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When Do I Need a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer?

More than 2.6 million people were injured and nearly 4,800 people were killed in workplace accidents in 2020. Sprains, strains, and tears comprised the greatest percentage of injuries, followed by falls, slips, and trips, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The median number of days injured employees were out of work was 12 and nearly half of all cases had to miss some work.

Workers’ compensation insurance is required at many job sites in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. That, however, does not mean an employee will always be covered for injuries sustained on the job.

Anyone injured in a workplace accident should contact a workers’ compensation lawyer to help prevent a claim’s denial or undervaluing the extent of the injuries.

Workers’ Comp Covers Injury and Illness

Workers’ compensation is no-fault insurance that pays for medical treatment and missed work of employees injured on the job. No fault means employees do not need to prove the accident was caused by someone else. In return, employers are typically immune from being sued over the incident.

Workers’ compensation insurance covers injuries or illnesses connected to the place of employment while the employee is acting in the “course and scope” of their employment.

Covered illnesses or injuries may include the following:

  • Eye injuries
  • Inhalation injuries
  • Strain and sprains
  • Cuts
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Concussions
  • Puncture wounds
  • Burns

Tell Your Employer About the Accident Right Away

If you are injured at work, do not wait to report the incident to your employer. In smaller companies, that may mean telling the owner while large companies may have a process through the human resources department. Do not delay getting medical attention if needed.

In cases where the injury is insignificant, the employer readily admits the harm occurred at work, and little to no work will be missed, employees can typically handle making the workers’ comp claim. Cases that involve any additional complications are best handled by an experienced attorney.

Specific examples of when to bring on an attorney to complete the workers’ compensation claim forms include the following:

  • You have a pre-existing condition worsened by the accident or impacting the same area of the body that was injured.
  • Your injury involved a third party such as a malfunction of equipment built by someone other than your employer or an outside cleaning crew that did not use proper signage on a wet floor.
  • Your injuries are significant enough to keep you out of work for an extended period or restrict your ability to perform your work at all.
  • You currently receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.

An attorney can also help fight for maximum benefits if you file the claim but hit obstacles:

  • Your employer denies your claim.
  • The settlement offer falls short of covering all your medical bills or lost income.
  • You want to apply for Social Security benefits.
  • The insurance company is not approving the medical treatment you need.
  • Your employer retaliates against you for making a workers’ compensation claim.

Workers’ Compensation Laws in Massachusetts

All Massachusetts employers are required to carry workers' compensation insurance no matter the number of employees or the number of hours they work. Employers must themselves be covered unless they are a member of a limited liability company (LLC), a partner in a limited liability partnership (LLP), or a sole proprietor.

Independent contractors are not eligible to receive workers' compensation benefits.

Workers' compensation claims must be made within 4 years of the date the connection between the injury/illness and employment is made.

The Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA) can issue a stop-work order (SWO) to employers not complying with workers' compensation requirements. The employers can be fined $100 per day until insurance coverage starts and the fine is paid.

Employers who continue business operations despite an SWO face more than fines. They face criminal charges that can land them in prison for up to 1 year and/or a $1,500 fine. These businesses can also be barred from public contracts for 3 years.

Rhode Island Workers' Compensation Laws

Businesses in Rhode Island with one or more employees are generally required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Like neighboring Massachusetts, individual owners and partners are exempt from the requirement. Workers’ compensation does not cover independent contractors.

Rhode Island requires workers’ compensation claims to be filed within 2 years from the date of injury.

The penalties for non-compliance are stiffer in the Ocean State. Businesses that do not carry workers' compensation insurance as required can be fined $1,000 daily, and employers face a felony charge carrying up to 2 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Hurt at Work? Maximize Your Workers’ Compensation Benefits

When you are injured at work, your first step is to receive the immediate medical care you need. Your next priority is to call the Percy Law Group, P.C. to present a strong workers’ compensation claim to maximize your potential benefits. We will work hard to remove the legal obstacles so you can focus on your recovery.

Contact us right away if you are injured at work or are getting stonewalled on a current claim. Your initial consultation is free, so you have nothing to lose. Schedule by calling (508) 206-9900 or sending an online message.