You have just been injured at work. You tell your supervisor, but what next?
Most companies are required by state law to carry workers’ compensation insurance to help injured workers get the medical care they need so they can get back to work. This means you have the right to treatment by a doctor approved by your employer and in most cases to receive pay while you are off work recovering.
If you have a significant injury, your workers’ compensation claim can lead to a cash settlement for permanent disability and possible future medical care costs which are paid by your employer. If a death has occurred as a result of a work accident, loved ones may also have a claim for survivor’s benefits and coverage for burial expenses.
The Law Offices of Peter A. Jouras, Jr. take all work injury cases on a contigency fee basis. This means we advance all case expenses, and our fee is based solely on the settlement we recover for you.
If you or someone you know has been hurt or killed while on the job, contact the Law Offices of Peter A. Jouras, Jr. for more information and a FREE consultation at (800) 715-1776.
WORK INJURIES / WORKERS COMPENSATION
Both Missouri and Kansas have in recent years made changes to their worker’s compensation laws for injured persons. Substantial changes in Kansas laws took effect on May 15, 2011. Missouri’s changes took effect on August 28, 2005.
Filing a Workers Compensation Claim
Step One: Notify the employer
The injured worker must notify his employer in writing unless the injury is so severe he/she should go directly to the hospital and then file a written report of the injury. This is a crucial first step in preserving a worker’s rights to benefits under state workers’ compensation laws, and there are time limits specific to each state for doing so. The general rule is the sooner you are able to give notice, the better.
Step Two: Get Medical Care
The employer can tell the injured worker which doctor to report to for care following a work injury. The injured worker should comply with the treatment recommended. In Kansas, if treatment is sought from an unauthorized provider, the employer is liable for up to $500 of the unauthorized care. The worker may also request a change of doctor by filing an application with the Director of the Division of Workers Compensation. In Missouri, all unauthorized care is the financial responsibility of the injured worker. However, if you are unhappy with your medical treatment, or you think that you need a referral to a specialist or some additional testing, talk to the insurance company or ask for a conference with an administrative law judge to discuss your concerns.
Step Three: Decide whether to file a Claim for Compensation
If you are not being paid the benefits you are owed or are not being properly compensated, the injured worker should file a written claim for compensation.
In both Kansas and Missouri, there are time limits which must be met in order to file a claim successfully. In Missouri, injured workers generally have two years from the date of accident or date of last payment (this time period can be extended if no report of injury was made by the employer).
In Kansas, the injured worker has 200 days from the date of the accident or last authorized treatment to file a claim (there may be some exceptions and a worker is always encouraged to consult with an attorney regarding his legal options).
In general, for both Missouri and Kansas cases, a claim should be filed as soon as possible to preserve the claim.
MEDICAL CARE FOR THE INJURED WORKER
The employer must pay for the medical care to get the employee as well as they can be which is maximum medical improvement (MMI).
Refusing to provide medical treatment is a denial of benefits and often a reason why an injured worker may want the help of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.
WHAT MAKES A COMPENSABLE WORK INJURY?
Under Missouri law, all injuries occurring after August 28, 2005, must meet the standard of the accident being “the prevailing factor” in causing both the resulting medical condition and disability and the injury must arise out of and in the course of employment. The prevailing factor is defined to be the primary factor, in relation to any other factor, causing both the resulting medical condition and disability. Occupational diseases occurring after August 28, 2005, must meet the standard of the occupational exposure being “the prevailing factor” in causing both the resulting medical condition and disability. If a worker is hurt on the job and the accident is the prevailing factor for the injury, it is a worker’s compensation claim.
In Kansas, after 2011, the rules to make a workers compensations claim are very similar to Missouri’s.
WHAT IS TTD FOR THE INJURED WORKER?
TTD stands for Temporary Total Disability benefits. Temporary total disability exists when the employee, on account of the injury, has been rendered completely and temporarily incapable of engaging in any type of substantial and gainful employment. TTD benefits should be continued until the doctor says that you can return to work or when your treatment is concluded because you have reached “maximum medical improvement,” whichever occurs first.
In Kansas, weekly payments shall be made by the employer during such temporary total disability, in a sum equal to 66 2⁄3% of the average gross weekly wage of the injured employee (subject to a minimum and maximum).
In Missouri, the amount of weekly compensation is based on two-thirds of the injured worker’s average weekly wage, again subject to a state maximum as of the date of injury.
Refusing to provide TTD benefits or underpaying TTD benefits is often a reason why an injured worker may want the help of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.
AFTER RELEASE FROM TREATMENT, WHAT COMES NEXT?
Once a doctor has done all he or she feels can be done medically to help you, and you are not as physically able as you were before the injury, then you have a disability. Also, if there isn’t anything else the doctor can do to make you any better, your disability will be “permanent,” meaning you will suffer the effect of the injury from that point on. That disability will either be “total” meaning you are unable to perform any work, or “partial” which means you are able to work, but there are limitations or restrictions as to what you are able to do. If you are determined to be permanently and totally disabled, your benefits will continue for the rest of your life. Compensation for a permanent partial disability is based on a formula using the percentage of disability determined by the doctor (a disability rating), the number of weeks allowed for that particular injury under state law and the appropriate compensation rate. Workers compensation does not provide compensation for pain and suffering.
Having an experienced workers compensation attorney can provide the benefit of a second opinion on the injured worker’s percentage of disability, which may result in additional compensation for the worker. It is also usually crucial to have an attorney, if there is a question of future medical care which will likely be needed by the worker.
For more information, please contact us today.
For your free consultation, call (913) 677-1999