If you are hurt at work and are not familiar with the workers’ compensation process, you could be missing out on key benefits and protections for yourself and your family. Too many work-related injuries never go through the workers’ compensation system due to a lack of knowledge, which can result in the injured worker losing valuable income and absorbing significant medical costs.
The Attorneys at Agnelli Law Offices have a combined 50+ years of experience fighting for their clients in their workers’ compensation matters. Our attorneys will navigate the complexities of the workers’ compensation system for you, so you can focus on recovering from your injury and providing for your family during this difficult situation.
Agnelli Law is centrally located in Worcester, Massachusetts and stands ready to pursue your workers’ compensation case anywhere in the Commonwealth.
If you have been hurt at work or have developed a condition or disability caused by your work environment or daily work responsibilities, please contact the experienced attorneys at Agnelli Law Offices, P.C. for a free consultation today. We are here to help.
What should I do if I am hurt at work?
It is important you take the following steps when you sustain an injury on the job. Regardless of the severity of your injury, you should report the injury immediately to your employer. You should also seek out immediate medical attention. Many employers will send you to an urgent care clinic or other preferred medical provider.
For more on what you should do after an injury at work, check out the following articles.
- IMPORTANCE OF TIMELY REPORTING OF WORK-RELATED INJURIES OR CONDITIONS
- TOP REASONS YOU’RE NOT GETTING TIMELY MEDICAL CARE WHEN INJURED AT WORK
What types of injuries or illnesses are covered under workers’ compensation?
The workers compensation laws covers any physical or non-physical injury, or other condition which prevents a worker from performing his or her job, similar work or any other work in the open labor market. Such physical injuries include direct trauma to a specific body part or repetitive injuries. Non-physical injuries would include psychiatric or emotional conditions due to specific identifiable work events. Certain conditions such as heart attacks, pulmonary diseases, degenerative joint and disc disorders may also be found compensable.
What and when will I be paid if I lose time from work?
The workers compensation laws dictate how much an injured worker will be paid if he or she loses time from work due to an industrial injury. There are 3 basic forms of weekly benefits. The first is called temporary total incapacity benefits. Section 34 of the Mass. WC Act states that an injured worker shall be paid an amount equal to 60% of their average weekly wage for each week they are unable to perform their regular or similar job. The second is temporary partial incapacity benefits. Section 35 of the law requires an insurer to pay an injured worker a weekly amount equal to 60% of the difference between their pre-injury average weekly wage and their current earnings or an amount determined to be their “earning capacity”. The third benefit is called permanent and total incapacity benefits, which, under Section 34A, pays an injured worker an amount equal to two-thirds of their pre-injury average weekly wage.
In order for an insurer to pay any weekly lost-time benefits, an employee must be out of work at least five (5) consecutive days. If he/she is out less than 21 days, he/she will only be paid from the sixth day until they return to work. If out more than 21 days, they will be paid from the first date of disability forward.
Can I treat with a doctor/medical provider of my own choosing?
Yes. The law states that an insurer must provide and pay for adequate medical care to an injured worker. Typically, the insurer will send a worker to a so-called preferred provider, such as an urgent care facility for initial treatment. However, the employee then retains the right to seek out any additional care with a doctor/medical provider of his/her choosing.
For more on workers’ compensation and getting medical treatment, check out the following article:
What if I have a second job at the time I am injured?
You may be entitled to be paid compensation benefits based the combined earnings from both jobs. This is called “concurrent employment”. There are certain conditions which must be shown before wages can be combined, and is more fully discussed in the following article:
What happens if the Insurance Company denies my claim?
If an insurer denies a claim for any benefit, be it weekly benefits, medical treatment, or other rights, you will need to file a claim with the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents. Your claim will then go through a specific procedural route and potentially result in going before an administrative judge, who will rule on that claim.
What happens if the insurance company refuses to approve my medical treatment?
You will need to have your doctor or other medical provider write a letter which states that the proposed treatment is both medically reasonable and causally related to your industrial injury. You would then have to file a claim with the Department of Industrial Accidents.
Why do I need an attorney to handle my case?
In many instances, an attorney may not be needed. Many injured workers return to full time/full duty work with the same employer after their injury and are paid by the insurer for all benefits which are due them. However, there many more occasions in which an insurer will deny benefits, medical treatment, or other claimed benefits. The best way to protect an injured worker’s rights is to retain an attorney who is experienced in handling workers’ compensation matters. The insurer will always be represented by an attorney if the worker files a claim and goes to the Department of Industrial Accidents. The injured worker would be at a disadvantage if not represented by competent counsel.
Also, we frequently find that, although an injured worker may have gone back to full duty and was paid for their lost time, there may be other benefits that are available under the workers’ compensation system of which they were not aware. Those may include specific compensation benefits (loss of function and/or disfigurement); mileage reimbursement for related medical travel, proper wage computation, just to name a few. An experienced attorney can more fully explain these benefits and help to determine whether they can be obtained even after returning to work.
What is the Department of Industrial Accidents? What is their function?
The Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents is a state agency created under the Executive branch of state government. Its function is to resolve disputes between an injured worker and insurer involving any type of claim covered under the workers’ compensation laws. It is a quasi-judicial agency with certain limited powers to hear disputes and render awards of benefits. The decision-making section of that agency is called the Division of Dispute Resolution and consists of conciliators, administrative judges and administrative law judges (each with specifically determined functions). Most disputed claims are heard by the administrative judges, who can make rulings to award or deny benefits.
The main office is located in Downtown Boston and has 4 Regional Offices – Worcester, Springfield, Fall River and Lawrence. The Worcester Regional Office is located on the third floor in the same building as Agnelli Law Offices, P.C.
Should I settle my case?
Settling one’s case is always an option. Much depends on whether a “lump sum settlement” is in the injured worker’s best interest. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can provide the rationale why someone should or should not settle. He can also negotiate with the insurer to ensure the client is settling at the right time and for the right amount. All agreed-to settlements must be approved by a judge at the Department of Industrial Accidents before any proceeds can be paid. Your attorney can navigate the client through the process to prove that the settlement is in his or her best interest and get the agreement approved.
What other benefits are available under the workers’ compensation law?
- Section 36 – permanent losses of bodily function; scarring; other disfigurement such as obvious deformities and atrophy
- Vocational rehabilitation services – provides for an injured worker to be retrained for another suitable job if he/she is not able to secure work due to the effects of their permanent physical restrictions. If the injured worker if found suitable by the Department of Industrial Accidents, the insurer is obligated to provide and pay for rehabilitation services.
- Survivor’s benefits – If a worker dies as a result of an injury sustained on the job, or from a disease/condition connected with his/her work, the surviving spouse and/or dependents. The survivor can collect weekly benefits for a certain period of time, plus payment for a portion of funeral expenses and related medical costs.
What if my injury at work was caused by someone else’s fault?
In many situations, an injury on the job may have been caused someone else’s negligence. This could be another individual or even a defective machine or product. This is called a “Third Party” claim. Such claims could arise out of a motor vehicle accident while in the course of one’s employment, slipping and falling on property maintained by someone other than your employer or being injured on a machine which may have been negligently designed or maintained. An injured worker would be entitled to received workers’ compensation benefits for lost time and medical treatment but could also bring a lawsuit in the court system for other damages, including loss of future earning, pain and suffering and loss of consortium. If the worker received a judgment or settlement of that “Third Party” claim, the workers’ compensation insurer would have a right to be reimbursed out of that settlement for all payments it made under the workers’ compensation claim.
However, one cannot bring a third-party claim against their employer or co-workers, as the workers’ compensation law clearly prohibits it.
If you need help…
If you have been injured at work or have developed a condition or disability caused by your work environment or daily work responsibilities, please call the experienced attorneys at Agnelli Law Offices, P.C. for a free consultation today. We are here to help.