If you’ve spent any time on a construction site, you know the risks you take as a worker. Proper safety measures and clear protocols can make things easier, but accidents can still happen. As an employee, it’s important to know your rights and responsibilities and what to do if you have a worker’s compensation claim.
Coverage and Eligibility
Most Massachusetts employers are required to provide workers’ compensation coverage for employees. This coverage helps to pay for medical treatments and make up for lost wages when an employee is injured or suffers a work-related illness.
What to do if you have an injury or work-related illness
If you are injured while working or suffer an injury related to work, first get medical attention. If your injury requires immediate medical attention, call 911 or go to an urgent care center or emergency room.
If it is not an emergency, notify the employer to see if they have a designated medical care provider.
You are entitled to receive all necessary medical care needed to treat your work-related injury or illness. However, typically, your employer or their insurance company will choose a medical provider. Make sure to keep accurate records of all medical appointments, diagnoses, and treatments. These records will help back up your claim and ensure you get your full benefits.
Reporting the claim
If you are injured while working or have an illness that is related to your working conditions, you must notify your employer as soon as possible. This will help when filing a claim. It is best to report the accident immediately to ensure maximum benefit, but you have up to four years to file a claim.
Collect as much information as you can about the accident and your injury. Take photos of the accident scene, your injuries, and any hazardous conditions that contributed to the accident. If there were witnesses, get their contact information.
Write yourself a report of what happened and the factors involved as soon as possible. You may be asked for these details later.
The Benefits you may be eligible for:
- Temporary Total Disability Benefits: for workers who are unable to work for at least five days. The benefits generally are a percentage of the worker’s average weekly wage
- Permanent Partial Disability Benefits: for workers who have permanent impairment or loss of function. The amount is determined by the severity of the impairment among other factors.
- Vocational Rehabilitation: Workers who are unable to return to their previous jobs may be entitled to vocational rehabilitation services to transition to a different type of employment.
When there is a dispute
If the employer disputes your worker’s compensation claim, you can request a hearing before the Department of Industrial Accidents. You have the right to have legal representation during this process.
Beyond Workers Compensation
If your injury was caused by a third party, someone other than your employer or co-worker, you may have the right to pursue a separate personal injury claim against that third party in addition to your worker’s compensation benefits.
Employers Prohibited from Retaliation
If you file a worker’s compensation claim, your employer is prohibited by law from retaliating against you. If this happens, you may have legal recourse.
While out of work and getting treatment
Stay in touch with your employer. Let them know what is happening with your medical progress and any changes that could affect your ability to return to work.
When to consult a lawyer
Many worker’s compensation claims are filed and managed without issue. However, it can be beneficial to consult a worker’s compensation lawyer who can help you understand your rights, assist with the claims process, and advocate on your behalf if there are any disputes.
Factors to consider when seeking legal counsel:
- How severe is the injury? If your injury is minor and you expect to fully recover without complications, you may be able to navigate the workers’ compensation process on your own. If the injury is severe, requires extensive medical equipment, or results in a long-term disability, you may benefit from
- How complex is the case? Some straightforward workers’ compensation claims involve only medical treatment and temporary disability benefits. However, if your claim is complex due to issues like disputes over the cause of the injury, the extent of your disability, or the availability of appropriate medical treatment, an attorney’s expertise could be helpful.
- Is there a dispute? You may want to consult with an attorney if your employer denies your claim, disputes your eligibility for benefits, or retaliates against you for filing a claim.
- I there a third-party liability? If someone other than your employer or a co-worker caused the injury, you might have a separate personal injury claim. A lawyer can help navigate these situations and determine the best course of action.
If you are unsure whether you need an attorney, consider scheduling a free consultation.