Protecting Your Business and Employees: Massachusetts Workers' Comp
Boston lawyers on how to prep for workers’ comp in the State of MassachusettsBy Nancy Henderson | Reviewed by Canaan Suitt, J.D. | Last updated on October 20, 2023 Featuring practical insights from contributing attorneys Stephanie E. Bendeck and Bruce S. Lipsey
Use these links to jump to different sections:
- What is Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Coverage?
- Preparing Workers’ Comp Coverage
- Once You Have a Workers’ Comp Policy: Make it Known
- What To Do if an Employee Experiences a Workplace Injury
- Keep the Lines of Communication Open with the Injured Employee
- Find an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Learning how to comply with workers’ compensation laws may sound like a drag as a Massachusetts business owner, but like many business tasks, it’s both critical and beneficial to you and your workers.
“It’s about protecting the employee and the employer,” says Stephanie Bendeck, a personal injury defense attorney with Melick & Porter in Boston. “It may take some time to get properly set up in the beginning, but that hard work and the time invested pays dividends on the back end.”
What is Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Coverage?
In Massachusetts, workers’ comp is a “no-fault” program that requires employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage for work-related injuries or disabling conditions, no matter how many hours employees work, while prohibiting those employees from suing for pain and suffering.
“If someone gets injured on the job—they could have tripped over their own feet and caused their own injury—they can still pursue lost wages and medical treatment,” says Bruce Lipsey, a disability and workers’ compensation attorney at Lipsey & Clifford in Hanover.
“If the employer is responsible, like leaving the banana peel on the floor and causing the employee to slip, the employer would be responsible for providing workers’ compensation, wages, and medical treatment, but would be insulated, in return, from any lawsuit brought by the employee.”
Preparing Workers’ Comp Coverage
Your preparation should start with finding a good insurance broker who can guide you to the right insurance policy and a workers’ comp attorney who can clarify confusing details about the workers’ compensation system.
“Insurance terms are full of a lot of gobbledygook, and sometimes people have questions about unique situations that perhaps an insurance agent or broker may not be able to answer,” says Bendeck. “It can get a little sticky.”
And, she adds, “Reevaluate your coverage on a yearly basis. If you get more employees or open up new offices, make sure that your coverage is always up to date.”
Failing to buy workers’ comp insurance means an employee injured on-site can sue you directly.
Once You Have a Workers’ Comp Policy: Make it Known
Once your policy is in place, Bendeck says to display the proof of coverage certificate in the break room or other common area and advise your employees of their rights. (The U.S. Department of Labor offers free posters.) Keep a list of doctors who take workers’ comp patients—not every doctor does—as well as blank claim forms.
Safety, of course, should always be top of mind in any workplace. Train your employees about your company’s safety guidelines and address the topic regularly at scheduled meetings.
What To Do if an Employee Experiences a Workplace Injury
If a worker gets hurt on the job, get medical help for them right away, alert your carrier, and ask the employee to fill out a claim form within 24 hours, if possible. The insurance company will provide an attorney if necessary.
Some employers, Lipsey says, muddle an already stressful situation by hiring their own claims reviewers. “The middlemen are trying to challenge a lot of things that really shouldn’t be challenged. The best claims are the ones that are handled in a professional way from the start.”
What’s more, the attorneys say, if it’s a close call about who was responsible for the injury, the employee will usually win. Save your money and stick with what you can control by keeping a designated folder with correspondence, witness statements if applicable, and any accident reports related to the worker’s injury. Include records of the employee’s wages and benefits.
Keep the Lines of Communication Open with the Injured Employee
One of the most important things you can do after an employee is injured is to keep the lines of communication open, Lipsey says.
“A lot of times, employers don’t call to see how the employee is doing in the hospital. A person could be working there for 25 years, and the employer is like, ‘I can’t talk to them because they’re the enemy now.’ That really disturbs a lot of people because a good chunk of these people were injured for no fault of their own. You may be able to salvage an employee [relationship] and limit liability if you’re just respectful to that employee after the injury and don’t treat them like they have committed a crime.”
Find an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you are a small business owner facing a workers’ compensation claim or needing guidance setting up your workers’ comp policy, use the Super Lawyers directory to find an experienced workers’ comp lawyer in your area.
For additional information about this area of law, see our overview of workers’ comp and related content on employment law.
Additional Workers' Compensation articles
Find top lawyers with confidence
The Super Lawyers patented selection process is peer influenced and research driven, selecting the top 5% of attorneys to the Super Lawyers lists each year. We know lawyers and make it easy to connect with them.Find a lawyer near you