When the ultimate tragedy befalls a worker as a result of an on-the-job accident, families and loved ones ensure unspeakable hardship. Massachusetts law provides financial benefits for survivors and qualified dependents. As a recent court case shows, however, beneficiaries must provide evidence that satisfies legal standards to obtain them.
Most important considerations for a claimant
An insurer appealed from a decision by an administrative judge and affirmed by the Department of Industrial Accidents that granted the worker’s spouse three types of legally authorized benefits. Though the court significantly reduced the original amount determined by the prior panels, the issues contested by the insurer reveal factors all injured workers, and in the case of death, spouses and those eligible for benefits, may have to confront:
- Employment status: The law allows only “employees” to collect benefits. Some relationships between an employer and an individual involve complex analysis.
- Causation: Evidence must establish a relationship between the work injury and the need for treatment. This factor assumes even more importance in cases of a pre-existing condition.
- Average weekly wage: Various formulas determine this value. In this case, the spouse had rights to benefits even though the deceased had worked only three days.
- Burial expenses: The law caps these expenses at eight times the average weekly rate.
- Medical expenses: The court determined a review of the expenses awarded.
Knowledge and experience
Workers’ compensation results in pain, both physical and psychological, for both employees and their families. Decisions regarding the process to obtain benefits and the difficult yet necessary questions require attorneys who possess an understanding of workers’ compensation.