Articles Tagged with Massachusetts workers’ compensation

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When a worker is injured or becomes ill while on the job in Massachusetts, he or she may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits may include both the cost of medical treatment and wage replacement while the worker is unable to work. Sometimes a worker is hesitant to file a workers’ compensation claim because of a pre-existing condition. While a pre-existing condition can make a workers’ compensation claim a bit trickier, it does not preclude a worker from receiving benefits.

Pre-Existing Conditions

To be clear, a worker cannot receive workers’ compensation benefits in Massachusetts for an injury that occurred prior to beginning work with the current employer or for an injury that occurred while the worker was not working. However, if a worker is injured on the job and that injury combines with a pre-existing injury, or exacerbates a pre-existing injury, the worker may be entitled to benefits.

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If you are injured or become ill as a result of your job in Massachusetts, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. The type, amount and duration of the benefits will depend on the specific facts and circumstances of your case. You may be tempted to fudge a little on the application or exaggerate your injury to extend or increase your benefits. Do not do this!

Workers’ Compensation Laws

It is very important for an injured worker to understand that the workers’ compensation laws are just that – laws. While they are in place to protect injured workers, they also provide civil and criminal penalties for both workers and employers who violate the laws. Some common examples of workers’ compensation violations include:

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The 63-year-old owner of a roofing and siding business in Nantucket, Massachusetts, pleaded guilty recently to five counts of workers’ compensation fraud, according to a report by the Insurance Journal. He was sentenced in Suffolk County Superior Court to two years of probation and ordered to pay $42,000 in restitution as a result of a plea agreement.

The business owner was accused of failing to accurately report his total payroll and number of employees as well as misclassifying his business and the type of work his employees were doing.

Unfortunately, business owners engage in behavior such as this far too often as a way to try and avoid paying workers’ compensation premiums.

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In Massachusetts, a worker who is injured or becomes ill as a result of employment may be entitled to Massachusetts workers’ compensation benefits. An eligible worker may receive benefits that cover treatment of the injury or illness as well as total or partial wage replacement. A worker who claims these benefits, yet continues to work, can be charged with a crime in Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts workers’ compensation system is a no-fault system, meaning that an injured employee is not required to prove negligence on the part of the employer. If the injury or illness occurred within the scope of employment, then a claim for benefits will likely be approved. If, however, a worker applies for wage replacement benefits, the worker must certify that he or she is unable to work and that he or she did not work for the time period for which benefits are claimed.

Wage replacement benefits can be total or partial. Total wage replacement benefits are based on a worker not being able to work at all, whereas partial wage replacement benefits replace only the income the worker loses as a result of an injury or illness. If, for example, you were working 40 hours a week and a work-related injury causes you to be able to work only 20 hours per week, you may qualify for wage replacement benefits for the 20 hours you cannot work.

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The recent snowstorm that blew through Massachusetts reminds us that winter is far from over. Winter driving hazards are still a major concern. Many workers are injured each year in car accidents on their way to or from work, during their lunch hours, while traveling for work and while running errands for an employer. If you are injured in a car accident while doing any of these things, are you eligible for Massachusetts workers’ compensation benefits? The answer is not a simple “yes” or “no”.

The Scope of Employment

For an employer to be held liable for injuries caused in any type of accident, the injuries must have occurred while the employee was “within the scope of employment.” The precise definition of this phrase has been argued and litigated by scholars, attorneys and courts for many years.

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Some Massachusetts workers such as police officers, firefighters and paramedics work in inherently dangerous situations on a daily basis. The majority of workers, however, expect to go to work each day, do their job, and come back home without experiencing anything that could cause long-term psychological scars. Sometimes though, unexpected events in the workplace do cause psychological issues for a worker. When this occurs, Massachusetts workers’ compensation benefits may be available.

Imagine, for example, that you are employed as a cashier at a small mom-and-pop grocery store. You have worked there for more than 10 years without anything unusual happening when one day the store is robbed. In the course of the robbery, you are held at gunpoint. Not surprisingly, you begin to have nightmares, suffer from flashbacks and are unable to concentrate at work, or your loved ones notice a serious change in your personality. You could be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. As a result, you could be entitled to benefits under the Massachusetts workers’ compensation system.

Proving the Link between Work and Disability

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If you have been injured in a workplace accident in Massachusetts, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ compensation comes in two basic forms – wage replacement benefits and medical treatment benefits. After you begin receiving benefits, they could be stopped for a variety of reasons.

When you are injured or become ill on the job, your employer will report the injury or illness to its workers’ compensation carrier as well as to the Department of Industrial Accidents. There is a one-week waiting period before benefits can be paid out for all workers’ compensation claims. After the initial waiting period, you will begin to receive weekly wage replacement benefits, and your medical expenses relating to the injury will be covered if your claim has been approved.

The following circumstances could cause your benefits to stop:

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If you have suffered a work-related injury or illness in Massachusetts, you may be entitled to benefits under the Massachusetts workers’ compensation system. Along with wage replacement while you are recuperating, the system also provides medical treatment for your injury or illness if you qualify.

Understandably, injured workers are often confused about their right to choose a doctor. Although each claim is unique, the following general guidelines may help you understand your rights if you have suffered a work-related injury or illness in Massachusetts.

Filing Your Claim

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When most people think of injuries that qualify for Massachusetts workers’ compensation benefits, they first think of injuries from construction accidents or vehicle crashes. While such cases certainly qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, injuries that take place in an office setting can also qualify. By definition, any injury sustained while “in the scope of employment” is potentially eligible for workers’ compensation.

There is a long list of office-worker injuries that could provide the basis for workers’ compensation benefits in Massachusetts, according to attorneys who often represent people injured in workplace accidents. Here are some of the common ones:

Carpel Tunnel Syndrome

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After steadily rising for three straight years, the cost per workers’ compensation claim in Massachusetts has shown a decrease. In fact, Massachusetts had the largest decrease among 16 states reviewed in a study conducted by the Workers Compensation Research Institute.

According to the study, the cost per claim in Massachusetts dropped 6 percent 2010. Experts believe that the decrease is due, in part, to the fact that the state is recovering from the recession. During the recession period of 2007-2009, workers’ compensation costs per claim increased an average of 10 percent each year. One statistic that points to the relationship between the cost per claim of workers’ compensation claims and the recession is that indemnity benefits decreased 11 percent from 2009 to 2010. Indemnity benefits are the benefits that are paid to a worker as wage replacement.

 Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation and the Economy