In order to keep a job and be able to put food on the table, workers put their bodies on the line. Sadly, many are hurt on the job every day. If an employee gets hurt and can’t work, everyone understands that the worker is entitled to workers compensation. But, what if the employee is hurt, but has to go on light duty? What if the injured employee can only work 20 hours instead of the normal 40 because of an injury? This is called Partial Disability, which is covered by the Workers Compensation System.
Workers in Massachusetts are entitled to weekly checks when they are only partially disabled from work. Marcotte Law Firm has the workers compensation experience to help you do the work you’re capable of doing, while collecting ongoing workers compensation weekly compensation checks.What is Partial Disability?
In Massachusetts when a worker suffers an injury that your doctor or the State Impartial Physician chosen by the Department of Industrial Accidents deem not totally incapacitating, it is often beneficial for the injured worker to take a job that he knows he or she can do. If that worker makes less than before, the insurance company must pay a weekly check equal to 60% of the difference.
For example, if you had a physically demanding job that paid you $1,000.00 per week; but, a shoulder surgery made that job impossible, you can get a job that involves no heavy lifting. If that job pays $500.00 per week, and the insurer will send you a check for $300.00 per week, which is 60% of the difference.
This ongoing insurance company payment of partial disability can go on for up to five years or 260 weeks.Assigning an Earning Capacity
When an injured worker is not totally disabled, a judge can assign the injured worker an earning capacity based upon several factors including that worker’s vocational retraining potential, extent of injury, age, education and past relevant work. Judge’s often use the State’s minimum wage as an earning capacity. If an injured worker had an average weekly wage of $1,500.00 per week and the judge assigned an earning capacity of $510.00 per week, based upon $12.75 being the minimum wage, the insurer would have to pay $594.00 per week.Keep the Liability Open
Instead of settling too early on the insurer’s terms, try working. If you’re able to do the job, that’s great. If you can’t, you can always then be considered again by your doctors or the State Impartial physician for total disability, which is 60% of your average weekly wages, tax free.Keep Your Friends Close and Your Employer Closer
The Department of Industrial Accidents has a hierarchy of vocational goals. This includes:
- Keeping an injured worker in the same job and same company,
- Keeping an injured worker in a different job with same company,
- Keeping an injured worker in the same job with a different company.
If you can stay with your employer, even doing a different job, take it. That way, if your injury worsens, your employer’s workers compensation insurer will still cover you. If you take a job with a different employer, and you’re able to work for a sufficient time into the future, the workers compensation insurer will fight you for any future disability, claiming any future disability is a result of the new employment.
Planning a return to work after an industrial injury can be tricky. A lawyer at Marcotte Law Firm can help you plan your ongoing strategy to ensure you are fully compensated for your partially disabling and not short-changed by the insurance company.
If you’ve been injured on the job and have questions about the best way to go back to work, call the Workers Compensation Attorneys at Marcotte Law Firm for a free consultation.