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Recent high court ruling highlights importance of workers’ comp claim notification

We previously wrote about a recent ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Court which held that employers who have multiple workers’ compensation insurance carriers may not select which insurance carrier is responsible for paying an injured worker’s claim.

The significance of the case for injured workers can be seen in the court’s comment that Massachusetts workers’ compensation law makes insurance companies directly liable for paying workers’ comp benefits to injured workers, and that this liability kicks in not once the employer notifies the insurance company of the claim, but once the employee notifies the employer of an injury.

A couple points can be made about the ruling. First of all, the case provides greater assurance of coverage in the event that an insurance carrier which is provided sole notification of a claim is unable to pay on that claim. Other primary insurance carriers would not, in such a case, be able to deny coverage of the claim on the basis that they were not provided notification.

The case also highlights the legal importance of notification in the workers’ compensation system. Injured employers are required by administrative rules to notify their employer of a workplace injury as soon as possible. Notice does not have to be in writing and may be provided to any individual in authority within the business.  Employers, for their part, are required to notify the insurance carrier of claims.

In the event that an employer is uncooperative and refuses to report an accident to the insurance carrier, an injured worker may contact the insurance carrier directly, or else file a claim with the Division of Workers’ Compensation. When such problems arise, it can be helpful to work with an experienced advocate to ensure that one’s entitlements are protected.

Source: Department of Labor and Workforce Development, “Frequently Asked Questions,” Accessed March 18, 2016. 

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