Billerica, MA Workers’ Compensation Attorney

Sometimes, accidents happen at work, and workers end up with steep medical bills and other costs, all because they were trying to do their jobs. If this sounds like your situation, you might be able to get financial help through Workers’ Compensation.

Workers’ Compensation is a form of insurance that all employers are required to carry for the benefit of injured employees. While all “employees” are covered, a worker must fit the legal definition of an employee. Benefits might include medical costs, a portion of lost income, and death benefits for the surviving family. To be eligible for Workers’ Compensation, you must be unable to work for a specific amount of time, usually about 5 days. While most injured employees typically cannot sue their employers, they can sue liable third parties. To submit a claim, call a lawyer and prepare information about your job and injuries, along with records from your doctor.

For help beginning your claim and a free review of your case, call the Law Office of John J. Sheehan at (617) 925-6407 and talk to our Workers’ Compensation lawyers.

What is Workers’ Compensation and When Can You File for Benefits in Billerica, MA?

Workers’ Compensation is a benefits system designed to financially assist injured employees. Workers’ Compensation should be available to all employees, and employers are required to provide Workers’ Compensation, according to Mass. Gen. Laws Ch. 152 § 25A. Often, employers provide compensation by purchasing insurance that pays for these benefits.

According to Mass. Gen. Laws Ch. 125 § 1(5), an employer is legally defined as a person or business that hires employees to do work. This is a very broad definition and likely includes many, if not most, examples of employers. Generally, non-profits are not considered employers.

Employees are covered by the Workers’ Compensation insurance provided by employers on their first day of work. If your boss tells you that you cannot file a claim because you did not work long enough to be covered, something might be amiss. Talk to a lawyer immediately.

You can file for Workers’ Compensation benefits if you are injured on the job. You do not have to prove fault when claiming benefits. You can be at fault for your accident and still eligible for Workers’ Compensation. As described in more detail below, your accident must be sufficiently related to your work, not merely incidental or loosely connected to your job.

Employees and Workers Usually Covered by Workers’ Compensation in Billerica, MA

While all employers are required by law to provide Workers’ Compensation insurance, only employees are covered. Not all workers are considered to be employees within the legal definition. Under Mass. Gen. Laws Cg. 152 § 1(4), an employee is anyone in the service of someone else under any contract of hire, with the exception of a few.

The definition of an employee is very broad, but a few specific types of workers are excluded. People working on sea vessels or ships engaged in interstate or international commerce are not considered employees. Professional athletes, real estate salespeople paid only on commission, and other salespeople paid solely by commission are also not legally considered employees for purposes of Workers’ Compensation.

Independent contractors are also excluded from this definition. For some, determining whether they are an employee or an independent contractor is tricky. Generally, independent contractors are in more control of how and when they work. According to Mass. Gen. Laws Ch. 149 § 148B, an independent contractor might determine what kind of prices to charge for their services, how and when they work, and various other factors. The people they work for are not employers but clients.

Sometimes, people who should be considered employees go to file Workers’ Compensation claims only to discover their employer has misclassified them as an independent contractor. This could be an error or oversight, but it might not be. Employers sometimes do this so they do not have to pay for the necessary insurance. If you believe you have been duped, call our Workers’ Compensation attorneys immediately.

Possible Benefits Through Workers’ Compensation in Billerica, MA

The benefits provided through Workers’ Compensation can greatly help injured workers. According to the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents, benefits may cover medical costs, some of your lost earnings, and even benefits for family members if the injured employee does not survive their injuries.

Medical Costs

Workers’ Compensation may cover the costs of your medical care after an accident at work. This might be a very large amount of money, depending on your injuries and medical care. While Workers’ Compensation will cover medical costs, not all forms of treatment might be covered.

Generally, Workers’ Compensation will pay for adequate and reasonably necessary medical treatment for your injuries. This might include the surgery necessary to repair your injuries but not the follow-up cosmetic procedures to reduce scarring from the first surgery.

Workers’ Compensation tends to cover the costs of prescription medicine, travel expenses to and from treatment, and medical aids like wheelchairs or crutches, in addition to necessary treatment. Your employer may have you visit a doctor of their choosing for your first visit, but you also have the right to see a doctor of your choice after that first visit.

Lost Wages

The good thing about Workers’ Compensation is that it may cover your lost wages after a workplace accident. The downside is that only a portion of your lost income is covered, so you might still have to tighten your budget until you return to work.

If you are totally unable to work while you recover, you might qualify for temporary total incapacity benefits. You may receive up to 60% of your gross average weekly income based on the 52 weeks before your accident. These benefits may continue for no more than 156 weeks.

If you are able to work somewhat but not to the extent you could work before the accident, you might qualify for temporary partial incapacity benefits. Since you can still work, albeit less than before, you may receive three-quarters of the benefits for temporary total incapacity. Put another way, that is 75% of what would be 60% of your average weekly wages. These benefits may last for no longer than 260 weeks.

Suppose you are totally unable to work because of your injuries, and you are permanently incapacitated and cannot work ever again. In that case, you may be eligible for permanent and total incapacity benefits. These benefits are a bit higher and include 66% of your gross average weekly earnings. The best part about these benefits is that they may last indefinitely.

Death Benefits

Perhaps you were not the one hurt in an on-the-job accident. If instead your spouse or parent was the one who was hurt, you might qualify for benefits if they did not survive. Survivors’ and dependents’ benefits may be paid to surviving spouses, and children who are under 18, full-time students, or cannot work because of a disability.

These benefits may amount to 66% of your spouse or parent’s average weekly wage. A surviving spouse can continue receiving benefits as long as they do not remarry.

Am I Eligible for Workers’ Compensation in Billerica, MA?

If you were injured at work, you might not necessarily be eligible for Workers’ Compensation. Our Workers’ Compensation attorneys will consider numerous qualifying criteria when starting your benefits application. To begin, your accident must be sufficiently related to your job. Accidents that happen outside your workplace or when you are off-duty might not qualify you for benefits.

The line between job-related and non-job-related accidents is sometimes blurry. For example, what if you travel for work? If you are injured while traveling for work, your accident might still qualify you for Workers’ Compensation. However, you might be out of luck if you were not working or were performing unauthorized errands when the accident happened.

You cannot claim Workers’ Compensation benefits if you have been injured for only a day or so. Generally, you need to miss at least 5 days of work to be eligible for benefits. These days do not have to be consecutive and may occur over a longer period. However, they must occur within 4 years of your injury.

Can I File a Case Against My Employer After an Accident at Work in Billerica, MA?

Typically, an injured employee who is eligible for Workers’ Compensation cannot sue their employer, barring special circumstances. According to Massachusetts law, an employee is presumed to have waived their right of action for injuries against their employer. To preserve this right, you would need to submit written notice to your employer at the time of your hiring contract.

Even so, there are specific circumstances under which you might sue your boss for your injuries. First, you can sue them if they fail to carry the necessary Workers’ Compensation insurance to provide you with benefits. Employees are only shielded from liability if they actually provide employees with coverage. If they do not, they open themselves up to liability.

Second, your employer may be sued if they purposefully caused your injuries or deliberately created the unsafe conditions that led to your accident. While Workers’ Compensation may shield employers from liability negligence, at least to an extent, it does not protect them from liability for intentional torts. Talk to your lawyer immediately if you believe your boss intended the accident to happen.

Possible Lawsuits if You File for Workers’ Compensation in Billerica, MA

You are not barred from pursuing legal action against liable third parties. A third party might be someone who is not directly connected to your employment but played a role in causing your workplace accident. A common example of a liable third party involves product liability claims.

If you were injured at work because of a defective or damaged product, you can sue the manufacturer or anyone else in the chain of sale as a possibly liable third party. For example, suppose you work in a warehouse and regularly use a forklift as part of your job. Next, suppose the new forklift in your warehouse malfunctioned because the brakes failed, and you got hurt. You can sue the manufacturer of the faulty forklift for your injuries.

How to Submit Your Workers’ Compensation Claims in Billerica, MA

Generally, once an employee has been incapacitated for the requisite amount of time (i.e., at least 5 days of work), their employer must submit the proper forms to the Department of Industrial Accidents and the insurance company that covers them. Once the insurance company has notice of the case, they may investigate and decide whether the injured worker is covered.

Unfortunately, employers are not always reliable, and they might fail to submit the notice of the case to the insurance company. If that is the case, you might need a lawyer to help you submit the claim on your own. It is best to have a lawyer in these situations, as dealing with insurance companies is not known for being simple and easy. If the insurance company denies your claim, you and your attorney can begin the appeals process.

Why You Need an Experienced Lawyer in Billerica, MA to Help File Your Workers’ Compensation Claim

It might sound like you do not need a lawyer for a Workers’ Compensation claim. Ideally, your employer should be helping you submit your case to the insurance company and other necessary parties. However, the process is rarely this straightforward.

Employers might deceive their employees and fail to file the paperwork. On the other hand, the employer might make mistakes when submitting the forms and cause the worker’s case to be denied. Having a lawyer by your side as soon as you are injured can help you avoid these and other legal pitfalls. Your lawyer can help make sure all forms and paperwork are properly filled out, and hopefully get your benefits started as soon as possible.

Call Our Billerica, MA Workers’ Compensation Attorneys for Legal Help Today

For help beginning your claim and a free review of your case, call the Law Office of John J. Sheehan at (617) 925-6407 and talk to our Workers’ Compensation lawyers.