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Workers Compensation Benefits (Rights, Responsibilities, Entitlements)
Accidents can happen at any time. When they happen in the workplace, they can be particularly devastating if it leaves a worker unable to do his or her job. That's when workers' compensation steps in to offset lost wages and pay medical bills, among other benefits.
Some states may deny these important benefits if it is determined the worker caused the accident. Fortunately, Massachusetts is not one of those states. The Massachusetts workers' compensation program is no-fault, which means it pays benefits whether a worker or employer causes the accident.
Benefits are wide-reaching and include:
* Time loss payments: This benefit begins after an injured worker has been unable to work in whole or in part for five or more days. Payments are based on 60 percent of the employee's weekly wage for the preceding 52 weeks, up to a state maximum, and can continue for up to 156 weeks of missed full-time work. Benefits also are available for those who can only work part-time, and in some cases these benefits can continue for an additional 260 weeks, or more.
* Medical benefits: The employer's insurance company must pay all reasonable and related medical expenses. The injured worker can treat with the provider of his or her choice, although the insurance company can require visits to their doctor for status checks.
* Vocational Rehabilitation: If an employee is not able to return to his or her pre-injury job, the Office of Education and Vocational Rehabilitation will determine if the employee can be retrained for another occupation and then have the employer's insurance company pay for necessary retraining.
* Death benefits: If an employee dies as a result of an industrial accident or illness, the workers' compensation program will pay toward burial expenses. It will also pay weekly benefits to a surviving spouse, and dependent children until they become of age.
* Lump sum benefits: An insurance company may pay a lump sum benefit to workers who sustain work related injuries.
While some work-related injuries possibly can be handled between the insurance company and an injured worker, most are too complex, especially if benefits have been denied or Hearings have been scheduled. It is advantageous to have counsel on your side - the Insurer does.
Benefits may be denied by the insurance company if a worker refuses to return to work, even though doctors determine that he or she cannot. They can also be denied if a worker refuses to attend an independent medical exam or goes to prison after being convicted of a crime.
The Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents, which administers the workers' compensation program, recommends that an injured worker retain an attorney.
Injured workers shouldn't just hire the first attorney in the Yellow Pages, but should seek out an attorney who is intimately familiar with the workers' compensation law. This law is not as simple as it sounds. An injured worker will get better results with an attorney who specializes in this area and knows the intricate details of the law.