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Both Missouri and Arkansas have a workers’ compensation statute. The laws of both states vary greatly. The rest of this information focuses upon Missouri law. If you have a specific question about Arkansas’ workers’ compensation, please contact us directly.
Workers Comp Attorney in Missouri & Arkansas
Missouri’s workers’ compensation law is found in Chapter 287 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri. An injured employee is entitled to benefits if the injury or occupational disease is job related and occurred during performance of job related duties or while undertaking other actions for the benefit of the employer. In southeast Missouri, employees often work in the neighboring states of Illinois, Tennessee, Kentucky or Arkansas. Section 287.110 provides that if the employee has a written contract of employment in Missouri, or their employment is principally located in Missouri, a workers compensation claim can be filed in Missouri, even if the injury occurs in another state. Our workers comp lawyers can help you file a claim.
Section 287.430 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri provides a two year statute of limitations for filing a workers’ compensation claim. A claim should be filed with the Missouri Division of Workers’ Compensation within two years of the injury, or one year from the last date that the employer made a payment related to the work related injuries, whichever is later. The employer does not have a duty to file the claim for the employee, nor does the employer have a duty to tell the employee of the statute of limitations. If a claim is not filed within the statute of limitations, all rights to further medical and monetary benefits, including any permanent partial disability or permanent total disability settlement, will be permanently barred. Any employee should never assume that a claim has been filed for them, even if they have received medical or monetary benefits, or have heard from an insurance adjuster for the workers’ compensation insurance company. None of these facts mean that a claim has been filed for the employee. You should talk with a workers comp attorney to determine if a claim has been filed or if one needs to be filed on your behalf.
In many cases, an employee’s claim is denied by the employer and insurer because they believe the injury or occupational disease is not work related. Section 287.020(3)(2)(a) provides that work must be the “prevailing factor” in causing the injury or occupational disease. Usually, the employer alleges that the injury occurred at home or while involved in some non-work related activity. An injured employee is entitled to prove that the injury or occupational disease is work related through a hardship hearing or a temporary award hearing before the Missouri Division of Workers’ Compensation. You will want to make sure that you have an experienced workers comp lawyer on your side at the hearing.
Section 287.140 requires a self-insured employer, or an employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company, to provide treatment for work related injuries or occupational diseases. The same statute provides that the employer is entitled to choose the medical provider that will provide this treatment. The employee must either accept this treatment or risk being personally responsible for the medical bills. The employer must provide treatment that is “reasonably required to cure and relieve the effects of the injury.” This obligation remains until the employee has reached maximum medical improvement, or MMI. Sometimes these benefits are not made available immediately by the employer. The employee may have to seek reimbursement for sums spent out of pocket if this occurs.
An injured employee is entitled to temporary partial or temporary permanent disability benefits while unable to work because of an injury or occupational disease. These benefits are paid weekly (for no more than 400 weeks for temporary total and 100 weeks for temporary partial) and are based upon the employee’s average weekly wage. The average weekly wage is determined by taking the employee’s actual wages from the thirteen weeks worked prior to injury. The temporary benefit rate is equal to two-thirds of this average weekly wage amount and is subject to a cap. The cap amount is $1,082.22 per week, through June 30, 2022. There is often a dispute as to the length of time for which benefits are to be paid, and the amount of the compensation rate. Our workers comp attorneys can help you determine the appropriate compensation rate.
Despite medical care, an employee often fails to make a complete physical recovery. The difference between the pre-injury condition and the post-injury condition is the percentage of disability for which the employee will be compensated. This is a subjective qualification or statement of the employee’s condition. The employer’s medical provider usually provides a disability rating when releasing the employee from further treatment. That rating is typically unfair to the employee and does not adequately represent the amount of disability. Any employee may obtain a second rating from an independent doctor. A post injury disability may be either partial or total in nature. The employee is entitled to an additional award to compensate for any permanent partial disability. This amount is calculated by multiplying the compensation rate, the disability rating and the number of weeks of healing assigned to the injury by the Division’s Permanent Partial Disability Schedule, which is also referred to as “Chart One”.
Unfortunately, even after medical treatment, an employee’s injuries may preclude them from ever returning to work. Such an employee is entitled to an additional award of permanent total disability. Under Missouri law, permanent total disability benefits are the same amount as the temporary disability benefit, except that the benefit is paid weekly for life and does not terminate upon retirement age. It is sometimes possible to accept this benefit as a lump sum settlement, if the employer and employee can agree to do so. If eligible for federal Social Security Disability benefits, permanent partial or permanent total benefits paid through workers’ compensation may reduce these social security payments. If you believe that you are permanently and totally disabled, you will need the assistance of an experienced workers comp lawyer.
If you need legal assistance, or for further information about workers’ compensation, please contact us or call us at (573)686-2459. Our commitment at Kennedy, Robbins, Yarbro & Henson, LC, is to earn your confidence by answering all questions and providing quality representation. Our workers comp attorneys are here to help.
Worker's Compensation FAQ
You can be assured that your employer, and its workers compensation insurance carrier, will have an attorney on their side. Your claim may present issues that require legal expertise. A workers compensation attorney can discuss the facts of your claim and let you know what benefits are available to you. We offer a free initial consultation, so it won’t hurt you to see what your options are and how we can help.
If you cannot return to work in any capacity because of your injuries, you may receive permanent total disability benefits for life.
A Missouri workers’ compensation claim must be filed within two years following the date of injury, or the date the last payment was made on account of the injury. In some very limited circumstances, if your employer failed to file the required Report of Injury on time, you may have three years from those dates to file your claim. The important thing to know is that you have a limited time to file a claim and you should discuss your claim with an attorney sooner rather than later.
Workers’ compensation benefits include payment of your medical expenses, lost wages (temporary total or temporary partial disability) and any permanent partial disability following an on the job injury. If you are permanently and totally disabled from returning to work, you may be entitled to workers compensation benefits for the rest of your life.
The system is a compromise between the injured employee and the employer. If you have been hurt in the course and scope of your employment, your are entitled to benefits without having to show your employer was negligent. You must report your injury to your employer within 30 days of the injury or your claim may be barred. Familiarize yourself with your employers’ policy on reporting of claims and report your injury immediately. After notice, your employer must then file a Report of Injury with the Missouri Division of Workers’ Compensation. Your employer has the right to pick and choose the doctors that treat you and is also able to pay your wages and compensation for permanent injuries at a lower rate than would be true if you were able to file a civil lawsuit.
Employers who have five or more employees are required to maintain workers’ compensation insurance in Missouri, unless your employer is in a construction business, in which case they must have insurance if they have one or more employees. There are exemptions from the insurance requirement for farm laborers, commercial motor-carrier owner operations and other classes of employers.
If you were acting within the scope of your employment at the time you were injured, you are eligible to file a workers’ compensation claim. Stated another way, you are eligible to file a claim for benefits if you were hurt while performing your job duties. There are some areas where it is not clear if your injuries occurred in the course and scope of your employment, for example, if you were hurt while driving to work or walking into the building to begin your work day. These situations need special attention and must be discussed with a work comp attorney to determine if you have a claim.
A workers compensation claim is almost always the exclusive remedy for injuries that occurred on the job. There are very limited circumstances where you can sue your employer outside of the workers compensation system. An experienced workers compensation attorney can review your claim to see if you fall into one of the exceptions, but generally, you will be compensated through the workers compensation system.