If you are injured on the job or come down with an occupational illness (including emotional or mental illnesses caused by your work) in Brockton or elsewhere in Massachusetts, the state’s workers’ compensation system can provide you with medical benefits and financial payments. These benefits and payments can help you deal with the consequences of your injuries.
Under the system, almost all employers are required to maintain workers’ compensation insurance. This insurance pays for the benefits you may need. The workers’ compensation system is a no-fault system. That means you do not have to prove that your employer was responsible for your injuries – and you can collect benefits even if you were at fault. You only need to prove that your injury or illness is work-related.
Massachusetts’ workers’ compensation system can prove confusing, especially if you have never filed a workers’ comp claim. To give yourself the best chance at securing benefits, turn to an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in Brockton.
When you hire The Law Offices of Gerald J. Noonan, you work with a family-run firm that will treat you like a member of the family. We will always provide the personalized, one-on-one attention you need and keep you up to date on the claims process. We will strive to help you get the best possible outcome.
If you believe you deserve workers’ compensation benefits, contact us for a free case review where you will learn about your legal rights and options.
Who’s at Fault If I’m Hurt on the Job in Brockton?
Workers’ compensation is in part designed to avoid questions of fault. You do not have to prove fault to file a workers’ compensation claim. If you are injured, you must notify your employer of your injury. That starts the benefits process. It is a good idea to provide your notification in writing.
If you develop an occupational disease, you have up to four years to file a claim. That time deadline starts after the date that you first became aware of the link between your condition and your work.
You file your 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 diseases often involve injuries, you may be wondering if it is 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 these two conditions.
- You may file a personal injury claim if your employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance. This is somewhat rare since Massachusetts’ laws require nearly all employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance.
- A personal injury claim may also be filed if the person or organization responsible for your injury or disease is a third party, rather than your employer. For example, suppose your employer is having the office enlarged, and a piece of the roof under construction falls on you, causing your injury. 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. To succeed with your personal injury claim, you must establish that another person negligently caused your injury or occupational disease. Once negligence is established, a court can hold the responsible party accountable.
What Does Workers’ Compensation Cover?
In Brockton, workers’ compensation benefits compensate employees for:
- Lost income during the period the employee is unable to work. You can get approximately 60 percent of your average weekly wage, which is calculated over the 52 weeks prior to your injury. The amount is capped by the state’s average weekly wage at the time of your injury. The lost income benefit is paid per week, provided the employee remains out of work for six or more full or partial calendar days. The days do not need to be consecutive. Although you must remain out of work for six or more calendar days, you can be reimbursed for the first five days if you remain out of work for 21 or more calendar days. You can receive as many as 156 weeks of benefits (weeks need not be consecutive).
- Lost income if you can work but earn less at the job you take due to your work injury or illness. You can receive up to a maximum of 75 percent of your weekly total lost income benefits. These benefits can be paid for as many as 260 weeks.
- Disability benefits if you are permanently disabled from doing any kind of work. The amount you receive can be equal to 66 percent of your average weekly wage (subject to a maximum of the state average weekly wage and a minimum of 20 percent of the state average weekly wage. Disability benefits are subject to cost-of-living-adjustments. Payments continue for as long as you remain totally disabled.
- One-time payments for physical disfigurement/scarring or partial disability (that still allows you to work).
- Medical and hospital services. Your employer has the right to choose the medical provider you see for your first visit. After that visit, you may choose your own provider. Your employer or its insurer also has the right to periodically request that you submit to evaluations conducted by a physician.
- Medical equipment, prescription drugs and training services. Workers’ comp benefits also pay for medically necessary equipment, prescribed drugs and vocational or rehabilitation services.
- Survivors’ and dependents’ benefits in the event of a worker’s death due to a work-related injury or illness. These benefits include weekly benefits equal to 66 percent of the workers’ average weekly wage (up to a maximum of the state average weekly wage), or $60 per week for each eligible child if the surviving spouse remarries. When a death occurs, workers’ comp reimburses funeral and burial expenses up to eight times the state average weekly wage.
Can My Workers’ Compensation Claim Be Denied?
Workers’ comp claims can be denied. The most frequent causes of denial are:
- Filing too late – An employer should be notified of a workplace injury as soon as possible. If you do not notify the employer quickly, the employer can argue that the claim should be denied. To lessen the chances of a denial on this basis, notify the employer as quickly as possible, preferably in writing. State the time and place of the injury, describe the injury, how and why the accident happened, and what you were doing when it occurred. Include the names of witnesses, if possible. Seek medical attention immediately. Medical attention can begin to mend your injury and serve as proof of the injury’s presence.
- Pre-existing condition – Employers sometimes try to argue that the condition was pre-existing and not related to workplace activities. This argument may be used if the employee has an injury or illness which develops over time, such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Not work-related – Employers may argue that the injury or condition is not related to work and instead stems from a cause outside of the workplace.
The good news is that denied claims can be appealed. Denials can be overturned on appeal, allowing you to receive the workers’ compensation benefits you need and deserve.
Filing an appeal is a complex undertaking. An experienced workers’ comp lawyer can help you file an appeal, negotiate with the company and the insurance company, and serve as your advocate throughout the appeals process.
How to File for Workers’ Comp in Brockton
Filing for workers’ compensation benefits in Massachusetts requires these steps:
- Report your accident and injuries to your employer and file a claim for benefits. Your employer will forward your claim to its workers’ compensation insurer. Your employer or its insurer can accept your injury as compensable and file a claim on your behalf with the Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA). On the other hand, if your employer denies your claim, you may choose to file on your own with the Department of Industrial Accidents.
- To file a claim with the DIA, you will need this information about your claim:
- The date of your injury, onset of illness, or death of the worker (if a surviving spouse or dependent is filing for benefits)
- The first calendar day of missed work (if applicable)
- The fifth calendar day of missed work (if applicable)
- Your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier
- The nature of your injuries or illness
- The benefits you are looking to receive
- How long you may be disabled from work (if known)
- Where you first sought medical treatment for your work injury or illness
- Your current treating medical provider
You must fill out Form 110 – Employee Claim. You must attach a copy of unpaid medical bills, your medical reports, any reports of your accidents, eyewitness statements to your accident, or the names of eyewitnesses to your accident. The form can be filed in person or by certified mail. The DIA will review your claim and either reject it for technical deficiencies, or assign you and your employer and its insurer a conciliation hearing date. If your employer is not insured for workers’ compensation benefits, you will have to file a claim against the state Workers’ Compensation Trust Fund.
What to Do If Your Brockton Workers’ Compensation Claim Has Been Denied
In many cases, a workers’ compensation claim is denied either by your employer or its workers’ compensation insurance carrier. The DIA may also deny your claim due to one of these technical deficiencies with your petition:
- A failure to include information about your accident and injury
- A failure to include the dates you have been out of work
- Incorrect information about your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier
- The failure to specify the benefits you are seeking
In many cases, you can simply revise your claim form to fix the erroneous or missing information.
If your employer denies your claim, you can file an official claim with the DIA. That filing will begin the formal process with the state. The first step in proceedings before the DIA involves conciliation. At conciliation, an official with the DIA will attempt to mediate a settlement between you, your employer and its insurer.
If no settlement is reached, your claim will be referred to an administrative judge for a conference. At the conference, both parties will present evidence, such as medical records, wage records, and affidavits or statements from witnesses (witnesses do not offer live testimony). After both parties have presented their cases, the administrative judge will either order your employer’s insurer to pay benefits, or rule that you are not entitled to benefits. If the judge denies benefits, the insurer can stop paying benefits you are already receiving.
If you are dissatisfied with the administrative judge’s ruling, you may appeal the conference decision to a formal hearing.
A workers’ compensation hearing functions much like a traditional trial. Both parties can present evidence and live witness testimony. Both parties can cross-examine each other’s evidence. The administrative judge can question both parties and their witnesses to obtain additional facts.
If you are dissatisfied with the decision at the hearing, you may appeal to the DIA’s Reviewing Board. Like a hearing, an appeal to the Reviewing Board functions like an appeal in the courts. Both parties typically get the opportunity to submit briefs and participate in oral argument. In some cases, the Reviewing Board can affirm the hearing decision without any discussion of the issues. The Reviewing Board may choose to uphold the hearing decision, reverse it, or send the case back for further findings by the administrative judge.
What Injuries Does Workers’ Compensation Cover?
Workers’ compensation covers all workplace injuries and occupational diseases. In Massachusetts, workers’ compensation also covers emotional and mental disabilities. Common causes of workplace injuries or illnesses include:
- Overexertion from pulling, lifting or pushing objects, and from moving and carrying objects
- Falls down a flight of stairs or from a height, including ladder accidents
- Striking or being struck by an object, such as tools, laptops, or other equipment when it falls from a shelf or other area
- Machinery-related accidents, including conveyer belt accidents, backhoe accidents, skid steer/bobcat accidents, saw accidents, welding accidents, lathe accidents, punch press accidents and forklift accidents
- Repetitive motion injuries caused by repetitive physical motions at the workplace. Carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, bursitis and neck or back injuries are among the chronic occupational illnesses caused by repetitive motion
- Crashes on streets or highways if your job includes driving
- Workplace violence caused by intentional acts
How Our Brockton Workers’ Comp Attorneys Can Help
If you have a work-related injury or illness but find yourself facing difficulties getting workers’ compensation benefits from your employer, turn to the Brockton workers’ comp attorneys at The Law Offices of Gerald J. Noonan. We can help by:
- Investigating your work accident and injuries to secure evidence for use in your workers’ compensation claim
- Filing a claim on your behalf with your employer and its workers’ compensation insurer, and with the Department of Industrial Accidents, ensuring that your claim paperwork is correctly filled out and complete
- Helping you to secure treatment for your work injury or occupational illness
- Working with vocational and financial experts to help build a strong, persuasive argument for your case
- Aggressively negotiating with your employer and its insurer for a settlement that gives you the workers’ comp benefits you deserve
- Representing and advocating for you in hearings before an administrative judge at the DIA
Schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation with a Brockton workers’ compensation attorney from The Law Offices of Gerald J. Noonan. Our firm will strive to get you the workers’ compensation benefits you need and deserve. Get started today by calling us or contacting us online.