In the state of Missouri (and everywhere else in the United States), employers are legally required to pay workers’ compensation to employees who are injured on the job. Workers’ compensation ensures that honest, hardworking employees are able to maintain their income while recovering from work-related injuries.
Were you recently injured on the job? Wondering how to file a workers compensation claim? Below, we’re going to get into the process, reviewing its specifics step-by-step.
How to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Missouri
The process of filing a workers’ compensation claim varies by state. In the state of Missouri, you’re required to do the following:
Tell Your Employer About Your Injury
The first step in filing a workers’ compensation claim is telling your employer about your injury. Ideally, you’ll tell your employer as soon as the injury occurs. However, you legally have until 30 days after the injury to make the report.
Whether you tell your employer in-person or remotely, you need to eventually submit a notification in writing. If you inform your employer while at work, you will likely be given a form to fill out indicating that the injury took place. If you notify your employer remotely, you should fill out and send in this form.
In either case, you’ll need to keep documentation indicating that a report was filled out and submitted. A copy or scan of the form will suffice.
Seek Medical Attention
Once you’ve informed your employer of your injury, you will need to seek medical attention. In the state of Missouri, employers are required to pay for the immediate treatment of employees who were injured on the job. Note, however, that in this scenario, the employer gets to choose the treating physician.
If you’d rather visit your own physician, you can. However, you’ll have to pay for the visits yourself.
Wait for Benefits
If your employer’s insurance company accepts your workers’ compensation claim, and if your physician advises time off work, you will begin receiving benefits. Benefits come in a few different forms, including Temporary Partial Disability, Temporary Total Disability, Permanent Partial Disability, and Permanent Total Disability.
Partial disability requires that you still go to work, but in a diminished capacity. For instance, you might work fewer hours or take on a less physical job. Nonetheless, you will still receive workers’ compensation benefits.
Total disability is given to those who can’t work at all. These individuals will not be required to go to work during the period in which they’re receiving benefits.
Hire a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
If your claim was denied, or if you feel you weren’t given adequate benefits, you should consider hiring a workers’ compensation lawyer. Such lawyers are well-versed in workers’ compensation law and will know how to steer you through the process in a way that is beneficial to you.
Resolve Your Case
After you’ve discussed your case with your lawyer, he or she will help you to resolve your case. This can take place in a few different ways.
One option is to utilize dispute management services. This allows both parties to avoid formal litigation, often resulting in the striking of a compensation deal in lieu of a legal claim being filed.
Another option is to participate in a conference. A conference is a form of legal litigation in which the employee and employer try to strike a compensation deal in front of a judge.
If a deal can’t be struck, your last option is to file a formal legal claim. This is known as a Claim for Compensation and it will likely lead to a court battle. Note, however, that employers can offer settlements before the case reaches the court.
Appeal if Necessary
If your workers’ compensation claim is denied, or if you’re unsatisfied with the nature of the reward, you can file an appeal with the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission. This must be done within 20 days of the day you were given your reward.
Mistakes to Avoid When Filing a Workers Compensation Claim
If you want to optimize your chance at workers’ compensation benefits, you need to ensure that you’re doing things in the correct manner. Individuals make a number of mistakes when applying for workers’ compensation, some of the most prominent of which include the following.
The biggest mistake you could make while filing a workers’ compensation claim is being dishonest about the nature of your injury. When discussing your injury with your employer, you need to be entirely forthright about how it happened.
Omissions and exaggerations won’t do you any favors. In fact, they could lead to you committing workers’ compensation fraud. Remember: the truth always comes out somehow.
Failing to Schedule Regular Doctor Appointments
If you have, in fact, suffered a long-term injury at work, you need to be receiving treatment for that injury. Those who seek regular medical treatment for their injuries demonstrate that their injuries are legitimate, and not fabrications or exaggerations.
One of the big mistakes that individuals make when filing workers’ compensation claims is failing to schedule regular appointments with their doctors. By failing to do so, they sometimes end up lacking the concrete evidence needed to prove the severity of their injuries.
See your doctor on a consistent basis, keep your medical records organized, and be prepared to use them as ammo as needed.
Denying Low-activity Work
Another mistake is denying low-activity work offered to you after your injury. If your employer tries to make accommodations for your injury, you need to be cooperative. If you’re not, you’ll appear as if you’re just trying for a vacation.
Losing Your Cool
Having your workers’ compensation claim denied can be frustrating, especially if you’re seriously injured. However, regardless of what happens, it’s important that you don’t lose your cool.
Getting into altercations with your employer or their insurance company can only work against you. Stay calm, do things by the book, and be patient.
Looking for a Workers Compensation Lawyer in St. Louis?
Looking to file a workers compensation claim? In need of a workers’ compensation lawyer in St. Louis, Missouri or Southern Illinois? If so, we here at Walton Telken Injury Lawyers are the ones to call.
Contact us today for a free consultation!