The Missouri Workers’ Compensation Act was originally passed in 1925, but it has gone through extensive changes since that time. In the 1920s, the Act allowed a very simple way for injured workers to receive medical and disability benefits after being injured on the job, without the help of an attorney. However, the current Act is far more complex, so workers typically need the help of a Missouri workers’ compensation lawyer to guide them through the procedures and advise them of how the law applies to their case so they can recover the full benefits allowed.
Contact Jerome, Salmi & Kopis, LLC today for your workers compensation needs.
Workers’ Compensation in Missouri changes the standards for an accident
When the Act was first passed in 1925, workers’ compensation was purely a no-fault system. This means that it did not matter if a worker’s own negligence contributed to the accident that resulted in injury. All that mattered was that the accident occurred on the job, and that the employee was working within the scope of their employment.
In 2005, the Missouri legislature changed the laws, making it more challenging for employees to obtain benefits. That new law stated that the fact the injury occurred on the job must be “the prevailing factor” in bringing about the resulting condition. It could no longer be but one of many factors but now must be the prevailing factor. As a result, employees who have prior medical conditions often have battles with the insurance company to obtain benefits. Experienced workers’ compensation attorneys can help to identify the injuries that should be covered under this new standard.
Types of Benefits Available Under Workers’ Comp
There are three main benefits available under workers’ compensation: medical care, lost time benefits, and permanent partial/total disability. Anyone who suffers a work-related injury is entitled to these benefits.
- Medical treatment: Medical care with doctors chosen by the employer. However, if the employer refuses to provide appropriate medical care, you may be entitled to a second opinion;
- Temporary total disability: Workers are entitled to receive two-thirds of their gross average weekly wage if they temporarily cannot work;
- Temporary partial disability: These benefits are available when an employee can only perform certain jobs in a limited capacity and causes a reduction in earnings;
- Permanent partial disability: These are the final settlement benefits based upon a disability chart of the body parts injured;
- Permanent total disability: If an employee cannot work in any capacity, they are entitled to permanent total disability benefits that consist of a lifelong stream of income as opposed to a single lump sum settlement.
In the tragic event that a worker does not survive the accident, their surviving family members can receive certain types of compensation. The death benefits available under workers’ compensation include up to $5,000 in burial costs, as well as a portion of the worker’s lost wages.
Which Employers are Required to Carry Workers’ Compensation?
The workers’ compensation law in Missouri is quite clear about which employers in the state are required to carry this type of insurance. Generally, employers with five or more workers are required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance and maintain coverage at all times. However, there are some exceptions.
The law exempts certain types of workers, including farm workers, domestic servants, commercial truck owners and operators, direct sellers, and certain real estate agents. Contractors within the construction industry that also employ one or more workers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance as well.
Under the law, business entities classified as either a sole-proprietorship or partnership are excluded from the coverage requirement unless they choose to purchase the insurance. Members of an LLC can also purchase workers’ comp, or they can opt for the exclusion. Corporate officers must be included.
The laws regarding which employers must carry workers’ compensation insurance are strict. Failure to comply with the law is a Class A misdemeanor, and a second offense is classified as a Class F felony. Either of these charges can result in a jail sentence. This, unfortunately, does little for employees that were injured on the job and do not have easy access to workers’ compensation benefits. In this case, employees may be able to file a civil lawsuit against their employer to recover compensation such as medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and more.
When Do You Have to Report a Work Injury?
Employers must notify their insurance company as soon as possible after they have been in a workplace accident. At the very most, employees have only 30 days to notify their employer IN WRITING of the accident and resulting injury. If workers do not provide the proper notice, they are at risk of losing their benefits. Employers, in turn, must report the initial injury to the insurance company within 30 days of being notified of the accident.
Sometimes, employers are reluctant to notify their insurer because they do not want their premiums to increase. When this is the case, workers can file a claim with the Division of Workers Compensation or obtain an attorney that can advise them of the next legal steps to take.
Although employees have only 30 days to initially report the injury to the employer, they have two years to file their claim with the Division of Workers’ Compensation. This time is often necessary so workers can reach maximum medical improvement (MMI), meaning their condition will not become any worse or any better. It is only after a worker reaches MMI that they will know the full extent of medical expenses and other losses they will incur. If, however, a worker does not file their workers’ compensation claim within the two-year timeframe, they will lose their right to claim any compensation at all.
Our Workers’ Compensation Lawyers in Missouri Can Advise on Your Case
While workers may not have needed a Missouri workers’ compensation lawyer when the laws were first created, that is certainly not the case today. At the Law Office of Jerome Salmi & Kopis, LLC, our skilled attorneys can advise you of the law and how it applies to your case, help you claim the full benefits you need, and if necessary, appeal your case. Call us today at (618) 726-2222 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation and to learn more.