WORKERS COMPENSATION CLAIMS
If you have been hurt on the job, you are (or will be) dealing with an experienced insurance adjuster. Missouri workers’ compensation law is complicated, technical, and full of traps for the unknowing. We will represent you on a contingency fee basis. This means that there is no attorney’s fee unless we recover money or benefits for you. If you are injured on the job, here are some things you need to do:
- Report the workplace accident to your employer as soon as possible.
- Write down how the accident happened while it is still fresh in your mind.
- See your doctor as soon as possible and tell him or her that you were injured.
- Do not sign any documents from the employers or the insurance companies without talking to a workers’ compensation attorney about it first. You may be signing away some important rights.
- Call an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer.
If you have been injured on the job and have any questions about your workers’ compensation claim, contact our worker’s comp lawyers today for an initial free consultation. You can also visit our law firm for a confidential meeting. We do not charge for an initial consultation on the phone or office.
WORKERS’ COMP BENEFITS
In the State of Missouri, employers must carry workers’ compensation coverage if they have five or more employees. However, employers must carry workers’ compensation coverage even if they have just one employee in the construction industry.
Employers who have employees in the exempt categories or don’t have the required number of employees and choose not to purchase workers’ compensation coverage are exposed to civil lawsuits that can be brought by workers who got injured on the job.
Determining the full workers’ comp benefits you are entitled to receive under Missouri Workers’ Compensation Law can be complicated. The determination can depend on your average weekly wage calculations, which can be challenging depending on the industry in which you work.
The insurance company’s adjuster will often argue that your workplace injury is not serious and will attempt to minimize your workers’ compensation benefits. We have been representing injured Missourians for 40+ years, and our attorneys know which workers’ comp benefits you are entitled to receive and how to get them for you. We provide answers to all the questions you might have. We will never take a fee for our legal services unless and until we obtain a settlement or award for you.
LOSS OF EMPLOYMENT: WHAT IF I CANNOT RETURN TO WORK?
The answer to this question involves several complicated issues. If you are unable to return to work because of your work-related injury, you may be entitled to a weekly benefit of two-thirds of your average weekly wage, up to a maximum cap, for the rest of your life.
To be entitled to this benefit, you must be totally disabled from any employment. If you are totally disabled because of a combination of a pre-existing disability plus the disability caused by your work-related accident, then you may be entitled to benefits from the Second Injury Fund. Generally, this benefit is two-thirds of your average weekly wage, up to the maximum cap, for the rest of your life.
Under Workers’ Compensation, you are not totally disabled simply because you are unable to return to your old job. To be totally disabled under Missouri Workers’ Compensation Law, you must be disabled from all employment and not simply the employment you had before the accident.
Any time you are disabled from employment, you should also consider whether you are entitled to Social Security disability benefits. There is sometimes a set-off between Social Security disability benefits and Workers benefits, and you should always contact an attorney experienced in Workers’ Compensation law if you are receiving or plan on receiving both Workers’ Compensation and Social Security disability benefits.
Is My Employer Required to Hold My Job?
The Missouri Workers’ Comp Law does not require the employer to hold your job while you recover from your disability. However, there are other federal and state statutes that give injured workers some protection, such as the Americans With Disabilities Act, the Family Leave Act, and the Missouri Human Rights Act. These laws are complicated, and if you believe you have not been treated fairly, you should contact our Joplin Workers’ Compensation attorneys, who are experienced in this area of the law.
SECOND INJURY FUND
If you had an injury or disability before you got injured on the job, you might qualify for additional benefits from the Missouri Second Injury Fund. The purpose of the Second Injury Fund is to encourage employers to hire and retain employees who have disabilities.
An injured employee must have a permanent pre-existing disability to trigger the liability of the Fund. The prior disability must be “of such seriousness as to constitute a hindrance or obstacle to employment.” In some cases, the Second Injury Fund’s benefits can be substantial.
How Does the Second Injury Fund Work?
For example, an injured employee may be entitled to lifetime weekly benefits from the Second Injury Fund when a permanent total disability results from a combination of the employee’s pre-existing conditions and those caused by the current injury. In death cases, when the employer failed to obtain Workers’ Compensation insurance, the Second Injury Fund can be held responsible for death benefits to the employee’s dependents.
The Fund is also responsible for paying medical bills of injured workers when the employer fails to ensure its Workers’ Compensation liability. The Fund also provides workers’ comp benefits to injured employees who are undergoing physical rehabilitation. To qualify for these benefits, the employee must be seriously injured and be receiving therapy at a facility certified by the Missouri Division of Workers’ Compensation. If the injured worker qualifies, he or she will receive $40 per week for up to 20 weeks for rehabilitation.
The Second Injury Fund also provides benefits to injured employees with multiple jobs. If an employee is unable to work at a job as a result of an injury that occurred while working at another job, benefits may be claimed from the Second Injury Fund in connection with the job at which the employee was not injured.
The Second Injury Fund is funded by a surcharge applied to Workers’ Compensation insurance premiums paid by employers. The Missouri legislature has capped the amount of the surcharge paid by employers, which has caused the Second Injury Fund to be underfunded. Unless the Missouri legislature acts, in the near future, the Fund will become insolvent and unable to pay claims. Contact your local state legislator and encourage him or her to remove the cap on the premium surcharge so that the Second Injury Fund can continue to pay worthy claims. If you have more questions or need legal advice regarding Workers’ Compensation insurance, our Joplin Missouri compensation attorneys can help.
NURSING ACCIDENTS AND INJURIES
Nurses Workers’ Compensation claims are among the most common Workers’ Compensation claims. By this measure, hospitals are among the most dangerous places to work as far as work injuries.
In fact, nurses are twice as likely to suffer a work injury than the average private industry worker. Recent reports recorded 58,860 work-related injuries per year in hospitals that caused missed work time. Nurses are on their feet for long hours helping care for people who suffer from illness, diseases, and injuries.
Nursing is a rewarding job, but it can take a toll both physically and emotionally. Nursing assistants and orderlies suffer injuries at almost three times the rate as construction laborers. Registered nurses have more back and arm injuries than all but four other occupations (according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data) including truckers and workers who lug heavy loads in warehouses. Some of the most common Workers’ Compensation claims by nurses are back injuries, slip and falls, and needle sticks.
Back Injuries for Nurses
Back injuries are the most common Workers’ Compensation injuries suffered by nurses. Nurses are required to move, lift and carry patients on a regular basis (and often at awkward, uncomfortable angles), which leads to back injuries. Overexertion, stress, and repeated heavy lifting can cause injuries such as muscle tears, tendon strains, herniated discs, sprains, and overall soreness.
The rising rate of obesity among patients coupled with staffing shortages has put added pressure on nurses, forcing them to lift heavier people and to work more often than they would have in recent years. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the nursing industry reports the highest amount of work-related back pain among female workers.
The CDC also states that an estimated 12 percent of nurses leave the profession entirely, citing a back injury as the reason. The method of lifting and moving patients that hospitals and nursing schools have taught for more than a century using “proper body mechanics” is actually dangerous, laboratory studies show. There’s a well-known solution: using mechanical lifts to move patients, much the way heavy machinery is moved on an assembly line. But hospitals around the country routinely choose other funding priorities.
Slip and Fall Injuries for Nurses
Slips and falls occur due to a spill or slick spot on the floor, improper footwear, or just being in a hurry. While sometimes these can leave the victim unscathed, often the fall results in a serious work injury, particularly to the knees and ankles. Tendon and muscle strains to the knees and ankles can be very painful and take extensive time to heal, causing a nurse to be unable to work for a prolonged period of time.
Needle Stick Injuries for Nurses
According to the American Nursing Association, 64 percent of nurses say they experienced a prick by a syringe or needle while on the job. While these pricks may cause a small puncture wound or a little bleeding, that’s not the full extent of the danger. Needle sticks come with serious possibilities of infections and bloodborne pathogens if a syringe has been used already. This puts the nurse at risk for HIV and other serious conditions. If you are a nurse injured on the job, give us a call today at 314-862-6865 or 417-623-0900 for a free case evaluation. Our Joplin Workers’ Comp attorneys have been helping injured nurses for 40 years. We can help you too!