Our Missouri workers' compensation attorneys
know that some work place injuries go unreported or are usually settled between the employee and the employer "off the record". This is usually done in order to keep workers' compensation insurance rates down. However, this can present a number of problems for the injured employee should there be long term side effects related to the workplace injury.
All states have workers' compensation laws which were created to protect workers and their families against financial hardship resulting from a workplace injury or death. Workers' compensation laws provide money and benefits to an employee who has sustained an injury as a result of an accident, injury or occupational disease while "on-the-job".
Most people don't realize that workers' compensation laws actually protect both the employee and the employer. An injured employee receives compensation and medical benefits and the employer is protected against related lawsuits filed by the employee.
Missouri Workers' Compensation law provides for three types of benefits for an employee injured while performing his/her job or work related duties:
- Medical Treatment: Any employee injured while performing work-related duties is entitled to receive medical treatment for that injury and does not need to pay for the medical treatment. Payment is made by either the employer or insurer of the employer. However, since the employer is paying for the treatment, the employer, by law, has the right to select the physician. If an employee seeks treatment that has not been authorized, the employee may have to pay for that treatment.
- Temporary Total Disability (TTD): Temporary Total Disability is compensation for the time a doctor says an employee is unable to work due to a work-related injury. Temporary Total Disability cases cease when a doctor says an employee is able to return to work. Compensation under Workers' Compensation is calculated using two-thirds of your average weekly wage, not to exceed a maximum rate set by the legislature. Your average weekly wage is determined according to how your wages are fixed, whether by week, month, year or other method (usually the case of sales people). While the wages are only two-thirds your average wage, all compensation under Workers' Compensation is tax-free.
- Permanent Disability (either Total or Partial): Permanent Disability occurs when a doctor has done everything possible to treat the injury but the employee is not able to function at the same level prior to the injury. Permanent Disability can be either "total", meaning the employee is unable to perform any work, or "partial", meaning the employee can return to work but with limitations or restrictions. Total permanent disability will result in the employee receiving benefits for the rest of his/her life. Permanent partial disability (PPD) will result in compensation determined by legislature, which has established a formula to convert that disability into a dollar amount.
The law does not provide for any compensation related to pain and suffering. This is a complex and confusing area of law for the average person. An experienced Missouri Workers' Compensation lawyer can help you work through this complex area of law and ensure you receive all the benefits you are entitled to receive.
Many people often confuse the Second Injury Fund with Workers' Compensation. While the two are related to work place injuries, they are very separate and distinct from each other.
The Second Injury Fund was created to compensate an injured employee when a current work-related injury combines with a prior disability to create an increased combined disability. The formula used to calculate the Second Injury Fund benefits depends on each case.
The Second Injury Fund is responsible for paying medical bills of the injured employee when the employer fails to insure its workers' compensation liability. The Fund also provides benefits to injured employees who are receiving physical rehabilitation. If an employee is killed as the result of a work-related accident, burial expenses and death benefits are made to the surviving spouse or dependents of the employee if the employer is uninsured. The Second Injury Fund also provides second job wage loss benefits.
Second Injury Fund claims can be complex and confusing for most people. An experience Missouri Workers' Compensation Lawyer will be able to help you through this challenging area of law and ensure you receive all benefits you are entitled to receive under the Second Injury Fund.
While there is no specific requirement to hire a Missouri workers' compensation lawyer to file a claim or receive compensation and benefits, it is difficult to manage a workers' compensation case on your own. If you do not hire a workers' compensation attorney you will need to work directly with trained insurance adjustors and lawyers representing the insurance company.
Many people consider this scenario very intimidating and frustrating. You may find that, in the long run, a competent, experienced workers' compensation lawyer will save you considerable time, frustration, grief and money while ensuring you receive everything you are entitled to under workers' compensation laws.
If you decide to hire a lawyer, make sure you retain the services of an injury lawyer that has handled Missouri workers' compensation cases. The choice of an attorney is a very personal matter and should not be taken lightly. You should ensure you are comfortable working with the attorney and that your concerns will be adequately represented.
Most Missouri workers' compensation lawyers work on a contingency basis. That is, the attorney will not charge you for services unless you receive compensation. In many situations, your employer or insurance carrier may have to pay any attorney fees or costs.
If you or a loved one has sustained an injury at work or as the result of performing your job, you may be eligible to receive compensation and healthcare for the injury. An experienced Missouri workers' compensation lawyer will help you through this often complex and confusing area of law and work to fight any denial of benefits.