On-the-job injuries are part of working-life reality in Massachusetts. The state’s workers’ compensation system protects you against lost income for time away from work, but it does not provide complete coverage. Here are some FAQs about your rights and obligations as an injured worker:
1. How long must my injury last to qualify?
Your injury must keep you away from your job for five days before you are entitled to workers’ compensation. If your injury lasts more than 21 days, you are then entitled to compensation for the first five days, but not before.
2. How much is the maximum wage benefit?
The maximum and minimum benefits change annually. As of October 1, 2016, the maximum weekly benefit is $1,291.74, and the minimum is $258.35. You will receive a portion of your previous wages that is within these amounts.
This does not include benefits you may receive for medical care, such as prescription drugs and travel to and from appointments. You may also receive an additional benefit if you suffer scarring, disfigurement or permanent loss of bodily functions.
3. What if I have a part-time job?
If you are able to keep working at your second job, you must report the wages to your insurer. How that income will affect your benefits depends on whether or not you are also covered by Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation at your second job.
4. What about my on-the-job benefits?
The status of your health plan and other employment benefits is uncertain while you are receiving workers’ compensation. Your benefits may continue, but you may be required to pay a larger premium. An attorney can help you resolve these issues with your employer.
5. Can I see my own doctor?
Yes. However, the insurer may ask you to see a different doctor for an examination. You must comply with this request or risk losing your benefits.
6. What if my claim is denied?
You have the right to an appeal. The insurer will send you Form 104 (Insurer’s Notification of Denial) that states the reasons for denying your claim. The Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents strongly recommends obtaining legal counsel if you decide to challenge the insurer’s decision.
7. What if my payments don’t arrive?
8. What if I return to work but have to leave again?
Your benefits stop if you return to work. But, if you have to leave again because of the same injury within 28 days, your benefits will restart. You must notify your insurer in writing within 21 days that you not working.
9. What if I want to go back to work but there’s no job available?
Your benefits cease if your treating doctor says you are able to go back to work and there is a suitable job for you at your old workplace. Both must be the case for your benefits to stop, and the job you are going back to must be approved by your doctor.
10. Can I be fired while on Workers’ Compensation?
Under state law, yes, although your union contract may prevent this. Employers in Massachusetts are obliged to prioritize rehiring injured workers when they are ready to get back on the job, regardless of unionization.
If you are injured on the job in Massachusetts, an attorney is your best source of information about workers’ compensation benefits. When you are in need of an advocate for your interests, contact Konstantilakis Law P.C.