Workers’ compensation is a great system for both employers and employees. However, not many employees fully understand its benefits or when they may be entitled to benefits. In fact, employees will sometimes decline to file for workers’ compensation simply because they did not know they could, or did not think that they would be able to get benefits.
This is unfortunate because these employees are missing out on benefits by failing to file a workers’ comp claim. Don’t let that happen to you! Read on to determine whether you have a workers’ comp claim.
Workers’ Compensation Basics
Workers’ compensation is an insurance program that is actually fairly similar to insurance policies that are for a vehicle or a home. The real difference is that the claims are handled differently from a legal perspective. Instead of going to court on these types of claims, you go to an administrative law system. This difference actually makes workers’ comp claim easier to deal with than other types of disputed insurance claims.
Assuming that your employer has workers’ comp coverage, your benefit process should start when your employer reports the injury to its insurance company. Usually, the first benefit is payment of medical expenses.
Sometimes employees do not tell employers that they have been injured and attempt to deal with their issues through their own insurance. This is a costly mistake! Why pay for your own medical expenses when your employer has insurance for that purpose?
There are other benefits available under workers’ compensation as well, and your workers’ compensation attorney can walk you through your potential benefits.
Requirements for a Workers’ Comp Claim
Every workers’ compensation claim has the same basic requirements.
First, your employer must either have workers’ compensation insurance or they must be legally required to carry it. In Massachusetts, most employers are legally required to have workers’ compensation insurance, but there are a few exceptions.
Second, you must be considered an employee of the person or company who carries the insurance. This requirement is usually pretty easy to meet, but sometimes the relationship between the employer and the employee is not as cut and dry as you might think. Independent contractors, for example, provide goods and services to a person, but they may not be considered an employee under the law. A good rule of thumb is that if you are getting a W-2 from your employer, then you are likely considered an employer—but there are some exceptions!
The third requirement is that your injury must be work related. There are two separate requirements under this umbrella. The first is a time and place requirement. That is, you must be at your job site and clocked in. Second, you must have also been performing some work duty at the time of the accident.
These last requirements are riddled with exceptions, but the general requirements will apply in the majority of work comp cases.