Frequent Questions on Workers’ Compensation, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Construction Accidents, and More
We have answered a lot of questions over the years, and want all injury victims to have the benefit of our experience. Browse our FAQ page to find answers on construction accidents, car crashes, work accidents, and wrongful death.
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Do I Need an Attorney for my Massachusetts Workers' Compensation Case?
While it is always recommended for an injured worker in Massachusetts to at least consult with a lawyer after being hurt on the job, in relatively simple work accident cases, an injured employee may not need an attorney. For example, in a lot of workers’ compensation cases, the insurance company may accept the claim and pay the injured worker the disability benefits he or she deserves as well as cover the cost of medical treatment. The injured worker may then recover from his or her injuries and return to work.
Workers' Compensation Claims Can Become Complex
These “simple” cases, however, sometimes become more complicated. Employers and their workers’ compensation insurers will sometimes minimize the injuries suffered on the job and the benefits being paid. In those situations, the injured worker may not receive the benefits he or she deserves for the injuries suffered at work. Additionally, during the payment without prejudice period, the insurer may reduce the benefits the injured worker is receiving from temporary total disability to partial disability before the injured worker is actually considered partially disabled. In other cases, the employer and insurance company may try to force an injured worker back to work before they are ready to return. When this happens, an injured employee should consider hiring a workers’ compensation attorney. An experienced lawyer will be able to protect an injured worker’s rights and be sure he or she receives the workers' compensation benefits they deserve.
In work accident cases where a claim is denied outright and no benefits are being paid, the injured employee should hire a workers’ compensation attorney. The lawyer will be able to properly evaluate the accident and injuries, explain the workers' compensation process in Massachusetts and file a claim for for the benefits the injured worker deserves.
What is Subrogation in a Massachusetts Car Accident Case?
Subrogation, in the context of a personal injury claim arising from a car accident, is a legal principle under which an insurance company that has paid a loss under an insurance policy is entitled to all the rights and remedies belonging to the insured against a third party with respect to any loss covered by the policy. What does this mean? Well, it is the process that an auto insurance company uses to recover the money it paid for any claims where another party is responsible. It is probably better understood by using an example:
Let’s assume you were injured in a car accident in Massachusetts. You file a claim for Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits with your auto insurance company. The PIP insurance carrier pays $8,000 of your medical bills. You also file a bodily injury claim with the auto insurance company that insures the vehicle that crashed into you. You later settle your bodily injury claim. As part of the settlement, the $8,000 of PIP benefits that paid some of your medical bills are factored into the settlement.
If the value of your personal injury claim is $20,000, the bodily injury insurance carrier will take an offset for the PIP benefits that were paid toward your medical bills. This is because part of the settlement is to compensate you for the medical bills you incurred as a result of the injuries caused by the other driver’s negligence. But, your auto insurance company already paid $8,000 of your medical bills. Therefore, the bodily injury company would reduce the value of your settlement by the $8,000 of PIP benefits paid. Your auto insurance company (the PIP carrier) would then pursue a subrogation claim against the other driver’s insurance company to recover the $8,000 of PIP benefits they paid.
As you can see, personal injury law and insurance coverage can be legally complex. If you are uncertain about what your rights are or whether you are being treated fairly, you should speak with an experienced Massachusetts personal injury attorney. A lawyer that is familiar with insurance coverage and car accident cases can make sure that you are getting the fair compensation you deserve for your injuries and losses.
What If I Had More Than One Job When I Was Hurt At Work in Massachusetts?
In Massachusetts, when an employee has more than one job at the time he or she was hurt at work, the weekly disability benefits are calculated by adding the average weekly wages earned at both jobs. One caveat, however, is that both jobs must be covered by workers’ compensation insurance. This is referred to as concurrent employment.
Concurrent Employment Can Result in Increased Workers' Compensation Disability Benefits
Concurrent employment can significant increase the amount of workers’ compensation disability benefits an injured worker may receive after being hurt on the job. To better understand concurrent employment, let’s look at an example:
Let us assume you hurt your back at work in Framingham, Massachusetts lifting something heavy. Your injury prevents you from returning to work. You earned an average weekly wage of $750.00 at this job. Based upon this information, if you were rendered totally disabled from this injury, you would be entitled to Temporary Total Disability (TTD) Benefits, which is calculated as 60% of your average weekly wage. So, your TTD weekly rate would be $450.00 ($750.00 X 60%).
At the same time as your injury, you had another job in Natick, Massachusetts working part-time. This employer carried workers’ compensation insurance. In addition to your other job, you earned $500 per week at the part-time job in Natick. This would be considered concurrent employment. Considering your concurrent employment, in order to determine your TTD weekly rate, you would add together the two average weekly wages from both employers. Thus, your TTD weekly rate would be $750.00 per week ($750.00 + $500.00 = $1,250.00 X 60% = $750.00).
Make Sure You Inform the Workers' Compensation Insurer About Your Concurrent Employment
As you can see, concurrent employment results in an increased TTD rate ($750.00 vs. $450.00 per week). This is why, if you are injured at work and have more than one job at that time, you need to inform the workers’ compensation insurance company or their adjusters about your other jobs. In most situations, the workers’ compensation insurance company won’t know about your other jobs unless you tell them. If you have questions about concurrent employment or your current workers’ compensation benefits, it is highly recommended you consult with an experienced Massachusetts worker’s compensation attorney.
How Do I Calculate My Weekly Total Disability Benefits From Workers’ Compensation?
If you were injured on the job in Massachusetts, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. If your work-related injury causes you to be unable to work, you are entitled to disability benefits. The disability benefits for workers who are unable to work in any capacity are known as Temporary Total Disability (or Incapacity) Benefits. These benefits are governed by Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 152, Section 34 and are paid weekly to qualifying injured workers.
Here’s How to Calculate Your Total Disability
To calculate your weekly Temporary Total Disability Benefits you first need to know your average weekly wage. For information on what your average weekly wage is and how to calculate it, please see: Calculating the Average Weekly Wage; Why is it so Important in a Massachusetts Workers' Compensation Claim?
Your Total Disability Benefit rate is sixty (60%) of your average weekly wage. So, once you have determined your average weekly wage, you would multiply it by 60%.
For Example: If a worker had an average weekly wage of $750.00, their Temporary Total Disability Benefits would be $450.00 per week ($750 X 60%).
If you have been injured on the job in Massachusetts and are unable to work and you are either not getting workers’ compensation benefits or feel that you may not be getting the correct amount of disability benefits, you should speak with a workers’ compensation attorney. An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer will be able to evaluate your claim and make sure that you are getting the benefits you deserve for your injuries.
How Will I Receive My Lump Sum Settlement From My Massachusetts Workers' Compensation Case?
This is a question we are asked often. When a Massachusetts workers’ compensation claim is settled by way of a lump sum settlement and approved by the Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA), the insurance company will mail a check directly to the injured worker. The settlement check will represent the net proceeds from the settlement as the insurance company will also mail a check to the injured worker’s attorney for the legal fees and expenses, if any. The insurance company is required by the laws in Massachusetts to mail the lump sum settlement check to the injured worker within a specific time period, or they will be penalized.
Sometimes, there is confusion of whether the settlement check will be mailed to the injured worker’s attorney first. The misunderstanding most likely comes from the difference between a settlement of a personal injury claim (e.g., car accident case, slip and fall, etc…) and a workers’ compensation claim in Massachusetts.
With a settlement of a personal injury claim in Massachusetts, typically the insurance company will issue the settlement check to the injured person’s attorney. The personal injury lawyer will then deposit the settlement check in their client trust account (IOLTA). From there, the attorney will pay any expenses or liens associated with the personal injury claim and then issue the net proceeds of the settlement check to the injured person.
But, with a settlement of a workers’ compensation claim, the insurance company will mail the settlement directly to the injured employee.
Does My Massachusetts Employer Have Workers’ Comp Insurance?
Under the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (M.G.L. c. 152) employers are required to purchase and carry workers’ compensation insurance. This insurance policy covers employees who are injured on the job. The insurance coverage offers benefits to injured workers that will cover:
- A portion of lost wages if the employee’s work-related accident precludes them from working and earning wages. These are disability benefits;
- The cost of reasonable and medically necessary treatment of a work-related injury. These benefits are known as medical benefits;
- Travel to and from doctor’s appointments for treatment of your work injury or injuries;
- Loss of function caused by an injury suffered on the job; and,
- Scarring and disfigurement that results from an accident at work.
How Do I Verify My Employer Has Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
Employers are required by law to post a notice identifying their workers' compensation insurance company somewhere in the work place. If a notice is not posted or cannot be found, you should ask your employer. If your employer refuses to tell you who their insurance company is, you can always contact the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents to check if their employer has an active workers’ compensation insurance policy. The DIA’s website also has a search engine that allows workers to verify workers’ compensation insurance coverage for employers operating in Massachusetts. However, the search engine results are not always up to date, so we always recommend contacting the DIA or a Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney to confirm that your employer has the proper insurance.
What If Your Employer Does Not Have Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
Although the laws in Massachusetts require employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance, some do not always have the proper insurance. If your employer did not have workers’ compensation insurance at the time of your work accident, there is the Massachusetts Workers' Compensation Trust Fund that would stand in the place of the workers’ compensation insurance. This Trust Fund was created by a specific statute in Massachusetts (M.G.L. c. 152 § 65) and is available for employees who were hurt on the job and whose employer did not have insurance at the time of the accident. The Trust Fund offers the same benefits available to an injured worker.
What is an Impartial Medical Exam for Workers’ Compensation Claims?
In Massachusetts, when a worker is injured on the job, as part of their workers’ compensation claim, an injured worker may be required to attend an impartial medical exam. An impartial medical exam is different than an independent medical exam, which is an examination arranged by the workers’ compensation insurance company. The impartial medical exam is an examination required at a certain stage of a workers’ compensation claim by the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act. When required, the examination is arranged and scheduled by the Department of Industrial Accidents (the “DIA”).
When either an injured worker or the insurance company disagrees with a Conference Order rendered by an Administrative Judge on a claim, they have the right to appeal. When a party appeals a Conference Order the claim will proceed to the next step in a workers’ compensation claim called the Hearing. Before the Hearing, however, the injured worker will be required to attend an impartial medical examination.
Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 152 §11(A) is the specific law that governs the impartial medical examination. The DIA has a list of impartial medical examiners who have no relationship with either party. The impartial physician will be provided with the medical records and documents that are submitted by the parties at the Conference and then will physically examine the injured worker.
Following the impartial doctor’s examination, the doctor will prepare an impartial medical report which will be filed with the DIA and provided to each party. The impartial doctor’s report will be introduced into evidence at the Hearing and shall constitute prima facie evidence of the matters contained within the report. There are certain ways to challenge the impartial examination report, but this can present complicated legal arguments that are best suited for an experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney.
Speak With An Experienced Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Attorney Today
If you have been injured on the job and have been ordered to attend an impartial medical examination, you may have many questions. If you are not sure what your rights are or what to do, you should speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.
Attorney Charles S. Pappas of the Framingham law office of Mahaney & Pappas, LLP has extensive experience in Massachusetts workers’ compensation claims. Attorney Pappas specializes in helping injured workers get the benefits they deserve after being seriously injured on the job and will fight to protect your rights.
Feel free to call us today at (508) 879-3500 or contact us online to schedule a free, no-obligation initial meeting and case evaluation.
How Long Will it Take to Receive My Lump Sum Settlement Check?
In Massachusetts, if an injured worker settles his or her workers’ compensation claim by way of a lump sum settlement, they usually want to know how long it will take to receive their check. Generally, the injured worker should receive their lump sum settlement within fourteen (14) days of the workers’ compensation insurance company’s receipt of the approved lump sum agreement.
This general rule comes from Section 8 of the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (M.G.L. c. 152), which states in part: “Any failure of an insurer to make all payments due an employee under the terms of an…approved lump sum agreement… within fourteen days of the insurer’s receipt of such document, shall result in a penalty…” This means that the workers’ compensation insurer must issue the lump sum settlement check to the injured worker within 14 days from when they receive the approved lump sum agreement, or they will incur a penalty.
Do You Have Questions After Being Injured On The Job in Massachusetts?
Attorney Charles S. Pappas of the Framingham personal injury law firm of Mahaney & Pappas, LLP has helped injured workers across Massachusetts get the workers’ compensation benefits they deserve. Attorney Pappas’ experience and knowledge of the law provides injured employees with an advantage in workers’ compensation cases.
If you are hurt on the job and are not sure what to do or have questions about your situation, feel free to call us at (508) 879-3500 or contact us online to get the answers you need.
I Was Hurt on the Job and I’m out of Work. How do I pay a Workers’ Comp Lawyer?
This is a question that we hear often. Unfortunately, it is usually asked well after the worker is hurt on the job and has been out of work for a while. Some workers don’t even bother contacting a lawyer after being hurt on the job. This is because they are losing wages from being out of work and barely have enough money to pay their bills, never mind hire a lawyer. But, the Workers’ Compensation Act in Massachusetts makes it easier for injured workers to retain a workers’ compensation attorney. Let’s see why.
In Massachusetts, the Workers’ Compensation Act controls how and how much lawyers are paid for representing injured workers in a work-related accident. These lawyers are hired on a contingent fee basis. The contingent fee agreement provides that the lawyer’s legal fee is contingent upon being successful in the workers’ compensation claim. In other words, the lawyer earns an attorney’s fee if they get the injured worker the benefits they deserve or are able to negotiate a lump sum settlement for their client. The fee, however, is not directly paid by the injured worker.
How much and who pays the attorney fees depends on what stage of the workers’ compensation process the claim reaches. The laws in Massachusetts set a predetermined fee for each level of the workers’ compensation claim. For instance, if the injured worker is successful at his or her Conference, the judge will order the insurance company to pay the worker’s attorney a set fee. In another situation, the employee indirectly pays his or her attorney. For example, if an employee’s attorney is able to negotiate and obtain an agreement for a lump sum settlement, then the lawyer legal fee will be a percentage of the lump sum amount. The percentage is set by the Workers’ Compensation Act. The insurance company would then send a check to the injured worker and a check to the worker’s attorney for their respective amounts. See How an Injured Worker Pays for a Workers’ Compensation Attorney for a more detailed explanation.
Need More Information on Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Claims
Attorney Charles S. Pappas at Mahaney & Pappas, LLP specializes in helping injured workers get the benefits they deserve after being seriously injured at work. He understands that if you have been hurt on the job and are unable to work and earn money you probably have a lot of questions and concerns.
If you have questions about what to do or what you deserve after being hurt at work, feel free to call Attorney Pappas at (508) 879-3500 or contact him online. He offers free, no-obligation meetings and case evaluations where he will let you know what your legal rights and options are.
Am I Entitled to Interest on my Personal Injury Award in Massachusetts?
Yes, if a jury returns a verdict awarding you damages in your personal injury lawsuit against the defendant (the negligent party), the Court in Massachusetts will add interest to your jury award.
The law in Massachusetts (M.G.L. c. 231 § 6B) provides in relevant part: “In any action in which a verdict is rendered or a finding made or an order for judgment made for pecuniary damages for personal injuries to the plaintiff … there shall be added by the clerk of the court to the amount of damages interest thereon at the rate of twelve per cent per annum from the date of commencement of the action even though such interest brings the amount of the verdict or finding beyond the maximum liability imposed by law.”
For example, if you were injured in a car accident in Massachusetts caused by another person and you file a personal injury lawsuit against that other person seeking money damages, if the case proceeds to trial and a verdict is returned in your favor awarding you damages (or financial compensation), the Court will add 12% interest per year to your award starting from the date you filed the lawsuit.
But, keep in mind, if you settle your personal injury claim before filing a lawsuit or after you file a personal injury lawsuit, you settle your case before trial, there will be no interest added to the settlement amount.
Speak With An Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer Today
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident in Massachusetts, you should consult with an experienced accident attorney to get the legal advice you need and an expert evaluation of your case.
The Framingham personal injury attorneys at Mahaney & Pappas, LLP offer complimentary consultations where we will evaluate your case and provide you with a fair valuation of your accident claim. We offer contingent fee agreements on car accident cases, which means you don’t pay us anything unless and until we get you the money you deserve for your injuries.
To speak with someone on our legal team or to schedule your free meeting, please call (508) 879-3500 or contact us online.