What is Workers Comp? Are You Covered in St. Louis?
A workplace injury can be frightening in the moment and devastating in the aftermath. Concerns about when and whether you’ll be able to return to work add stress about your financial security and your ability to provide for your family to the physical pain you’re already experiencing. The legal process for workers’ compensation claims can add even more stress to the mix. A worker’s compensation attorney can guide you through the legal portion of the process and help you secure your future financial stability.
What Does Missouri Law Say About Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is insurance that employers need to cover accidents and injuries in the workplace. It covers their employees’ expenses from injuries or other health problems caused by their work. This can include medical bills, short-term disability coverage, and compensation for workers who are unable to return to the same job after an injury. Workers’ compensation cases do not assign fault to either the employee or the employer. This means that unless the worker was injured because they were intoxicated or deliberately trying to injure themselves, negligence won’t prevent them from receiving compensation.
Who is Covered
Employers in the construction industry and employers in any industry with five or more employees are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance in Missouri. Employers can provide workers’ compensation coverage by either paying for an insurance policy or getting authorized to self-insure.
Choosing a Doctor on Workers’ Comp Insurance
When it comes to healthcare after a work injury, the employer chooses the doctor the employee sees for treatment. To make sure that your medical care is paid for, ask your employer which doctor your should see. If you see your own doctor and seek reimbursement for medical expenses later, you may not be able to get all your expenses covered. If you need specialized treatment that isn’t able in your area, you may qualify for benefits that cover mileage for your travel.
Temporary Total Disability
Missouri’s Workers’ Compensation Law entitles employees to temporary disability benefits if they are unable to work because of an injury. If you miss less than two weeks of work, you won’t be paid for the first three days. If you miss more than two weeks, you’ll be paid for the entire period. However, this benefit is not your entire wage. You’ll usually receive 2/3 of your regular weekly pay. If you don’t earn a consistent amount, your benefit will be calculated based on the average of the last 13 weeks. This benefit is called temporary total disability (TTD). You should be able to stay on TTD until your doctor says that either you can return to work or that you’ve reached the maximum possible medical improvement, whichever happens first.
Temporary Partial Disability
If you are able to work but you need to do a different job for lower pay, you can receive temporary partial disability. This benefit is 2/3 of the difference between your temporary wage and your regular wage.
Permanent Partial Disability
Workers’ compensation can provide benefits if you are left partially permanently disabled. Partially disabled workers can receive 2/3 of their average pay up to a certain limit. Missouri law does not require workers’ compensation policies to cover vocational rehabilitation, which helps workers retrain if they’re not able to return to the same type of job after an injury. However, some employers or insurers might offer this voluntarily. In some cases, workers receive a lump-sum payment rather than a recurring one.
Permanent Total Disability
If you are left unable to work at all, you may receive either lifetime weekly payments or a lump sum. Like permanent partial disability, weekly payments are calculated at 2/3 of your average pay. However, the maximum amount allowed for total disability awards is much higher.
Why You Need a Workers Compensation Attorney
Workers’ compensation insurance claims are complicated, and the process can be overwhelming, especially at a time when you’re injured and likely in pain. An injury attorney can help you get the compensation you deserve for lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering. Your employer will likely have an attorney who wants to minimize the severity of harm to injured employees. Having your own workers’ compensation attorney will ensure that you are represented fairly for your workers’ comp claim. Your attorney can help you determine whether a lump sum or a weekly payment is a better deal and ensure that your medical documentation shows the true extent of your injury.
At Jett Accident & Injury Lawyers, we specialize in workers’ compensation cases, and we want to help you navigate your workers’ comp coverage. So if you’ve been injured at work in St. Louis, contact us for a free consultation.
Workers Compensation Frequently Asked Questions
Can I see my own doctor?
Maybe. The doctor you see needs to be approved by your employer. If you see a doctor that isn’t approved by your employer, you might not have your medical expenses covered.
Can I get benefits if I can still work but not at the same job?
Yes, but your benefits will be less than if you were fully disabled.
Does my employer have workers’ compensation coverage?
If you work in the construction industry or your employer has five or more workers, your employer is required to have a worker’s compensation plan.