The injured employee in the case of James McDonald v. Brand Energy Services, Inc. was a union laborer who had worked and been injured at work several times dating back to 1991. In fact, the employee had injured his back four separate times prior to this particular work injury. With each of the four prior work-related back injuries, the employee received lump sum settlements. His last injury in which he received a lump sum settlement came in the year 2001. Approximately three years after his last work related injury he returned to work against the advice of several doctors in 2004. While employed he did not complete heavy-duty tasks but he did cope with daily pain by taking pain medication while completing lighter assignments. Continue reading
Beginning April 1, 2015 Massachusetts will extend employment protections to domestic workers. The Domestic Workers Bill of Rights will create new legal obligations for individuals or families who employ domestic workers including nannies, housekeepers, caregivers, and other domestic workers. The new law will create a number of new rights that will improve conditions for domestic workers such as a statutory right to privacy and how a live-in domestic worker may be terminated. Also, the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights definitively clarified that some existing state laws do extend to domestic workers. Included among existing Massachusetts laws that will extend to domestic workers are Massachusetts’ workers compensation benefits. Continue reading
In September of 2014, Massachusetts received a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to enforce activities centered on worker misclassification detection. The Massachusetts wage and hour laws allow workers who have been misclassified as independent contractors to bring lawsuits seeking monetary compensation against their employers. Those employers who have wrongly classified their employees as independent contractors are obligated to provide workers’ compensation benefits to those misclassified employees who are injured during the course of their employment.
The Massachusetts independent contractor statute makes it difficult for an employer to classify a worker as an independent contractor. Employers who misclassify an employee as an independent contractor may be subject to triple damages in accordance with Massachusetts wage and hour laws. Continue reading
Perhaps the most common reason why injured workers seek out a workers’ compensation attorney is because their employer’s workers’ compensation insurer is refusing to authorize and pay for medical treatment that their treating physician is recommending. Massachusetts workers’ compensation benefits provide for 100% payment of any and all medical treatment that is deemed to be reasonable, necessary and causally related to a work injury. However, it is very common for workers’ compensation insurance companies to either deny medical treatment or intentionally not respond to your doctor’s requests for medical treatment. One possible reason for this is because many injured workers give up, try to use their health insurance (so the workers’ comp insurer doesn’t pay) and never get a lawyer to guide them through this difficult process. Quite simply, although workers compensation insurers have laws and rules that they must follow in administering claims, they will do everything within those laws and rules (and sometimes outside of them) to frustrate injured workers so that they won’t seek medical treatment that they require. Continue reading
After you have been injured at work and need medical treatment, often times you will be contacted by your employer’s workers compensation insurance company or a nurse who works for the workers’ compensation insurer for the purpose of them trying to steer you to a certain doctor for medical treatment. If this happens to you, you should be very concerned about the intentions of the workers’ compensation insurance company. If you are receiving a weekly disability check from workers’ compensation, the workers’ compensation insurer does have a financial incentive to get you treated by a qualified doctor so that you can return to work as soon as possible and they can stop paying you your weekly disability benefits. However, some workers’ compensation insurance companies try to steer injured workers to certain doctors because they know the reputation of the doctor is such that he is more likely to recommend medical treatment that is less costly to the insurance company, such as ordering conservative medical treatment such as physical therapy or injections instead of surgery. Workers’ compensation insurance companies also are known to steer injured workers to certain doctors who are known to either not write disability letters for their patients (which are required in order for an injured worker to continue to receive a weekly disability check) or are likely to clear an injured worker to return to work well before that injured worker is actually physically capable of returning to his or her job (thus enabling the workers’ compensation insurer to stop weekly disability payments to the injured worker). Continue reading
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Despite Massachusetts’ law mandating nearly all employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance, many Massachusetts’ employers choose to fraudulently conduct business without workers’ compensation insurance coverage in order to increase profits while passing the cost of work-related injuries on to injured workers, their families and taxpayers. There are several potential avenues of compensation for an employee who is injured during the course of his employment with an uninsured employer. Injured workers can file a workers’ compensation claim for wage loss and medical benefits with the Commonwealth’s Workers’ Compensation Trust Fund. A claim for workers’ compensation benefits should be filed against a general contractor who hired the uninsured employer, if one can be identified. Additionally, an injured worker may also bring civil, or “third party” claims against his or her employer, a general contractor and/or any other third parties that may have caused or contributed to the employee’s injury.
Workers’ Compensation Claim
Workers’ Compensation claims involving uninsured employers are governed by the Code of Massachusetts Regulations, 452 C.M.R. 3.04. The first step an employee’s attorney must undertake is to file an “Insurer Request Certification” with the Department of Industrial Accidents in order to verify that the employer did not carry workers’ compensation insurance on the date of the work injury. This form, which can be downloaded at the DIA’s website, certifies to the DIA that the employee and employee’s attorney has attempted to contact the employer to verify whether the employer did in fact have a workers’ compensation policy in effect on the date of the accident. After this has been filed, the DIA Trust Fund should contact the employee attorney requesting that the employee complete and sign a Form 170 (Affidavit of Employee in Application for Trust Fund Benefits). Once the Form 170 has been filed, the employee is then allowed to file his or her claim (Form 110) for workers’ compensation benefits. Continue reading