Legal Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Get Your Injury, Accident, And Insurance Questions Answered By Attorneys Who Know The Law
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Who provides benefits under the Worker's Compensation law?
By law, your employer is responsible for providing workers' compensation insurance, with very few exceptions. In some instances, your employer provides benefits directly by being self-insured, but the for the most part, employers provide the benefits directly through a workers' compensation insurace company. A worker cannot be charged for workers' compensation insurance, as it is to be provided under law at the employer's expense.
How many days of work do I have to miss from an injury before the workers' compensation insurance carrier starts paying me for my time off?
In Missouri, there is a 3-day waiting period. This means that you have to miss 3 days of work before the workers' compensation carrier must begin paying you. If you are unable to go back to work within 14 days of the accident, you will be repaid for those first 3 days of missed time. On the other hand, if you miss less than 14 days of work, you will not be paid for those first 3 days.
Do I have any responsiblities once I am injured on the job?
If you are injured in Missouri, you may be responsible to inform your employer about the circumstances surrounding your work-related injury within 30 days of the date of the accident. You are also obligated to follow the orders of the employer-chosen physician.
If I am injured on the job in Missouri, can I choose the doctors who treat me?
Under Missouri law, the employer has the right to choose your treating physicians. There are some exceptions. For instance, the employer may be responsible to pay for emergency treatment that they did not authorize. However, for the most part, the employer has the right to choose your physicians.
Can I lose my job because I have filed a workers' compensation claim?
Missouri is a right-to-work state. This basically means that an employer can fire an employee for any reason with some exceptions. One of the exceptions is that an employer cannot legally fire someone because they have filed a workers' compensation claim. Of course, an employer may find some other reason to fire you when you have a workers' compensation claim and try to say that they fired you because of this other reason. Therefore, if you feel that your employer is setting you up to fire you after you have filed a workers' compensation claim, you do want to consult with an attorney.
How long do I have to file a workers' compensation claim?
In general you have two years from the date of accident or from the date that the employer last paid benefits under the Workers' Compensation Act, whichever is later, to file your workers' compensation claim. There are some exceptions, so contact an attorney if you aren't sure whether you can bring a workers' compensation claim because you feel you may not have done so within the time limits under Missouri law.
What is a workers' compensation "claim," and do I have to file a claim in order to receive compensation?
A Claim for Compensation is a formal document filed with the Division of Workers' Compensation. Most employers will pay medical benefits and lost time benefits long before a claim is ever filed. Sometimes, workers' compensation carriers will settle claims with injured workers, even when a Claim for Compensation has not been filed. It is, however, necessary to file a Claim for Compensation within two years of the date of the accident or two years from the date the employer last paid benefits under the Workers'Compensation Act, whichever is later, or your claim will be time barred. This is important if it has been quite some time since you have had any medical treatment and you still haven't settled your case. If the employer hasn't made an attempt to settle your case with you after medical treatment has been completed, then you do need to get a claim on file in order to protect your rights.
I have an open workers' compensation claim and I am also receiving Social Security Disability and Medicare. Can I settle my workers' compensation claim myself without hiring an attorney?
That is probably a very bad idea! This is because Social Security benefits and Medicare benefits are directly affected by workers' compensation benefits you receive. Your Social Security benefits can be reduced if you settle your claim without placing very important legal language in the settlement. Furthermore, Medicare may refuse to pay future medical bills if you settle the case without "considering Medicare's interest." Medicare sometimes wants to review certain proposed workers' compensation settlements to make sure that Medicare isn't going to end up paying for any future medical bills that should have been paid for by the workers' compensation carrier. Therefore, it is rarely a good idea for a person to settle a workers' compensation claim without an attorney when that person is on Social Security Disability or Medicare.
I am receiving weekly benefits while I am off of work, and the workers' compensation insurance carrier is paying all of my medical benefits. Do I really need an attorney if this is happening?
You may or may not need an attorney at this stage of your workers' compensation claim. However, you may be receiving benefits that are less than what you are actually owed. Furthermore,it is easier to prevent problems from happening than it is to fix problems after they have already occurred, espcially in the workers' compensation arena. If you aren't sure whether you need an attorney in your workers' compensation claim in Missouri, feel free to call us at Bollwerk & Tatlow and we will let you know whether it appears that your claim requires attorney assistance.
What is a permanent partial disability rating?
The Missouri Workers' Compensation Law provides that an injured worker is entitled to compensation for permanent injuries to particular body parts. A doctor will assign a permanent partial disability rating when that doctor believes that the injured worker is "at maximum medical improvement." In other words, the doctor will give you an impairment rating once the doctor feels that your condition is as good as it is going to get. This rating will be based on a percentage of disability for a particular body part. For instance, if you broke your wrist, the doctor might give you a 10% impairment rating. The wrist is worth a total of 175 weeks of disability, so a 10% disability rating comes to 17.5 weeks of disability benefits that you will receive in settlement of your case. It is hardly ever a good idea to settle your case for the employer-provided doctor's rating, as the rating is nearly always lower than what a judge might give in your case. If an insurance company refuses to offer more to you than their own doctor's impairment rating, you should consult with an attorney to see if your case is worth considerably more than what is being offered.