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.

Charles S. Pappas
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Massachusetts injury lawyer & workers' compensation attorney serving accident victims in Webster & Framingham.