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What Are the Workers' Compensation Laws in Boston?
If you suffered an occupational injury or illness, you might wonder, “What are the workers’ compensation laws in Boston?” Simply put, Massachusetts workers’ compensation is a “no-fault” program providing benefits for injured workers. You could be entitled to wage replacement payments, medical treatments, vocational assistance, and more.
However, getting the workers’ comp benefits you deserve can be tricky. Employers and insurance companies do not always play nice and may deny you the help you need to recover from a work injury. Moreover, if your employer illegally misclassifies you as an independent contractor, you may have to go to court to fight for your workers’ comp payments.
Morgan & Morgan has your back. We know that injured employees and their families rely on workers’ compensation to get their lives back on track. We understand the stress and frustration you feel when bills are stacking up, and no money is coming in. Do not struggle with a complex or denied workers’ compensation claim on your own. Contact us now for a free consultation to learn about your legal rights.
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Who Is Entitled to Workers’ Compensation in Boston?
According to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, workers’ compensation insurance covers most employees experiencing an occupational injury or illness and dependents of workers killed on the job. You are generally eligible for benefits if:
- You are a regular employee
- You suffer from a work-related injury or condition
- Your employer carries workers’ comp insurance
- You report your injury and file a workers’ comp claim on time
You Must Be a Regular Employee
Not all workers are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Independent contractors, such as freelancers, do not qualify for benefits in Boston. Independent contractors generally:
- Control their hours of work
- Work on a project basis
- Provide their own materials and tools
- Invoice their clients rather than receiving an hourly or monthly wage
Unfortunately, some unscrupulous employers misclassify employees as independent contractors to save on payroll taxes and workers’ compensation insurance contributions. However, you may still be an employee for workers’ comp purposes even if you filled in a 1099 tax form. If you suspect that your employer misclassified and you are struggling to get the benefits you deserve, our workers’ compensation lawyers in Boston could help.
You Suffer From a Work-Related Condition or Injury
If your injury happened at work or while doing something for your employer outside of the workplace, you are generally eligible for workers’ compensation. You also qualify for any health conditions due to work, such as carpal tunnel syndrome or a respiratory illness due to hazardous substance exposure. Examples of covered injuries include:
- Conditions caused by overexertion and repetitive movements
- Head and brain injuries
- Strains and sprains
- Broken bones
- Vision and hearing loss
- Internal injuries
- Illnesses from contact with toxic substances, such as mesothelioma or asbestosis
- Spinal cord injuries and paralysis
If a worker dies as a result of their work-related injury or condition, the family typically qualifies for death benefits under the workers’ compensation laws in Boston.
What Is Not Covered by Workers’ Comp
There can be some gray areas regarding what is covered. However, in general terms, the following injuries and circumstances do not qualify for workers’ comp benefits in Boston:
- Injuries during your lunch hour while away from the workplace
- Pre-existing injuries (unless worsened due to work)
- Injuries from fighting or horseplay
- Accidents and injuries due to intoxication or drug abuse
- Self-inflicted injuries
Your Employer Must Have Coverage
In Massachusetts, all employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, regardless of how many workers they employ. However, domestic employees working less than 16 hours per week are generally excepted.
An employer who does not carry workers’ comp insurance will be issued a stop work order by the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA) Office of Investigations. Employers may also be charged with a crime.
You Must Report Your Injury and File a Claim on Time
In Boston, you must report your work injury or illness within 30 days to remain eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Your employer then has the responsibility to inform their insurance carrier within seven days.
Injured employees or the families of deceased workers generally have four years to file a claim for workers’ compensation in Massachusetts. The time starts ticking on the date you became aware of a link between your injury or illness and your work.
What are the Benefits for Boston Workers and Their Families?
If you qualify for workers’ compensation benefits in Boston, you could receive payments for loss of income and medical care related to your injury or condition. If you need help returning to work, you may qualify for vocational rehabilitation benefits.
Wage Replacement Payments
Employees hurt at work in Boston generally qualify for wage replacement benefits until they can return to work. However, if you suffer a permanent and total disability due to a work accident, you could receive income loss benefits for the rest of your life. Benefits you could qualify for, depending on the severity of your occupational injury or condition, include:
- Temporary total incapacity benefit
- Temporary partial incapacity benefit
- Permanent and total incapacity benefit
Wage replacement benefits, depending on your degree of impairment, typically range between 60-75 percent of your average weekly wage.
Permanent Loss of Function
Employees suffering from permanent scarring and disfigurement or permanent loss of function may be entitled to a one-time cash payment under Massachusetts’ workers’ comp program. The amount you could receive depends on the location and severity of the loss of function or disfigurement. This payment is additional to any wage replacement and medical benefits.
If your work-related injury or illness requires medical attention, you could be entitled to the following benefits:
- All reasonable medical care
- Reimbursement of prescription expenses
- Mileage payments for medical travel
- Costs of medical devices such as a wheelchair or crutches
- In-home care
Your employer has the right to determine a medical provider for your first visit to the doctor or hospital. However, after seeing your employer’s doctor, you have the right to choose your own healthcare provider for subsequent visits and treatments.
Vocational rehabilitation assistance helps employees return to suitable work after a workplace injury. In Boston, you could be entitled to the following vocational benefits:
- Help with the job search
- Job placements
- Vocational counseling
- Training and education
Survivors and dependents of a worker who passed away from an occupational injury or disease are generally entitled to survivors’ benefits. Eligible family members can include the spouse, minor children, and others. Surviving spouses qualify for benefits unless and until they remarry. Death benefits can include:
- Weekly wage replacement benefits of 66% of the deceased worker's average weekly wage (up to a maximum)
- Burial and funeral expenses
- Payments to minor children if the spouse remarries
Getting what you deserve when your loved one passes away, or you suffer an injury at work can be tricky. Some valid workers’ compensation claims are denied, with claimants having to navigate a complicated appeals process to fight for what they deserve. If you need help, our experienced and determined workers’ compensation lawyers can be here for you.
How Can a Workers’ Compensation Attorney Can Help?
Getting what the payments you deserve after a work injury should be straightforward. However, depending on your circumstances, you could face a claim denial and other hurdles before receiving your due. Our tenacious workers’ compensation attorneys help injured workers receive the benefits and support they deserve. We can be by your side and:
- Determine your legal options
- Help you receive medical treatment
- Ensure your impairment rating is fair
- Prove that your condition or injury is work-related
- Collect and present crucial medical evidence for your claim
- Help you file an appeal if your claim was denied
- Guide and coach you through the appeals process
- Communicate and negotiate with the insurance company
Our motivated workers’ comp attorneys can provide you with the personal attention you deserve and analyze your claim thoroughly to determine all your options for receiving compensation. For example, if someone other than your employer caused your injury, you could be eligible to file a lawsuit and receive damages in addition to your workers’ compensation benefits. We can look for ways to maximize your benefits, including applying for Social Security disability.
Morgan & Morgan knows the issues injured workers and their families face. We can leave no stone unturned in fighting for the benefits you deserve after getting hurt at work.
What Are My Next Best Steps After Getting Hurt at Work in Boston?
Knowing what to do when you experience an occupational injury or illness can be critical for your workers’ compensation claim.
Report the Injury to Your Supervisor or Employer
Tell your employer about an injury or occupational illness immediately, even if you are unsure whether it is serious. If you get hurt at work and wait to report the injury until the next day or later, you may need to prove that the injury is work-related and did not happen elsewhere.
Seek Medical Assistance Promptly
Your employer may require you to make an appointment with the company doctor. However, you can usually choose your medical provider after the initial visit. Seeing an occupational doctor can be an excellent idea as occupational physicians are experienced in the necessary paperwork for workers’ compensation claims.
Gather Evidence for Your Claim
It is always a good idea to write down how your work injury or condition occurred. Information should include:
- The time, date, and location of the accident
- What you were doing when you got hurt
- The injuries you suffered
- Who was involved in the incident
- The names of coworkers who witnessed the injury
Ensure to collect as much evidence as possible, such as photographs of the accident scene and your injuries. Be prepared for your employer or their workers’ comp insurer to dispute your claim.
File the Workers’ Compensation Claim
Ensure to file a workers’ compensation claim right away. Typically, your employer provides you with the necessary paperwork to fill in. They will then file your claim with the insurer. However, if a few days have passed and you do not hear anything regarding your claim, make sure to follow up with your supervisor or employer. Filing too late could jeopardize your benefits.
What Should I Do If My Boston Workers’ Comp Claim Is Denied?
If you are relying on your workers’ comp benefits to help you with medical bills and income loss, receiving a denial notice can be stressful and upsetting. However, having a workers’ compensation claim denied is not unusual and does not necessarily prevent you from receiving your due.
The first step in the appeals process in Boston is filling in Form 110 (employee claim) and submitting it to the DIA. Make sure to gather and submit all the necessary medical evidence. In Massachusetts, you have only 30 days to appeal after receiving a notice of denial.
Appealing a denied workers’ compensation claim involves a great deal of red tape and paperwork. Working with a seasoned workers' compensation attorney can give you the best chance to successfully appeal a denial.
Morgan & Morgan Could Help You Get What You Deserve
Work injuries and conditions can have a devastating effect on your home and career life. Luckily, the workers’ compensation laws in Boston provide injured employees with medical and wage replacement benefits. However, getting what you deserve can be tricky if you have a complicated claim or your employer is uncooperative.
As a worker, you have rights. We fight for the rights of injured workers every day and could help you recover the benefits you need to rebuild your life, whether with a workers’ compensation claim or a personal injury lawsuit. You pay nothing unless we win and you receive compensation. Contact Morgan & Morgan today to determine how we could help.