Sep

28

2018

What Is Workers Compensation?

Workers compensation is a state-mandated insurance program that provides benefits to employees who suffer injuries or illnesses on the job.

If you get hurt while performing your workplace duties, you can file a claim against your employer’s workers compensation insurance and collect benefits, regardless of who was at fault.

Let’s take a look at workers compensation laws in Missouri and why it’s important to speak with a qualified attorney about your case.

Are All Employers Required to Have Workers Compensation Insurance?

Missouri law requires most employers to have workers comp insurance to cover the cost of workplace illness or injury, or lawsuits stemming from such injuries.

The following organizations must carry workers comp insurance in Missouri:

  • Construction firms with at least one employee
  • All other types of businesses with at least five employees

Railroad, maritime and postal workers are covered by federal workers comp laws.

Missouri also exempts some employers from having to carry workers comp:

  • Farm labor
  • Domestic workers in private homes
  • Occasional labor performed in private households
  • Qualified real estate agents and direct sellers
  • Some unpaid volunteers and workers for amateur youth programs
  • Some inmates

What Benefits Are Available Through Workers Comp?

Under Missouri law, there are three main types of workers compensation benefits available to injured employees and their families.

#1: Medical Care

Workers comp insurance must cover medical testing, treatment, prescriptions and medical devices with no deductible to the patient. Your employer has the right to choose the treating physician, although some employers may authorize you to see your own doctor. Employers may also offer rehabilitation services to help you return to work.

#2: Compensation for Lost Wages

Missouri workers can receive 66 ⅔% of their average weekly wage, not to exceed amounts set by law, which vary according to the severity and duration of your disability.

If your injury or illness causes temporary total disability, permanent total disability or death, the maximum is 105% of the state average weekly wage. If the injury results in permanent partial disability, the limit is 55% of the state average weekly wage.

Temporary disability continues until the doctor determines that you are able to return to work with no restrictions.

  • Temporary total disability means you are unable to work while recovering from your injuries or illness.
  • Temporary partial disability means you are able to return to work performing modified duties, sometimes at less than full pay, until you have fully recovered.

Temporary disability compensation must continue until one of the following conditions are met:

  • You are released to work with no restrictions, OR
  • A doctor releases you to light duty work and your employer offers you light duty work within those restrictions.

Temporary disability may be stopped by the employer if you are on light duty and are either (1) terminated from employment for post-injury misconduct or (2) if you voluntarily quit your job.

Permanent disability occurs when the doctor determines that you have reached “maximum medical improvement” but still have permanent impairments caused by your injury or illness.

  • Permanent partial disability means you are unable to perform some jobs, but still able to perform others. In this case, you may receive a lump sum payment based on the nature and extent of your disability.
  • Permanent total disability means you are no longer able to work at any job, and may be entitled to weekly pay for life or a lump sum.

#3: Survivor Benefits

If an employee dies from a workplace injury or occupational disease, his or her surviving dependents may receive 66 ⅔% of the employee’s weekly wage, up to a maximum amount set by law, along with funeral expenses up to $5,000.

How Do You File a Workers Compensation Claim?

If you’ve suffered a work-related injury due to an accident, repetitive strain or exposure to harmful substances, time is of the essence when filing a claim for workers compensation benefits.

  • Report the injury immediately. You have 30 days from the date of the accident or diagnosis to file your report. You must notify your employer, in writing, about the exact nature of your injury or illness, where it occurred, when it occurred, and the names and addresses of all injured persons.
  • Receive medical treatment. Tell your employer you need to see a doctor, and your employer or supervisor must arrange for medical treatment.
  • Contact a workers compensation attorney. The workers compensation system is complicated. Trying to obtain benefits on your own can be an uphill battle, especially when employers and insurers have their own legal teams attempting to minimize or eliminate their financial responsibilities to you. An experienced workers compensation attorney will know how to navigate the process every step of the way, so you can get the full amount you’re entitled to.

 

Have you been hurt at work or suffered a work-related illness? Contact The Alberhasky Law firm to set up a free consultation and get the benefits you deserve.