an experienced lawyer who has a jump on the case early on.What is Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
Workers’ compensation insurance is part of a “grand bargain” reached between employers and employees in the early 20th Century.
Prior to 1911, workers who became ill, injured or killed on the job could bring lawsuits against their employers in order to recover damages.
The problem with this was while employers could be held legally responsible for these losses, they also fought back vigorously with defenses of “contributory negligence” (the worker was partially or largely at-fault), “assumption of risk” (the worker was aware of the risk being taken when he/she took the job)” and the “fellow-servant doctrine” (significantly reduced compensation available to workers injured by the negligence of a co-worker). All of this made it very tough for workers to prevail in employment injury cases, and the system largely favored employers. Still, the cases were costly for companies, especially if they were in a high-risk industry.
So the “grand bargain” of workers’ compensation was this:
- Employees receive no-fault compensation for economic losses associated with job-related illness, injury and death.
- In exchange, workers are barred from filing lawsuits against their employers relating to these damages. This is called “Exclusive Remedy.”
Injured employees who are eligible for benefits (almost all in Massachusetts) can expect compensation for:
- Medical care
- Lost wages
Save for death benefits, these are paid out based on reasonable medical expenses, weekly worker wages, wage-earning capacity, extent of illness or injury and length of illness or injury.Do I Qualify for Workers’ Compensation in Massachusetts?
If you suffered a work-related injury or illness that results in lost time of five full or partial days off work, then your employer must file the Form 101 to notify the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents of the situation.
A copy of that form goes to you, and another to the insurance company, which has 14 days from receipt to investigate and decide whether to pay the claim.
In Massachusetts, all companies with one or more employee must carry workers’ compensation insurance, and all employees are covered under that plan for illnesses, injury or death that arise out of or occur in the scope of employment.
MGL ch. 152 § 4 defines an employee as: “Every person in the service of another under any contract of hire, express or implied, written or oral.” There are a few noteworthy exceptions, which include:
- Independent contractors
- Salespeople of real estate or consumer goods who work on commission
- Taxi drivers who lease their cabs on a fee basis
- People engaged in foreign commerce and are covered by federal law for compensation
- LLCs, LLPs, Partners and Sole Proprietors
- Corporate Officers
Note that family members also must be covered under workers’ compensation insurance – even if they are the only employees of the company.
If your employer doesn’t have insurance as required by law, you have the option of requesting state-funded workers’ compensation insurance coverage AND filing a civil lawsuit against your employer.Do I Need an Attorney?
The law in Massachusetts doesn’t require you to hire a lawyer. Technically, you can file your own workers’ compensation claim. However, this is generally inadvisable because of the complexity of workers’ compensation law. Your employer is almost certainly going to have legal representation. You should too.
You generally do not have to pay your attorney up-front, but failure to invest in legal counsel often results in a loss of claim entirely. Our goal is simply to work to secure you the benefits to which you are entitled.
Contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman today for a free and confidential consultation.
Call (617) 367-2900 – NO FEE UNLESS SUCCESSFUL