Determining Eligibility for Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Massachusetts Employees Versus Contractors

Workers’ compensation benefits are provided to employees injured in the course and scope of employment, without requiring that they prove fault for an accident or a workplace medical condition.  This means that the employer need not have directly caused the injury to the worker.  Boston workers’ compensation claimants are entitled to benefits if they are considered “employees” at the time they suffered the injuries. For some claimants, determining their employment status is critical to their claim for benefits. Administrative judges look at a variety of factors in assessing whether workers are employees or independent contractors, in accordance with state law.

Massachusetts law defines “employee” in Chapter 152, Section 1. According to the definitions in this section, employees are those individuals who are hired under a contract to perform services for another party.  When an injured worker is an employee, rather than a contractor, they will be entitled to benefits and payments set forth under the Workers’ Compensation Act. In some cases, administrative judges must determine employment status as a main dispute in a workers’ compensation claim for benefits.

For workers’ compensation claimants in the Boston area, establishing their status as an employee, rather than a contractor, is essential to proving their entitlement to benefits.  Administrative law judges oversee workers’ compensation cases and rely on select criteria to ascertain whether workers are employees, according to the Act.  Factors that may be considered include whether a worker provided a service according to a contract, either written or oral.  In some cases, workers may sign contracts that make clear their status as contractors.  They may also inquire into whether workers have filed taxes as independent contractors.

Additionally, contractors often control how the service is provided and who provides the service.  When workers independently control the method of their work, including their tools and equipment, a judge may deem them contractors, rather than employees.  Judges may also look at the locality to determine whether the occupation is typically performed under direction by an employer.

In some cases, the administrative judge may turn to the specific character of the work to help determine the status of an injured worker.  Contractors often provide highly skilled work, focused on one job.  Workers may be considered to provide more general duties, and they typically work for one company, as opposed to more than one employer.  When workers are trained and receive ongoing work from one company, they are often determined to be employees for the purposes of workers’ compensation benefits.

The skilled Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorneys at Pulgini & Norton can represent you after suffering work injuries.  Compensation is available to employees who have endured a medical condition or a work-related injury in an accident.  To discuss your case in more detail at no cost, contact our office today. We can be reached at (781) 843-2200 or online.

More Blog Posts:

After Three Workers Fall At Massachusetts Worksite, OSHA Administrative Law Judge Holds Both Contractor and Subcontractor Responsible as Single Employer, Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog, May 4, 2017

Massachusetts Reviewing Board Holds Claimant Was Independent Contractor, Not Entitled to Workers’ Compensation, Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog, December 29, 2016

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