Workers’ Compensation Benefits: What They are for and How to Apply

For individuals whose main source of livelihood is work, sustaining a job-related injury will definitely have a devastating effect. Besides the physical harm brought about by an injury, there are other (financially) crippling consequences that can only further a victim’s predicament, such as costly and, sometimes, prolonged medical treatment and medication, and loss of income due to days or weeks of failure to return to work.

The passing into law of the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Benefit in 1908, which certain employers had to provide for their workers who get injured on the job or who developed work-related illnesses, was a really big factor in improving the over-all condition of workers. Previous to this law, injured workers were always forced to file a lawsuit against their employers for the simple purpose of getting compensation for whatever suffering the injury subjected them to.

The lawsuits, however, only destroyed the workers’ relationship with their employers; these were also usually decided in favor of employers who always used any or all of the following arguments:

  • Contributory Negligence – an argument that puts the blame (on the accident) on the injured worker himself/herself, based on the fact that it was his/her carelessness or negligence which actually caused the accident
  • The Fellow Worker Rule – A fellow worker caused the accident and so the injury must be blamed on him or her and not on the employer
  • Assumption of Risk – The job entailed danger; thus accepting it also meant accepting all possible dangers it could result to.

With workers’ comp, immediate financial assistance, without the need for litigation, is provided to the injured workers. The financial benefits are intended to cover lost wages, medical treatment, rehabilitation, disability and death.

Each state, which enforces the workers’ comp law, has also issued the requirements that claimants need to comply with; there is also a statutory period set within which claimants will have to file their application.

According to the website of Scudder & Hedrick, PLLC, unfortunately, some claims get denied, some applicants wait long for the decision of approval or non-approval, and so many other issues arise, which get the decision for the application either rejected or delayed.

Limits set on Medical Malpractice cases in Massachusetts

Getting seriously injured because of the negligence of a healthcare professional or facility in Massachusetts may mean that all applicable medical expenses will be covered if a law suit is successful, but compensation for other damages is limited. State law places a cap of $500,000 on non-economic damages in medical malpractice, a common enough provision in many state laws. The cap is not set in stone however as there are exceptions that are built into the statute.

Non-economic damages are often much harder to quantify than economic damages which are supported by hospital bills, medical records, life-care projections, loss of income from lost days of work, and similar expenses. Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are highly subjective because the extent of the damage may vary in a case to case basis. They include pain and suffering that a patient goes through as consequence of serious injury, loss of enjoyment, and psychological problems from resulting disfigurements, scars, and disabilities.

The law allows for exceptions in special circumstances, such as when the injury results in substantial disfigurement or permanent disability that would justify an award of more than $500,000. A skilled Massachusetts medical malpractice attorney will know when an exception applies to a particular case and provide the necessary documentation to put in a just claim.

Compensation that is rarely awarded in Massachusetts is that of punitive damages. It is different from non-economic damages in that it is designed to punish the defendant rather than compensate the plaintiff. However, if a patient dies because of an act of negligence by the healthcare professional or facility, then the attorney may be justified in suing for punitive damages.

It all sounds very simple, but nothing is further from the truth. Medical malpractice cases rarely prosper without the help of competent legal representation, and even then it can take years to get to trial, let alone a resolution. For any real chance of success in getting just compensation, retaining a Massachusetts medical malpractice attorney is essential.

Consequences of a DUI Arrest

There was a case in a reality television show where one passenger was denied entry into the country by the border security because despite residency in the country she could not get a passport because of a DUI (driving under the influence) conviction when she was 18. This is one of the consequences of a DUI arrest and conviction, and it’s not the only one.

In the US, a DUI is usually a misdemeanor in most states unless you caused serious injury or death to another person or you are a repeat offender. A felony DUI conviction takes away a person right to vote and to operate a vehicle. Even a first-time DUI conviction, which is a misdemeanor, typically means suspension of the driver’s license for a period of time, and this will generally result in higher car insurance rates. Repeat offenders may find it difficult to get insurance at all because they are considered high risk, unless they can get a certificate of financial responsibility, also known as an SR-22, which can be very expensive.

Other consequences of being convicted of drunk driving include social ostracism. Drunk drivers are considered a menace to society, so even first-time offenders can find themselves being judged by others as irresponsible and outside the pale. Even worse, a DUI conviction can mean the loss of many future opportunities in employment, education, even housing.

When being charged with drunk driving, always consider the consequences of being convicted. The aftermath can be serious indeed without even considering the immediate consequences which include jail time and fines. Even if a dismissal is not in the offing, there is still hope for first-time offenders. A conviction can be turned into a diversion program which if completed successfully will effectively turn a conviction into a dismissal in some states. Retain a criminal defense lawyer in the area with experience in handling DUI charges to get the best possible results.

Proving Wrongful Death

Wrongful death is defined as the death of a person caused by the intentional or negligent action of another person. A good example would be a person who is killed in a drunk driving accident. While the driver did not intend to cause death, he or she may nevertheless be found civilly liable under a wrongful death suit as well as criminally liable under a manslaughter charge.

The burden of proof for a civil suit is generally lighter than for a criminal charge; that is, the plaintiff in a civil case only has to prove that death was most likely caused by the negligent or intentional act of another, while the prosecutor in a criminal case has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant caused the death of the victim. A defendant in a criminal case may be acquitted of a murder charge but may still be held liable in civil court.

That is not to say that proving wrongful death is easy; it is just not as hard. On the web site of Pohl & Berk LLP, it is emphasized that it is important to establish causation as soon as possible in each case. Wrongful death can come about under different agencies including but not limited to:

  • vehicular or pedestrian accidents
  • occupational falls
  • unintentional drowning
  • a fight
  • medical error

When suing for wrongful death, the plaintiff must have the documents and testimonies that will show the “but for” of the case, as in “but for” the action (or inaction) of the defendant, death would not have resulted.

Depending on the circumstances of the case, causation may be immediately apparent or appallingly ambiguous. In either case, and anywhere in between, it would require the legal expertise of an experienced personal injury lawyer to prepare and present the case for successful negotiation of a settlement or in a civil trial.

Types of Injuries Sustained in Car Accidents

Being involved in a car wreck does not necessarily mean you will sustain serious injury. There are many factors that come into play when it comes to the mechanics of injury in car accidents including speed, type of impact, size of the vehicles, position of the person within the vehicle, and general physical condition of the individual. There have been instances when people have walked away from a horrific car crash without a scratch, and others where a relatively minor fender bender resulted in a serious injury. In general, however, the following types of physical injuries are commonly sustained in car accidents.

Neck and head injuries

Car accidents usually involve some form of forceful deceleration (sudden stop), and the head is particularly vulnerable to what is termed acceleration-deceleration injuries, where the head is snapped forward and then back in rapid succession. This can cause the brain to get injured from impact with the inside of the skull.  At the same time, the neck can also sustain anywhere from a mild sprain to disc injury. These types of injuries can occur even with the most minor of car accidents under certain circumstances, and may not be immediately apparent as there are no outward signs of injury.

Back injuries

Many types of back injuries may occur from the impact of a car accident, ranging from a mild sprain to spine damage, depending on the amount of force exerted on the body. Back injuries may not be immediately apparent as well, but it has long-term consequences that may eventually lead to significant discomfort and pain.

Contusions and lacerations

Ironically, many car accident injuries may not be due to the impact itself, but the force of the airbag deploying inappropriately, causing a broken nose or worse. A car crash may also cause a driver to hit the steering wheel or passengers to hit the dashboard or window, resulting in mild to serious bumps, bruises and cuts. Another common injury is called seatbelt syndrome, where the restraining action of the device can cause bruises to the chest and abdomen.

If you have sustained any of these injuries serious enough to require significant medical attention, you could in for an extensive, and expensive, experience. If the car accident was caused by negligence, you may need to sue for compensation. Contact a competent personal injury lawyer in your area for more information.