If you are injured or become ill on the job in Massachusetts, the law says you are entitled to benefits under the Workers’ Compensation system. These benefits help compensate you for your medical expenses and for any time you may lose from work because of your injury. The Massachusetts state agency that oversees the Workers Compensation System is the Department of Industrial Accidents, more commonly called the DIA.
Types of Workers’ Comp Benefits in Massachusetts
The amount of benefits you receive will depend, in part, on the extent of your injury. The DIA classifies benefits according to whether an injured worker is —
- Temporarily totally incapacitated;
- Partially incapacitated;
- Permanently totally incapacitated; or
- Permanently lost function, visible scarring and disfigurement.
Workers’ Comp will also pay benefits for medical treatment related to the injury or illness. It also pays for burial expenses and for survivors’ and dependents’ benefits for workers whose on-the-job injury or illness is fatal.
What to Do if You Are Injured on the Job
There are three things you should do if you are injured or become ill on the job:
- Get any immediate medical treatment that you need;
- Notify your employer; and
- File a claim for Workers’ Compensation with the DIA.
In Massachusetts, you have four years to file a claim. However, the sooner you file your claim, the better. The longer you put it off, the more problems you may have getting your benefits.
How to File for Workers’ Compensation in MA
You must fill out an Employee Claim – Form 110. Then make two copies. Mail the original to the DIA, and send one copy to the insurance carrier. Keep a copy for yourself. An experienced Workers’ Compensation attorney can help you complete the form.
What Happens Next?
After you have notified your employer of your injury or illness —
- Your employer must also file a form with the DIA and the insurance company;
- The insurance company must complete an investigation of the claim within 14 days;
- The insurance company determines what benefits it will pay.
If you do not agree with the decision of the insurance company, you can dispute it with the DIA. The dispute process has four parts:
- A conciliation session, where you meet with the insurance company. The outcome of this session is only binding if you agree to it.
- A conference, where you again meet with the insurance company. This time, if there is no agreement, an Administrative Judge will issue a temporary order.
- If either you or the insurance company wants to appeal the judge’s order, then you will have a formal hearing before an Administrative Judge. The hearing is very similar to a trial in court.
- There is one more appeal stage left. If you or the insurer want to appeal the decision the Judge made at the hearing, you can appeal to the Workers’ Compensation Review Board.
Why You Need a Workers’ Compensation Attorney
As you can see from the outline of the dispute procedure above, disputing a Workers’ Comp claim is a complicated procedure. Many steps are involved. The DIA, the Massachusetts State department that oversees the whole Workers’ Compensation system, says that “it is strongly advised that you seek legal counsel to protect your rights and interests, due to the complexity of the workers’ compensation law.” The DIA says that you have the right to try to dispute your claim on your own without an attorney, but they don’t recommend that you try it.
When choosing a Workers’ Compensation attorney, you should seek out an attorney who has many years of experiencerepresenting workers in Workers’ Compensation disputes. Also, look for an attorney who will provide aggressive representation and who will respond quickly to your questions.
I have been representing injured workers since 1993. If you or a loved one suffered an illness or injury on the job, and you have any questions, please contact me at any time. I will be glad to meet you and discuss your options in my Boston office, at your home, or in the hospital.
Photo via flickr by Mass Travel