Published On: Tue, Jul 12th, 2016

Workers’ Rights in Massachusetts: Workers’ Compensation

This is the fourth post in the Workers’ Rights blog series, which covers workplace safety, fair wages, workplace benefits, workers’ compensation, and more in Massachusetts.

The first post in the Workers’ Rights blog series covered workplace safety and how to file a complaint. However, it’s also important to learn about your right to workers’ compensation in case you get sick or hurt because of your job.

The Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA) within the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development (LWD) provides information on who’s eligible for workers’ compensation, how to file for it, and what you can do if you think you’re not receiving the proper benefits.

What Is Workers’ Compensation?

The workers’ compensation system in Massachusetts helps make sure that you’re protected by insurance if you get hurt or sick because of your job. Every company has to provide workers’ compensation insurance for all employees, which can pay for:

  • Medical care for a work-related injury or illness
  • Lost wages for days you couldn’t work due to an injury or illness

Who’s Eligible for Workers’ Compensation?

If you have a work-related injury or illness that keeps you from your job for five days or more, you’re eligible to receive workers’ compensation. You have up to four years to report an injury or illness to an employer if you realize later on that it’s related to your job.

The types of benefits you’re eligible for and how long you receive them depend on the kind of injury or illness and whether it’s permanent. You or your family may be able to receive benefits:

How Do I Receive Workers’ Compensation?

Once you’ve missed work for five days or more, your employer and workers’ compensation insurer must take certain steps to help you receive benefits.

  • Report the Injury or Illness — Your employer has seven days to report the injury or illness to their insurance company and to DIA if you lose five or more days’ wages on a form called the first report of injury, also known as Form 101.
  • Give You a Copy of the Claim — Your employer must also give you a copy of the Form 101, which includes information about how you were injured or became sick, who saw the accident, whether you’ve returned to work, and more.
  • Accept or Deny the Claim — The insurance company has 14 days after receiving the report from your employer to either mail your first check or explain why it’s denying the claim.

What Can I Do If I’m Not Receiving Proper Compensation?

The DIA helps workers who believe they’re not receiving proper compensation for a work-related illness or injury. They can help you in different ways depending on the problem.

My Employer Didn’t File a Workers’ Compensation Claim

If your employer doesn’t file a claim with the insurance company, you can either report the injury in writing to the company or fill out the DIA’s Employee’s Claim form and send a copy to the insurer. Your employer should have a poster at work with the name and address of the company’s workers’ compensation insurer. If you can’t find out the name of the insurance company, call the DIA for help at (617) 626-5480.

The Insurance Company Rejected My Workers’ Compensation Claim

If the insurance company has denied your injury or illness claim, you can begin the dispute process. The DIA recommends that you hire a lawyer at this point. The first step is to fill out the Employee’s Claim form and send it to the DIA and the insurer along with any medical bills and reports.

The DIA has a guide on how to file the Employee’s Claim form if you’re not sure how to fill it out. In addition, the DIA spells out your rights in the Injured Worker’s Guide to the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation System.

If you have questions about specific workplace injuries or compensation benefits, contact the DIA for more information. Stay tuned for the last post in the Workers’ Rights blog series to learn about your rights regarding discrimination and harassment in the workplace. 

Do you know someone who’s become sick because of their job duties or has been injured at work? Share this post with them so they can learn about their right to workers’ compensation.

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