Chelmsford, MA Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

When people are hurt at work in accidents, they might have a hard time recovering, and making ends meet becomes harder. A lawyer can help you get benefits through a Workers’ Compensation claim so you can get back on your feet.

To be eligible for Workers’ Compensation, you must be an employee within the meaning set by law, and your accident must be related to your job. You must also be unable to work for a specified amount of time. Benefits might cover medical costs, lost income, and significant disfigurement or lost body parts or functions. You might want to sue your boss for the accident, but this is typically prohibited unless special conditions exist. Starting a claim requires you to report your accident to your employer immediately. Waiting to report might jeopardize your benefits. If the insurance company disputes or denies your claim, call a lawyer to help you through the appeals process.

For a confidential review of your case for no charge, call our Workers’ Compensation lawyers at the Law Office of John J. Sheehan at (617) 925-6407.

Eligibility for Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Chelmsford, MA

You must meet specific legal criteria to qualify for Workers’ Compensation benefits. These benefits are only available to injured employees, and accidents must be related to work. There is sometimes confusion over who is considered an employee and who is not. More specifically, independent contractors are usually not eligible for benefits unless they buy Workers’ Compensation insurance on their own.


Workers’ Compensation benefits are available for employees. This might sound obvious, but it can be a major area of confusion. To be eligible for benefits, you must be an employee as described under Mass. Gen. Laws Ch. 152 § 1(4).

Under the law, an employee is broadly defined as anyone working in service to another under any contract for hire. This definition is so broad that it might be easier to examine workers who are explicitly described as not employees.

People not considered employees include seamen and people working on ships in interstate commerce, professional athletes, and salespeople and real estate agents who are paid based on sales. Our Workers’ Compensation lawyers can review your job situation to help determine if you are an eligible employee.

Independent Contractors

Under the law, independent contractors are not considered employees. Self-employed people often fall under this category. This means that if an independent contractor is injured on the job, the person who hired them is not responsible for providing Workers’ Compensation insurance.

How an independent contractor is defined is described under Mass. Gen. Laws Ch. 149 § 148B(a). A person might be considered an independent contractor if they have control over where, where, or how they perform their job, the work done is outside the normal work done by the person who hired them, and they are engaged in a trade or service that is of the same nature as the work you were providing when you were hurt at work.

It is not unusual for people who think they are employees to discover that their employers have misclassified them as independent contractors. This is sometimes a clerical error, but sometimes it is an illicit attempt by employers to get out of covering injured workers. Call your lawyer immediately if you find yourself in such a situation.

What Kind of Accidents Are Covered by Workers’ Compensation in Chelmsford, MA

Not all accidents are covered by Workers’ Compensation. When determining whether your accident is covered, there are a few important factors to consider with your lawyer. First, we must determine whether the accident was sufficiently related to your job. Second, we need to determine if your injuries from the accident are compensable.

The golden rule regarding Workers’ Compensation is that the accident in question must be sufficiently related to your job. In some cases, accidents are clearly and obviously related to your job. In other accidents, the connection is a bit more tenuous.

Some details to consider are where the accident happened and what you were doing. If the accident happened in your normal place of work and you were on the clock and actively performing normal job duties, your accident may be sufficiently work-related.

On the other hand, if the accident happened outside your typical workplace while you were on a break or otherwise off the clock, it might not be covered by Workers’ Compensation.

The difference between these situations is not always black and white. For example, you might travel for work, so your usual place of work changes. In cases like that, injuries while you are traveling might be covered by Workers’ Compensation.

You must miss a certain number of days of work to be eligible for benefits. According to the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA), you must miss at least 5 days of work to be eligible for benefits. These days do not need to be consecutive, and they may be partial days rather than full work days.

Potential Benefits You Might Claim Through Workers’ Compensation in Chelmsford, MA

Workers’ Compensation benefits may cover various injuries and losses related to an on-the-job accident. Not only can you receive compensation for things like medical bills, but you may also receive benefits for the income you lose while you cannot return to work. People who experience permanent injuries or disfigurement might be entitled to one-time payments in addition to these other benefits.

Medical Costs

Health care is famously expensive. Even if your injuries were not medically serious, they might be expensive to treat. For example, broken bones are common injuries that are treated by doctors all the time, and many patients fully recover with no complications. Even so, X-rays, painkillers, and getting a cast for broken bones can be very expensive. Fortunately, Workers’ Compensation benefits may cover the bills for any reasonably necessary medical treatment.

You should speak to an attorney if the insurance company refuses to cover medical costs because they claim the treatments were not medically necessary to your recovery. Our Workers’ Compensation lawyers can work with you and your doctor to prove to the insurance company that all the treatments you received were necessary for you to heal from your injuries.

Disfigurement, Scarring, or Lost Body Parts

Depending on what kind of work you do and the nature of your accident, your injuries might be pretty bad. Injuries might be so severe that you are left with significant scarring or disfigurements. You even have lost body parts or extremities because of the accident. If this happens, you might be entitled to a one-time payment of benefits in addition to benefits for medical costs and lost income.

How much these benefits are worth depends on the nature of your injuries. For example, someone who lost their entire left hand in a factory accident will likely receive greater compensation than someone who lost a single finger from their left hand. Still, both may receive benefits. If you claim benefits related to scarring or disfigurement, the affected areas must include your face, neck, or hands.

Lost Wages

One of the biggest concerns among injured workers is how they will make ends meet if they cannot return to work after an accident. Fortunately, Workers’ Compensation benefits may make up for a portion of the income you lose while you are unable to work. The extent of these benefits varies based on whether your injuries are temporary or permanent and whether you are totally or only partially incapable of working.

Benefits for permanent and total incapacity include weekly benefits of 66% of your gross average weekly earnings. Since people who are permanently injured and totally incapable of working likely can never return to work, they may continue receiving these benefits indefinitely.

Benefits for temporary total incapacity may be available for those who cannot work at all but are also expected to eventually recover and work again. You may receive 60% of your gross average weekly income for no more than 156 weeks.

If your incapacity is temporary and partial, your injuries are expected to recover, and you may still be able to work in the meantime, albeit to a lesser extent than before. In such a situation, you may receive 75% of the value of what your benefits would be for temporary total incapacitation. You can receive these benefits for as long as 260 weeks.

Can I File a Lawsuit and a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Chelmsford, MA?

Generally, injured employees cannot sue their employers in personal injury lawsuits for injuries sustained in work-related accidents. According to Mass. Gen. Laws Ch. 152 § 24, an employee waives their right to bring such a cause of action when they accept a contract for hire from an employer. This means that, barring very special circumstances, injured employees cannot sue their bosses for their injuries. Workers’ Compensation is the sole legal remedy.

While the circumstances under which an employee may sue their employer for their injuries are limited, they might apply in your case. First, you can sue your employer if they do not carry Workers’ Compensation insurance. Such a failure means there is no insurance policy that might cover you and no way to file a claim. Additionally, failing to carry Workers’ Compensation insurance is a legal violation, as most employers in Massachusetts must have this insurance.

You can also sue your employer if they deliberately caused the accident. Perhaps you believe your employer meant to cause you harm, or maybe they intentionally wanted an accident to happen so they could claim some insurance policy on the damaged equipment. Contact a lawyer immediately if you suspect your work-related accident was no accident.

When to Start a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Chelmsford, MA

To begin a claim, your first step is to report the accident to your employer. The sooner you inform your boss about the accident, the better. Your employer is responsible for notifying the insurance company that an accident has taken place. Proper documentation of the accident, which might not be possible if you hesitate to report it, is key to getting Workers’ Compensation benefits.

Not all injured workers report their accidents and injuries right away. Some are afraid to report accidents because they fear being blamed for the accident and subsequently fired. On the other hand, they might not initially think their injuries are serious and do not want to risk missing work. If you do not report the accident right away, you have no more than 4 years to do so.

What to Do if Your Workers’ Compensation Claim is Denied in Chelmsford, MA

Not all Workers’ Compensation claims work out in the end. If the insurance company denies your claim and refuses to provide you with benefits, talk to our legal team about how you can appeal this decision and hopefully have your claims reconsidered.

There are 5 stages of the Workers’ Compensation appeals process. The first is conciliation. During this stage, an informal meeting will take place between you and your attorney and a conciliator from the Department of Industrial Accidents. Essentially, this is an opportunity to explain the situation and hopefully convince the conciliator to have your claim reevaluated. If they do not agree with us, we move on to the next stage.

The second stage is a conference before an administrative law judge. We can submit documentation related to the accident, your injuries, and your income situation. The judge may review the case and order the insurance company to cover you. If the judge does not do this, we move to stage three.

Stage three is a formal hearing in front of an administrative law judge. This is somewhat similar to the conference in that documentation related to your accident and overall situation is submitted for review, but this occurs in a formal hearing rather than an informal conference. We can also call on witnesses at this time. Much like a trial, evidence may be submitted, witnesses cross-examined, and arguments made. If the judge still does not agree with us, we move to stage four.

Stage four takes the case before the Industrial Accidents Review Board. There are multiple administrative law judges on the board, and they may examine records from previous hearings and request additional information. The Board may reverse or uphold the previous decision. If they uphold it, we can take the case to the Massachusetts Court of Appeals

Call Our Chelmsford, MA Workers’ Compensation Lawyers for Help Today

For a confidential review of your case for no charge, call our Workers’ Compensation lawyers at the Law Office of John J. Sheehan at (617) 925-6407.