If you have been injured on the job, you should file a workers’ compensation
claim right away. As Missouri workers’ compensation laws become
increasingly complicated, it is often a good idea to hire a Springfield,
Missouri, workers’ compensation attorney to assist you with your claim.
On-the-job injuries are unfortunately frequent. People spend many active
hours each day on the job, and particularly in jobs involving physical
labor there is always a strong possibility of on-the-job injury. According
to the U.S. Department of Labor’s
Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2009 in America there were 3,277,700 recordable cases of on-the-job
injuries, with 965,000 cases involving missed days of work. In Missouri
alone in the three months between April and June 2010, there were 28,287
reported workplace injuries and 3,521 workers’ compensation claims
filed by injured workers.
How Workers’ Compensation Works
Because of the frequency of work-related injuries, Missouri, like all other
states, has created a workers’ compensation system, also known as
workers’ comp or workman's comp. This system involves a trade-off.
By law, workers are entitled to compensation for work-related injuries
regardless of fault – even if the injury is the worker’s own
fault. However, an injured worker cannot sue his or her employer for any
negligence by the employer or coworkers that caused the injury. Instead,
the injured worker must pursue monetary recovery through the workers’
compensation system, which generally provides less money than a negligence
claim through the civil court system. Under the workers’ compensation
system, injured workers can recover for medical expenses, lost wages,
and permanent disability, but cannot recover for pain and suffering.
Workers’ compensation claims are administered by the Missouri Department
of Labor, through its
Division of Workers’ Compensation. Workers’ compensation is meant to be largely self-executing, meaning
that the worker, his or her employer, and the employer’s workers’
compensation insurance carrier should be able to handle the payment of
workers’ compensation benefits for the injury. Sometimes this is
true, especially with minor injuries. However, Missouri workers’
compensation law has gotten very complex due to numerous pieces of legislation
over the years, and often it is a good idea to consult with an attorney
in order to understand your rights and options under the law.
The Role of a Missouri Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
If you are injured on the job, you should report your injury to your employer
right away. Your employer, in turn, is required to report the injury to
the Division of Workers’ Compensation. However, you should also
file a claim yourself directly with the Division of Workers’ Compensation.
Your employer and its workers’ compensation insurer often do not
have your best interests in mind, and will seek to minimize your injuries,
your treatment, and the overall cost of your claim. This is another reason
to hire a workers’ compensation attorney: to help present your claim
comprehensively and ensure you receive maximum compensation for your injury.
Missouri workers’ compensation lawyer will also advise you of the future impact of your injury, as disability
ratings and assessments of current injuries can impact your right to compensation
now and in the future.
An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help in many other
ways. Workers’ compensation can often impact and overlap with
Social Security benefits, Medicare, Medicaid and unemployment benefits. Multiple injuries over
time can create a right to additional compensation from the state’s
Second Injury Fund, and chronic injuries caused by repetitive tasks over
time can create difficult issues of proof. Some unscrupulous employers
do not maintain required workers’ compensation insurance, which
can also create a right to compensation from the Second Injury Fund. Sometimes
an employer will contest the extent of the injury, or whether the injury
truly occurred in the course and scope of employment, which can lead to
court hearings, discovery, and even trial. In some instances, while a
worker may be injured on the job, a third party may have caused the injury,
such as a negligent driver or employee of a subcontractor. In these cases,
the injured worker may have a civil
personal injury claim as well as a workers’ compensation claim.
It is easy for your workers’ compensation claim to get very complicated
very quickly. It is important to have a Springfield, Missouri workers’
compensation attorney to defend your rights. At Aaron Sachs & Associates,
P.C., we have attorneys who limit their practice to workers’ compensation
and injury claims, armed with experience and knowledge of this complex
system. We maintain a
blog focused on workers’ compensation issues, in order to keep the public
and the legal community informed of developments in this area of the law.
By law, we work on a contingency fee basis, meaning that you pay us nothing
up front. We maintain
offices throughout Missouri, including
Cape Girardeau/Southeast Missouri,
Columbia/Jefferson City, and
Kansas City. Clients are responsible for costs or expenses.
If you have been injured on the job and have questions about your right
to compensation, contact our offices today at