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You have the right to appeal a denied workers' compensation claim

Workers' compensation insurance came about as a means to protect those who work for a living. A century ago, employers could subject workers to incredibly dangerous and unsafe working conditions. When a worker suffered a serious injury, such as a head injury, lost limb or spinal cord injury, the employer could just fire the employee, leaving him or her unable to pay for basic life necessities and medical care.

Workers' compensation insurance helps protect workers from poverty due to a work injury or illness. Employers pay a premium to insure their staff. In the event of an injury, a worker must file a claim for coverage. Typically, these cases are simple, thanks to the presence of cameras and witnesses in the work space. Sometimes, however, a worker who gets hurt on the job finds out shortly after filing a claim that one's employer is disputing the claim, resulting in a denial when he or she needs the benefits the most.

Reporting the injury right away protects your claim

One of the most important things you can do prior to an accident is familiarize yourself with your employer's accident policy. If there is on-site medical staff, you will likely need to submit to an in-house medical examination before seeking treatment from your own doctor or at a hospital.

Even if there isn't medical treatment available at work, you should make a point of immediately reporting the accident to your supervisor and union representative, if applicable. As soon as you are able, commit the details of the accident to writing, including the time, date, location and nature of the incident. Make sure you record the names of any witnesses, as their testimony could make all the difference for your claim in the future.

Don't take a denial to heart. Seek an appeal as soon as you can

The state will generally inform you within two weeks if it denies your claim for any reason. When you receive that notice, don't despair. You have the right to appeal that decision, which could still help you get the benefits you need.

You will need to file an appeal request with the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents. The information you need to include in your appeal will be the date of your injury, the dates of work you've missed as a result (especially the first and fifth days), the name of your employer's insurance carrier, the part of your body affected and the type of injury, what benefits you hope to receive, the prognosis, including how long you will likely remain unable to work, the doctor who initially examined you and the doctor currently treating you.

The appeal process is relatively complicated, involving paperwork and hearings. You are entitled to representation by an attorney, which is a good idea, especially when your employer or their insurance company has an attorney arguing their side.

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