Bristol County Workers' Compensation
People who suffer on-the-job injuries may be eligible for workers' compensation benefits. The workers' compensation system is administered by the Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA). It was designed to provide compensation to employees without regard to fault. In other words, employees need not prove fault on the part of their employers, and employers cannot deny benefits because an employee is partially or fully to blame for his or her injuries. In exchange for access to workers' compensation benefits, employees give up their right to sue the employer in civil court. At Pulgini & Norton, our Bristol County workers’ compensation attorneys understand the importance of vigorously asserting your right to benefits when you are dealing with a job-related accident or illness.Protecting Your Right to Workers' Compensation Benefits
All employers in Massachusetts must carry workers' compensation insurance. Employees who are hurt or made sick by their jobs are entitled to claim benefits. If you are able to recover benefits, there are many different types of benefits for which you may be eligible. These include medical benefits, temporary total disability benefits, partial disability benefits, permanent total disability benefits, disfigurement benefits, and survivors' benefits.
An insurer is expected to investigate a claim within 14 days and pay benefits. However, in many cases, insurers deny valid claims. If an insurer has denied your claim, you should not assume that the denial is fair or legitimate but instead consult an attorney. Either you or the insurer can initiate the dispute resolution process.
You must go through the administrative dispute resolution process in its entirety before you can turn to a civil court to review the decisions made in the workers' compensation system. This is called exhausting your remedies. The first step of the process at the DIA is conciliation, which is an informal step in which you and the insurer try to reach an agreement. Following that step are the conference stage, the hearing stage, and the review board stage. Although a conference is considered informal, the same administrative law judge who presides over the conference will preside over the hearing. It can be important to have counsel at the conference stage so that you make a good impression right away.
Before you go to the hearing stage, you must be examined by an impartial medical examiner selected by the administrative law judge. The examiner receives copies of all medical reports submitted and writes his or her own report, providing an opinion as to whether your medical condition is related to your job and the extent to which you are disabled.
Once the administrative law judge rules in your case, either you or the insurer can appeal to the reviewing board. The board will only reverse the judge's decision if the judge overstepped his or her authority, made an arbitrary or capricious decision, or made a decision contrary to law. However, the board can recommit a decision to an administrative law judge to make further factual findings as appropriate, such as when there is conflicting testimony. Only after your case is reviewed by the Massachusetts Reviewing Board can you file an appeal in the civil court system with the Court of Appeals.Consult a Knowledgeable Workers' Compensation Attorney in Bristol County
Many of the residents of Bristol County live and work in cities such as Taunton, New Bedford, Fall River, and Attleboro. Unfortunately, accidents and illnesses can arise in virtually any occupation, and the resulting disruption of a victim’s life may be substantial. If you need to recover benefits, contact the Bristol County workers’ compensation lawyers at Pulgini & Norton at 781-843-2200. Also, you can use our online form to set up a free consultation with a workplace accident attorney.