When you’ve been injured on the job, you are likely to have a lot of questions concerning what to do next and what kind of benefits you might be entitled to. Workers’ compensation is a system designed to ensure that injured workers have the necessary coverage for treatment and wage benefits, while protecting employers from lawsuits. Of course, if you don’t have any experience with workers’ compensation, as most injured workers do not, you can find it quite complicated and confusing. Today, we’ll discuss the most frequently asked questions that we hear at Walton Telken Attorneys at Law concerning workers’ compensation in St. Louis, Missouri.
What Steps Do I Need to Take After a Work Related Injury?
The steps that you take immediately after a work related injury will depend on the nature and severity of the injury. You may need to go straight to the emergency room for urgent medical care. Whether or not you require urgent care, you will need to report your injury in writing to your employer as soon as possible. Then, you will need to find out which physicians are approved by the employer and worker’s compensation insurance company, so that the medical expenses will be covered. Legally, you have up to 30 days to report your injury, but the sooner you do, the stronger your claim will be.
In cases where you are suffering from an occupational illness, rather than an injury incident, you have 30 days from the date of diagnosis to report the illness to your employer. Your employer should then help you to file for workers’ compensation benefits. If your employer does not help you, then you can file for compensation directly with the Missouri Department of Labor Division of Workers’ Compensation.
Can I Be Fired or Demoted for Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Legally, your employer is not allowed to retaliate against you in any way for filing a workers’ compensation claim. This means that they cannot demote you, fire you, or take any disciplinary action against you. Having said that, this does not mean that employer retaliation never happens. They simply try to make it look like that’s not what it is. They may fire you for an entirely different reason, such as poor work performance, and it can be difficult to prove that it was employer retaliation on your own.
If you believe you have been the victim of employer retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim in St. Louis, Missouri, you should contact Walton Telken Attorneys at Law for assistance.
Am I Allowed to Seek Treatment From a Physician of My Own Choosing?
Unfortunately, you cannot seek treatment from any physician you like. Rather, you must choose one from a list of approved physicians that is provided to you by your employer or their workers’ compensation insurance provider. You are allowed to request permission to seek treatment from a specific physician, but your employer is not required to accommodate your request. When it comes to emergency situations, then you can go to the nearest ER, and this will be covered.
Could a Pre-Existing Condition Affect My Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Many people think that having a pre-existing medical condition will make it impossible to get workers’ compensation benefits. The truth is that your pre-existing condition will be factored in, but you can still get benefits for any injury that exacerbates that condition or causes a new condition. It may be more difficult to work out the value of your workers’ compensation benefits in a case like this, so you will benefit from the advice of a St. Louis, Missouri, workers’ compensation attorney.
What is the Deadline for Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim in St. Louis, Missouri?
The deadline for filing a workers’ compensation claim in St. Louis, Missouri, is two years from the date that the injury occurred. The exception occurs in cases where your employer did not report your injury to the Division of Workers’ Compensation. If this happens, then you have three years from the date of your injury to file a claim. The best thing you can do is to get started as quickly as possible.
What Kind of Workers’ Compensation Wage Benefits Can I Expect to Receive?
There are different types of wage benefits that you can receive in a workers’ compensation claim. It all depends on the severity of your injury and level of disability. You could receive temporary partial disability benefits, temporary total disability benefits, permanent partial disability, or permanent total disability. The temporary partial disability benefits are provided to workers who have been injured to a degree where they can still work in a lower paying light duty position until they heal. These benefits will take into account the difference between your former average weekly wage, and your new average weekly wage. You will receive 2/3 of the difference in temporary partial disability wage benefits.
In cases where you are not able to work at all until you have healed from your injuries, you will receive temporary total disability benefits. This will be 2/3 of your average weekly wage. Permanent partial disability benefits are for people who have sustained a permanent disability that prevents them ever returning to the same work, and permanent total disability benefits are for those who will never return to work at all. These are also calculated at 2/3 of your average weekly wage. All of these wage benefits are limited to a maximum amount in weekly benefits, set by the state.
What if I Was Injured While Working For an Employer Without Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
In some cases, your employer may not be required to have workers’ compensation coverage. For example, if the employer has less than five workers, if it is an exempt industry or in cases where you do not actually qualify as an employee, you may not have coverage. If there was any negligence, then you may be able to sue the employer in such cases. However, if your employer was required to carry workers’ compensation insurance and did not, then they can face criminal charges for this. The best thing that you can do in a case like this is to contact Walton Telken Attorneys at Law for a free consultation with a dedicated St. Louis, Missouri workers’ compensation lawyer.