While the purpose behind the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Statute is to furnish lost wages and provide medical treatment to an injured worker, there is a section of the law, Section 36, that provides additional compensation for various losses of function. This loss of function, as a result of a work-related injury, must be permanent to be compensable. This means that if you suffer from a condition that is expected to improve, or you are undergoing further treatment or surgery in the hopes of improving, you may not yet qualify for this benefit.
Do I Qualify?
How does one begin to figure out what they may be entitled to under Section 36, for their loss of hearing, vision, smell or taste? Or perhaps their loss of function to their arm, leg, hand or foot? The Department of Industrial Accidents, the court that administers workers’ compensation cases, published a guide for calculating the loss of function benefits. When looking at this guide, you will see a set schedule and figure associated with each body part, along with various losses of function. This guide covers a wide range; from the amputation or permanent loss of use of an arm or leg to a person who has a total loss of smell or taste. Of note, while the guide specifically states that the list is not intended to be exhaustive of all of the functional losses, an injured worker must have a total loss of certain senses to receive a cash award. For example, an injured worker who has a total loss of language comprehension, sexual function, total loss of hearing in one ear (or both), would be entitled to a cash award. Or, when one loses a tooth, Section 36(j) tells us that you will be entitled to a cash award for that specific tooth.
What Am I Owed?
To specifically calculate what you might receive as the injured worker, you multiply the SAWW (state average weekly wage for the year in which you were hurt) by the figure provided in the guide. Sometimes we stop there, depending on the body part/sense, and sometimes we continue with our calculations. A doctor’s assessment of the percentage of loss of function is the last piece of our puzzle. The SAWW and figure associated with that body part or sense is then multiplied by the referenced percentage. If an injured worker suffers from a 10% loss of function in their leg, SAWW x 39 x .10 gives us their cash award.
Visit Your Doctor
A medical opinion regarding your loss of function is a necessity. If you cannot get that from your own treating doctor, please do not stop there! Because there are some injured workers that cannot get such an opinion from their doctor, our law firm works with medical experts who can provide the opinion, and documentation, we need to get you that money.
If you have suffered a loss of function due to an injury at work, contact Keches Law Group at 617-898-0808 or online for a free consultation. We will be happy to meet you at one of our conveniently located offices, or, if needed, we will come to you.