Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Claims Process
At Dane Shulman Associates, LLC, our attorneys help injured workers throughout all stages of the workers’ compensation claims process. The Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA) has formal and informal rules with which only a seasoned lawyer will be familiar. With decades of experience in workers’ compensation law, we have the knowledge and information that injured workers need. Call us in Boston at (617) 298-2500 to arrange a free initial consultation and read more to learn about the basic parts of the claims process.
Three Main Steps Of The Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Claims Process
- Conciliation is the first step and should take place within 15 business days of filing the claim. Conciliation is a meeting with a conciliator (which is a DIA official), the employee (optional), the employee’s attorney and the insurer’s attorney. In conciliation, the DIA official attempts to help the opposing parties arrive at a voluntary agreement. If conciliation fails, and if the case is not settled at this initial stage, the case is then referred to conference with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).
- A conference is attended by the employee, the employee’s attorney and the insurer’s attorney. It should take place within 8 weeks from receiving the referral at conciliation. Both attorneys present legal arguments and evidence to the judge, including medical records. The judge then issues a conference order within seven days.
- The employer and the insurer have 14 days after the conference order to request a formal hearing. The hearing is a format for the same judge to reconsider the decision, and it can take several months to get scheduled. In the time between the conference order and the hearing, the insurer must pay benefits to the employee as detailed in the order. The judge may order that the employee obtain an impartial medical examination performed by an impartial physician. The impartial physical will either be chosen by the DIA or agreed upon by the parties. The impartial medical examination has the potential to be the only medical testimony that is considered at the hearing.The hearing is a formal proceeding where Massachusetts Rules of Evidence apply. Sworn testimony is given, and it is presided over by an Administrative Judge, who then take all of the information and issues a decision.
The decision can be appealed to the DIA Review Board or further to the Massachusetts Appeals Court.