Based in Columbia, Lear Werts LLP represents injured employees in workers’ comp claims throughout Missouri. Workers’ compensation law defines the rights of a worker who is injured or becomes ill due to a work-related incident and allows the injured worker to recover appropriate benefits, including temporary total disability (TTD) benefits, permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits, permanent total disability (PTD) benefits, medical benefits, or death benefits. With every claim, our goal is to obtain the maximum benefits for you and to protect your rights as an injured worker.

The following frequently asked questions provide some basic information about workers’ compensation claims. To learn more about your rights and responsibilities under Missouri law, please contact Lear Werts LLP.

What should I do if I get hurt on the job?

First, tell your employer right away. If your injury or illness developed gradually, such as carpal tunnel syndrome or hearing loss, report the ailment as soon as you discover that it is work-related. Prompt reporting helps prevent problems and delays in receiving benefits, including medical care that you may need to avoid further injury. If your injury is a medical emergency, go to an emergency room. Your employer may tell you where to go for treatment because in Missouri, your employer has the right to select the treating doctor in workers’ compensation cases. Do as he or she instructs to ensure that you receive maximum compensation for your emergency room visit. Be sure to tell the healthcare provider who treats you that your injury is work-related.

If I have been injured, when should I fill out a claim form?

Missouri’s Workers’ Compensation Law contains time limits for claim filing. For example, a claim usually must be filed with the Division of Workers’ Compensation within two years of the last event to occur of the following:

  • The date of the accident
  • The last payment of workers’ compensation benefits
  • The last medical treatment provided

Within three years of the last of these dates if the employer failed to file the Report of Injury with the Division of Workers’ Compensation within the time allowed by law
Under Missouri law, simply notifying your employer or its insurer of your injury does not mean that you have filed a claim. A claim is only filed when the claim form is actually filed with the Division of Workers’ Compensation. A claim against the Second Injury Fund must be filed within two years of the date of the accident or within one year after the claim is filed against the employer, whichever is later.

If I have to miss work because of my injury, will I still be paid?

If the treating doctor says that you are unable to return to work right away, you should be entitled to temporary total disability (TTD) benefits while you are off work receiving treatment. However, you will not be paid benefits for the first three days that you miss work unless you are off work for more than two weeks. Under Missouri law, the amount of TTD benefits is two-thirds of your gross average weekly wage subject to maximums that change each year. The workers’ compensation law provides a formula for determining your average wage that usually requires computing the average gross wages that you earned over the 13 weeks prior to your accident.

Will I be paid mileage for trips to my healthcare provider?

If you are required to be treated outside of the local or metropolitan area from the place of injury or from your home, you are entitled to be paid mileage subject to a 500 mile round trip limit.

Will I receive a settlement amount as a result of my injury?

You may be entitled to a settlement amount if you have a permanent disability as a result of your injury but are still able to return to work. Permanent partial disability (PPD) benefit amounts correspond to the extent of your disability. There are specific formulas in Missouri’s workers’ comp statute to determine the amount of PPD awards.

What if I cannot return to work because of my injury?

If you are permanently and totally disabled from all types of employment, and not merely the position that you held before your injury, you may be eligible for permanent total disability (PTD) benefits. In the event of total disability, you may also qualify for Social Security disability benefits. To apply for these benefits, you must also contact the Social Security office.

Why should an injured work pay an attorney fee if the workers’ compensation insurance company will make an offer without a lawyer being involved?

Sometimes workers’ compensation cases are simple. With very small injuries, there is often little for an attorney to do. When we talk to clients about their claim, we always consider whether we feel that we can provide benefits worth the 25% contingency fee that we charge. We will tell you if we don’t think we can put you in a better position having hired us. If we don’t believe we can provide a valuable benefit to a client, we say so. Sometimes that means that we pass-up the opportunity to represent certain clients. But we believe strongly in giving our clients our honest appraisal of the case from the very first meeting. When we do take a workers’ compensation case, though, we are confident that we can help the client.

Our attorneys possess an in-depth knowledge of Missouri’s complex workers’ compensation laws, and have extensive experience with a wide variety of work-related injuries. Some of the most common work-related injuries include:

  • Neck and Back Injuries, such as whiplash, disc injuries, spinal fractures, and paralysis
  • Hand and Arm Injuries, such as fractures, nerve damage, loss of limb, carpal tunnel syndrome, and repetitive strain injuries
  • Foot and Leg Injuries, such as fractures, knee tendonitis, knee bursitis, and loss of limb

Our experience includes representing workers who are employed in inherently dangerous industries or hold job positions that involve hazardous work conditions, such as construction and warehouse work. Also, in the event that you were terminated after filing a workers’ compensation claim, we can help you collect the benefits that have been unfairly denied. In all cases, our attorneys strive to complete the claims process as smoothly and efficiently as possible so as to avoid unnecessary delays that may lead to financial hardship.

What if my employer does not have insurance to cover my injury?

If your employer failed to obtain insurance or self-insure as required by law, and you have suffered a compensable work-related injury, you have the right to sue your employer in civil court for damages or file a workers’ compensation claim against your employer with the Division of Workers’ Compensation. In addition, surviving family members may be able to make a claim for death benefits against Missouri’s Second Injury Fund if a deceased worker’s employer failed to obtain insurance.