While organizations such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) help to make the work environment healthier and safer for workers, the workplace remains one of the most common places to fall victim to an injury. Laws for workers’ compensation in Kirkwood, Missouri, are designed to help people who have suffered an injury on the job, but many injured workers do have a difficult time getting benefits that they are entitled to by law.
There have been situations reported where supervisors refused to fill out the appropriate incident report because they deemed that the injury was not severe enough or because the worker did not know the exact time or date that the pain began despite explaining to superiors that the repetitive nature of their assigned work caused pain every day. But, workers should know that they are entitled to treatment and benefits for all their workplace injuries, not just the ones that insurance carriers choose to accept, which is why it pays to have a workers’ compensation lawyer on your side.
What Should You Do If You Have Suffered an On-the-Job Injury?
If you are injured in your workplace, the first step is to tell your employer. Next, you should seek medical attention.
As soon as you are able to, it is important to begin documenting everything. You should work on the assumption that your case is already being documented by your employer, the claims adjuster, and their involved physicians. But, don’t deduce that they will be accurate in documenting the facts, your request for further care, your complaints, or any conversations about reporting the injury or permanent problems.
You should document your case in the form of written letters. Remember to print the date of your birth, your name, and your contact details, as well as the date on which you write your letters and keep a copy. An experienced Kirkwood workers’ comp lawyer can help significantly with your claim.
How a Workers’ Compensation in Kirkwood Attorney Can Help
An experienced workers’ compensation attorney will have already helped a variety of injured workers navigate their way through the claim process to seek compensation. But, it can be tough trying to get the benefits you need and deserve. A workers’ comp attorney will help protect your rights, whether you are a firefighter, a sheet metal worker, a truck driver, nurse, or any other type of worker.
Workers’ Compensation Laws in Missouri
Missouri’s workers’ compensation law can be found in Chapter 287 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri. The statute controls the obligations and rights of workers and employers when a worker is injured in the workplace.
In the state, any employer who has five or more employees, as well as all employers within the construction industry, are obliged to provide protection for staff. Most employers tend to do this by buying a workers’ compensation in Kirkwood, M.O. insurance policy, while others apply for and then become qualified to self-insure.
Who Chooses the Doctor?
Under the laws for compensation in Missouri, workers must give prompt notice of their accident or injury to their employer. Under the state’s law, the employer and to his or her insurance company can select the treating doctor in such cases. If your employer is aware of the facts that you require treatment for a compensable accident at work, he or she must tell you which doctor to consult with. If the employer fails to refer you to a specific physician, you can then ask which doctor they would prefer you to see.
Since your employer is allowed to choose the treating doctor, he or she may not have to pay for your medical bills if you decide to go to your own physician instead. No matter who the treating doctor is, if he or she certifies that you are not able to work, you will be entitled to temporary total disability benefits.
Temporary Total Disability and Benefit Payouts
Take note, that you will not be paid your benefits for the first three scheduled days that you are off work, but you will be paid for each day that you miss after that, as well as for those first three days if you have to take off more than two weeks.
The amount of the benefits is usually worked out as a portion of your gross average weekly salary or wage and is subject to maximums which change on an annual basis.
It is important to seek the assistance of workers’ comp lawyers in Kirkwood who will explain how your payout is calculated. Overall, the law in Missouri contains a formula for determining a worker’s average wage. This formula involves computing your average gross wages as earned over the 13 weeks before the accident occurred.
Under this state’s law, you may be paid mileage for driving to your medical appointments, but only if you have to be treated outside of the metropolitan or local area from your place of injury or where the injury occurred. The payment is also subject to a 500-mile round trip limit.
Permanent Partial Disability
Workers’ compensation lawyers in Kirkwood, M.O., may be able to seek a settlement or even payment for a permanent partial disability in your workers’ compensation case and if you incurred a permanent disability in the workplace.
The amount that you could receive for a permanent injury will usually depend on the extent of the disability. Physicians and other medical experts will evaluate your disability and formulas will be used to determine how much you could be awarded.
The amount of your settlement for workers’ compensation in Kirkwood, Missouri, will vary and depends on a number of factors, such as your average weekly earnings, the date of the accident, and the disability rating you receive from physicians. Typically, the overall amount of a permanent partial disability might not be determined until you have completed medical treatment.
What About Injury and Illness in the Workplace?
According to the law in Missouri, occupational accidents and diseases are covered by workers’ compensation. So, if you do develop an illness or disease that is a direct result of your employment, you may be able to file a claim for benefits and a workers’ compensation lawyer will be able to help you with the process.
In Kirkwood, M.O., you could be paid for scarring and even disfigurement provided the disfigurement is to your hands, arms, neck, or head. This payment is usually determined by an administrative law judge or other legal advisor based at the Division of Workers’ Compensation and is calculated in addition to other benefits that you may be entitled to.
It’s worth noting that there are limits in the law in terms of how much you could receive for disfigurement. If you become totally and permanently disabled from any type of employment whatsoever, you could qualify for permanent total disability benefits. But, to qualify for such benefits, you must prove unable to work in any type of work within the labor market due to your occupational disease or compensable injury. A knowledgeable workers’ comp lawyer can talk you through the ins and outs.
Permanent Total Disability Benefits for Missouri Workers
The weekly rate for permanent total disability benefits for workers’ compensation in Kirkwood, Missouri, is usually the same as the temporary total rate. If you are rendered completely disabled, you could also qualify for Social Security disability. In some instances, but certainly not all cases, Social Security disability benefits could be reduced due to you receiving workers’ compensation.
Vocational Rehabilitation Services
These services are aimed at assisting injured employees to return to work. While the state’s compensation laws don’t require your employer or their insurance carrier to provide workers with vocational rehabilitation assistance, the law does provide voluntary vocational rehabilitation which can be offered by your employer or their insurance carrier.
What’s more, you could qualify for assistance from the State Division of Vocational Rehabilitation if, due to your injury, you cannot return to your former position and you need assistance with finding another line of work to earn an income. The Division of Vocational Rehabilitation is a separate entity from the Division of Workers’ Compensation, and your workers’ comp lawyers can help you contact the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation should you need retraining or help with finding a different line of work.
The Second Injury Fund
Navigating compensation is daunting, which is why it is important to consult a workers’ compensation attorney. If you had a mental or physical disability before you incurred an injury in your workplace, you might also qualify for benefits from the state’s Second Injury Fund. The aim of this fund is to encourage employers to both hire and retain workers who have disabilities. In some instances, the liability from the fund can be significant.
For instance, if you have a permanent total disability case, the Second Injury Fund may be held responsible for your weekly benefits for the rest of your lifetime if the disability is the result of your pre-existing condition as well as those caused by on-the-job injuries. What’s more, in cases of deaths in the workplace where your employer failed to obtain workers’ compensation, the Second Injury Fund may be held responsible for the death benefits to your dependents.
What’s more, when your employer fails to become authorized to self-insure or seek insurance coverage, Missouri law allows the Second Injury Fund to pay your medical bills in your employer fails to do so.
Your workers’ comp attorney will explain that claims against the Fund need to comply with particular time limits as set out by the law.
Suing Your Employer
If your employer was obliged to obtain compensation insurance and failed to do so, or failed to become authorized to self-insure, and you sustain an injury in the workplace, you can sue your employer in a civil court for your damages, and provided that you can prove the employer was negligent, an action which led to your injury, too, or you can file a claim against the employer.
The state your accident has occurred in will have jurisdiction over your case. What’s more, the state in which your hire or contract with your employer was entered into could also have jurisdiction. Further, the state where your employment was mainly located may have jurisdiction, too.
In some instances, there is even jurisdiction in more than one state. In such instances, you do have the right to pursue your claim within any state that has jurisdiction.
Get in Touch with a Workers’ Comp Lawyer in Kirkwood
While not everyone who suffers a work-related injury requires the help of workers’ comp lawyers, a knowledgeable and experienced lawyer from Walton Telken can answer any questions you have about workers’ compensation in Kirkwood, Missouri, and take your case to trial before an administrative law judge, if needs be. If you have any questions, get in touch with our team.