In Massachusetts, when a worker is injured on-the-job, he or she is generally eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ compensation is an insurance program designed to replace lost wages and cover the cost of medical expenses when an individual is injured in the course of employment. Certain medical costs may not be covered, depending on the worker’s jurisdiction. In Massachusetts, for example, workers are not eligible to receive benefits for scarring injuries to the arms, legs, and torso. However, due to a recent case involving a metal worker that was severely burned after falling into a vat of chemicals, this may soon change. Contact a Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Attorney Today.
Sylbert Stewart, a 56-year-old Lowell resident, suffered second and third degree burns on both legs and feet while working at a factory in Belmont. Today, Stewart is permanently scarred and in constant pain. His injuries resulted in a 40% decrease in earnings, and he has received no compensation for the scarring injuries. In Massachusetts, disfiguring injuries must occur on the face, hands, and neck in order for the worker to be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. However, recent advocacy from the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety & Health members and allies may have had enough of an impact to change this requirement. In late October, a Senate bill was approved 36 to 1 that would allow scarring victims to receive compensation for their injuries, regardless of where on the body the injuries occurred. The bill, which was sponsored by Senator Sal DiDomenico and Representative Sean Garballey, would remove the face, hands, and neck requirement and would increase the victim’s compensation to 22.5 times the average weekly wage in Massachusetts.
Physical and Emotional Scarring
Although pain can be debilitating for burn victims like Stewart, the injuries can go even deeper. Emotional scarring is a very real problem. Disfiguring scars may result in a lifetime of stares from passersby, and can even present challenges when trying to find employment. Workers’ compensation benefits for scarring injuries haven’t been addressed in more than 25 years. Most other states offer benefits for these types of injuries, and it only seems fair that Massachusetts should follow their lead.
“We’ve heard extremely compelling testimony for this long-overdue bill in the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development,” Co-Chair of the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, Senator Daniel A. Wolf, said in a recent statement. “On behalf of victims of workplace accidents, thank you to MassCOSH for your tireless advocacy on this bill.” As the economy continues to change and strengthen, so should economic benefits such as workers’ compensation. By indexing the maximum benefit to the average weekly wage, workers’ compensation benefits will be better able to keep injured workers afloat until they can get back to their full earning potential.
Altman & Altman, LLP – Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Law Firm
If you’ve been injured at work, we can help. Our skilled workers’ comp attorneys have been serving the Massachusetts workforce for nearly 50 years. Benefits are eligible for most injuries that occur during the course of employment. However, the application process can be long and complicated, and errors can delay benefits or result in ineligibility. At Altman & Altman, LLP, we will work hard to ensure that you get the maximum benefits you are entitled to. Contact us today for a free consultation about your case.