Going to work, you never expect that your day will end with getting injured on the job. You expect your workplace to be safe. Unfortunately, that's not always the case.
Every day, all across Boston, from Jamaica Plain to Back Bay, in Government Center office buildings and on construction sites in the Fens, workers suffer injuries in preventable accidents and incidents on-the-job. In most cases, those workers have the right to receive workers' compensation benefits to help pay for their medical care and lost wages.
Obtaining those benefits, however, is not always as easy or straightforward as it should be. Workers' compensation insurance companies look for reasons to deny claims. Workers can find themselves struggling to understand what benefits they deserve, or how to appeal an adverse decision from the workers' comp carrier.
The skilled Boston workers' compensation lawyers at Dolman Law Group can help. If you got hurt at work and need financial support to help you pay for your injuries and losses, then contact us online or call our Boston office at (727) 351-6129 for a free case evaluation. You may have rights to more compensation than you realize.
Why Hire Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA?
Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, is an award-winning, national personal injury law firm. We represent individuals who have suffered harm because of someone else's careless or wrongful conduct, and injured workers who encounter challenges in obtaining the workers' compensation benefits they need and deserve.
Over the years, our team of experienced Boston personal injury attorneys has secured millions of dollars for clients injured in a wide variety of settings and scenarios. We cannot guarantee results for our clients, but we can promise to devote the full measure of our talents and resources to serving their interests and fighting to get them as much money as possible to help pay for their injuries and losses.
Overview of Boston Workers' Compensation
With few exceptions, all Massachusetts employers must carry workers' compensation insurance coverage to protect workers against the costs of medical care and missing work due to work-related injuries and illnesses. Workers' comp covers virtually all Massachusetts employees, including full-time, part-time, and day workers.
Workers' compensation pays sick and injured employees these general categories of benefits:
Workers' comp pays for all adequate and reasonable medical care needed by Boston workers who suffer on-the-job injuries or illnesses, including for the cost of doctor visits, treatments, surgery, medication, and travel to-and-from doctor's appointments.
Temporary Partial and Total Incapacity Benefits
A workplace injury that temporarily prevents you from returning to work in the same capacity as before your accident may entitle you to temporary incapacity benefits.
In Massachusetts, workers' comp pays these benefits for either partial or total incapacity.
- Partial incapacity occurs when you can still work, but the injury results in you earning less than before (such as because you can't work as many hours, or you need to temporarily do a differing, lower-paying job);
- Total incapacity occurs when your injury keeps you out of work for more than six calendar days, which don't need to be consecutive.
Incapacity benefits replace some of the income you lose because of your injury for the time while you remain partially or totally incapacitated.
Total and Permanent Incapacity Benefits
Boston workers whose work-related injury or illness prevents them from returning to work in any capacity ever again may also have the right to receive total and permanent incapacity benefits from workers' comp. These benefits pay 66 percent of the workers' gross average weekly wage—subject to adjustment for cost of living and state minimum-and-maximum income levels—for the duration of the worker's incapacity (often the rest of the worker's life).
Scarring, Disfigurement, and Permanent Loss of Bodily Function Benefits
Workers' compensation insurance in Massachusetts also includes a one-time payment for an injury that results in scarring (on the face, neck, or hands only), disfigurement, or loss of a bodily function.
- Burn scars on the face, neck, or hands;
- Amputation a limb or appendage;
- Crush injuries that deform or cause loss of function of a limb or appendage; or
- Loss of sight or hearing.
The size of this one-time payment depends on the nature and extent of the injury in question.
In the tragic case of a fatal work-related injury or illness, Massachusetts workers' compensation insurance pays a death benefit to the deceased workers' surviving spouse. The benefit pays surviving spouses 66 percent of the workers' gross average weekly wage, subject to cost-of-living adjustments and income limits. Minor children of a deceased worker may also receive a weekly benefit.
Workers' compensation also pays for reasonable funeral and burial costs.
Common Injuries Covered by Workers' Comp in Boston
Discussion of workplace injuries often brings to mind the sort of catastrophic accidents that happen on construction sites. That's understandable. About one in five workplace accident deaths occurs in the construction industry.
However, workers anywhere in Boston—from restaurant kitchens in the North End to offices in the Pru—can get hurt on the job.
Common work-related injuries and illnesses covered by workers' comp in Boston include:
- Traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, broken bones, and orthopedic injuries suffered in accidental falls;
- Burns from hot liquid spills or contact with open flames;
- Chronic and fatal illnesses resulting from exposure to toxic materials or conditions;
- Repetitive stress or overuse injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome; and
- Neck and back injuries, often related to lifting or reaching tasks.
This is only a partial list. Virtually any injury or illness that a Boston worker suffers because of an accident, incident, or condition connected to their work can qualify for coverage under workers' compensation insurance.
Contact the experienced Boston workers' comp lawyers at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA today to find out if workers' compensation covers your injury or illness.
Common Boston Workers' Compensation Scenarios
Workers throughout Boston get hurt and sick on-the-job in an extraordinarily diverse array of circumstances.
Common scenarios leading to workers' compensation claims in Boston include:
- Work-related motor vehicles accidents:
- Accidental falls due to unsafe workplace property conditions;
- Carelessness in commercial and restaurant kitchens;
- Body parts getting crushed in machinery;
- Failures of defective machinery or other dangerous work equipment.
- Workplace violence, including sexual assaults;
- Accidents and mishaps on Boston construction sites; and
- Short-term and long-term exposures to environmental hazards like asbestos, toxic chemicals, and mold.
As above, these are just a few examples of workplace accidents and incidents that can lead to injuries entitling Boston workers to workers' comp benefits. No matter what type of injury or illness you suffered, contacting the experienced Boston workers' compensation injury lawyers at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA can inform you about your rights and options for securing the compensation you need and deserve.
Steps to Take After a Boston Workplace Accident
Suffering an injury at work can feel embarrassing. Oftentimes, a worker's first instinct is to pretend nothing happened or to play down any pain or discomfort.
It's important, however, not to give in to that instinct. The steps you take after an accident can affect your rights to receive workers' compensation, and the types and amounts of benefits you may receive.
Report Any Injury or Illness Right Away
Regardless of how minor you think an injury or illness is, report it immediately to your employer. This triggers your employer's obligation to notify the workers' compensation insurance company about the incident and your injuries, which in turn starts the claim process that should result in you receiving benefits. Failing to report an injury or illness can slow down the claim process, and could even prevent you from receiving workers' comp payments.
Seek Medical Care
Get the medical care you need to treat your work-related injury or illness. Workers' comp covers this care.
For your first medical visit for an on-the-job illness or injury, your employer may require you to see a doctor your employer chooses. After that, you can choose what doctor to see.
Be sure to tell your doctor that you are seeking care for a workplace injury or illness. The workers' compensation insurance company will issue you an insurance card with a claim number on it for you to give to your doctor so that your doctor can bill your care directly to the insurance company.
As mentioned, your employer must report your Boston workplace injury or illness to the workers' compensation insurance company. You should receive a copy of that report automatically, but if not, make sure to ask your employer for it. Any attorney you retain will want to review it.
Also, keep copies of the medical records and any insurance-related statements or correspondence you receive related to your treatment. Your lawyer will also want to review these documents.
Finally, keep track of your mileage and expenses if you have to travel for medical appointments. Workers' compensation insurance usually covers these costs.
Contact a Boston Workers' Compensation Attorney
In Massachusetts, the workers' compensation system is designed to make it possible for you to receive workers' comp benefits without hiring an attorney. However, that does not mean you should go without one.
Involving an experienced Boston workers' comp attorney in your workers' compensation claim can benefit you in numerous ways.
Among other things, an attorney can:
- Ensure your claim gets filed and processed correctly;
- Follow-up with the workers' compensation insurance company to address its requests for information from you or your doctor;
- Challenge the partial or total denial of your claim; and
- Take the workers' comp insurance company to court if necessary to ensure you receive the benefits to which the law entitles you.
Common Reasons Workers' Comp Carries Give for Denying Claims
In an ideal world, injured or sick workers in Boston would report a health problem to their employer and then trust that the workers' compensation insurance process would treat them fairly.
Unfortunately, that is not the world we live in. Oftentimes (too-often, in our opinion), Boston workers encounter difficulty in securing the workers' comp benefits they deserve.
Most commonly, the workers' compensation insurance company denies their claims in-part or in-full.
Workers' comp insurance carriers give various reasons for denying claims, including:
- The worker did not report an injury or illness in time;
- The worker did not provide evidence of an injury or illness;
- The worker did not provide evidence that an injury or illness was work-related;
- The worker seeks coverage for a pre-existing condition;
- The worker seeks medical care that the insurance company deems “unreasonable”;
- The worker's injury results from serious and willful misconduct.
These are just some of the many explanations insurance companies might offer to justify their refusal to pay you the benefits you deserve. If you receive a partial or total denial of your claim for workers' comp, no matter what reasons the insurance company gives, then we encourage you to contact the skilled Boston workers' comp attorneys at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA right away for a free consultation with a member of our team.
Lump Sum Settlement of Boston Workers' Comp Claims
As a Boston worker who suffered an injury or illness connected to your work, you may have the option to settle your workers' comp claim for a lump sum payment, instead of receiving benefits paid over time.
Before you agree to any lump sum payment from a workers' compensation insurance company, however, we strongly urge you to connect with a member of the team at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA in Boston to learn about your rights and options.
A settlement is a contract between the injured party (you) and the workers' compensation insurance company that owes you money. In almost all cases, that agreement is final. You cannot take it back or reopen it if you discover, later on, that you agreed to settle for less money than you needed.
Do not make the mistake of thinking the workers' comp insurance company will always treat you fairly. Workers' compensation insurance companies are known to offer lump-sum settlements that fall far short of the amount of money an injured Boston worker has the right to receive.
Protect your rights by consulting with an experienced Boston workers' comp lawyer before you agree to any settlement, and before you sign any document the insurance company sends you.
Frequently Asked Questions About Boston Workers' Compensation Cases
Boston workers who get hurt or sick at work often have questions about their financial and legal rights. You can find general answers to some of the most common of those questions below.
For answers to your specific questions about a Boston workers' compensation claim affecting you or a loved one, contact a skilled attorney from Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA today.
I live and work in Boston. Am I covered by workers' comp?
Chances are very high that you are. Massachusetts law requires that virtually all employees in Massachusetts be covered by employer-provided workers' compensation insurance.
Only a few limited exceptions to this law exist, and even then, the employees exempted from the rule likely have coverage under an industry-specific insurance plan or trust fund that functions like workers' comp, such as those that exist for professional athletes, members of the armed forces, or certain government employees.
Your employer has a legal obligation to post a notice in your workplace informing you of your workers' compensation rights and coverages. You can also contact the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents at 617-626-5480 or 617-626-5481 to obtain that information.
What if my Boston employer does not carry workers' comp insurance?
It is illegal for most Boston employers to fail to purchase workers' compensation insurance covering their employees. An employer who does not carry workers' compensation insurance and does not fall under an exemption may face fines and penalties.
Employees of that employer, however, still have options to receive benefits if they get hurt or sick on-the-job. Employees of uninsured employers can often seek benefits instead of from the Massachusetts Workers' Compensation Trust Fund.
Filing a workers' comp claim through the Workers' Compensation Trust Fund is a different process than through an employer's private insurance company, however. If you discover that your employer does not carry workers' comp insurance covering your work-related injury or illness, then we strongly encourage you to contact a skilled attorney right away for help navigating the Trust Fund claims process.
Does my injury or illness qualify for workers' compensation benefits?
Most employees who suffer on-the-job injuries or illnesses in Boston qualify for workers' comp benefits.
The basic requirements for coverage are:
- You are an employee
- You suffered a work-related injury or illness
- You reported your injury or illness to your employer promptly
As noted above, some benefits apply only to certain types of injuries. For example, you cannot receive temporary total incapacity benefits unless you miss at least six calendar days from work (not necessarily consecutive) because of your work-related injury or illness.
What if I was injured at a Boston social work event?
Many employers require or strongly encourage their employees to participate in work-related social activities. These can range from meeting up with colleagues for an after-work happy hour, attending dinner or an event with an important customer, or playing on the company softball team.
Suffering an injury or illness in these activities may qualify you for workers' comp, but not always. The most important factor is whether your employer required your participation, and the specific purpose the activity served. Workers' compensation may, for example, cover your care after suffering food poisoning during a mandatory dinner with a client, but not if you twist your ankle playing pickup basketball after work with your co-workers.
An experienced Boston workers' compensation attorney can help you explore whether an injury that took place during a work-related activity qualifies for coverage under workers' comp.
How long do I have to file a Boston workers' comp claim?
From the time you discover your work-related illness or injury, Massachusetts law provides you four years to file your workers' compensation claim. This time gives you ample opportunity to discover your injuries or illness.
Just because you have four years to seek workers' comp, however, does not mean you should wait that long. For one thing, the sooner you file your claim, the sooner you can collect the benefits you are entitled to under your employer's workers' compensation policy. For another, the longer you wait to claim benefits, the higher the likelihood that workers' comp carrier will find a reason to dispute or deny your claim.
If you suffered injuries or illness in connection with your work in Boston, do not hesitate to contact Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA right away. Talking to a member of our team is free, confidential, and carries no obligation for you.
How much will my Boston workers' compensation benefits be?
It depends on your injury and its effect on your ability to work.
First, workers' comp pays the cost of reasonable and adequate medical care for your injury or illness. However, you rarely receive any of that money directly—instead, your medical provider simply bills the workers' compensation insurance company for your treatment in most cases.
If you suffer an incapacitating injury, then you may receive weekly benefits of between 60 percent and 66 percent of your gross average weekly wage as of when you got hurt or sick, subject to limits and cost-of-living adjustments.
Speaking with an experienced attorney can give you an idea of the range of benefits you may have the right to receive.
What if my Boston workers' comp claim is denied?
Your employer's workers' compensation insurance company has two weeks to review a claim seeking benefits for a work-related injury or illness. At the end of those two weeks, the insurer can approve the claim and begin paying benefits, approve part of the claim and deny the rest, or deny the entire claim.
If you receive a partial or total denial of your claim from the workers' compensation insurance company, you have an absolute right to file a claim appealing that decision to the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA).
The DIA follows a four-step dispute resolution process:
- Conciliation, which is an informal meeting between you, your attorney, the insurance company, and a DIA employee, in which the DIA attempts to find an agreeable resolution to the dispute.
- Conference, which is an informal proceeding before an administrative judge, at the end of which the judge may issue an order saying whether the insurer should pay you benefits.
- Hearing, a “trial” of your dispute with the insurance company before an administrative appeals judge.
- Review board, an “appeal” of your disagreements with the outcome of a hearing heard by a panel of three administrative judges.
The DIA strongly advises you to retain an experienced Boston workers' compensation lawyer to represent you in each of these four steps. Going without a lawyer and making a mistake at any point can cost you valuable rights.
At Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, we have years of experience representing clients in workers' compensation appeal proceedings.
What is not covered by workers' compensation in Boston?
Workers' compensation insurance covers many work-related injuries and illnesses. But not all of them. Understanding what's covered and what isn't can help you know how to proceed after getting hurt or sick in connection with your work.
If you suffer an injury at work that can be completely treated with a first aid kit, for example, then your injuries do not rise to the level of a workers' comp claim. But if your injuries are initially treated by the first aid kit and you later experience ongoing headaches or further pain at the injury site, that may rise to the level of needing to file a workers' comp claim.
If you were injured in a car accident on your commute or while out to lunch with colleagues, that may not be a covered injury. However, if your lunch was on the clock because you were meeting with clients, that may be covered.
To find out for sure if your injuries are covered under your employer's workers' comp plan, speak with a skilled Boston workers' comp attorney right away. Your ability to recover workers' comp benefits can depend on your choice of lawyer.
Can I file a claim against my employer in Boston?
In most cases, no.
Under Massachusetts law, if you are injured on the job in Boston, your recourse is through your employer's workers' comp coverage that pays for your medical care and some of your lost income. You generally cannot sue your employer or a co-worker who was at fault for your injuries.
However, oftentimes more than one company or person bears the blame for a workplace accident or injury. If the actions of someone other than your employer or a co-worker contributed to the cause of your injury or illness, then you may have the right to seek additional compensation, over-and-above your workers' comp benefits, by taking legal action against that other party.
In that type of legal action, you may have the ability to obtain damages that include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of life enjoyment
- Loss of companionship
At Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA in Boston, we dig deep into the facts of our clients' work-related injuries and illnesses to discover whether they have rights to financial compensation beyond those available through workers' comp insurance coverage. Our mission in every case is to secure the maximum amount of money possible for our clients' injuries and losses.
What if I can't return to my old job?
Sometimes workplace injuries are so severe that injured employees cannot return to their old job. The injuries you suffer from may prevent you from coming back to work and performing the same job you had before. But that does not mean your employer can fire you.
Under Massachusetts law, your employer must provide you with reasonable accommodation to help facilitate your return to work.
Reasonable accommodations could include:
- Reduction in hours
- Change in some job duties
- Complete change of job
- Reasonable assistance
- Special equipment
If your injuries are so serious that you cannot return to your old job, your employer must help you return to work for them by accommodating you in some other way. Most frequently, this happens by offering a new position to you. For example, if your injuries prevent you from standing for a long time, then your employer may shift your work duties to a desk job and remove some duties that involve standing or walking.
When will I start getting benefits?
Once your workers' compensation claim has been approved, you will start receiving benefits within a few weeks. Because it takes time for the insurance company to process your claim, there is a delay after approval as the insurance company calculates how much money to send you. This time may be delayed further if your claim is initially denied and you need to appeal.
You also need to be aware that you will not receive benefits to cover the first five days that you were out of work due to a workplace injury. Benefits start accruing on day six of your injury, excluding weekends.
What can your Boston workers' comp lawyers do for me?
Whether you have recently suffered a workplace injury or you have already received a denial of your workers' comp claim, a skilled Boston workers' comp lawyer can step in at any point in the process and help you obtain the benefits you deserve.
Navigating the complexities of workers' comp claims, determining whether your accident was work-related, gathering appropriate and necessary medical documents, and ensuring you meet tight filing deadlines, all become the job of your lawyer. Your sole focus should be on regaining your health and rebuilding your life.
Contact Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, or call us at (857) 407-4182 today for a free consultation with an experienced Boston workers' comp attorney who can explain your rights and options.
Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
76 Canal Street, Suite 302
Boston, MA 02114