How Long Do You Have to Sue for Work-Related Injuries in Massachusetts?

What happens after you sustain an injury at work? How long do you have to sue for work-related injuries in Massachusetts? Should you file a workplace accident lawsuit as well as apply for workers’ compensation?

These are among the countless questions you may have if you have been injured at work or become ill because of a work-related activity. The answers in each case, as a personal injury attorney in Springfield would explain, depend on various circumstances.

In this blog, we take a detailed look at the length of time you have to file a claim following an accident, and the factors that can have an impact on this.

What Is A Statute of Limitations?

The rules that govern time limits on lawsuit filings and criminal charges are known as statutes of limitations. The deadlines for these statutes depend on the nature of the crime or civil matter at hand.

How Long Do You Have to Sue for Work-Related Injuries in Massachusetts?

You generally have three years from the date on which you sustained your injury or developed your illness to file a suit against your place of work. Alternatively, these three years can run from the day on which you learned your illness or injury was related to your workplace activities. For specific legal advice, especially in cases like burn injuries, consulting a Springfield burn injury lawyer can be crucial.

You should note that, per Massachusetts General Laws c. 152, § 41, the statute of limitations for workers’ compensation claims in Massachusetts is four years, not three, but there is a notice requirement to the employer about the injury. There are other important differences between workers’ compensation claims and workplace accident lawsuits, which we explain below.

Is It Possible to Extend The Deadline?

Statutes of limitation are hard deadlines. Courts will not simply look the other way if you are a day or two late filing your lawsuit; letting your allotted time elapse will usually result in the invalidation of your lawsuit, even if you clearly have a reasonable case.

However, there are certain limited exceptions to this rule that may apply in your case. These include:

  • Mental incapacity: If you were mentally incapacitated at the time you sustained your injury, the time limit may be paused until you regain your mental capacity. The availability of this exception will depend on various circumstances, so it is best to consult with a lawyer about your own situation if you intend to rely on it.
  • Employer fraud: If your employer deliberately concealed information about your accident or fraudulently misled you in some other way, a court might decide to pause the running of time against you until the time at which this dishonesty became apparent to you.
  • Government entities: If your injury or illness occurred while you were working for a government entity, the claim filing requirements that apply to you may be different. For example, you might have to provide written notice to the relevant entity within a certain timeframe.

What’s The Difference between A Workplace Lawsuit And A Workers’ Compensation Claim?

Workers’ compensation is a legally mandated benefit employers must pay their workers in the event they fall ill or get injured as a direct result of their workplace activities. These payments typically cover medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, and a certain percentage of lost income. The extent and duration of income replacement benefits from workers’ compensation depend on the extent and duration of the incapacitation from your health condition.

Because the costs of these payments can be astronomical, employers are legally required to carry workers’ compensation insurance in Massachusetts.

Workplace lawsuits, on the other hand, seek compensation from third parties on the grounds that their negligent acts or omissions lead to illnesses or injuries. There are a number of key differences between these lawsuits and workers’ comp claims in terms of the procedures they involve, their requirements, and the benefits that may be available.

One frequently crucial distinction between the two is the availability of damages. If you succeed in a workplace lawsuit, you may be entitled to special damages (which address the full amount of costs like medical bills, lost wages, travel expenses, and other directly measurable expenses related to your accident or illness) and general damages (which cover noneconomic costs related to your condition, such as emotional distress, physical pain, and loss of enjoyment of life). With workers’ compensation, you will be limited to the reimbursement of medical and other costs and a fixed percentage of your previous earnings.

The processes for filing workplace lawsuits and workers’ compensation claims are also notably different. Workplace lawsuits begin with a court complaint and go through the discovery process, which can include depositions and other legal procedures. In contrast, workers’ compensation claims typically involve submitting various items of paperwork to the state workers’ compensation agency. Legal action only becomes necessary if your employer (or its insurer) disputes your claim.

Can I Sue Another Responsible Party And Apply for Workers’ Compensation?

Employees who fall ill or get injured on the job often file lawsuits against third parties as well as applying for workers’ compensation. Reasons for this include:

  • Third-party liability: If someone other than your employer caused your workplace injury, you may be able to file a lawsuit against that party. For example, if you were in a crash while working as a delivery driver and the other party to the collision was at fault, you may be entitled to damages from that driver as well as workers’ compensation benefits.
  • Discrimination or retaliation: If the employer retaliates against you for filing a workers’ compensation claim or subjects you to workplace discrimination because of your condition, you may have grounds for a lawsuit against them.

Steps to Take after Suffering A Work-Related Illness Or Injury

The actions you take in the immediate aftermath of suffering a workplace injury can greatly impact your chances of securing compensation later on. Some of the most important things to keep in mind here include:

  • Reporting the injury: You should notify your employer of the injury as soon as possible, being sure to include the date, time, and location of the incident in your report.
  • Seeking medical attention: You should visit a doctor as soon as possible after a workplace incident. Even if you feel healthy, it is important to be assessed by a doctor to ensure you do not have any conditions that have not made themselves apparent yet.
  • Following your doctor’s orders: Aside from creating health risks, failing to do as your doctor tells you can make it more difficult to collect on a workplace accident claim, as opposing counsel may argue that your own negligence was the true cause of your symptoms.
  • Keeping records: Keep a record of all medical bills, receipts, and other documents related to your injury. You should also keep a record of any time you spend out of work because of it.

Working With The Right Lawyer Following A Workplace Accident

The good news is that you do not have to navigate this confusing landscape by yourself. Expert legal help from one of our attorneys will quickly put you on the right track.

Contact the Cava Law Firm today for a free initial consultation about your case. You can reach us via the form on our website or over the phone at (413) 737-3430 or (413) 781-CAVA (2282).

Attorney Jennifer L. Cava-Foreman

Attorney Jennifer L. Cava-Foreman would like to take the guesswork out of choosing a lawyer by letting the facts and her winning verdicts speak for themselves. Attorney Cava-Foreman is known in the local courts and has firsthand experience with many types of cases ranging from personal injury to criminal defense. Attorney Cava-Foreman understands that every case and every client is different. Whether a client is injured or mixed up in a criminal matter, she will provide the legal advice needed and stand up for her client in court. [ Attorney Bio ]

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