Section 34A - Permanent and Total Disability
The Massachusetts Workers Compensation Law has a specific section for those who suffer the worst types of injuries. These are injuries that mean that the injured worker will never return to work. The Workers Compensation system refers to these people as those who are Permanently and Totally Incapacitated, and benefits are governed by Section 34A.Two Requirements
Significant Injuries can happen in a variety of ways. Significant falls can cause injuries to the spine, including paraplegia. Blows to the head can cause traumatic brain injuries. Explosions can cause serious burns and nerve damage. Though they all have their unique qualities, one thing these injuries have in common is that they alter the workers ability to ever work again.
The first requirement for this benefit is that you be totally disabled. This means not only that you’re unable to go back to the job you had before you were injured, but also that you’re unable to work in any type of job. As you can imagine, this is very fact intensive, and everyone’s position is different. For example, an injury that limits someone to a desk job can still allow some people to return to the workforce. On the other hand, some people don’t have the education, skills, or experience necessary for a desk job. So that same injury might totally disable the person who cannot do sedentary work.
The second requirement for this benefit is that you be permanently disabled. While no one can predict the future, permanency can usually be determined after certain treatments have been tried, depending on the injury. For example, someone with a back injury might first try physical therapy, then they might try injections or other more invasive treatments. If those treatments don’t alleviate a person’s pain, then surgery is often an option. If all these steps are followed, many doctors tell their patients that there’s nothing more than can be done, and offer palliative care to manage symptoms instead of trying to fix the problem.What is the Benefit?
One of the good parts about Section 34A benefits is that instead of the 60% of your Average Weekly Wage that is available with Section 34 benefits, people who are Permanently and Totally Disabled are entitled to ⅔ of their Average Weekly Wage. That means that someone who makes $1000 per week will receive an extra $66 per week. However, this benefit is still limited by the statutory minimum and maximum Workers Compensation rates, which are set by the state every year.
Another god part about Section 34A benefits is that there is no time limit for these benefits. Section 34 benefits are only available for 3 years and Section 35 benefits are only available for up to 5 years, depending on the situation. Section 34A benefits for those who are Permanently and Totally Disabled are eligible for ongoing benefits even after those benefits have already been exhausted.You Need an Experienced Lawyer
If you’ve been permanently injured, your life can be on the line when you bring a claim for Section 34A benefits. At the same time, the insurance company knows that it has a lot to lose if you are successful in your claim. Since the insurance company will specifically look for an experienced lawyer, you should do the same.
At Marcotte Law Firm, our Workers Compensation Attorneys have handled countless cases for those who have permanent industrial injuries. We know not only how to prove the claims, but also ensure that injured workers get the treatment that they need to ease their pain.
If you’ve been injured on the job, call an experienced Workers Compensation Lawyer at Marcotte Law Firm for a free, no obligation consultation.