The Role of the DIA
When applying for workers’ compensation benefits, it can be difficult to keep track of all of the participating organizations and parties. You will likely be interacting with your employer, your employer’s insurer, attorneys, doctors, medical personnel, and individuals from the Massachusetts workers’ compensation system. At Kantrovitz & Associates, our work injury lawyers understand the complexities of this process and will help you to sort through these various actors and the important roles they play. While fighting for your rights to the benefits you deserve, we will do our best to help you understand the nuances of your situation.Seeking Benefits After a Job-Related Accident
In Massachusetts, the state workers’ compensation system is governed by Massachusetts general law chapter 152, which requires that all employers provide workers’ compensation insurance to their employees. In order to ensure that this law is followed, the Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA) has been designated as the agency that is responsible for enforcing and administering the workers’ compensation system. The DIA acts to protect employee rights and to ensure that employees are able to receive the benefits that they are entitled to. The agency also is the primary source for information on workers’ compensation claims, including how to file them and what benefits workers can receive.
The Public Information department of the DIA is available to answer questions to employees about their workers’ compensation claims and can provide guidance on what procedures must be followed in order to obtain benefits.Resolving Workers’ Compensation Disputes
One of the primary roles that the DIA plays is as the arbiter, or court system, for resolving workers’ compensation disputes between employers and employees. The DIA becomes involved in your workers’ compensation case after you file an initial claim for benefits. If your employer’s insurer denies that initial claim for benefits, you have the right to file a claim with the DIA. It is worth noting that the DIA strongly recommends that employees obtain legal representation before proceeding further.
Once you file a claim with the DIA, you will be assigned a date for a conciliation. This is the first step in the dispute resolution process. At the conciliation, you will have a meeting with your employer’s insurer and its attorney, as well as a representative from the DIA. At this meeting, the representative will work with both parties to see if a voluntary resolution can be reached. If not, your case will be referred to a DIA judge for a conference.
At the conference stage, a DIA Administrative Judge will hear presentations from your attorney, as well as your employer’s insurer. Although this proceeding is still somewhat informal, evidence will be submitted and affidavits from witnesses may be provided. Your job (or the job of your attorney) will be to show that you experienced an injury that has left you unable to work, and that the injury occurred on the job or was related to it.
After your conference, the DIA judge will issue a ruling that will state whether or not you are entitled to benefits. If you disagree with the outcome of the conference, you are entitled to appeal the decision within 14 days from the date of the ruling. The appeal will take place before the same DIA judge but will be a formal Hearing where witnesses can be called. Additionally, further appeals to the Industrial Accidents Reviewing Board of the DIA are also available.Work Injury Lawyers Fighting for the Rights of Massachusetts Employees
If your initial workers’ compensation claim is denied by your employer’s insurer, your first step in obtaining relief is to file a claim with the DIA. While the agency is committed to providing employees with all the necessary information and resources to handle the claims process, navigating the conciliation, conference, and hearing procedures can be difficult. Not only will you be faced with representing yourself in a courtroom, but you are likely to be up against an insurer who has hired attorneys specializing in worker’s compensation proceedings. At Kantrovitz & Associates, our workers’ compensation attorneys have helped countless Massachusetts workers in their fight for benefits and have faced insurers in the courtroom on numerous occasions. We understand their tactics and how to represent your interests before a DIA administrative judge. Many of our clients come from the Boston area as well as Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Suffolk, and Plymouth Counties. You can call us to set up a free initial consultation at (800) 367-0871 or complete our online form.