How to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Massachusetts
If you are an employee who is injured while performing a work-related task, or if you have developed an occupational disease, you likely have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim for benefits.
If you require emergency medical attention, that is your first priority. Otherwise, the first step after being injured at work is to provide your employer with written notice of your injury. If you fail to provide your employer with written notice, the claims process may be delayed, or you could be denied benefits altogether.
Following providing your employer with notice, you should then receive instruction from your employer about receiving medical care and proceeding with the claims process. Remember, you must seek medical care from an approved provider. If you do not, you will likely have to pay for the care out of pocket.
While, most of the time, your employer will notify the insurer of your injury on your behalf – which will initiate the claims process – if they do not, you can initiate the process on your own.
To do this, you will need to download and fill out Form 110 – Employee Claim. You will need to send this form to the Department of Industrial Accidents. You will also need to submit copies of supporting documents, including unpaid medical bills, medical reports, any accident reports, witnesses’ names, and witness statements.
What Do Massachusetts Workers’ Comp Benefits Cover?
Workers’ compensation benefits are a type of no-fault benefit that is designed to compensate an injured worker for certain damages that are suffered as a result of a workplace accident.
In Massachusetts, benefits that are available from the workers’ compensation system include:
- Medical benefits. Medical benefits are available for all workers who are injured at work, covered under workers’ compensation, and who have necessary medical expenses related to the work injury. These benefits cover reasonable medical care, prescriptions, and travel costs to and from doctor’s appointments.
- Incapacity benefits. If an injury is incapacitating or disabling, either permanently or temporarily, an injured worker will likely qualify for temporary total, temporary partial, or permanent and total incapacity benefits. If an injured worker is unable to work for six or more days, or is able to return to work but to a position where they are earning less than they were prior to the injury, or if they are permanently unable to perform any type of work, they may qualify for these benefits. These are partial wage-replacement benefits. The amount of compensation varies depending on the type of benefit, as well as the injured worker’s gross average weekly wage prior to the incident.
- Scarring and permanent loss of function benefits. Sometimes, work injuries leave victims with permanent scarring or the permanent loss of function of a body part. When this is the case, a worker can receive a one-time payment for their harm. The amount of the payment is based on the severity of the loss and the location of the loss.
- Benefits for survivors. If a workplace injury results in death, the worker’s dependents may be entitled to certain benefit types, including weekly benefits equal to 66 percent of the deceased worker’s average weekly wage prior to the incident, cost-of-living adjustments, and burial benefits.
In addition, vocational rehabilitation may also be available, which assist an injured worker in returning to employment after an on-the-job accident and injury.
How Long Does it Take to Receive Workers’ Comp Benefits?
How long it takes for you to receive benefits can depend on various factors, including:
- How soon you report your injury
- Your employer’s attitude and willingness to report your injury to its insurer
- The complexity of your injuries
- Whether your claim is disputed
In most cases, medical benefits will begin immediately. You should be able to see a doctor of your employer’s choosing as soon as is necessary. Other benefits, such as wage-replacement benefits, won’t start until you have been unable to return to work for at least six calendar days. If you have a disability or permanent injury, benefits will likely not be paid until you reach maximum medical improvement.
If your claim is disputed, it can take longer to receive benefits. If your claim is denied, you may need to file an appeal, which could take months.
In order to decrease the amount of time it takes to settle your claim, working with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer is strongly recommended.
When You Deserve More Than Just Workers’ Compensation Benefits
While workers’ compensation can be critical in helping workers who are injured at work recover the benefits and compensation that they need, workers’ compensation isn’t a perfect system, and it doesn’t fully compensate a worker for all of the losses that they suffer.
Workers’ compensation only pays for medical expenses and a portion of lost wages. However, a worker may suffer financially as a result of their lost wages to a degree that partial compensation does not remedy the loss, and may also suffer noneconomic damages, such as pain, suffering, and emotional distress, too. Unfortunately, workers’ compensation insurance does not permit the recovery of noneconomic damages.
While an injured worker is barred from filing a claim against their employer for damages, a worker may bring a third-party liability claim when appropriate. This type of claim is a civil action that is filed against a third party (not the employer) that alleges:
- The third party owed the injured worker a duty of care.
- The third party breached the duty of care owed to the worker.
- The workplace accident and the worker’s injuries would not have occurred but for the breach of the duty of care.
- The worker suffered actual damages as a result.
In a third-party claim, a worker can seek damages for noneconomic losses. However, because fault is a necessary factor in a third-party liability claim, an injured worker’s damages can be reduced in proportion to their degree of fault.
Deadlines for Workplace Injury Claims
When filing a workers’ compensation claim in Massachusetts, time is important. If you wait too long to inform your employer of your workplace accident or to file your claim for benefits, you could be permanently barred from recovery.
You are required under law to provide notice to your employer of the workplace injury as soon as it is practical. If you must initiate the workers’ compensation claim yourself, you have four years from the date of your workplace accident to do so.
Deadlines for Third-Party Workplace Injury Claims
If you are filing a third-party liability claim in addition to or instead of a workers’ compensation claim, a different statute of limitations (time limit) will apply.
Found in Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 260 Section 2A, a claim for recovery for personal injuries must be brought within three years of the date of accident. If you wait longer than three years, it is almost certain that a court will refuse to hear your case.
The discovery rule is one potential exception that could extend the deadline. For example, if you developed an occupational illness from exposure to a toxic substance at work, the deadline for a third-party claim could be put on hold until you discovered – or reasonably should have discovered – the illness and its relation to your work.
Tips for Protecting Your Rights After an Injury at Work
If you are hurt at work, you should not assume that you will automatically be paid the full benefits you deserve or that your employer’s workers’ compensation insurer will approve your claim. In fact, many workers’ claims are denied or undervalued.
In order to protect your rights after an injury at work, be sure to:
- Report your injury. The importance of reporting your injury to your employer cannot be overstated. Reporting your injury as soon as possible should be a top priority. Be sure to give the notice in writing, and to keep a copy of this notice for your records.
- Seek medical care. If you require emergency medical care following a workplace accident, seek it. This is your right. If you do not require emergency care but do require medical attention, make sure you seek an approved provider. Keep detailed records of the treatment you receive, and be sure to follow your doctor’s orders.
- Gather evidence and talk to witnesses. Did anyone see your workplace accident happen? Does your workplace have video recording of the accident? Is there any evidence that the accident occurred, or evidence detailing the extent of your injuries? If so, be sure to document all evidence sources and types for your records. This could come in handy later during the claim process.
- Follow up with the workers’ compensation insurer. It’s not enough to just provide your employer with notice of your injury and then keep your fingers crossed that you’ll receive the benefits that you deserve. Instead, you need to follow up with the insurer to ensure that they have received an accident report and are processing your claim.
- Stay off of social media. It may seem hard to believe, but an insurance adjuster assigned to your claim may be looking for ways to diminish the value of your case and pay you less than you deserve. Posting things to social media that imply that you are not as injured as you claim or that you have healed and are ready to go back to work can be extremely damaging to your claim.
- Call a lawyer. If you’re filing a workers’ compensation claim, especially if your claim is complicated, working with an experienced attorney is strongly recommended. If your claim as been denied or you believe your benefits are too low, a lawyer can be crucial to your recovery.
Common Workplace Injuries in Massachusetts
Workers in virtually any line of work can suffer serious injuries. Some examples of workplace injuries include:
Injuries are frequently suffered by:
If you have suffered any injuries while at work, don’t hesitate to call a lawyer.
How Our Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Can Help You
Being involved in a work accident can be scary, and may leave you with many questions about the future and how you will support yourself moving forward. At Brooks Law, our Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorneys can build your case, represent you in all interactions with your employer and insurer, and negotiate a settlement. We also handle third-party liability claims if someone other than your employer or a co-worker caused your accident.
Contact us today to learn more during a free consultation.