Workers' Compensation Lawyer
Prepared to Fight for Your Rights & Interests
Filing a workers' compensation claim immediately after a job site injury is imperative. The longer you wait, and the more time that goes by, the more difficult it will be to ensure that your rights are fully protected and that you can obtain the complete compensation you deserve after your injury.
The process of filing a workers’ compensation with the Division of Workers’ Compensation at the Missouri Department of Labor has grown more complex over the years. As such, it is often a good idea to retain the services of a workers’ compensation lawyer serving Springfield and Joplin.
How Does Workers' Compensation Work in Missouri?
Most states, including Missouri, have a workers' compensation system. This trade-off system means that workers are entitled to receive compensation if they have been injured on the job, but in return they may not sue their employers for their injuries.
After a work injury, you should file a workers' compensation claim with the Missouri Department of Labor, through its Division of Workers' Compensation. You must also notify your employer or supervisor of your injury, and he or she will then be required to send a report to the Division of Workers' Compensation as well.
Some Job-site Injuries Include:
- Construction industry
- Oil and gas industry
- Farm/ranch jobs
- Plumbing industry
- Maritime/offshore industry
- Maintenance jobs
- Manufacturing jobs
The workers’ compensation system should be straightforward — unfortunately, however, it is not. New regulations and changes to the law have made the process of obtaining financial compensation much more difficult for injured employees.
At Aaron Sachs & Associates, P.C., we understand the complexities of the workers’ compensation laws in Missouri and we are prepared to help you navigate this system so that you can best protect your future.
Frequently Asked Questions About Workers’ Compensation
What is workers' compensation?
The Missouri Workers' Compensation Law (Chapter 287 of the Missouri Revised Statutes) governs the rights and obligations of both employers and employees when an employee suffers an on-the-job injury. Workers' compensation covers both injuries by accident (such as a fracture from a slip and fall) and injuries due to occupational disease (such as carpal tunnel syndrome from repetitive occupational exposure).
Who is covered under Missouri’s workers’ compensation law?
All Missouri employers with five or more employees are legally required to carry workers' compensation insurance. All employers in the construction industry, even if they have only one employee, are also required to carry this coverage.
Does Missouri’s workers’ compensation system benefit the employer or the employee?
The workers' compensation system was initially designed to be a win-win for both employer and employee, with the employer having limited liability and the employee no longer having to prove negligence to receive compensation for a workplace injury. The system has grown more complicated over time, and recent legislative changes pursued by employers have sought to limit compensation available for employees.
Recent appellate decisions, on the other hand, have been pushing back in favor of employees. Overall, there are benefits and downfalls for both sides, with the balance constantly pushing one way or the other as laws change.
Can I pick my own doctor and still have my treatment covered by workers’ comp?
No. In Missouri, the employer must pay for reasonable and necessary medical treatment related to a work injury, and, in exchange, the employer has the right to select the employee’s treating physicians. Employers often defer the choice of treating physician to the insurance carrier handling their workers’ compensation policy.
It is not uncommon for an insurance adjuster to contact an injured employee and notify them of the name of the doctor they must see under workers' compensation. The employer/insurer chooses the physician and must authorize treatment before it will be covered by workers' compensation. Just because employers have the right to choose physicians and direct the medical care does not mean employees are forbidden from choosing their own doctors.
Indeed, employees are free to choose their own physician and direct their own medical care, but such treatment will typically be at their own expense if the employer/insurer accepted the case and offered treatment. Therefore, unless an employee wants to pay for treatment out of their own pocket, the only option usually is to see the doctors the employer/insurer has selected.
If I am off work due to an injury, am I entitled to compensation for lost wages?
Possibly, depending on how many days you are off work and whether the treating physician specifically took you off work due to the injury.
When the treating physician determines that you cannot work because of a work-related injury, so long as you miss more than 3 regularly scheduled workdays, you are entitled to temporary total disability benefits (TTD) to compensate you for your lost wages. You will not be paid wages or TTD for the 3-day waiting period unless your time off extends past 14 days, at which time the insurance company should pay TTD for the initial 3 days missed.
How much money can you get from TTD benefits in workers’ comp?
TTD benefits are paid as 2/3 of your average weekly wage in the 13 weeks prior to your injury up to a statutory maximum benefit. TTD benefits should be continued to be paid in the same manner as your ordinary income (but at least every 2 weeks) until your doctor releases you to return to work or your treatment is finished because you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI).
Will being terminated affect my eligibility for TTD compensation?
If you are terminated for post-injury misconduct, then the employer and insurer may be able to cancel your TTD benefits. If you are laid off for another reason, like the company is downsizing, then your benefits should continue as if you are still employed.
Can I be compensated for permanent scarring due to a work injury?
The workers' compensation law provides that compensation of up to 40 weeks may be awarded for permanent scarring and disfigurement on the:
- And hands due to a work injury
The amount of compensation typically is assessed by an Administrative Law Judge (ALF) and is discretionary. ALJs typically will assess 1 week of compensation for each inch of scarring on the arms or hands, and 2 weeks of scarring for each inch of scarring on the neck or face.
Whether the scar is discolored or raised is also commonly factored into the assessment and may increase the ALJ's assessment. In most cases involving surgery on the head, neck, arms, or hands, there will be some scarring and, therefore, some disfigurement compensation is due.
I was provided a disability rating by a doctor, what does that mean?
In most workers' compensation cases involving more than the most minor injuries, the treating doctor will provide a permanent partial disability (PPD) rating. This disability rating is expressed as a percentage of disability at a certain level of the body. The PPD rating is used to calculate the amount of compensation due for your permanent partial disability.
Will I be compensated for permanent partial disability?
If the medical evidence supports a finding of permanent partial disability, then you should be compensated with a lump sum settlement for such disability. The PPD rating provided by the treating physician is not binding on you or the ALJ, and, if you have an attorney, your attorney may have you see another doctor to get a second opinion or to conduct an independent medical examination (IME).
“My experience as a client was no less than phenomenal. The attorney who handled my case was great. my biggest praise goes to the paralegal who was there for me every moment, Peggy Forest.”- Larry Ward
“Thank you all for everything. Dana Baker was great. She took over, lifting the burden of dealing with the insurance companies so we were able to focus on healing. She kept us informed every step of the way. I would recommend it to everyone. Again thank you”- Jaden Austin
“I was involved in an accident while on my motorcycle. It was a big relief that I could just focus on healing rather than dealing with insurance companies.”- Former Client