According to a recent news article from Boston.com, some disfigured employees are not being compensated for scarring caused by work-related accidents. Pursuant to Massachusetts law, employees injured on the job are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits to cover medical bills, future medical expenses, and lost wages for injuries expected to keep workers off the job for a period of more than five days. However, in some cases, additional compensation is allowed when an employee has scarring or other permanent injuries such as lost limbs.
This article discussed the story of an employee who constantly lives with severe pain. The 56-year-old worker was cleaning ventilation ducts when he lost his balance and fell into a vat of chemicals at the metal finishing factory where he worked. He was an employee for 14 years prior to his serious work-related accident.
Employee suffered severe burns, including second- and third-degree burns that ran from his thighs down to his feet. His doctors had to perform extensive skin grafts by taking skin from his back and chest and other areas his body and using it to cover the burns on his legs.
Prior to 1991, when state legislators amended the Workers Compensation Act for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, employee would have been entitled to a one-time payment for his injuries that resulted in permanent scarring and disfigurement. As our Boston workers’ compensation attorneys can explain, under the current law, additional payments exist for permanent scarring of the face, hands, and neck. There are also additional one-time payments available for people who lost a hand, foot, arm, or leg.
Employee was asked to rate his pain on a scale of 1 to 10 and said he would classify it as an 11 on a daily basis. He has difficulty walking up or down stairs and has trouble sitting for any period to time. He also suffers from insomnia as a result of his serious work-related burn injuries.
Employee did, however, receive an award for workers’ compensation benefits. He received a 60 percent disability rating in connection with his on-the-job injuries, although he did not receive any additional compensation for the burns, which cover nearly 40 percent of his body.
To add to this unfortunate story, when the former legislators signed the bill into law, thus reduce workers’ compensation benefits, money supposedly saved from reduced payment of benefits was allocated to a fraud prevention program centered on conducting surveillance operations of workers’ compensation beneficiaries to make sure they were truly as injured as they claimed and prosecute those who were not.
While it can’t be denied that some workers’ compensation fraud does occur, the vast majority of beneficiaries are suffering a legitimate debilitating injury and are in great need of workers’ compensation benefits to take care of themselves and their families. Additionally, with maximum benefits calculated as lower than the state average weekly wage (SAWW), it is never more profitable to sit at home and collect benefits than it is to go to work.
It should also be noted that United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigated this serious on-the-job accident and decided to hold employer at fault for multiple significant safety violations.
If you are injured on the job in Massachusetts, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your workers’ compensation claim: 1-888-367-2900.
Some, Disfigured Employees Not Compensated for Scarring, April 10, 2015, Boston.com
More Blog Entries:
LeFiell Mfg. v. Super. Ct.: Workers’ Compensation Exclusivity and Rare Exception, August 18, 2014, Boston Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog