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.
- Page 1
Do I need an attorney to handle my truck accident claim?
Immediately after a crash with a commercial truck, you'll probably be contacted by the trucking company’s attorneys or insurance company—especially if its driver was clearly at fault. You might be told there's no need for you to hire an attorney to represent you.
Don’t believe it. While you can technically settle your claim without an attorney, you'll likely not get the full value of your claim without one. And because commercial truck claims can be worth a lot, you could be leaving thousands of dollars on the table.
How an Attorney Can Help With a Truck Accident Claim
With a knowledgeable truck accident attorney working for you, you can bypass some of the tactics transportation companies use to avoid paying the full value of a claim. Your attorney will do the following to support you:
- Conduct a thorough investigation. The trucking company will have vital information about what caused the crash, including driving logs, inspection records, the vehicle's black box, and more. While it would be difficult for you to get a hold of this evidence, an attorney can make sure it's preserved and shared.
- Fight claims that you were partially to blame. In order to reduce their client's liability, lawyers for the trucking company might insinuate you contributed to the crash. Your attorney will present evidence to dispute this.
- Negotiate for a fair settlement. By gathering evidence and building a case, your attorney is in a strong position to negotiate for the compensation you deserve.
- Take your case to trial. If the trucking company’s lawyers refuse to agree to a fair settlement, your lawyer will be ready to go court so a judge can rule on the evidence.
As you recover from the catastrophic injuries you sustained in a collision with a semi-truck, you shouldn't have to worry about being fairly compensated by the at-fault driver.
Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Truck Accident Attorneys
Contact Mahaney & Pappas, LLP as soon as possible after your Massachusetts truck accident. During a free consultation, we’ll review your case and give you the facts you need to make the best decisions moving forward. If we think we can add value and increase your odds of a successful claim, we'll tell you how.
Can I Sue a Negligent Driver for my Motorcycle Accident Injuries if I wasn't Wearing a Helmet?
Yes, you can hold a negligent driver responsible for your injuries in a motorcycle crash, even if you were not wearing a helmet.
However, the amount of compensation you receive could be reduced if it's determined that not wearing a helmet contributed to the seriousness of your injuries. We explain why this is the law in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts’ Universal Helmet Law
As of 2020, Massachusetts is one of only 19 states to require that all motorcycle riders and passengers—regardless of age or type of motorcycle—wear a helmet. While other states have backed off on helmet laws in favor of personal freedoms for people over 18, the Massachusetts helmet law has withstood arguments of right to privacy, due process, and equal protection in court.
Riders can be ticketed and fined for not wearing helmets, and their insurance rates will go up. If the accident occurred while they didn't have helmets on, they can also be assigned blame for their injuries.
How Comparative Negligence Plays a Role
Under Massachusetts comparative negligence law, the extent to which an injured party contributed to the cause of the crash will be considered. For example, if a motorcyclist was speeding when another car ran a red light and hit him, the rider may be found to be partially to blame for the crash. If the injured rider is found to be less than 51 percent at fault, he could still be compensated, but his settlement would be reduced by the percentage of fault he's assigned.
Since helmets are required by law in Massachusetts, if a rider is injured in a crash and wasn't wearing a helmet, it could be decided that he contributed to his injuries. This assessment shouldn't be made if the rider avoided face, head, or neck injuries, but the insurance company for the at-fault driver may still try to reduce its liability by claiming comparative negligence.
How a Motorcycle Accident Attorney Can Help
It’s hard enough for motorcycle riders to be taken seriously in accident claims, but when a victim didn't have on a helmet at the time of the crash, it's even more challenging for him to get the compensation he deserves.
This is why it’s crucial to speak to a personal injury attorney who handles motorcycle accident cases. Consult with Mahaney & Pappas, LLP, in a free, no-obligation consultation to find out if we can help you get the compensation you need to recover from your serious motorcycle accident injuries. Call or fill out our contact form today.
Do PIP Benefits Cover Lost Wages in Massachusetts?
Yes. In Massachusetts, the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Benefits from your auto insurance will cover a certain amount of lost wages. This means that if you are injured in a car accident and your injuries prevent you from returning to work and you incur lost wages, your auto insurance company should pay you some of your lost wages.
Keep in mind, however, that your PIP benefits will only cover 75% of your lost wages. Also, PIP benefits are available up to $8,000. If the $8,000 is used up to cover the costs and expenses of medical treatment, then there will not be any PIP benefits available to cover your lost wages.
Therefore, anyone injured in a car accident who is unable to return to work due to their injuries should consult with an experienced Massachusetts personal injury attorney. An experienced attorney can strategically handle your accident case to get you lost wages from your auto insurance before the PIP benefits are exhausted.
While lost wages or lost earnings are recoverable from the at-fault driver who caused the accident and your injuries, you may not recover the compensation you deserve until much later, near the end of your treatment and case. That usually doesn’t help accident victims who are out of work from their injuries right after a car crash. Your bills and expenses at home will not stop because you were hurt in a car accident. Obtaining lost wages from your PIP benefits after a car crash can get you some money to help with your bills soon after an accident and while you are out of work.
What is a Section 19 Agreement in a Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Claim?
If you are an injured worker in Massachusetts, you may have heard of a Section 19 Agreement. Perhaps, your workers’ compensation attorney mentioned to you that the insurer proposes a Section 19 Agreement. Or, if you are unrepresented, maybe the workers’ compensation insurance adjuster offered a Section 19 Agreement. Regardless of how you’ve heard of it, a Section 19 Agreement is something that comes up in many Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation claims.
When there is a dispute in a workers’ compensation claim, sometimes the dispute is resolved by the parties entered into an agreement, as opposed to having a judge to make a decision on the claim. For example, if the insurer refuses to pay the injured worker the workers’ compensation disability benefits he or she claims or they refuse to pay for medical treatment, the injured worker (or his or her attorney) would generally file a claim for benefits with the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents. While the claim is pending, the parties may reach an agreement that would resolve the dispute that gave rise to the claim. When the agreement is reached, the parties would reduce the agreement to writing to memorialize the agreement. The written agreement would then be filed with the DIA for consideration by an administrative judge. If the judge approves it, the agreement would be enforceable just like an order made at a Conference.
The term “Section 19 Agreement” gets its name from the section of the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act that governs these types of agreements, which is M.G.L. c. 152 § 19. Section 19 states, in part: “any payment of compensation shall be by written agreement by the parties and subject to the approval of the department. Any other questions arising under this chapter may be so settled by agreement. Said agreements shall for all purposes be enforceable in the same manner as an order under section twelve.”
The DIA has a form called a Section 19 Agreement which must be completed and signed by the employee, his or her attorney, if any, and the insurer’s attorney before it is submitted to the DIA. The Agreement would then be submitted to the DIA for approval. Generally, an administrative judge would review the Agreement and, if acceptable, approve it. Once it is approved, the parties would be bound by said agreement. For example, if the agreement was for the insurer to pay the injured worker temporary total disability benefits for a specific period of time, once it is approved by the DIA, the insurer must pay the disability benefits it agreed to pay.
If you are dealing directly with the workers’ compensation insurer yourself, and they propose a Section 19 Agreement, you should have an experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney review the agreement to make sure all aspects of your claim are addressed and your rights are protected.
Am I an Employee Covered by Workers’ Compensation in Massachusetts?
In Massachusetts, just about all employees are covered by workers’ compensation insurance. While there are some exceptions, the critical question in determining employment status is the nature of the relationship between the parties. Section 1(4) of the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (M.G.L. c. 152) defines employees as "every person in the service of another under any contract of hire, expressed or implied, oral or written. . . . " As you can see, there must be either a written or oral contract for hire.
In order to be eligible for or obtain workers’ compensation benefits in Massachusetts after a work-related accident, the injured worker must prove their employment status along with other elements (e.g., work-related accident, disability, average weekly wage, etc..). A Massachusetts case from 1990 set forth a discussion about the employer-employee relationship. Generally, it is contractual. This contract creates for the employee an entitlement and expectation of receiving pay or wages from the employer in exchange for providing services (physical or mental labor) under the direction and the control of the employer. Barofsky's Case, 4 Mass. Workers' Comp. Rep. 135 (1990).
While the question of whether an injured worker is considered an employee for workers’ compensation is usually not a difficult one to answer, there are some circumstances that make it difficult to establish. For example, if an employer seeks the services of another to provide services for one day, if there was an oral agreement between the parties that the worker will provide labor in exchange for pay, he or she will generally be considered an employee and, thus, afforded the protections of workers’ compensation.
If you were injured on the job and unsure of whether you are an employee eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, you should seek the advice of an experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney. An experienced lawyer will be able to evaluate the facts and circumstances of your work accident and injuries to advise whether you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
What is MMI in a Massachusetts Workers' Compensation Claim?
The term MMI is something that is frequently referred to in connection with a Massachusetts workers’ compensation claim. It can also be considered in a Massachusetts personal injury claim, but more commonly associated with workers’ compensation claims.
MMI is an acronym for Maximum Medical Improvement. MMI occurs when an injured worker reaches the point in his or her treatment where their injury or condition cannot be improved any further even with additional treatment. It can also mean that an injured employee has reached a treatment plateau and it is unlikely that his or her condition will change from that point on. In laymen’s terms, it’s the point where the injured worker is as good as he or she is going to get.
When an injured worker reaches MMI, it may have an impact on their workers’ compensation claim. In some situations, the workers’ compensation benefits may be modified or even terminated. Generally, however, this is when the injured worker (or his/her workers’ compensation attorney) and the insurer begin to discuss the possibility of a lump sum settlement.
Can I Receive Benefits in Massachusetts for a Permanent Impairment Suffered in a Work-Related Accident?
The Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (M.G.L. c. 152) offers additional benefits to injured workers whose job-related injuries result in permanent impairment or disability. A permanent impairment is a permanent loss of a bodily function. The specific statute can be found at M.G.L. c. 152 § 36. These benefits are in addition to the typical workers’ compensation benefits available to injured workers (e.g., disability benefits and/or medical benefits).
The Section 36 benefits are available to an injured worker who suffered permanent loss of sight, hearing, function of the upper and lower extremities and other bodily functions. Additionally, Section 36 benefits are available for workers who are left with a permanent disfigurement.
Section 36 sets forth the amount of additional workers’ compensation benefits employees may be entitled to if their specific injury results in a permanent impairment. The amount of these additional Section 36 benefits depends on the body part and function impaired by the work-related accident and injury and are calculated as a specific multiple of the Commonwealth’s average weekly wage for the date on which the worker was hurt on the job (not the injured employee’s specific average weekly wage).
The injured worker generally needs a permanent impairment rating assigned by the treating physician or surgeon using the American Medical Association’s (AMA's) Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment once the worker has reached a maximum medical improvement. An experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney can help determine if you are entitled to the additional Section 36 benefits and, if so, the amount you may be entitled to.
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.