Understand how workers' compensation works in the state of Missouri.
With some minor exceptions, Missouri workers’ compensation law provides coverage for all workers injured on the job while working within Missouri. The Workers’ Compensation Division of the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations administers Missouri workers’ compensation law. The most important thing you can do is talk to a Workers’ Compensation attorney call Northland Injury Law at 816-400-4878.
What Are My Rights as an Injured Worker on Workers’ Comp?
Injured workers, you have the right to:
- Make a Missouri Workers Compensation Claim
You can make a claim for workers’ compensation if your company is located in Missouri, whether the injury occurs in Missouri or outside of Missouri; or if you are an employee from a company located in a different state but was injured while working in Missouri; or if your contract of employment (ie: temporary staffing work) was fully completed within the state of Missouri, regardless of where the employer sends you to work (ie: a nurse hired by a Missouri temp agency that sends you to Boston for nine months to train nurses at a new hospital).
- Report a Missouri Work Injury
You have 30 days to report an acute injury. No employer rule can shorten this time. You have 30 days to report a repetitive use type injury once you learn that your job, over time, has caused an injury. (ie: 6 months after seeing your family doctor for back pain, he finally says “your job moving patients/ carrying laundry/ lifting concrete/maintenance worker/etc., has caused damage to your back.) At this time, you should report this injury.
- Give It to Your Employer in Writing
You have a right to give the employer a letter reporting the injury. If the employer does not prepare a written report, or seems to be ignoring you, prepare a letter confirming that you verbally reported the injury and write down the date you reported it, who you reported to, and that you have not heard from the work comp adjuster. Date it and keep copies!
- Get All the Medical Care You Need
You have a right to receive medical care after reporting the injury. An employer shall provide the medical services required. This is not contingent upon a medical opinion (or, worse yet, an award) finding the injury compensable. It would be absurd, for example, if the legislature intended that an employer must provide ambulance transportation to a critically injured worker, but only after the critically injured worker provided employer with a medical opinion that the injury giving rise to the need for ambulance transportation was work-related.
- Get the Right Medical Care for Your Missouri Work Injury
You can reject medical care offered by the employer and use your health insurance. Or to use your health insurance for your own doctor if medical care is refused or if your case is denied. However, most doctor’s offices will not treat your work injury unless you have a letter from the employer refusing medical care. Your attorney can help you through this by working with doctors who agree to treat on a lien basis. Your attorney will then pursue your medical bills at trial, provided that a request for treatment was denied by the employer. Then hand deliver a letter, or letters, to your boss confirming your report of injury and your need for medical care. Keep several copies!
- Keep Your Own Records
Record your doctor visits. Make sure you document everything about your work-related injury! Numerous times clients are shocked to find out that the workers’ comp doctor failed to document numbness, tingling, etc. Tell the doctor that your recorder is on and that you will record each visit. At a minimum, hand deliver letters to the doctor’s office confirming what was discussed during your office exams, date it and keep copies!
- Get Paid While You Are Unable to Work
You have the right to receive wage loss, or temporary total disability (“TTD”) when you are off work and are being treated by the doctor. It is 2/3’s of your average weekly wage, but it is tax free. If the doctor authorizes light duty but the employer has none, you get TTD. The insurance company will push the doctor to say “MMI,” which is maximum medical improvement. With MMI, the workers compensation carrier cuts off your TTD, regardless of whether you can work. You can be at MMI and still require future medical care for life. If you can no longer work, your attorney will retain experts to pursue a claim for PTD, or permanent total disability. These claims take time, require experts, and are highly disputed by work comp insurers. Many clients suffer financial hardships during the time it takes to fight a PTD case. Filing for unemployment will hurt your workers’ comp case unless you specifically write on your unemployment forms (and keep copies) “I am out of work due to a work injury. The work comp doctor released mee from care with restrictions of______? I am willing to try and work within these restrictions, but I will need to rest on occasion due to pain and a ride to work due to my pain meds.” Keep copies!
Talk to an Attorney
A Missouri attorney experienced in workers’ compensation can be an invaluable asset to your case, especially if you were seriously injured and cannot go back to work. You should strongly consider talking to a worker's comp attorney if you need to appeal a denial of your claim and/or your injuries are severe or complex. For a more comprehensive list of all the questions you might have about workers’ compensation, and for a free consultation, please call (816)-400-4878. If you have further questions about your case, do not hesitate to reach out to us by the phone number, through the contact form, or even with the live chat option listed on our site!