Haverhill Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
After employees suffer on-the-job injuries in Haverhill, they should be afforded the Workers’ Compensation benefits that they are entitled to under Massachusetts law. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Employers and insurance companies often try to find potential cracks in workers’ claims. They will look for any excuse to avoid paying out benefits in full.
Benefits may include a portion of lost earnings, medical expenses, and survivor benefits for families of injured workers who passed away. To begin your claim, report your injuries to your employer so they can report everything to the insurance company. Speaking with a lawyer as soon as possible is a good idea, just in case your claims are denied. Claims are denied for various reasons. The insurance company might believe you are not eligible for benefits, your injuries do not meet the necessary criteria, or mistakes were made during the filing process. If your employer does not have insurance, you might be able to sue them for damages.
Speak with our Workers’ Compensation attorneys at the Law Office of John J. Sheehan by calling (617) 812-5015 today and schedule a case assessment free of charge.
Possible Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Haverhill
Numerous benefits are available through the Workers’ Compensation system. You can receive benefits covering medical costs to treat your injuries and a portion of the income you lose while out of work. You might be entitled to survivor benefits if you lost a loved one in a work accident.
Compensation for Lost Wages
One of the biggest concerns among injured workers is how they will make ends meet if they can no longer work. If the Workers’ Compensation system covers your injuries, you may recover a portion of your lost wages as part of your benefits. How much of your lost wages you may receive depends on the extent of your injuries.
Some claimants experience partial disability because of their injuries. In cases like this, claimants might still be able to work, but their earning capacity is much lower. They might only work very limited hours or do jobs that are paid less. These benefits may last up to 260 weeks, and claimants may receive 75% of the benefits they would receive for total incapacity, as discussed below.
Benefits for total incapacity benefits apply when an injured worker cannot work at all because of their injuries. They may receive 60% of their average weekly wage for up to 156 weeks.
If your injuries are permanent and leave you incapable of ever working again, your benefits for lost wages may be higher. You can receive 66% of your average weekly wage for as long as you are disabled, even indefinitely.
Many injured workers do not think about the costs of their medical care when filing for Workers’ Compensation. They might have health insurance through their employer that covers much of these costs, and their main focus is likely on the income they might lose. However, you can receive benefits for medical treatment.
There is one important caveat here. Only medical treatment that is reasonably necessary to your recovery may be covered. This often includes treatment in the emergency room, surgeries, physical therapy, mobility aids, medication, and much more. However, certain procedures that might be considered elective might not be covered unless you can show they are reasonably necessary for you to recover.
Not all Workers’ Compensation claims are filed by injured employees. In many cases, the injured employees do not survive their accidents, and their family members file a claim for survivor benefits. You might be eligible for these benefits if a child or spouse passes away because of a work-related injury. Children may be eligible to receive these benefits only if they are younger than 18, are full-time students, or cannot work because of a disability.
You may receive survivor’s benefits, including two-thirds of your deceased loved one’s weekly income. If a surviving spouse remarries, surviving eligible children may receive $60 per week. A surviving spouse may continue receiving survivor’s benefits as long as they need if they do not remarry.
How to Start a Haverhill Worker’s Compensation Claim
To begin a Workers’ Compensation claim, you must immediately report your accident and any injuries to your employer. When injuries are severe, and workers are rushed from work to the hospital, employers are often notified quickly. The problem is with workers whose injuries do not seem serious at first. They might not report their accident or injuries to their employer for days or weeks until their injuries worsen to the point that they cannot work.
Once you report the injuries to your employer, they should notify the insurance company. At this point, you might not yet be eligible for Workers’ Compensation. You become eligible once you have missed at least 5 work days because of your injuries. These days do not have to be consecutive.
In many cases, insurance companies will review the reports and information submitted to them about the accident and the workers’ injuries before approving them for benefits. In other cases, the insurance company might push back on the claim or deny it altogether. Our Workers’ Compensation attorneys can help you fight the insurance company and get your claims approved.
Why are Workers’ Compensation Claims Rejected in Haverhill?
There are several reasons why a Workers’ Compensation claim may be denied:
The Illness or Injury was Not Properly Reported
Workers’ Compensation laws require that you let your employer know if you suffered an on-the-job accident. When injured employees fail to file prompt, detailed reports with their bosses, their claims may be denied.
Accordingly, you should notify your boss of your work-related injury in writing as quickly as you can. Your report ideally should include information regarding what injury you suffered, where it occurred, when it occurred, and what you were doing when the injury happened. Furthermore, you should assert why your workplace accident happened if possible.
The Illness or Injury is Not Work-Related
For your claim for benefits to prevail, you must be able to show that your injury was sustained while performing duties for your job. Otherwise, a claim could be denied. For example, your employer’s insurance company may attempt to deny your claim by asserting that your illness or injury stems from a pre-existing condition unrelated to your job. Substantial evidence may be required to show that the damages you incurred are work-related.
The Claimant is Not a Covered Employee
According to Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation laws, benefits may be available to nearly any worker who earns wages or a salary, whether employed part-time or full-time. However, to be covered, potential claimants must be classified as “employees.” Therefore, independent contractors often cannot collect Workers’ Compensation benefits after being hurt on the job.
In Massachusetts, a worker is presumed to be an employee unless someone challenging that designation can show the following: (1) that the worker is free from the presumed employer’s control, (2) that the service provided by the worker is of a type outside the employer’s typical course of business, and (3) that the worker must be customarily engaged in an independent trade of the same type as the one being performed.
Still, there are other routes to compensation for independent contractors after suffering injuries at work.
What if Your Employer Does Not Carry Workers’ Compensation Insurance in Haverhill?
Employers in Massachusetts have to provide Workers’ Compensation coverage for their employees. If your boss is not properly insured, you may be able to file a lawsuit against him for the financial compensation you are owed.
Furthermore, if your employer is not covered, you may recover benefits by filing a claim with the Workers’ Compensation Trust Fund (WCTF). The WCTF is a special revenue fund that the state treasury has established. It can pay injured employees in Massachusetts for their lost wages and medical bills. However, before filing a claim with the WCTF, you must check with the Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA) insurance registry to ensure that your employer was uncovered on the date of your injury.
Common Causes of Workplace Injuries in Haverhill
There are several potential causes of workplace accidents, including the following. Some of these injuries are more common in particular fields of work, while others can affect workers across any field or industry. In many cases, these injuries can lead to Workers’ Compensation claims, but the specific details of each case are important in deciding whether you qualify for benefits.
Overexertion is a very common cause of workplace harm. For example, employees regularly sustain muscle sprains and strains when trying to pull, lift, push, or carry heavy materials.
Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall accidents can be especially harmful for senior citizens and those with pre-existing injuries. In some instances, slip and fall accidents happen because of dangerous conditions like slippery floors, stray wiring, loose mats, and poor lighting.
Workplace violence is another serious cause of work injuries. For example, a store clerk may be assaulted by an overly aggressive and unstable customer.
Exposure to Harmful Substances
Construction workers, landscapers, painters, and factory workers are especially susceptible to injuries from exposure to harmful, toxic, or carcinogenic (cancer-causing) substances. Some examples of dangerous chemicals that may be present in the workplace include asbestos, arsenic, benzine, lead, mercury, ammonia, iodine, and formaldehyde.
Strikes from Falling Objects
Strikes from falling objects can cause severe injuries like broken bones and traumatic brain injuries. Fortunately, employees who suffer these injuries can often seek Workers’ Compensation benefits.
Do You Need to Prove Fault for Your Workers’ Compensation Claim in Haverhill?
You do not need to prove that someone else caused your injury for your Workers’ Compensation claim to succeed. Workers’ Compensation benefits are typically awarded regardless of who is at fault for the claimant’s injuries.
There are very rare circumstances where claims can be denied based on fault. For instance, your claim may be rejected if the insurer can prove that you purposely injured yourself or were drunk when your accident happened.
When to Speak to a Lawyer About Your Haverhill Workers’ Compensation Case
In a perfect world, injured workers would hire lawyers right after their accidents, and their lawyers would help them file their compensation claims. Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world. Many people initiate a Workers’ Compensation with the help of an employer rather than an attorney.
For some, their claims are not disputed by insurance companies, and injured workers may receive benefits without hiring a lawyer or navigating the judicial system. Even so, it is a good idea to speak to a lawyer before your claim is filed or while it is pending, so you have an idea of what to expect and what to do if your claim is denied.
Unfortunately, not all injured workers are so fortunate. If your claims are disputed, you need to hire a lawyer to help you as quickly as possible. You may need to appeal the decision, and you might have a limited time to do so. Your claim might have been denied because of a very fixable mistake, or there might be a challenge on a more fundamental level. Your lawyer can help you make sense of things and hopefully get you the compensation you need.
After Being Hurt at Work in Haverhill, Reach Out to Our Law Firm for Assistance with Your Workers’ Compensation Claim
Get in touch with our experienced Workers’ Compensation lawyers by calling the Law Office of John J. Sheehan today at (617) 812-5015 and make an appointment for a free evaluation of your case.