Suffering any injury can be very stressful and traumatic. It can leave you unable to work and earn wages for you and your family and result in extremely expensive medical bills and expenses. Being injured on the job is no different. This is why our Massachusetts workers compensation attorneys suggest you follow three important steps after being hurt in a work accident in Massachusetts to provide you with the best possible situation to get the workers compensation benefits you deserve.
An Overview of Workers Compensation in Massachusetts
No matter what type of job you have, there is always the possibility that you may be injured in a work related accident. This is true for any job, whether you work as a laborer in high risk jobs of construction or landscaping, in the nursing field as a CNA, LPN or a home health aide, or as a driver. For this reason, in Massachusetts, our laws require employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance.
This type of insurance is in place to provide certain benefits to injured workers, such as disability benefits if the injury renders an employee unable to work and medical benefits to cover the cost of medical treatment for the work related injury. Now, just because there is workers’ compensation insurance doesn’t mean that benefits are automatically paid or that a workers compensation claim will be approved.
This is why we recommend following these three important steps after being hurt on the job. Following these steps will provide you with the support and leverage to successfully claim workers compensation benefits.
Step One: Seek Immediate Medical Attention
The first and, arguably, the most important thing to do after being injured in a workplace accident is to seek medical attention. Getting medical attention serves two important purposes. One, it will get you the medical help you need for your injuries; and Two, it will document your injury right after the work accident.
If you, for instance, are a delivery driver seriously hurt in a motor vehicle accident or a roofer that fell off a ladder and seriously injured, you should call 911 right away for an ambulance. The EMTs will treat you at the scene of the work accident and transport you to the hospital. There will be a report prepared by the ambulance company or EMTs that will document your work accident and injuries. This will prevent your employer or their workers’ compensation insurance company from claiming that your injury was not work related.
If you do not feel the need to call 911 or an ambulance, then you should seek medical attention for your work injury right away. Get to your doctor or the emergency room immediately and be sure to explain to the treating physician that you were hurt on the job. The medical records will note that the injury was reported as a work accident. If, however, you are suffering from a mild ailment or illness, you should speak with your employer or supervisor first. Your employer may send you to their doctor first.
Failing to seek medical attention right away will give the workers’ compensation insurance company leverage to argue or suggest that you may not have been injured in a work accident, which can result in a denial of workers’ compensation claim or significant delay in receiving benefits.
Step Two: Report Your Work Accident & Injury To Your Employer Right Away
If you are involved and hurt in a work accident, you should report the accident and injury to your employer, supervisor, or human resource department as soon as possible. You should put the reported accident and injury in writing. This way there is proof that you reported the accident and injury. Sometimes, employers or supervisors will claim not to remember any report of an accident or injury. Having a copy of the written report could be crucial for getting the workers compensation benefits you deserve.
There are situations where an employee hurts himself or herself on the job and may not think the injury is that severe right away. In those cases, employees sometimes do not report the accident and they try to “walk it off” and treat the injury themselves with ice and over the counter medications. If the injury persists or gets worse, the employee will then report it at a later date.
A delay in reporting the work accident and injury can jeopardize a subsequent claim for workers’ compensation benefits. The employer or insurance company could then argue that they were never made aware of any work accident or injury, which often leads to a denial of workers’ compensation benefits. When a workers’ compensation claim is denied, the employee must file a claim for benefits, which can take up to 3 or 4 months before your claim can be heard by a judge at the Department of Industrial Accidents in Massachusetts. While out of work and waiting for your day in Court, you will not be receiving any disability benefits or medical benefits. This means no income and expensive medical bills or, possibly, no medical treatment at all.
So, even if your feel the accident or injury is minor, you should report it to your employer anyways.
Step Three: Seek Legal Advice From An Experienced Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Attorney
It is always highly recommended that an injured employee seek legal advice and guidance from an experienced workers compensation attorney after a work accident. There will almost always be problematic situations that arise where the employee will need the advice and expertise of an injury attorney familiar with workers compensation.
In every work injury case, workers’ compensation insurance adjusters will send documents to the injured worker asking him or her to sign them and send them back. Often, the injured employee will not know what they are signing or may not understand the impact that document may have later on in their claim. For instance, workers comp adjusters always send out Form 105 seeking to extend the payment without prejudice period for an additional 180 days. We almost always recommend our client not to sign it. But, an injured employee, who doesn’t have counsel, will often sign this form and return it to the insurance company.
Also, in a situation where the injured employee doesn’t receive workers’ compensation benefits or their claim is denied, they will be forced to file an Employee’s Claim for Benefits. There are specific steps to take in preparing and filing the claim. An attorney familiar with handling workers’ compensation claims in Massachusetts can make sure your claim is filed properly and timely. This will ensure that your claim will be heard and avoid an unnecessary delays. Remember, there is a statute of limitations (or time limit) for filing workers compensation claims, which is currently four (4) years from the date the employee first became aware of the causal relationship between his or her disability and employment.
There are many other issues and questions that arise in work related accidents, such as:
- How much are the disability benefits an injured employee can receive from workers comp?
- Does an injured employee have to go to an independent medical exam (IME)?
- Does a nurse case manager from the insurance company have to go to the employee’s doctor’s appointments?
- Can the injured employee receive a lump sum settlement? If so, how much should the lump sum settlement be?
All of these questions and many more can be answered by your attorney. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can also guide you through the process and help you get the benefits you deserve and work toward obtaining the best possible lump sum settlement.
Best of all, the laws in Massachusetts require workers compensation lawyers to accept and handle work accident cases on a contingent fee basis. This means that you do not have to pay a retainer or deposit to hire or retain an attorney to represent you in your work injury case. Any legal fee will be contingent on being successful in your case.
Get Legal Help Today For Your Work Injury
Our legal team at Mahaney & Pappas, LLP has extensive experience handling workers’ compensation cases in Massachusetts. Our case results and client testimonials speak for themselves.
If you are hurt on the job and not getting the benefits you deserve, feel you should be getting more than what you are receiving, or are having trouble getting the medical treatment for your work injury, call us today at (508) 879-3500 or contact us online. We offer free, no-obligation work accident case reviews where our attorneys will evaluate your case, explain to you your rights after being hurt on the job, and discuss how we can help you. In most situations, time is of the essence. So, don’t hesitate, take action right away.