If you are injured on the job or suffer from an occupational disease, workers’ compensation can help. The law also covers mental or emotional disabilities related to your work. Employers are required by law to have workers’ compensation insurance. If workers are injured, the benefits are paid out of this insurance. As a result, you do not have to prove that your employer was at fault to receive benefits under workers’ compensation. You will have to prove that the injury or condition was related to your work, however.
You must have been unable to work for six or more days because of an injury or illness to receive workers’ compensation. The days can be total; they don’t have to be consecutive.
The workers’ compensation system can be complex and confusing. It’s prudent to consult a Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer at the Law Offices of Gerald J. Noonan for help with the process. We can guide you through filing a claim and explain case law, complex medical issues under workers’ compensation, and deadlines. We can also negotiate with the company’s lawyers and appeal your case if necessary.
What Injuries Does Workers’ Compensation Cover?
Workers’ compensation covers all injuries and occupational diseases incurred through your work. In Massachusetts, it also covers emotional and mental disabilities. Because of the wide range of work, there are a correspondingly wide range of potential injuries, conditions, and disabilities. Some of the most common causes of injuries include:
- Overexertion from pulling, lifting or pushing objects, and from moving and carrying objects.
- Falls from slipping or tripping down a flight of stairs or from a height.
- Striking or being struck by an object, such as tools, laptops, or other equipment that falls from a shelf or other area.
- Machinery-related accidents.
- Repetitive motion injuries caused by performing the same physical motions for work. Carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, and bursitis are some chronic occupational diseases caused by repetitive motion.
- Mishaps on the roadways if your job includes driving.
- Workplace violence caused by intentional acts at workplaces.
Who Is at Fault If I’m Hurt on the Job?
Workers’ compensation is in part designed to avoid questions of fault. You don’t have to prove fault to file a workers’ compensation claim. If you are injured, you must notify your employer of your injury, and that starts the process. (It’s a very good idea to provide it in writing.)
If you develop an occupational disease, you have as long as four years after the date that you first became aware of the linkage between your condition and your work to file a claim. In these cases, you file a claim with your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier. Massachusetts requires that your company prominently display the name and contact information of this carrier in the workplace.
You will be notified if your workers’ compensation claim has been accepted or denied.
Since accidents and occupational disease often involve injuries, you may be wondering if it’s possible to file a personal injury claim to get compensation for medical care, lost wages, and pain and suffering. In Massachusetts, filing a personal injury claim for workplace injuries is possible only under two conditions.
The first is if you work for an employer who doesn’t have workers’ compensation insurance. This is somewhat rare, as Massachusetts has stringent laws requiring almost all employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance, but it does happen.
The second is when the person or organization responsible for your injury or disease is a third party, rather than your employer. If your employer is having the office enlarged, for example, and a piece of the roof under construction falls on you, you can bring a personal injury suit against the contractor or company responsible for the construction.
Personal injury claims in Massachusetts can cover medical expenses, damage to your personal property, and pain and suffering. A successful personal injury claim does require establishing that another personal caused your injury or occupational disease, and thus was negligent in exercising proper care. Negligent parties can be judged liable for your injury in court.
What Does Workers’ Compensation Cover?
In Massachusetts, workers’ compensation benefits compensate employees for:
- lost income during the period the employee is unable to work, of approximately 60 percent of salary, paid per week
- medical and hospital services
- medically necessary equipment
- prescribed drugs
- vocational and rehabilitation services
Can My Workers’ Compensation Claim Be Denied?
Workers’ comp claims can be denied. Employers and insurance companies can try to argue that even the most just claims shouldn’t be approved so they don’t have to pay out the benefits.
The most frequent causes of denial are:
- Filing too late – Employers should be notified of a workplace injury as soon as possible. If you don’t notify them quickly, they can argue that the claim should be denied. To lessen the chances of a denial on this basis, it’s prudent to notify them as quickly as possible in writing. State the time and place of the injury, a description of the injury and its extent, how and why the accident happened, and what you were doing when it occurred. Include the names of witnesses if possible. It’s also important to seek medical attention immediately, both for your health and to provide proof of the injuries.
- Pre-existing condition – Employers sometimes try to argue that the condition was pre-existing, rather than caused by job-related activities at their workplace. This argument is particularly used if the employer has a disease or condition that develops over time, such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Not work-related – Employers can claim that the injury, condition, or emotional states are not related to work or the workplace, but stemmed from other causes.
The good news is that denied claims can be appealed. Denials can be overturned on appeal, which means you can receive workers’ compensation benefits.
Filing an appeal is complicated. An experienced workers comp lawyer can help you file an appeal, negotiate with the company and the insurance company, and be your advocate throughout the appeals process.
Let a Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Attorney Help You Obtain the Benefits You Deserve
The workers’ compensation process is complicated and time-consuming. If your claim is denied, it can be disheartening, frustrating, and even frightening. Let an experienced workers’ compensation attorney help you receive the compensation you deserve. The Law Offices of Gerald J. Noonan have years of experience negotiating with insurance companies and other companies, in Greater Boston and throughout Massachusetts. Our initial consultation and case review are always free. Contact us online or by calling (508) 588-0422.