Massachusetts Workers' Compensation Overview
If you had an accident or suffered injury at work, or became ill as a result of a condition in the workplace, you are entitled to monetary compensation and medical benefits. The law provides injured workers with 60% of their pre-injury wages for the period of time they can demonstrate a disability that prevents them from returning to work for five or more days. The law further provides that injured workers are entitled to partial disability benefits if they are able to return to work, but are not able to earn their previous wages. Workers' compensation benefits are not subject to federal or state taxes. Workers' compensation insurance also covers any reasonable and necessary medical treatment for a job-related injury or illness, pays compensation for lost wages, and in some cases provides retraining for employees who qualify.
It is important to promptly report any injury sustained in the workplace to a supervisor or manager. It is equally important to immediately seek appropriate medical treatment. Failure to report the accident or injury, or failure to seek medical attention may result in an initial denial of the claim by the employer's workers' compensation insurer.
The Massachusetts workers' compensation program is administered by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents. Chapter 152 of Massachusetts state law requires all employers provide workers' compensation insurance coverage to their employees. Employees working for companies or individuals who failed to obtain a workers' compensation policy are still covered by a state administered fund.
As with any area of law, workers' compensation can be complex, particularly when it relates to a serious injury, illness, disability or long-term condition. An injured employee should seek legal representation in order to ensure that he or she receives all benefits provided by law.
Definition of Injury
The legal definition of "injury" as it relates to workers' compensation law is very broad, and includes not only injuries that result from an accident, but those that occur over longer periods,such as repetitive stress injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome and cumulative trauma injuries. Occupational diseases, such as asbestosis and mesothelioma, which develop over an extended period of time due to exposure to toxins and other negative factors are also deemed to be compensable under Massachusetts law.
A workers' compensation claim is brought before the Department of Industrial Accidents, where an Administrative Judge decides whether the injured worker is entitled to compensation. The judge can award three basic benefits:
1. Compensation for lost wages.
2. Medical benefits to cover treatment, medications, physical therapy and ancillary costs.
3. Compensation for bodily loss of function, scarring and/or disfigurement.
In the course of an employee's pursuit of workers' compensation benefits he or she can often choose between a lump sum payment and weekly checks. This is another area where an attorney can be vital in ensuring that the employee receives the best possible outcome to his or her claim.
Our firm concentrates on workers' compensation claims. You may have additional questions regarding the workers' compensation law of Massachusetts. If so, please do not hesitate to contact our firm.