Workers who are injured in the Boston area and are not independent contractors have the right to pursue a workers’ compensation claim. As a workers’ compensation claimant (or injured worker), the process of securing benefits is set forth by guidelines made clear by the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA). A skilled Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer can help ensure that all timelines are met, and beginning with reporting requirements, represent you throughout the process of seeking benefits.
The DIA makes clear that after being unable to earn wages for five days, injured workers are eligible for weekly compensation benefits. These days need not be consecutive, and at this point, the employer will be required to file a form reporting the injury. Before any type of formal hearing takes place, there must be a conciliation.
A conciliation is defined as a type of informal meeting between the claimant, their attorney, and the employer’s insurance company’s attorney, as well as a conciliator from the DIA. During the conciliation, the conciliator will work to facilitate an agreement between the claimant and the insurer. If the parties are unable to reach a voluntary agreement, the claim will be referred to an Administrative Law Judge, who will conduct a conference.
Conciliators work for the DIA and are there to settle workers’ compensation disputes. The intention is to help the parties reach an agreement before a conference or a hearing. While the Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) also help to resolve disputes, a case is typically assigned to an ALJ judge if, after meeting with the conciliator, the parties have not reached a voluntary agreement. The injured worker will typically request a hearing before an ALJ, particularly if they are unhappy with the results of the conciliation. After a conference, either the claimant or the insurer may request a hearing, since they may be dissatisfied with the award of compensation.
It is important for injured workers entering the conciliation process to understand that the process is not binding. While a conciliator may recommend that the parties enter a voluntary settlement agreement, they cannot order the parties to enter an agreement, nor can they create a binding order.
The DIA suggests that workers’ compensation claimants hire an attorney for a conciliation. Additionally, if the case is referred to an Administrative Law Judge, they also suggest that an attorney represent the injured worker. A hearing before an ALJ involves presenting evidence and proving your case for benefits. Legal rules of evidence do not apply at a hearing before an ALJ, but the judge has the authority to issue orders that become permanent if there is not an appeal. Either party has the right to appeal a temporary order, and for this reason, it is suggested that a skilled workers’ compensation attorney represent claimants throughout the process.
The skilled lawyers at Pulgini & Norton represent injured workers throughout Massachusetts in filing claims for workers’ compensation benefits. As dedicated job injury lawyers, we have successfully secured lost wages, medical benefits, and disability benefits for workers’ compensation claimants who have been hurt in a work-related accident or are suffering from work-related conditions. Call our office today at (781) 843-2200 to schedule a free consultation about your case.
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