Sustaining workplace injuries may result in two separate claims under certain circumstances – workers’ comp and third-party claims. While both have different parameters required to substantiate claims, both can be filed simultaneously if an additional party was responsible for an accident at work. Both should be handed to an expert work injury lawyer for best results.
Let us unravel the mystery behind both claim types, and what injured workers can expect should an unfortunate event require civil litigation.
Workers’ Compensation Claims
In Massachusetts, workers who are injured by no fault of their own may file for workers’ compensation benefits with the workplace’s insurance company. Should the insurer deny your claim, the Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA) will handle your appeal. The DIA will also accept direct applications for benefits if your employer is uninsured against workplace accidents.
Successful claims are paid for up to 156 weeks at 60% of the injured employee’s weekly salary, capped at $1,383.41.
The state requires all employers, even those who have corporate offices elsewhere but employ Massachusetts workers, to carry workers’ compensation insurance on their company and themselves if they are owner-workers. Members of LLCs, LLPs, and sole proprietors of an unincorporated business are exempt from coverage, except for non-member employees.
Third Party Claims
Unlike workers’ compensation benefits, for which proving employer negligence is unnecessary, third party claims carry a burden of proof that actions committed by an outside party contributed to the worker’s injury.
General contractors, building owners, outside transportation companies, outsourced maintenance, and other contractors working on the same job site could be civilly liable for injuries to workers.
Proving third party negligence exists could enable the injured worker to receive additional monetary benefits workers’ compensation will not pay. For that reason, an attorney specializing in third-party claims must gather proof beyond reasonable doubt that your injury is greater than a simple workers’ comp claim.
The statute of limitations applicable to third party claims is three years from the incident.
Can One Apply, but Not the Other?
Provided an injury happened at work, and the employer falls into a category required to carry insurance, employees can file their claim without proving which party was responsible. Approved claims are paid out by insurer, unless the DIA handles your claim, which means a general fund held by Massachusetts will be tapped into.
Third party claims are additional to any Workers’ Comp payments. You’ll almost always have Workers’ Comp before filing another claim in court since third party negligence is civilly actionable.
Third-Party Claim Attorneys can Help
In either scenario, you will want the services of an expert law firm. Not because claims filing is an arduous task, but because filing both third-party and workers’ compensation claims can happen simultaneously with the help of an attorney.
Employers who outright disallow claims filing, insurers who refuse to pay claims, and third parties who believe their negligence was your fault should be held accountable. Therefore, it is important to tap into the personal injury services of an accomplished attorney instead of fighting these claims on your own.