Being injured on the job can be stressful and can lead to a lot of uncertainty.
While the workers' compensation system was put in place to offer injured workers some sort of safety net and reassurance, navigating this system can be very confusing. Many people are unaware of what they should do after they have been injured while at work or what their rights are. You are entitled to receive medical care for your injuries and may be entitled to receive compensation for your lost wages.
At the office of Brad Bradshaw, MD, JD, LC, we have been fighting for worker's rights for over 20 years. We work hard to make sure that our clients get the medical care and compensation they are entitled to. We help our clients navigate the intricacies of the Missouri workers' compensation system, making sure they are treated fairly and with compassion. Our goal is to make this difficult time more bearable for you and your family.
Our office has never lost a workers' compensation case. We can't predict the outcome of your case, and we don't take every case. But the cases we do take, we take to win.
There are strict time limits in which a claim for damages and personal injury can be brought against a negligent party. These time limits are often called "Statute of Limitations." This means that after the incident you only have a certain amount of time in which to file a lawsuit. After that time, your right to file a claim is waived. These statutes vary from state to state, and can vary depending on the circumstances of the claim. If you believe you may have a potential claim, you should seek the assistance of a qualified attorney as soon as possible.
What to do when you've been injured:
The FIRST thing you should do when you have suffered an injury on the job is immediately report the injury to your supervisor. A report of the injury should be made by your supervisor in which you indicate how, when and where the injury happened. This report should be filed with the Division of Workers' Compensation and with the employer's workers' compensation insurance carrier.
Seek medical attention ASAP. Your employer or supervisor should tell you which hospital or doctor to see, and should assist you in making an appointment if necessary. Your employer, or your employer's insurer, has the right to direct medical treatment. There is usually a doctor or medical facility that they will send you to for treatment. If you seek medical care from your own physician without first getting approval from your employer, they are not required to pay for any treatment you receive. However, if an employer refuses to provide medical treatment, the injured worker can seek medical treatment on his/her own. It is always best to document the denial of medical treatment. Write down who you spoke with and what was said to you and when.
Keep all of your medical appointments, and make sure you keep you employer informed of your medical condition and when you can return to work. Your doctor will generally provide you with a form to give to your employer. Be sure to keep copies of these forms for yourself as well.
Things you should know
Who is Covered under WC
Missouri law requires that most employers carry insurance to pay for medical treatment and provide benefits for lost wages for employees who are injured on the job. Generally, employers must carry workers' compensation insurance if they have five or more employees. There are some exceptions to this rule, such as the construction industry, where an employer must carry workers' compensation insurance even if the employer has only one employee.
Missouri workers' compensation laws may not apply to farm laborers, domestic servants in a private home, or occasional labor performed for and related to a private household. Federal employees such as postal workers, maritime workers and railroad workers are covered under different laws. If you are unsure whether or not any of these exceptions would apply, you should contact an attorney right away.
What kind of injuries are covered?
Almost any injury that is sustained in the course and scope of one's employment is covered under Workers' Compensation. This includes injuries that are caused by a third-party. For example, if you are in a car accident while on the job and you are not at fault, you would be entitled to receive compensation under Workers' Compensation AND proceed with a claim against the at-fault party. However, if you do file a claim against the at-fault party, the Workers' Compensation insurance carrier has the right to recover the amount of money they spent providing you medical treatment and other benefits. Having the assistance of an experienced attorney can be beneficial in these instances because they may be able to negotiate with the insurance companies to reduce the amount the insurance companies recover for themselves.
What kind of benefits are you entitled to?
Medical Care including physicians bills, prescriptions, hospital bills, surgeries, laboratory tests, other tests including X-rays, physical therapy and assistive devices such as crutches, should all be paid for by the employer.
Lost Wages are paid by the employer following strict guidelines. A waiting period applies before any lost wage benefits are paid. In order to receive any payment for lost wages, you must be disabled for three consecutive days. If you are disabled for more than fourteen consecutive days, the original three day waiting period will then be paid.
Mileage is paid to the employee when he is required to submit to treatment outside of the local or metropolitan area. Employers are only required to pay for mileage up to 250 miles one way.
Funeral Expenses and Death Benefits are paid when an on the job injury results in the worker's death. The benefit is paid to the deceased worker's decedents and is based on the deceased worker's average gross wage prior to the accident. The amount of the benefit payable to each dependent depends on the number of dependents and the status of the dependency.
Temporary Total Disability results from an injury that keeps an employee from working temporarily. These benefits are calculated at 66 2/3% of the injured employee's average gross weekly wage. There are maximums which are set by the state and the employer/insurer is not required to pay more than this maximum amount. These benefits, subject to a waiting period, are paid until the employee is released by the doctor to return to work.
Temporary Partial Disability refers to an employee who is able to work on light duty at less than full pay. These payments are calculated at 66 2/3% of the difference in what the employee made before the injury and what he/she is making on light duty. These benefits can be paid for a maximum of 100 weeks.
Permanent Partial Disability refers to a permanent disability that does not prevent a person from returning to some type of employment. In the event that a person is determined to have a permanent partial disability, they may receive a lump sum settlement based on the percentage of disability.
Permanent Total Disability refers to a person who will never be able to work a regular full time job again. A person who is determined to be permanently and totally disabled by the Division of Workers' Compensation is entitled to 2/3 of his or her salary for life; however, an attorney is often able to settle the case for a lump sum of money in exchange for lifetime payments. Moreover, an attorney will be able to advise you if a lump sum offer fairly compensates the worker for the life benefits he or she would have received.