A 25-year-old-construction contractor severed his left index finger while working on the reconstruction of a fire-damaged home in Hamilton this month. According to a news report, the worker was cutting some strapping with a circular saw at the time. An inspector from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration was called to the scene to determine which OSHA regulations applied and whether any violations contributed to the accident.
The accident brings up some common questions and concerns regarding the Massachusetts workers’ compensation system.
What Is the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation System?
Each state administers its own workers’ compensation system. In Massachusetts, the system is administered by the Department of Industrial Accidents, or DIA. The purpose of the workers’ compensation system is to provide medical treatment and wage replacement for workers who have been injured on the job in Massachusetts. Under the workers’ compensation system, an injured worker does not have to prove that an employer was negligent in order to receive benefits. This is known as a no-fault system. A worker may receive wage replacement while recovering from an injury as well as a lump sum payment for certain injuries that result in a permanent loss of function or disfigurement.
Who Qualifies for Workers’ Compensation in Massachusetts?
The law is relatively simple in Massachusetts with regard to who must be covered under workers’ compensation. All employers in Massachusetts must provide workers’ compensation insurance for their employees as well as themselves if they are employedby their company. The insurance requirement applies regardless of the number of hours worked in any given week; however, domestic service employees must work a minimum of 16 hours per week to require coverage.
While this seems straightforward, it can become confusing when a question arises as to whether an injured worker was an employee or an independent contractor. An independent contractor is not required to be covered under a company’s workers’ compensation insurance policy.
What Benefits Will an Injured Worker Receive Under Workers’ Compensation?
Once a worker has been approved for workers’ compensation benefits, he or she will receive the medical care and treatment needed to recover from the injury or illnessas well as a weekly wage replacement check.
While there is no capon the amount that the workers’ compensation system will pay for medical treatment, some procedural requirements must be met to receive treatment. For example, a worker may be required to submit to an examination by a workers’ compensation physician to confirm the extent of the injuries claimed. By the same token, the worker may be required to return to a DIA physician to determine how the recovery is progressing. In addition, although a worker will receive wage replacement benefits, the amount he or she receives will only be a portion of what he or she earned prior to the accident. Finally, if the injury results in permanent loss of function or disfigurement, the worker may receive a lump sum payment at the end of his or her recovery period.
Injured at Work? Contact a Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you have been injured on the job in Massachusetts and you have questions about the Massachusetts workers’ compensation system or your benefits, the Massachusetts workplace injury lawyers at Kantrovitz & Associates, P.C., are here to help. To find outabout yourlegal options, call 800-367-0871 or use our online contact form.