Under workers compensation, you are entitled to medical care and, in some circumstances, payments to replace lost wages if you are hurt or ill as a result of your employment. All Massachusetts employers are required to provide their employees with workers’ compensation insurance.
No matter how many hours they put in, whether they were paid in cash “under the table,” or their immigration status, all workers are protected.
You can take some of the following actions.
- Inform your employer about the injury.
Even if it doesn’t appear serious at the moment, inform your employer as soon as possible. Later symptoms could appear. If you wait until the following day, you might have to provide evidence that your injuries were not related to your job.
- Seek immediate medical attention; if possible, consult an occupational therapist.
Even if your company mandates you to attend their preferred medical professional, you have the right to choose the doctor you want to visit. Request that your doctor use Workers’ Compensation rather than your standard health plan. (The firm that provides workers’ compensation insurance is separate from the one that provides your normal health insurance, MassHealth, etc. Regular medical insurance is not a part of the workers’ compensation system.)
Consult an occupational therapist whenever you can; not only will you receive better diagnosis and care, but they frequently have greater expertise completing the required paperwork for workers’ compensation and accurately identifying the injury as being related to the job.
- Keep track of the issue
Register everything: Send a written report about the incident to your employer. Copy your letter, and keep it. Any document you are required to sign, get a copy of it. If anyone saw your injuries, make a note of their names so you won’t forget. Start a journal and describe the injury and how it occurred. Keep a daily journal of your symptoms. Inform your union representative right away if you are a member.
- If the workers’ compensation provider denies your claim, contact an attorney.
To be eligible for Workers’ Compensation payments, you do not need to hire an attorney. However, insurance companies occasionally decline to pay benefits. Hire a lawyer to assist you if you’re having problems receiving benefits. Even if your claim is denied, a lawyer can assist you in resubmitting it. If you win the case, the insurance company will pay the lawyer instead of you. Your attorney can only bill you for costs they incurred, such as those for doctor reports and hospital records, if you lose your case.
- Be aware of your legal protections against discrimination and, if necessary, your right to medical leave.
Because you were harmed at work or because you made a Workers’ Compensation claim, it is illegal for your employer to terminate you or treat you differently. You can file a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination if your employer retaliates. However, it will be your responsibility to show that you were fired as a result of making a claim.
The process is much more easily explained and communicated to you through an attorney who can handle the nitty gritty of your case. Call our office at 617-338-7400 for a free consultation, and access to our free resources that can help you make the best decision for your case, as well as keep you armed with a handful of information.