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Workers’ Compensation Basics in Missouri

Workers’ compensation is an employer-funded, state-mandated system that provides benefits to workers who are injured either on the job or while they are engaging in work activities. It also covers employees who are exposed to dangerous substances and suffer long-term health issues or diseases because of that exposure. These benefits are extremely valuable to injured workers because they provide medical coverage and regular payments to deal with lost wages while a worker recovers.

While workers’ compensation benefits are extremely helpful, you must meet certain qualifications to obtain these benefits. Some of the need-to-know basics of workers’ compensation claims are set out below.

The Trade-Off in Workers’ Compensation

When you have a workers’ compensation claim, you are entitled to medical benefits and lost wage benefits within just a few days of the accident. In traditional personal injury cases, obtaining compensation after an accident can take years. In addition, workers do not have to prove fault to obtain compensation. The simple fact that the injury occurred at work or while engaging in a work activity means that it will be covered by workers’ comp in most situations.

While these are both huge benefits for workers, employees do have a trade-off to obtain this benefit. The compromise is that employees cannot assert claims for pain and suffering or other intangible losses, such as loss of enjoyment of life or loss of consortium. The workers’ compensation system is also the only method that workers can use to obtain compensation for work injuries or diseases in most situations.

Who Qualifies for Workers’ Compensation?

Virtually every employee will be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits in Missouri. That is because nearly every employer is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance.

Your injury must have arisen out of your work activities for it to be compensable under workers’ compensation law. Generally, when you are injured at work, there is often little question that the injury was work-related. However, you may also be eligible for workers’ compensation when you are engaged in work activities outside of the physical location of your job as well. As a general rule, if whatever you were doing when the injury occurred is for the benefit of your employer, workers’ compensation will likely apply.

What Should You Do if You are Injured at Work?

If you are injured on the job, it is important that you report the incident to your employer immediately. You must provide your employer written notice of your injury within 30 days of the date of the accident. Failure to provide this notice can completely invalidate your claim, so this notice provision is extremely important.

Once the employer receives your notice, it is required to provide its own notification to the Division of Workers’ Compensation if the injury resulted in lost time from work or at least $500.00 in medical care. In situations where you may have a cumulative injury or occupational disease, then you must provide notice within 30 days of diagnosis of the condition.

Once you have reported the incident, you must then talk to your employer about how you should go about getting medical treatment. Your employer is allowed to direct your medical treatment, so they will tell you when and where to go for treatment.

If you have been injured at work and your employer is not working with you, you have legal options. Contact our team to learn more.