When workers in Massachusetts are injured or become ill from the work conditions, it is important to understand how to get workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits are integral to covering for lost wages and getting the necessary medical treatment. Oftentimes, people misunderstand certain aspects of the workers’ compensation process. For example, they might not know when they will begin getting benefits and payments for their injury or condition. Furthermore, they might not be aware of “pay-without-prejudice.”

In general, injured workers will start getting checks for lost wages within three weeks to a month after they have been injured or become ill. The payments will cover days that were lost after the initial five calendar days. Those five days will not be paid, except in cases in which the worker was disabled for a minimum of 21 calendar days. When the person is injured or ill, there is what is known as a “pay-without-prejudice” time period.

For pay-without-prejudice, it lasts for the first 180 days. The insurer is required to pay the injured worker for that time without a final decision having been made in the case. It is imperative to remember that this does not automatically mean that there has been liability accepted. The insurer has the right to lower the payments or stop them entirely after granting seven days’ notice. When the insurer does this, it is required to give reasons as to why that is the case. If the payments continue beyond those 180 days, there will generally need to be an approval from a judge to reduce or stop the payments. The pay-without-prejudice can last for as long as a year once the worker has agreed to it in writing.

Receiving these checks and the benefits does not mean that the claim was approved. People can receive these payments and suddenly see them stopped. When the worker has injuries or an illness that warrant workers’ compensation benefits, it is important to understand what pay-without-prejudice means and how it can impact the case under the applicable workers’ compensation laws.