What Massachusetts Restaurant Workers Should Know About Workers’ Compensation

Various Restaurant EmployeesApproximately 349,300 people worked in the Massachusetts restaurant industry in 2019. According to the National Restaurant Association, that number is expected to grow by more than 7% by 2029.

With so many people working in the restaurant industry, it is likely that you, a relative, or a friend currently work, have worked, or will work in a restaurant, and you may be wondering if restaurant work is safe.

Common Restaurant Worker Injuries

Restaurants are busy, sometimes chaotic places. People who work in the front of the house greeting and serving customers, people who work in the back of the house preparing food, cleaners, managers, and others all face risks.

Wet or messy floors, preparing food, heavy lifting, cleaning, repetitive motions, and dealing with the public can all result in serious injuries, including:

  • Cuts
  • Burns
  • Repetitive motion injuries
  • Strained muscles
  • Back pain
  • Nerve damage
  • Shoulder injuries
  • Hand or arm injuries
  • Foot or leg injuries
  • Brain injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Infections or illnesses from other people who may be contagious
  • Illnesses or respiratory problems from cleaning supplies
  • Assault injuries

Depending on the circumstances, a restaurant worker could suffer more than one of these injuries and be out of work for a significant amount of time.

Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Whether you are a full-time head chef at one of Boston’s prestigious restaurants or a part-time teenage summer server out on the Cape, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits in Massachusetts.

Your benefits should include medical care. Whether you work full-time, part-time, or seasonally, you have the right to coverage for:

  • Hospital stays
  • Surgeries
  • Doctors’ appointments
  • Medications
  • Transportation costs getting to and from medical appointments

Your benefits should also include compensation for a portion of your lost income. The amount that you receive will depend on how much you were making before you were injured and how badly you were hurt. For example, you may receive:

  • Temporary Partial Incapacity Injury Benefits. You may have suffered a work injury that prevents you from working the same hours for the same pay that you did before you were hurt, but you may still be able to work in some capacity. In this situation, you may be eligible for workers’ comp benefits that equal 75% of what you would be eligible for if you had a temporary total incapacity injury. Your benefits may continue for up to 260 weeks.
  • Temporary Total Incapacity Injury Benefits. If you can’t work for six days or more due to your workplace injury, then you may be eligible to receive 60 percent of your gross average weekly wage for the 52 weeks leading up to your injury. However, you cannot receive more than the state’s average weekly wage. Your temporary total incapacity injury benefits may continue for up to 156 weeks.
  • Permanent Total Incapacity Injury Benefits. If you can’t work due to your workplace injury and you are permanently injured, then you may receive 66 percent of your gross weekly wage. In no case can your payment be less than 20 percent of the state’s average weekly wage or more than 100 percent of the state’s average weekly wage. Your permanent total incapacity injury payments may continue for as long as you are disabled by your workplace injury.

You may also qualify for the following benefits in certain situations:

  • Vocational benefits. If you suffered a permanent injury, then vocational benefits may be part of your recovery.
  • Compensation for scarring or disfigurement. If you have a permanent scar or disfigurement on your face, neck, or hands, then you may be able to receive a one-time payment for your injury in addition to your other workers’ comp benefits.

Additionally, a surviving spouse or surviving children who are under the age of 18 may be able to recover death benefits if a spouse or parent died from work-related injuries.

What to Do If You’re Hurt Working in a Massachusetts Restaurant

Massachusetts workers’ compensation law sets out the benefits that you may receive if you are hurt while working in a restaurant. However, you may have to fight to get the benefits that you deserve, and our Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorneys can help you. Call us or fill out our online contact form to have us contact you to set up a free consultation.

 

John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyer