Answers To Common Workers’ Compensation Questions
The workers’ compensation system in Massachusetts isn’t as straightforward as it should be. Many people have questions when they get injured on the job. Below, we have provided some common questions about seeking workers’ compensation benefits and their corresponding answers.
How much does it cost to talk to a workers’ compensation attorney?
Speaking to an attorney about your legal options is free in Massachusetts, and workers’ compensation cases are taken on a contingency basis. This means that you pay nothing upfront and aren’t responsible for any legal fees if the attorney doesn’t help you recover money (either by winning the case or successfully preventing the insurance company from ending or lowering your benefits).
If your case is settled, attorney fees are capped at 20% of the total settlement. And in many cases, if you win, the insurance company is required to pay your legal fees. In short, most people find that hiring an attorney for help with their workers’ compensation case is a low financial risk with no upfront obligations.
Can my employer fire me or demote me for filing a workers’ compensation claim?
Thankfully, the answer is an unequivocal “no.” It is illegal in Massachusetts (and nearly every other state) to retaliate against an employee for seeking workers’ compensation benefits. Some employers still do fire workers, and they often cite reasons unrelated to workers’ compensation (as a way to avoid legal trouble). This is another reason why it may be wise to seek help from an experienced attorney. Your employer is less likely to fire you (and far less likely to succeed in firing you) if they know you have an attorney on your side.
What types of illnesses and injuries are covered by workers’ compensation in Massachusetts?
The specific injuries/conditions are too numerous to list here. Instead, we’ll discuss categories of harm. You can qualify for benefits if you suffer a work-related:
- Acute physical injury: A one-time occurrence that happens immediately, like a broken arm or a burn injury
- Aggravated preexisting injury: An injury/condition you already suffered from that was aggravated by the work you do
- Repetitive stress injury: An injury that accumulates over time, such as carpal tunnel syndrome
- Occupational disease/disorder: If you develop cancer or emphysema as the result of exposure to hazardous chemicals, for instance
- Psychological injury: In some cases, mental health disorders like PTSD are eligible for compensation
All of these types of injuries and illnesses may be covered, with two important caveats. First, you must be able to document that the injury exists (which is easy or hard, depending on the injury). Second, you must be able to show, if challenged, that the injury is work-related. This is often a point of contention, so it is a good idea to seek help from an attorney.
Get Your Questions Answered For Free
Law Offices of James F. White, P.C., proudly serves clients in Boston Metro West, and offers free initial consultations to potential workers’ compensation clients. To schedule yours, call our office in Franklin at 508-763-6571, or send us an email.