Most people probably find comfort in the fact that the vast majority of employers in Massachusetts are required by law to carry workers’ compensation insurance. When you are injured at work, so long as you were acting within the nature and scope of your employment, you may have a workers’ compensation claim to recover a portion of your salary. This compensation may be in addition to medical bill or treatment payments incurred while away from work. “Acting within the nature and scope of employment” essentially means you were: (1) doing something that is something you normally do at work (i.e. part of your job description, daily tasks, regularly conducted activities that you are expected to perform) or something at the direct instruction of your superior and (2) whatever behavior that led to the injury was in furtherance of carrying out the task.
Workers’ compensation cases can be viable whether you are a manual labor employee or an office employee, although manual labor occupations, such as construction, tend to have far more claims than other occupations. Regardless of the type of occupation, there are a number of things to remember when filing a workers’ compensation case.
Failure to Properly/Timely Inform Employer of Injury
A workers’ compensation case is not automatically started when you become injured at work. You have a responsibility to notify your employer in a timely manner when you become injured. Failure to do so may bar your claim. It is also a good idea to provide the notification in writing, so you can keep a copy for your records. After the notification to your employer, the employer must fill out a form to provide to the insurer within 30 days of your injury; failure to do so may mean you need to send it in. All information about your employer’s workers’ compensation coverage is available through your employer and must be provided to you by law.
Relationship Between Employer and Employee
Just because someone appears to be in an employee-employer relationship does not necessarily mean this is true in the eyes of the law. Under the laws of agency, certain standards are required for there to be a recognized employee-employer relationship that would give rise to liability. Generally, a person is considered an employee when the employer exercises substantial control, responsibility, or decision-making authority over the person. This can get extremely confusing if there are independent contractors involved, or if there is some reason that the employer could challenge that the injured party is not an employee of theirs at all.
Prior Workers’ Compensation Claims or Injuries
The insurance company may need to know if you have filed any prior workers’ compensation claims, whether it was through the same or previous employer. They may also ask about pre-existing medical conditions or injuries you had prior to your work injury. These questions will not necessarily bar your workers’ compensation claim, but it is important to be honest about this information to ensure the insurance company can process your request as quickly as possible.
Present Ability to Work
Under your employer’s workers’ compensation policy, you may be required to visit certain “approved” doctors for certain services. If one of these doctors finds that you are able to return to “light duty” work (limited hours, different tasks, etc.), you are required by law to do so. You may still receive workers’ compensation benefits, less the amount you earn from your contributing work.
Boston Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Being injured at work can be painful, emotionally traumatizing, and financially burdensome. Attorneys at our office are familiar with working with employers and insurance companies and will help ensure you receive the maximum benefits you are entitled to by law, and that you begin receiving payments as soon as possible. Our experienced Boston area workers’ compensation attorneys can make sure your paperwork is filled out correctly and will move through the system as expeditiously as possible. To learn more about your legal rights as an employee, contact us today.