In today’s economy work often takes us to different states and countries. A person who is injured while on assignment out of state may have options with respect to the system of workers’ compensation from which he or she may seek benefits.
Massachusetts has long recognized that a person who is injured while working in this state can choose to pursue benefits under the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act, or the workers’ compensation system of the state in which he or she was hired, provided that the law of the hiring or employing state allows such a claim to be filed. This can be critically important for a person who works for an out of state employer whose home state does not provide coverage for an employee injured while working outside of that state. This is true, for example, under New Hampshire law. If you are employed in New Hampshire, and are injured while on assignment in Massachusetts, the New Hampshire Act does not cover you as one cannot make a claim under the New Hampshire workers’ compensation act for an injury that occurs out of that state. You can, however, make a claim under the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act.
On the other hand, a person hired in Massachusetts is covered under its Workers’ Compensation Act regardless of where the injury takes place, so long as that injury occurs in furtherance of his or her employer’s business.
This decision as to which jurisdiction to make a claim in involves a complex analysis. The amounts paid to an injured worker vary by state. There is no uniform payment schedule. While some states may pay weekly compensation benefits of up to 2/3 of an employee’s average weekly wage, the benefit may be capped by statute at a lower weekly amount than a state such as Massachusetts, which limits weekly benefits to no more than 60% of the average weekly wage in most cases. Massachusetts weekly benefits, while lower on a percentage basis, are capped at a higher weekly amount than many other states (for example, New York and New Jersey have far lower weekly maximum payments) that allow a higher percentage. In other words, while New York may pay up to 2/3 of the injured workers’ average weekly wage, its maximum weekly compensation rate is less than the maximum available under Massachusetts law. The length of time during which these benefits can be paid also varies greatly from state to state.
There are other subtle distinctions with each state, such as the circumstances under which an injury is compensable may well change as one passes from state to state. Each state is free to create its own law in this area, and there is considerable variation among the states not only in terms of weekly benefits but also in terms of the provision of medical care, and the payment of specific compensation for the partial or total loss of use of various body parts and functions, even in terms of a compensable injury itself.
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