This blog devotes a significant portion of its time to discussing workers' compensation issues and how they can affect Massachusetts' workers. This is certainly important, but it is also important to realize that the law is in a constant state of flux. What was the rule yesterday could be changed today. Therefore, it is important to know when and how the law changes so that those who have been injured on the job can protect their rights to the fullest extent possible.
Massachusetts residents who are injured on the job have a lot to contend with. Sure, they might have to find a way to make ends meet without their weekly income, but they might also have to find a way to pay for their medical expenses. This can be extremely difficult, particularly when an injured worker is the sole wage-earner in a family. For this reason, it is imperative that those who have suffered a work-related injury seek out workers' compensation benefits.
Last week's blog post discussed employers' responsibilities as they relate to OSHA regulations. These regulations are meant to uphold certain standards to ensure workplace safety. Though many employers adhere to these requirements, many others fail to do so for a variety of reasons. Sometimes an employer is uninformed, sometimes it tries to cut costs by sacrificing safety, and sometimes an employer just outright refuses to comply with safety standards. When this happens, you could be put at serious risk of harm, the results of which could be devastating.
If people work in the state of Massachusetts, or any other state for that matter, then they are likely protected by regulations created and enforced by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, also known as OSHA. This agency creates responsibilities that employers must abide by in order to ensure their workers are kept safe. Failure to do so could result in fines, but also significant harm to employees.
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) investigates in two ways: off-site and on-site. You are free to file a claim at any time, however, if you want an on-site OSHA investigation of your place of employment, then one of a list of criteria must be met. Amongst these criteria are a signed complaint that satisfactorily illustrates that a violation or danger threatens the physical safety of employees, a claim that alleges that physical injury has been suffered and the hazard that caused it still exists, a report that imminent danger exists, the employer against which a claim has been filed has a history of OSHA violations within the previous three years, and a claim that is referred from a whistle blower investigation, amongst others.
It is an unfortunate reality that many Massachusetts residents work in dangerous professions. Construction workers, factory employees, and police officers can all face real threats in the form of heights, moving vehicles, machines, repetitive stress, and other dangerous individuals. When an individual is hurt on the job, he or she may be left with significant physical and financial harm. The good news is that an injured worker can seek to recoup some of his or her financial losses through the workers' compensation system.
In the workers' compensation context, a lump sum is a payment that you receive one time. It replaces your weekly workers' compensation benefit checks. There is a lot to consider when deciding whether or not to give up your weekly checks in favor of a lump sum, and a judge will try to determine if a lump sum payment is in your best interest. It may be helpful to consider whether you are able to return to your job, if you have ongoing medical issues from your injuries, your current income, and how accepting a lump sum will affect your ability to pay for future medical expenses related to your injuries.
Every day, Massachusetts' construction workers put themselves at risk for the sake of their job. They often climb to extreme heights, work near moving vehicles, and operate heavy and dangerous machinery. Fortunately, most of the time, these workers are kept safe thanks to workplace laws and regulations. In some instances, though, mishaps occur and workers are left injured. When this happens, a victim could have a long road to recovery.
Our last blog post discussed times when your workers' compensation benefits can be reduced. This is just one of a whole host of problems that can arise during the workers' compensation recovery process. Everything from an initial denial to complications during appeal and cessation of benefits occur far too often, leaving Massachusetts' residents stranded financially, not knowing where to turn.