Workers’ Compensation FAQs - Part 1

What Is Workers’ Compensation?

Workers’ Compensation is a no fault benefit mandated by state law which provides a limited wage loss benefit for employees who are disabled as a result of a work related injury. Nearly all employers and employees are covered. Workers’ Compensation benefits are designed to pay injured workers or their families weekly benefits for total or partial disability, medical expense coverage, and possible vocational retraining.

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Who Pays For This Insurance?

The cost of workers’ compensation is paid for by the employer and therefore is a cost of doing business such as advertising and payroll. It is mandatory since employers are required by law to provide this coverage for all employees. There is no minimum employment time required to be covered since employees are covered from the very first day of employment.

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Who Administers The System?

The Massachusetts Worker’s Compensation Law, which is Chapter 152 of Massachusetts General Laws is administered by the Department of Industrial Accidents. The main office of the Department of Industrial Accidents is located at 1 Congress Street, Suite 100, Boston, MA 02114; their phone number is (617) 727-4900. There are also several regional offices of the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents which are located in Lawrence, Springfield, Fall River, and Worcester. Usually the employee’s place of residence determines which of the regional offices will administer that particular employee’s claim.

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What Are The Primary Benefits Provided By The Workers’ Compensation System In Massachusetts?

The law provides benefits for temporary total disability, partial disability, total and permanent disability, permanent loss of function, disfigurement, medical benefits, death benefits, and possible vocational retraining benefits. In very rare occasions double compensation benefits may be awarded if an employee’s injuries are attributable to serious and willful misconduct on the part of the employer.

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How Do I Find Out Who Insures My Employer For Workers’ Compensation?

Employers are required by law to post a notice in an area of the work place listing the identity of the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company. If such a notice cannot be found, the employer should inform the employee of the identity of their workers’ compensation insurance provider. If the employer refuses to provide coverage information, employees can obtain the identity of the employer’s insurer by going to the Department of Industrial Accident’s website, located at www.mass.gov/dia, clicking on the “Verify Workers' Compensation Coverage” page, and completing a DIA Proof of Coverage Verification Application.

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What Do I Do If My Employer Does Not Have Workers' Compensation Insurance?

Even though workers' compensation insurance is mandatory, some employers neglect to provide insurance for their employees. In a situation such as this, the Massachusetts Compensation Law was amended in 1985 to provide for workers' compensation benefits for employees who are injured while working for an uninsured employer. Benefits are provided by the Massachusetts Workers' Compensation Trust Fund, which is administered by the legal counsel's office of the DIA. Inquiries about this should be made directly to the legal counsel's office at the DIA. Benefits are essentially the same from the Trust Fund as they would be from a private insurance company. Where the employer does not provide workers' compensation for its' employees, an injured worker may also bring a personal injury action under the Tort Law in the Civil Courts of Massachusetts against his or her former employer.

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How Is Average Weekly Wage Figured?

The calculation of average weekly wage is always based upon the employee's gross earnings. If the employee has worked a full year prior to the injury, one averages the full 52 weeks prior to the injury. These gross earnings include such things as bonuses, vacation time, overtime, and commissions. The value of fringe benefits, such as health insurance, are not added in to the earnings. Total earnings in the 52 week period are divided by 52 to get the average weekly wage. If an employee has worked less than 52 weeks, the number of weeks actually worked will be divided into the gross earnings. For workers who have worked only a very few weeks, the calculations for average wage may be based upon a fellow employee who had worked for the same employer doing the same work for a longer period of time. A list of the maximum weekly compensation rates over the past ten (10) years is found below.

MAXIMUM RATES
Injury On or AfterMaximum Weekly Benefit

10/1/03
10/1/04
10/1/05
10/1/06
10/1/07
10/1/08
10/1/09
10/1/10
10/1/11
10/1/12
10/1/13
10/1/14
10/1/15
10/1/16

$884.46
$918.78
$958.58
$1,000.43
$1,043.54
$1,093.27
$1,094.70
$1,088.06
$1,135.82
$1,173.82
$1,181.28
$1,214.99
$1,256.47
$1,291.74


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What If I Work More Than One Job?

In cases where an employee has more than one job, his wages from both jobs can be included in the computation for workers' compensation if both jobs are jobs covered by the Massachusetts Workers' Compensation system. This essentially means that both jobs must be ones that are for legitimate employers who are deducting taxes from the employee's wages and reporting income to the government, and have a policy providing workers' compensation coverage. This situation is called concurrent employment and can substantially increase weekly benefits to the injured employee.

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