Posted: September 23, 2015
The Missouri workers compensation system provides financial support to workers who have sustained a job-related injury and those who have been diagnosed with an occupational illness.
Although this system can provide crucial benefits to injured workers and their families, however, navigating it can be difficult, especially in light of the system’s specific rules, strict deadlines, complicated paperwork, etc.
To help injured workers start to figure out what they need to do to start a claim and get benefits, below, we have answered some commonly asked questions about Missouri workers compensation claims and benefits. While these answers can help injured workers, for experienced help successfully navigating the claims process, contact a St Louis workers compensation lawyer at Brown & Brown Attorneys at Law.
Important Claims & Benefit Info for Injured Workers
Q – What should I do after being hurt at work?
A – Get emergency medical care as soon as possible. Within 30 days of the accident/injury, report the incident/injury to your employer in writing. If you miss this deadline, you could lose out on benefits.
Q – Can I choose my own doctor to see?
A – It depends. By law, an employer – or an insurance provider on behalf of the employer – “has the right to choose the healthcare provider or treating physician,” according to the Missouri Division of Workers Compensation (DWC).
This means that, if an employer or its insurance provider has a preference as to the physician you see, you are required to see that doctor (or choose from a list of their preferred doctors) if you want your medical care to be covered.
If, however, you don’t mind paying for your medical treatment, you are free to see a doctor of your choice.
It is also important to note here that, in some cases, employers or insurers may allow workers to choose their own doctors. So, check with an employer first if you are concerned about having your medical treatments covered.
Q – How much will my workers compensation benefits be?
A – It will depend on the nature of your injuries and whether you are eligible to receive:
- Temporary partial disability benefits, which are typically 66.67% of the difference between the average earnings before the injury and the amount that can be earned while injured/doing scaled-back work (subject to the maximum temporary total disability rate)
- Temporary total disability benefits, which are usually 66.67% of the worker’s average weekly earnings (up to a maximum amount that is set by law)
- Permanent partial disability benefits, which are generally 66.67% of the average weekly income “as of the date of the injury” (up to a maximum amount that is set by law) – It may be possible for some injured workers to receive these benefits as a lump sum, depending on the nature of the impairment.
- Permanent total disability benefits, which are 66.67% of the average weekly income as of the date of the injury (up to a maximum amount that is set by law) – Lump sum payouts may also be negotiated in some cases.
Q – What if my employer doesn’t have workers compensation insurance?
A – Per Missouri law, employers that have at least 5 employees are legally required to maintain workers’ compensation insurance, or they have to qualify as self-insured. If your employer is required to have this coverage but has failed to maintain it, this violation can result in criminal charges (typically a class A misdemeanor).
Additionally, as the DWC points out:
An injured worker may be able to recover the cost of medical expenses from the Second Injury Fund if the employer fails to insure its workers’ compensation liability as required by law. Generally, both the uninsured employer and the Second Injury Fund are liable for the medical care and expenses.
Q – What should I do if I’m not awarded the full amount of benefits I deserve? Or if my claim is wrongly denied?
A – Contact an experienced workers compensation attorney ASAP. You will only have 20 days from the date on which the award/denial was issued to file an appeal. And you want to make sure your appeal is successful. A seasoned attorney can provide invaluable help.
Contact a St Louis Workers Compensation Lawyer at Brown & Brown Attorneys at Law
To learn more about how we can help you following a work accident/injury, call us at 573-333-3333 for our Missouri office or at 618-888-8888 for our Illinois office. You can also email us using the form at the right-hand side of the screen.