Am I Eligible for Workers’ Comp Benefits in Massachusetts? | Workers’ Compensation Eligibility
Understanding Workers’ Compensation Eligibility in Massachusetts
If you’ve been injured at work, you should know what the workers’ compensation eligibility requirements are. To qualify for workers’ compensation benefits in Massachusetts, several criteria must be met:
- Nature of Injury. You should have experienced a job-related injury or illness, or be a dependent of a worker who tragically lost their life while working.
- Location of Injury or Hiring. The injury should have occurred in Massachusetts, or you should have been hired in the state to be eligible for its workers’ compensation benefits.
- Employment Status. A clear employee-employer relationship must be established. It’s essential to note that true independent contractors are not included in the Massachusetts workers’ compensation provisions. But some employers will call their employees “independent contractors” even though they are really employees.
If these criteria are met, and if you’ve been incapacitated for at least five full or partial days (not necessarily consecutive) because of your injury, you can file for workers’ compensation incapacity benefits.
What is the Deadline for Filing a Worker’s Compensation Claim in Massachusetts?
In Massachusetts, an injured worker will have four years from the date of injury or from the date that a worker becomes aware that their injury is due to their job, to file a claim with the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents.
These criteria are critical, as some workers may not immediately associate an injury with a job. For instance, carpal tunnel and repetitive trauma injuries may develop over extended periods of time, and an injured worker may at first attribute the injury to some other cause. Massachusetts law thus does not require workers who have suffered injuries due to repetitive movement, for example, to immediately file a work injury claim. However, in all cases, workers should file a work injury claim with their employer as soon as they are injured or as soon as they recognize that an injury is work related, in order to begin the workers’ compensation process and to receive medical treatment and benefits.
For more information or to discuss your specific situation, reach out to my office to schedule a free consultation.
If I Am Partially to Blame For My Work Injury, Can I Recover Workers’ Compensation in Massachusetts?
Yes. In Massachusetts, the workers’ compensation system operates on a no-fault basis. This means injured workers can still receive benefits regardless of whether they had a role in causing the injuries.
The key factor is that the injury took place at work and/or while performing work-related duties. However, there are certain exceptions. If the injury was purposely self-inflicted or occurred during the commission of a grave crime, then a worker may not be eligible for benefits.
How Can I Determine If My Injury Is Work-Related?
Many common work injuries are obvious. Shoulder or back pain immediately upon lifting. Injuries from a slip or fall. Injuries sustained while operating equipment or machinery. A motor vehicle crash while in a company vehicle during work hours. But some are not so obvious.
Wrist, shoulder, or knee pain that developed over time with repetitive use or trauma or from an aggravation of a pre-existing non-work-related injury. Exposure to chemicals. A heart attack that happens after work hours. Or an injury that happens at home while working remotely.
Workers’ compensation insurers will often deny most claims that involve injuries that are not obvious, such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, spinal, shoulder, or knee injuries, especially if there is any evidence of arthritis in the joint. In short, insurance companies can be expected to deny a claim if they have any basis for doing so, even if that basis is not reasonable. This is where it is critical to retain the services of an experienced work injury lawyer.
If you are not sure if your injury is compensable under the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Law, I invite you to call my office to schedule a free consultation.
As a Lowell worker’s compensation lawyer, I have been handling workers’ compensation cases for over 35 years, representing clients both from Lowell as well as the surrounding towns of Andover, Billerica, Chelmsford, Dracut, Methuen, Tewksbury, Tyngsborough, Westford, and beyond. I have successfully represented thousands of injured workers, obtaining for them the maximum benefits to which they are entitled.
Eligibility for Workers’ Comp: Soft Tissue Injuries & Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Soft tissue injuries, such as strains, sprains, rotator cuff tears, ligament tears in knees, and herniated disks in the spine, deserve special attention, not only because they occur frequently but also because they are often the target of dispute by insurance companies.
Massachusetts workers’ compensation isn’t solely restricted to traumatic or severe injuries. Conditions like soft tissue injuries can also be eligible for compensation, provided they are directly related to work activities.
- Soft Tissue Injuries. Soft tissue injuries refer to non-bone injuries such as sprains, strains, tears, and contusions that can result from lifting, slips, falls, or overexertion at the workplace. If a soft tissue injury has been sustained due to job-related tasks or incidents and requires medical attention or leads to missed workdays, you may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. Soft tissue injuries – particularly neck, low back, knee and shoulder injuries – often do not appear on MRIs, x-rays, or other scans. As a result, insurance companies sometimes take the view that because these injuries cannot be seen, they don’t exist. This is wrong. Soft tissue injuries can be severe, painful, and debilitating. Sometimes, those affected may have chronic (and, in some cases, lifelong) pain. These injuries are fully compensable in the same manner as more “obvious” injuries, such as broken bones and lacerations. If you have received a soft tissue injury, I will work tirelessly in seeking for you full payments and medical treatment.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS). CTS is a repetitive stress injury that affects the hand and wrist. It’s common among workers who engage in repetitive tasks such as typing or assembly line work. If you’ve developed CTS due to the nature of your job, it is considered a work-related injury. It’s essential, however, to provide medical documentation that links the syndrome to your specific work tasks. I can help you prove your case to the insurance company and refute their claims that your injuries are not severe or not work-related.
It’s crucial to report any work-related injury or condition to your employer as soon as you become aware of it. Timely reporting and appropriate medical documentation are often key factors in successfully claiming workers’ compensation benefits. If you believe you have a soft tissue injury or repetitive trauma injury due to your job, it’s advisable to consult with a workers’ comp. attorney to understand your rights and the best way forward. I can work with you and your physician and others in seeking to obtain the full medical documentation that may be required.