I’ve Just Been Injured At Work, What Should I Do?

You’re at work. It’s like any other workday on the jobsite, when suddenly, the unthinkable happens. You’re rushed to the emergency room with serious injuries-possibly a broken back and a head injury.

“How am I going to afford this medical treatment? What if I can’t go back to work? What about my family?” A dozen questions flood your head immediately. But there’s no need to panic, we’re here to help you.

Under Massachusetts General Law Chapter 152, Section 25A, employers are responsible for providing workers’ compensation insurance coverage to all of their employees. That means that workers, in any line of work, are supposed to be guaranteed benefits should they become ill or injured while on the job-even if they are the ones who caused the accident and subsequently, their own injury. The benefits may include compensation for lost wages after the first five calendar days of full or partial disability, medical treatment related to the employee’s illness or injury, and job retraining for qualifying employees.

How do you know if you qualify?

Employees can begin qualifying for benefits temporary total incapacitation benefits if their injury or illness has prevented them from returning to work for 5 or more full or partial workdays, which do not have to be consecutive. Employees who require medical attention for their injury or illness are entitled compensation for their care including reimbursement for travel and prescriptions.

By law, your employer must file the Employer’s Report of Injury or Fatality with seven business days from his/her employee’s fifth day of lost time. If an employer does not file this form, an employee may submit an injury report in writing directly to the insurance company. Your employer is required to have a poster displayed in the workplace with the name and address of its workers’ compensation insurer and policy information.

What are the benefits of collecting workers’ compensation?

Temporary Total Incapacitation Benefits: temporary total incapacitation benefits are for individuals who are left unable to work for five or more workdays. These benefits do not discriminate against age, training or experience.
– Employees are entitled to receive 60% of their gross pay. Benefits are determined by the sum of an employee’s total gross earnings, including overtime and bonuses. Employees who’ve only worked for their current employer a portion of the year can determine their benefits by referring back to their earnings from the prior year.
– Benefits can be received up to 156 weeks or 3 years.

Partial Incapacity Benefits: partial incapacity benefits are for individuals who are still able to work, but lose part of their earning capacity due to their illness or injury. For example, if an injury or illness forces an employee to change jobs and work at a lower rate, or if he or she has to work fewer hours, the employee may qualify for these benefits.
– By law, the maximum compensation granted to these workers is 75% of what their weekly total temporary benefits would be.
– Employees may collect these benefits for up to 260 weeks or 5 years.

Permanent and Total Incapacity Benefits: these benefits are for individuals who are fully and permanently unable to do any kind of work because of their work-related injury or illness.
– Those who qualify for permanent benefits can receive two-thirds of their average weekly wage. Employees may also be entitled to collect compensation for cost-of-living adjustments.

Permanent Loss of Function and Disfigurement Benefits: employees may receive these benefits if they qualify work-related injury or illness results in a permanent loss of certain bodily functions or if there is permanent scarring or disfigurement on your face, neck, or hands.
– Benefits include a one-time payment for disfigurement or scarring and is paid in addition to other payments including medical bills and lost wages.

Survivors’/Dependents’ Benefits: surviving spouses or dependents are entitled to receive weekly benefits equal to two-thirds of the deceased worker’s weekly wage.
– Surviving spouses become eligible for yearly cost of living adjustments two years after the date of the injury or illness.

Should I hire an attorney?

According to the Office of Labor and Workforce Development nearly half of all workers’ compensation claims filed are disputed by an employer or an insurance company. Due to the complexity of workers’ compensation law, it is most advised to consult your legal options with an experienced professional who has an extensive knowledge of and experience handling workers’ compensation cases.

At the law offices of Altman & Altman, our team of attorneys has decades of experience handling all types of workers’ compensation cases. Whether you are in the midst of trying to receive compensation, or if you are still unsure of what your next step should be after sustaining an injury, our attorneys can point you in the right direction and ensure that you receive the compensation that you deserve. Upon initial consultation we can determine which benefits you may be entitled to as well as determine whether there are third parties who bear responsibility for your injury or illness. Call today to schedule a consultation with one of our seasoned lawyers. All initial consultations are completely free and confidential.

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