I have represented countless workers in Massachusetts, who have been injured in accidents on the job. I see first-hand how stressful it can be for an employee who is seriously injured on the job. Work injuries that prevent an employee from earning wages cause serious concern for them about how to pay the medical bills and support themselves and their families. That’s where workers’ compensation insurance comes into play. But, sometimes an injured worker makes one big mistake when they go to the hospital after their work injury that can seriously affect their workers’ compensation claim.
Make Sure You Tell the Doctors You Were Hurt on the Job
If you are hurt on the job, do not make the mistake that many injured workers have before. Sometimes, when an employee is hurt on the job they go to the emergency room, urgent care or their doctor and report that the injury happened at home or somewhere other than at work. Usually, this happens when someone (for instance their employer, boss or supervisor) tells the injured worker to do this.
There are many reasons that this might happen. In some situations, the employer may not have workers’ compensation insurance or the employee is not “on the books”. Other reasons are that the employer doesn’t want their insurance premiums to increase because of the accident. In these circumstances, the employer will sometimes promise to pay the injured worker’s medical bills and continue paying them the wages while they are out of work. But, in my experience, these promises are usually broken. This leaves an injured workers with very expensive medical bills and no money coming in to pay their own bills and support their families.
If this happens, the injured worker can file an Employee’s Claim for Benefits. But, this one mistake can cause a major delay in receiving workers’ compensation benefits or result in not getting them at all. Let’s see why.
The Workers’ Compensation Process in Massachusetts
A worker, who is injured on the job, is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits in Massachusetts. The injured employee is entitled to benefits when the worker is hurt in the course of his or her employment and is temporarily disabled due to the injuries. Two very important benefits available to an injured employee are Disability benefits and Medical benefits. The disability benefits will replace a portion of the injured workers’ wages when their injury prevents them from working. The medical benefits will cover the full costs and expenses of the medical treatment for their work injury.
Before the injured worker receives benefits, certain things must happen. First, an injured employee is entitled is disability benefits when he or she unable to earn full wages for five (5) or more full or partial calendar days due to a work related injury. The employer then has seven (7) days, not including Sundays and legal holidays, from the fifth date of loss, to report the injury to its workers’ compensation insurance company. When the insurance company receives the first report of injury from the employer they will then have fourteen (14) calendar days to either pay the injured employee or notify them that they are denying payments.
During the 14 day period the insurance company has to either make payments or deny a claim, they will normally conduct an investigation. The investigation will usually consist of speaking with the employer, supervisor and/or other co-workers. They will also obtain available medical records. At this point in the claim the available medical records usually come from the emergency room or urgent care that the injured employee went to after the accident.
When the medical records indicate that the patient/injured worker stated the injury occurred at home or somewhere else other than work, the insurance company will be more inclined to deny the claim as opposed to make voluntary payments. This is because the insurance company will think the injury did not arise out of and in the course of employment. This is also more likely to happen when the employer or supervisor also tells the insurance company that they were unaware of the accident or injury.
How Does This Mistake Affect a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
When an injured worker makes this mistake the workers’ compensation claim can be denied. If the insurance company denies a claim the injured employee can file an Employee's Claim for Benefits. But, this will result in a delay in receiving workers’ compensation benefits, if any, due to the time required and process of a workers’ compensation claim. In other cases this mistake can result in a judge denying the injured worker’s claim.
This is why we recommend seeking medcial attention and explaining to the doctors that your injury ocurred on the job as one of our Three Important Stepts to Take after a Work Accident. Additionally, it is always best for anyone injured on the job in Massachusetts to speak with a qualified and experienced workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible after a work accident. Even if the injured worker has made this mistake, he or she should still consult with an experienced lawyer. A Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney will know what steps to take and how to go about seeking and obtaining benefits immediately.
Speak With An Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Massachusetts Today
Mahaney & Pappas, LLP has over 40 years of combined experience helping injured workers in Massachusetts get the benefits they deserve. We have the results to prove it.
If you have been injured on the job, feel free to contact us today either on-line or call us at (508) 879-3500. We will explain the whole process to you, answer all your questions and explain how we can help you.