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An Overview of Worker's Compensation law

A little less than 100 years ago, and in response to a general outcry regarding the desperate conditions, financial and otherwise, that injured workers were finding themselves in, states across the country began to enact worker's compensation laws.  These laws were passed so that impacted workers would have some form of wage replacement and not find themselves on the public dole.  Massachusetts and New Hampshire were two such states that have legislated statutory protection for the workers, and put in place obligations and requirements of employers and their insurers.  Over time, the laws of these two states and others have been amended to reflect economic, medical and legal changes.

Today, both states have in place not only laws that protect injured workers, but governmental agencies that implement, maintain and enforce such laws.  In Massachusetts, the agency is now known as the Department of Industrial Accidents, formerly the Industrial Accident Board.  In New Hampshire, it is known as the Department of Labor.  Injured workers are entitled to weekly compensation benefits for work-related injuries or diseases while they are totally disabled or partially disabled [defined as the inability to earn pre-injury average weekly wages]; hospital and medical benefits; vocation rehabilitation services, placement or retraining; and separate payment for specific permanent losses of function or disfigurement.

Worker's compensation statutes are treated as no-fault statutes; that is, an injured worker does not have to prove that his employer was negligent in order to file a claim for benefits.  All he or she is required to prove is that the injury [or disease] arose out of and in the course of one's employment.

In exchange for the reduced burden upon the employee to prove his case, both states disallow claims by the employee for pain and suffering or separate law suits against the employer.  Lastly, there is no requirement or obligation in either state's statute that guarantees a cash settlement to the injured employee.  Nevertheless, where it is deemed to be in the best interest of the employee, employer and insurer, the parties can resolve their issues by way of a lump sum settlement.

If you have questions about a compensation or disability issue, please call me at 978-465-9900 or email my office at to schedule a no-obligation consultation.


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