Chelsea Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
If you have suffered an injury or developed an illness while on the job in Chelsea, you are probably dealing with heavy medical bills, losing out on wages while missing time at work, and struggling with the personal consequences of your condition. Fortunately, you may be able to obtain financial relief through Workers’ Compensation insurance.
Workers’ Compensation insurance benefits employees who suffer injuries while at work resulting from accidents or employer negligence. If another party caused the injurious accident, however, you may be able to file a lawsuit against that party to potentially recover even more in damages.
Call the Law Office of John J. Sheehan at (617) 941-9464 and get a free, private case review from our Workers’ Compensation lawyers.
How Workers’ Compensation Applies in Chelsea
According to Massachusetts law, Workers’ Compensation is the means by which injured employees get compensated when they get injured on the job. Workers’ Compensation insurance will benefit any employee who gets injured or ill while at work.
To get access to these benefits, you must fit the definition of an employee. Generally, under Mass. Gen. Laws Ch. 152 § 152(4), the definition of employee includes anyone working for hire for another person or business entity. Still, you should consult with our Workers’ Compensation attorney about whether you fit this definition, as many exceptions exist. Anyone who is technically an independent contractor, such as a rideshare driver, is not an employee in the traditional sense. Exceptions also exist for certain types of occupations, such as longshoremen and real estate salespeople, that derive income entirely from commission on sales.
Another critical issue is determining whether you sustained the injury while at work. Some cases are fairly cut and dry, like if you slipped and fell on the construction site where you were working. However, some jobs do not have an established physical space, like those where you drive on your employer’s behalf. This can get tough if you were to be injured in a car accident because you will need to show that you were actively doing your job at that point. If you are unsure whether you suffered your injury at work, contact an experienced Workers’ Compensation lawyer for help.
Workers’ Compensation also covers illnesses. However, to apply for coverage for an illness, you must show that you developed your condition from doing your job or being at your place of work. If you work close to dangerous or toxic substances like asbestos, you could develop serious conditions such as cancer or respiratory conditions. You will want an attorney’s help to demonstrate the connection between your illness and your job.
Potential Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Chelsea
Workers’ Compensation benefits are so important after an on-the-job accident because they cover a wide range of injuries and losses. Not only may these benefits help make up for part of your lost income, but they might also cover medical expenses and damages for permanent scarring or disabilities. If you lost a loved one in a work-related accident, you may be eligible for benefits.
While Workers’ Compensation benefits can help make up for some of your lost earnings, they usually do not cover 100% of your lost wages and income. The portion of your lost earnings you might recover depends on the nature of your injuries.
You might be eligible to receive benefits for temporary total incapacitation. This is for people who are totally unable to work due to their injuries, but their injuries are temporary and will eventually recover. If eligible, you may receive 60% of your gross average weekly earnings based on your earnings from the 52 weeks before your injury. To be eligible, you must be unable to work for at least 6 consecutive or non-consecutive days because of your injuries from the accident. You can continue receiving these benefits for no longer than 156 weeks.
You might instead be eligible for temporary partial benefits, which are meant for those whose injuries only partly inhibit their ability to work and are expected to recover. You may receive these benefits if you can still work with your injuries but to a lesser extent than you could pre-injuries. You can receive 75% of what would be your benefits for temporary total incapacity for up to 260 weeks.
For those who are so severely injured that they are totally incapacitated and their injuries are permanent, they may receive 66% of their gross average weekly income. You can continue receiving these benefits for as long as you remain unable to work, even indefinitely.
One of the biggest reasons injured employees file Workers’ Compensation claims is that they cannot afford their medical bills. You should not have to foot the bill because you were injured in an accident that was not your fault or caused by conditions at work beyond your control.
Workers’ Compensation may cover the costs of all reasonably necessary medical treatment. This can be great for people who need extensive medical care or numerous follow-up treatments. Just remember, only treatment that is considered reasonably necessary may be covered.
If the insurance company refuses to cover certain medical expenses because they claim the treatments were unnecessary, you should contact an attorney.
Scarring, Disfigurement, and Loss of Function
Some injured workers live with permanent scarring or disfigurement after a bad accident. In some cases, injured workers might be eligible for compensation for these permanent changes in their bodies. You may receive a one-time payment if you have scarring or disfigurement on your face, neck, or hands. You might also receive a payment if you lost a body part or bodily function. This payment may be in addition to other medical bills and benefits for lost wages. The amount of these benefits depends on how severe your scarring, disfigurement, or loss is.
If a worker is hurt on the job and does not survive their injuries, their family might be entitled to certain survivors’ benefits. You may receive benefit payments if you are the spouse or child of an employee who passed away as a result of a work-related accident. Children may only be eligible if they are younger than 18, full-time students, or cannot work due to physical or mental disabilities.
A surviving spouse may receive benefits equaling 66% of the deceased worker’s average weekly income. They may even have their benefits adjusted each year for changes in the cost of living. If the surviving spouse remarries, eligible children may receive $60 every week. Finally, you can recover burial costs.
A surviving spouse may continue receiving benefits as long as they do not remarry and remain dependent on their deceased spouse’s income.
How to Begin a Claim for Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Chelsea
Since Workers’ Compensation is typically paid through insurance maintained by employers, claims usually begin with a notification to your employer. You should report any accidents and injuries to your employer right after they happen.
Employees sometimes do not report accidents right away because they do not feel badly injured and do not want to get in trouble for the accident. Then, when they are too injured to work, their Workers’ Compensation claim is more complicated because they did not report fast enough.
Ideally, your employer should notify their insurance company of your claim. If the insurance company agrees to cover you, you should be fine. However, you should contact an attorney for help if the insurance company disputes your claim.
Many claims are denied because of simple mistakes made by employers when they report to insurance companies or by insurance company employees when they review the claim. On the other hand, your lawyer can help you through the appeals process and hopefully get your claim reconsidered.
Filing a Workplace Injury Lawsuit for Third-Party Negligence in Chelsea
In most cases, the exclusive path to recover for a workplace injury in Chelsea and the rest of the Commonwealth is through a Workers’ Compensation claim. Lawsuits against employers are usually prohibited, barring special circumstances. However, there are some instances where the injured party can file a lawsuit against the at-fault party to recover damages.
Massachusetts law requires that injured workers seek their monetary remedy through Workers’ Compensation if their injury was caused by their employer’s negligence or if no fault was assigned for the accident. Put differently, if the accident was merely an accident, or your employer caused it, you cannot sue your employer for damages. However, this requirement does not apply where the injured party was not an employee or where a non-employing party was to blame for the injury.
Independent Contractor as the Injury Victim
If you were not an employee, the law does not require you to go through Workers’ Compensation. This is because independent contractors often do not receive Workers’ Compensation insurance coverage through parties with whom they do business, as they are technically self-employed. If you are not sure whether you are a traditional employee or an independent contractor, our Workers’ Compensation lawyers may be able to help explain the differences as they apply to you.
Contractor as the At-Fault Party
Whether you were an employee or not, you can still look to sue non-employing entities if their own negligence, recklessness, or intentional behavior caused the accident that harmed you. Suppose your employer contracted with a third-party contractor who fell short in their responsibilities. In that case, they may be liable for your damages if their failures were the cause of your injuries. Examples of third parties that may incur liability for negligence in a workplace injury include construction subcontractors, electricians and plumbers, and safety inspection companies.
You may also be able to step outside Workers’ Compensation if a faulty product caused your injury. Defective devices or machines can put the workers who use them in harm’s way. Liability for these types of accidents almost always lies with the manufacturing company that produced the defective product. Our experienced Workers’ Compensation attorneys can help you through the complex process of proving that a manufacturer negligently sold a product with defects.
Differences Between Suing and Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Chelsea
In many cases, injury victims may not have the choice between filing a workers’ compensation claim or pursuing legal action in court. However, where the choice does exist, it is important that you identify not only your ability to choose for yourself but also the benefits of suing over filing a Workers’ Compensation claim.
Specifically, lawsuits are often the much more lucrative path where available. This is because calculations for damages in a lawsuit will account for all of your harms, whether they be financial or personal in nature. Workers’ Compensation claims, on the other hand, only provide up to a certain amount of compensation that is predetermined by the applicable policy limits. Insurance claims also do not account for the non-economic damages caused by the accident and injuries, like the effects of chronic pain and discomfort on your daily life.
Discuss Your Case with a Chelsea Workers’ Compensation Attorney Today
Talk to our Workers’ Compensation lawyers at the Law Office of John J. Sheehan today for an initial assessment of your case for free. Call us at (617) 941-9464.