If you have been injured at work, an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer can ensure that you are treated fairly by your employer under Missouri’s workers’ compensation laws. There are several kinds of injuries that can be sustained in the workplace, but a common issue with workplace injuries is the difficulty to completely treat and also recover from the injuries while you carry on with the same duties.
Often, once an injury has been treated, employees tend to return to their same position and responsibilities and put themselves at greater risk of re-injuring themselves. An attorney can help you navigate workers’ compensation in St. Louis, Missouri, and help you fight to get the claim you fairly deserve.
A workers’ comp lawyer can stand by your side through your case, fight in hearings for you, get you the medical care you need, and work with your employer and his or her insurance company to make sure you receive the benefits owed to you.
Below, we discuss some of the most common injuries suffered in the workplace that you can seek compensation for.
Ear and Eye Injuries
Injuries to the eye often involve more than just loss of vision. Often, an eye injury can lead to depression, disfigurement, and other problems. Workers’ compensation for such injuries is often insufficient. A skilled workers’ compensation attorney knows how to successfully negotiate with employers and insurance companies, and understands the necessity to secure payment for your inability to work as well as current and future medical costs, psychiatric issues that arise from such an injury, and vision loss.
Ringing in the ears, called tinnitus, and hearing loss cases can be difficult to try in the state of Missouri. It can be challenging to prove whether or not you do have tinnitus. The ringing in the ears may be caused by too much aspirin, but often, it is caused by an occupational hazard when you deal with too much noise on a daily basis. When you lose your hearing in one ear due to your working conditions, St. Louis, M.O. workers’ compensation for permanent partial disability only owes you 49 weeks of pay or 180 weeks of pay for employees who lose hearing in both their ears. A worker’s comp attorney can negotiate a fair payout for you, provided you contact one early enough to allow them time to seek advice from audiologists and other experts for your case.
Neck and Back Injuries
When you incur a trauma to your spine, the injuries can prove to be life changing for you. Neck and back injuries are common issues that workers’ comp lawyers deal with. Your back and neck are susceptible to injury from a range of activities, including:
- Slips and falls
- Heavy lifting
- Car accidents while on the job
- Repetitive movements
Sometimes, a severe spinal injury can lead to paralysis or even death. An important reason to seek the assistance of workers’ compensation lawyers if you suffer a back or neck injury on the job is to ensure that you receive full and fair recompense. Many insurance providers tend to rate some injuries and areas of the body lower than is fair. They try to claim that your disability is only a small percentage so that you receive a minimum payout for time spent off work recuperating. But, often, medical experts find that an injury renders you partially disabled, indicating a different standard of payout for your workers’ compensation in St. Louis, Missouri. Having an experienced lawyer on your side means he or she will navigate this process with your employer and ensure you receive fair payment in accordance with your level of difficulty.
Repetitive Trauma Injury
These types of injuries commonly occur in conditions like rotator cuff tears, carpal tunnel syndrome, and neuropathies in a worker’s elbows. To successfully seek fair compensation in such cases, medical experts are often enlisted to determine if the repetitive trauma injury is a result of work constraints and not a result of degeneration or getting older.
Head Injuries, Psychiatric Disabilities, and Traumatic Brain Injuries
Head injuries, and particularly traumatic brain injuries can be debilitating and are one of the most underpaid claims in cases of workers’ compensation in St. Louis, M.O. However, knowledgeable workers’ comp lawyers understand that these kinds of serious injuries can impact your emotions and your overall ability to function. Sometimes, workers may experience these injuries along with delayed or other effects such as psychiatric issues, depression, and headaches. A workers’ compensation lawyer understands the impact such injuries can have and how often these injuries are greater than just physical pain, which is why he or she will seek expert medical opinions to prove the extent of the injuries and help you receive maximum benefits.
Knee, Ankle, and Hip Injuries
Workers are also prone to lower body injuries in the workplace, such as fibula and tibia fractures, ligament damage, the severance of a limb, and even hip replacement or fracture. A common claim that workers’ compensation lawyers handle is injuries to the knee. Often, insurance providers claim that knee tears or surgeries are not eligible for disability. But, since the portion of the knee may be permanently removed in a meniscus surgery, it could result in compensation for permanent partial disability. A knowledgeable attorney can help increase the lump sum compensation you receive for this kind of workplace injury, as well as other knee damage and patella fracture cases.
Can Compensation Be Recovered from a Third Party and Workers’ Compensation in St. Louis, Missouri?
Yes, this is definitely a possibility, but there are a few ways to do this in an efficient manner.
Firstly, workers’ compensation tends to pay out relatively quickly and will begin with weekly payments before you reach a lump sum settlement. However, a third-party liability claim does not pay out until you reach a settlement. Take note, though, that workers’ compensation will require you to pay back what they have paid out, using the third-party liability insurance.
Here is an example: if your workers’ compensation in St. Louis, M.O. pays out a total of $5,000 in weekly payments, the comp will require that you pay back the amount of $5,000 from the liability carrier. Typically, the workers’ compensation asserts a lien against the liability settlement for that amount. However, your workers’ comp lawyer for the third-party liability claim will try to negotiate a reduced amount on this lien. This is because if you don’t pursue a third-party liability claim, workers’ compensation will not receive anything.
Keep in mind that workers’ compensation has a lien of the third-party liability settlement only if the settlement actually happens. The decision to settle or seek a third-party claim is up to you and your workers’ compensation attorney. There are times when some money, even at a condensed rate, may be better than none at all to the workers’ compensation insurance carrier, and as a result, this can sometimes reduce their lien on the third-party claim so as to get you to settle and for them to be paid.
It is also worth noting that your workers’ comp attorney must not settle the third-party liability claim until such time as your workers’ compensation claim is settled. In other words, the compensation claim has to be settled prior to the liability claim. If this is not done, the workers’ compensation insurance carrier may recover the entire amount that they have paid to you, and you may end up with zero from the liability carrier.
The entire ordeal is usually an argument between the insurance companies in terms of who is going to pay less for your on-the-job injury. You do not have to get involved in the argument since a workers’ comp lawyer in St. Louis, M.O. will know exactly how to balance third-party and workers’ comp claims for you. Try to negotiate on your own, and you may land up paying back a large sum on your workers’ comp claim.
How Is a Workers’ Compensation Settlement Agreement Usually Negotiated?
If you are injured while you on the job and you are offered a settlement agreement, you should not sign it until you properly know what your rights are. If you do accept the settlement agreement, this will close the case and stop you from receiving further support later on. It is better to seek the assistance of workers’ compensation lawyers who will negotiate further with the insurance company and research your various possibilities before any decisions are finalized. A lawyer who has handled such cases understands the financial and emotional challenges you, as an injured worker, and your family face, and he or she will work to ensure you receive full and fair recompense for your work injuries, losses, and damages.
How Settlement Works in the State of Missouri
Often, injured workers in the state of Missouri, opt to receive a permanent disability payment on a weekly basis that is aimed at covering part of their wages that they lose out on while they are recovering from their work-related injuries. There are those who prefer a lump sum payout. In St. Louis, M.O, you are able to ask for a settlement that covers any future amounts that the insurance company may owe to you. You may even be able to get a controlled settlement over a certain time period that will allow you to uphold some rights to your medical care.
When you are offered a settlement, you may accept the offer and take the weekly payments for as long as they are made available, or you may proceed to a trial or hearing to fight for a higher weekly payment or a greater lump sum payout.
Take note that there is a risk in refusing an offer since a judge may decide that you really deserve less. This is why you need to help of a workers’ comp lawyer to review all the possible outcomes and conclusions of your case.
What Are the Implications of Accepting a Settlement?
For some employees, accepting a settlement that is offered is the best option as it can cut down on the time the worker must wait to receive payment. If you decide to accept a settlement, you will not have to wait for a hearing to be held. What’s more, insurance companies could open up negotiations if you want to approve their offer. For instance, if there is a relatively small chance that you could need surgery, later on, you might be able to negotiate for a portion of the costs in the hope that you will not have to have the procedure.
However, if you do accept the settlement, you also risk giving up your rights to any future medical treatment, and you may well not want to waive such a right should you require expensive medication or further surgeries and treatments related to the on-the-job injury.
There is no quick and easy decision in terms of workers’ compensation in St. Louis, Missouri. In fact, there are both pros and cons to refusing or accepting a settlement, and thus, it is important for you to understand there are several implications your decision could present.
Let an Experienced Workers’ Comp Attorney Help You
Even if you do decide to accept a settlement offer, your case won’t close without being approved by a workers’ compensation judge. In an informal conference, a judge will review the settlement to determine whether or not it is fair for your case and your work-related injuries. But, because the judge may not be familiar with your future health requirements and medical history, leaving your future in his or hands could be tricky.
The attorneys at Walton Telken understand the financial implications of an on-the-job injury and how stressful it can be. While settling may be tempting, our knowledgeable workers’ comp lawyers also understand that each claim is unique. Contact us to discuss your case and whether or not you should settle.