Missouri Workers' Compensation: Filing a Claim and Protecting Your Rights after a Work Accident

With the launch of our Missouri Workers' Compensation Lawyers Blog, we want to answer some of the most commonly asked questions about what to do in the event of a work injury in Missouri. We suggest speaking with a workers' compensation attorney in your area. While you may file a claim without an attorney, we don't recommend it. You may represent yourself in just about any court in the land -- we don't recommend that as the best course of action either.

Unfortunately, employees sometimes fail to understand the complex nature of filing a claim. They count on their employer to do the right thing. In reality, you and your employer are too often in an adversarial relationship after you file a claim. Botched claims can impact the financial well-being of you and your family for years to come. Often, an injured employee finally seeks experienced assistance after a claim is denied or once the claim is well under way. Properly filing a claim and protecting your rights should be done from the beginning. Correcting an injustice can be much more difficult.
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Here are some commonly asked questions regarding workers' compensation rights in Missouri:

Do I have a workers' compensation case? In general, if you are an employee of a company with five or more employees, and you are injured on the job, then you are covered under the Missouri workers' compensation program. While there are some exceptions -- including domestic servants and farm laborers -- the vast majority of employees are covered in the event of an on-the-job accident, illness or injury.

However, the laws are complex and that is a deceptively simple explanation. Workers' compensation laws were formed to shield employers from civil liability in most cases. In other words, you accept benefits and agree not to sue for damages. In reality, state and federal laws have muddied the waters in some cases. And you can count on your employer and its insurance company to move to limit your claim whenever possible.

Seeking an attorney is the best course of action when it comes to fighting for the current and future financial well-being of you and your family.

What are my rights under the workers' compensation statute? You have the right to medical care and proper treatment of your injury, payment for lost wages and compensation for any disability that may result from a work injury or illness.

Should I be paid for the time I am unable to work? Yes. You are entitled to lost wages under the law. Again, however, the actions of employers and their insurance companies have muddied the waters. What if you are offered a desk job at half the pay? Do you need to accept? What if the company orders you to report to work far from your normal location? Or tells you to accept a job which you have never done and are not trained for? Can you be laid off or downsized during a work injury claim? These are all complicating factors best left to your attorney.

How long do I have to file a workers' compensation claim? You must immediately report your injury to your employer. Failure to report an injury within 30 days may jeopardize your ability to collect benefits. Notify your employer in writing -- including the date, time and place of injury, as well as the nature of the injury and the name and address of the injured employee. Keep a copy of the notice for yourself. Keep a record of delivery -- if you personally deliver the notice, write down the date and time as well as the name and title of the person to whom you delivered it. You may verify that your injury has been reported to the state, you may call 800-775-2667.