Workers compensation insurance is a system set up to insure that workers injured in the course of their employment have access to financial support without the need for litigation in Massachusetts. The Workers’ Compensation Act (ACT) provides recovery for personal injuries arising out of and in the course of employment. The way it works is that the injured employee gives up his or her right to sue the employer in exchange for the right to be compensated for the injury regardless of whether the employer is at fault.
How does it work?
Workers compensation is a state specific system in which employers purchase insurance. Employers must pay for the full cost of the insurance and are not allowed to require employees to pay any part of the costs. The idea is that providing for injured employees is part of the cost of business, and thus it provides an incentive for the employer to provide a safe workplace. Employees are paid for loss of earning capacity, typically weekly, for as long as the loss of earning capacity continues; however, sometimes a lump sum may be paid.
Can an employee choose to sue his employer instead of electing workers compensation insurance?
No. The Act provides an exclusive remedy, which means that for employees who suffer a personal injury during the course of employment their only remedy is through the Act, they cannot sue their employer. Therefore, the employer is immune from suit, as is a co-employee who negligently caused the injury. Additionally, injuries intentionally caused by another employee, who is furthering the employer’s interest are also covered under the Act. However, intentional injures that do not further the employers interests are not barred, such injuries arising from discrimination or harassment.
* This is the first of an eight part series on the Massachusetts Workers Compensation Act. Look for subsequent posts over the next several weeks. Read part 2 here.
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