Let’s talk about Form 105 – Agreement to Extend 180 Day Payment without Prejudice Period. I have so many clients, who have been injured on the job, bring this to my attention when they first meet with me and are looking to hire a lawyer. These clients were injured on the job, unable to work, and were being voluntarily paid benefits. In a lot of work injury cases, the insurance company voluntarily pays within the time frame allowed by the workers’ comp laws in Massachusetts. Most injured workers think, “I’m injured, unable to work and getting paid disability benefits…why do I need a lawyer?”
Well, these clients initially called me after they receive Form 105 from the insurance company. They are not really sure what this is all about and wonder if they should sign it. They make the right decision seeking the advice of an experienced workers compensation lawyer. If you are out of work due to a work injury and you receive this Form from the insurance company, you should definitely speak with a lawyer before signing it. Here’s why:
Signing Form 105 gives the advantage to the insurance company in the workers compensation claim. When an employee is injured on the job and there is no real issue on whether it happened on the job or whether the injury prevents the employee from working, the insurance company voluntarily pays benefits. These voluntary payments are made without prejudice for the first 180 days (or 6 months) of the injury. This means that the insurance company has not accepted liability and, therefore, is allowed to stop (or modify) payments of benefits when they want. All they have to do to stop payments is mail the injured worker a 7 day written notice that payment will stop.
If the insurance company continues to pay the injured employee beyond the 180 day period, then they cannot stop payments on their own. In that case, they would have to seek a court order to stop payments from a judge of the Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA). The good thing is, during the time it takes to get before a judge seeking an order to stop payments (which can be months), the injured worker continues to receive disability payments. On the other hand, if the insurance company stops payments during the 180 day, the employee is then put on the offensive and forced to file a claim for benefits. During the lengthy time frame the employee is waiting to get before a judge, the employee is not receiving disability benefits. And as we all know, bills still need to be paid.
So, why sign Form 105 and give the insurance company another 180 days (or a total of 1 year) with the power to stop (or modify) payments whenever they want to. Insurance companies usually send this form to an injured worker, who doesn’t have a lawyer. I have seen the letters from the insurance company to the unrepresented employee. The letters make it sound like it is a good thing to sign and will be beneficial to the employee. Some letters state “to continue receiving benefits for another 180 days please sign the enclosed Form 105”. They make it sound as if you need to sign the form or else you will not continue receiving benefits. This is just not accurate.Every workers compensation case is different and should be evaluated separately. If you are out of work due to a work related injury and you receive Form 105 from the insurance company, you should speak with a workers compensation lawyer right away.