A serious work injury can occur at any time and in any workplace, whether you work on a construction site, at a retail store, or in an office. When this happens, filing a workers’ compensation claim is often your best chance for full physical and financial recovery. Many employers create unnecessary obstacles to completing this process, though, which is why the Columbia, MO workers’ compensation lawyers at Thomas Law Offices have dedicated their careers to helping injured workers.
Victims of workplace accidents often do not realize how difficult it is to obtain workers’ compensation benefits until they are starting the process, or their first claim has already been denied. Whether you are preparing to file your first claim or an appeal, the right legal assistance will strengthen your case. Our Columbia, MO workers’ compensation attorneys have the experience and knowledge necessary to provide complete support and guidance through this process.
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Workers’ Compensation Laws in Missouri
Missouri state law has a “no-fault” system for employees who have suffered job-related injuries or illnesses. This means that injured employees are entitled to certain benefits and protections regardless of who was at fault. In fact, fault is rarely a consideration when handling claims for workers’ compensation cases, and anyone who has suffered a work injury is entitled to:
- Medical care
- A portion of their lost wages
- Permanent disability
Missouri law also requires workers’ compensation insurance to pay for medical treatments for injuries that occur in the workplace. Your workers’ compensation lawyer will ensure you receive the benefits you are entitled to.
Which Employers Carry Workers’ Comp Insurance Coverage?
Most employers in Missouri are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage. According to state law, any employer with at least five employees must have workers’ compensation insurance, with the only exception being employers in the construction industry. A construction company must carry this coverage even if there is only one employee.
However, many insurance companies try to limit costs and protect their bottom lines. Most employers are also looking to save as much money as possible, even if it means creating an unsafe work environment. When these money-saving companies join hands to limit medical treatment and coverage after an injury occurs, your Columbia workers’ compensation lawyer can ensure you receive maximum compensation.
How Long Do I Have To Report My Injury?
You have only 30 days to inform your employer of a workplace injury. This may be either 30 days from the date of the accident that caused your injury, or 30 days from your first knowledge of the injury.
Notify your employer in writing to avoid any misunderstandings or ambiguity. Include the following information in your written statement:
- The nature of your injury.
- The time, date, and place at which your injury took place.
- The name and job titles of any other workers who may have been present or have had knowledge of the accident or injury.
- The events that led to the accident or injury.
A Columbia workers’ compensation lawyer can help you draft an effective injury report for you to provide to your employer.
Can I File a Personal Injury Claim Against My Employer Instead?
Missouri’s Workers’ Compensation Act protects employers from legal action brought by injured workers, even if they failed to create a safe work environment. This means that you cannot file a personal injury lawsuit against your employer. That protection extends in only a limited fashion to an employer’s employees, though.
If your co-worker’s negligent or reckless actions contributed to your injuries, you may be able to file a personal injury claim against them. At our law firm, our workers’ compensation attorneys will work to identify all factors in your workers’ compensation claim, including any negligent actions by co-workers that might warrant filing personal injury claims. Additional third parties who might be liable for your workplace accident include:
- Manufacturer of a defective tool
- Property owners who maintained dangerous premises
- Negligent drivers
- Violent customers or clients
How Many Workers Are Injured Every Year?
According to the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII), 54,200 workers suffered nonfatal occupational injuries or illnesses in 2019. Of these, 28,100 were serious, requiring:
- Days away from work
- Work restrictions
- Job transfers
Workers in the transportation industry have a significantly higher risk of being injured in workplace accidents, as do workers between the ages of 25 and 34 years of age.
While you might be more likely to suffer an injury on an unsafe construction site than in an office, you do not have to work in a high-risk position or industry to suffer a serious on-the-job injury. The Columbia workers’ compensation lawyers at our law firm have worked with injury victims from all different professional backgrounds, including those injured in car accidents, on an unsafe construction site, or who are suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome.
Workplace Injuries Covered by Workers’ Compensation Claims
Workers’ compensation covers both workplace injuries and illnesses. Injuries may be either the result of a one-time accident, or caused by weeks, months, or even years of repetitive actions. If you have suffered any of the following physical injuries due to your job, contact our law office to schedule a free consultation with a Columbia workers’ compensation lawyer:
- Repetitive stress injuries
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Cubital tunnel syndrome
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Sprains, strains, or tears
- Broken bones
- Vision or hearing damage
- Amputation or loss of limb
- Back injuries
- Spinal cord damage
- Neck injuries
Occupational diseases can also result from a one-time event or sustained exposure to dangerous substances. Examples of occupational diseases we see among Columbia residents at our law firm include:
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Neurological disorders
- Industrial dermatitis
If you were harmed while at work in the mid-Missouri area, contact an attorney immediately. Remember, you only have 30 days to notify your employer of your injury or risk losing out on benefits for things like medical bills and a portion of your lost wages. Thomas Law Offices’ workers’ comp lawyers will make sure you meet this deadline.
Can I See My Own Doctor After a Workplace Injury?
An injured employee cannot see their own doctor for a work injury. Employers and insurers are required by law to provide appropriate medical care for injured workers, which involves using a specific doctor. Be wary when seeing an employer’s or insurer’s preferred medical provider, though.
Oftentimes workers’ compensation benefits will force injured employees to visit certain doctors who will do everything they can to minimize costs by preventing their patients from getting the medical care they need to completely recover. Some doctors are hesitant to give employees the full amount of time off they need or may argue against physical therapy, etc.
In some cases, the mistreatment may even be so severe that it warrants filing a medical malpractice claim. Our lawyers have expertise in multiple practice areas, which is how we make sure that all our clients are able to make informed decisions.
You do not have to accept subpar medical care. When you employ the legal services of our law firm, we will fight to make sure you receive the care and benefits you deserve. We never let the insurance company bully our clients into accepting anything less than they are owed. When insurance companies refuse to pay, our law firm is there to ensure maximum compensation for workers’ compensation claims.
Types of Workers’ Compensation Disability Benefits
Missouri law requires the workers’ compensation insurance to pay different types of benefits. These benefits include temporary total disability benefits (TTD), permanent total disability benefits (PTD), permanent partial disability benefits (PPD), and Survivor Benefits for the spouse, children, or dependents of an employee who suffered a wrongful death as the result of a workplace injury.
By law, the state of Missouri requires workers’ compensation insurance to provide three different types of benefits:
Temporary Total Disability
If you are determined to need temporary total disability benefits, your wage loss benefits are calculated at 66 2/3% of your average weekly wage prior to your injury. This figure will only take into account your gross wages, meaning what you earn before any deductions or taxes are taken out of your paycheck.
You might receive less than the 66 2/3% of your gross weekly wages if your prior earnings exceeded the current maximum limit set in place by Missouri state law.
Permanent Partial Disability
Like with TTD benefits, your permanent partial disability benefits will be calculated based on 66 2/3% of your average gross weekly wages before you were injured. This amount cannot exceed the current maximum limit for workers’ compensation benefits. However, it is possible that your benefits will be paid out as a lump sum rather than in installments. This will depend on the nature and severity of your injury and related disability.
Permanent Total Disability
If you suffer a permanent total disability, you are entitled to weekly payments for the remainder of your life. Although these benefits are also 66 2/3% of your average gross weekly wage prior to injury, the maximum compensation limit is higher for those with permanent disabilities. You may also negotiate for a lump-sum payment.
If you are unsure whether to pursue weekly benefits or a lump-sum payment, your workers’ compensation attorney can help you determine what is most appropriate for your situation. Thomas Law Offices offers a free case evaluation should you wish to speak with a knowledgeable attorney about your situation.
Why Would I Need to Work With a Columbia, MO Workers’ Compensation Lawyer?
Although you are entitled to benefits following a serious workplace accident, you will likely require legal assistance to fully access those benefits. Many workplaces offer no assistance whatsoever to workers who must file a workers’ compensation claim. The insurance providers make filing for disability much more difficult than it needs to be, and will do everything in their power to deny your claim to keep you working. You may receive one notice of denial after another.
While you wait for approval, your medical bills will continue piling up on top of your missing paychecks.
A Columbia workers’ compensation lawyer can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. The typical workers’ comp claim is settled outside of court, but there are cases where a trial is unavoidable. Our background as trial attorneys makes us uniquely positioned to stand up for those who have been wrongfully injured in workplace accidents. Our dedication to representing plaintiffs who have been harmed at work is unrivaled.
When you choose to work with a workers’ compensation lawyer from Thomas Law Offices, you are aligning yourself with a law firm that routinely serves clients who are going through some of the most difficult periods of their lives. Unlike other lawyers or law firms, we take a whole-person approach to workers’ compensation cases. We understand that a workplace injury means much more than just not being able to work. You also have to worry about following medical treatment plans and how you will continue to provide for your family when your income is limited. Instead of taking on this burden alone, let a Columbia workers’ compensation lawyer help guide your path to securing benefits.
Contact the Columbia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Thomas Law Offices
If you’re unable to work due to injuries or illnesses you’ve suffered on the job and require benefits to continue providing for your family, you shouldn’t have to go up against major insurance companies alone. With the help of an experienced Columbia, MO workers’ compensation lawyer, you can get the disability benefits you need without all the hassle. As your legal counsel, we will ensure that you understand all state and federal laws that may affect your claim.
Thomas Law Offices has years of experience successfully battling against insurance companies, and it is our past experience handling claims that makes us the ideal choice. We will put that experience, dedication, and knowledge to work for you as we help you fight for the benefits and compensation you deserve. You shouldn’t have to struggle to get the benefits you need and are fully entitled to. Contact our office today to schedule a free case evaluation with a Columbia workers’ compensation lawyer.