Employees who suffer job-related injuries or illnesses while working in the State of Missouri are entitled to receive benefits and treatment pursuant to the Workers’ Compensation statutes. The attorneys of Schaeffer Law are here to guide you through the process of stating your claim and maximizing its value. In general, a workers’ compensation claim should follow these steps:
1. Report your Injury to your Employer.
As soon as you get hurt, you should let somebody know (Missouri law provides that you have 30 days to report, but the sooner you do so, the better it is). In general, companies have policies and procedures that govern workplace injuries. You should be familiar with those. If you are not, reporting the instance to a supervisor or manager should be sufficient. If the injury is severe, or if no supervisor or manager is available, you should seek immediate medical treatment and notify your employer as soon thereafter as possible. In response to the injury, the employer will usually initiate an investigation to figure out what caused the injury. Often, if the investigation reveals that the employer could have prevented the injury, a corrective action will be implemented. These can be very important to your case.
2. Seek Treatment.
Workplace injuries almost always require some level of medical treatment. While all injuries must be reported by the employer, only injuries that give rise to at least $1,000.00 in medical costs must be passed to workers’ compensation insurance carriers. For this reason, employers have a clear and vested interest in preventing injuries from rising to such level of expense. In Missouri, employers have the right to direct medical treatment. That is to say, if you’re hurt, you have to go to the doctors that your employer and its insurance company/third party administrator select, if you want them to foot the bill. You do have the right to select your own physicians, but you must do so at your own expense if not approved by your employer or its agents. In general, companies will start claims by sending injured workers to urgent care facilities.
3. File a Claim.
If your employer hasn’t already done so, you need to file a claim. You generally have 2 years after the date of your injury to file your claim with the Missouri Division of Workers’ Compensation.
4. Schedule and Attend Court Settings.
There are various court settings that exist within the realm of workers’ compensation cases in Missouri. The types of court dates that your case may be subject to are pre-hearings, hearings, mediations, a trial, and an appeal. Pre-hearings and hearings are opportunities for all parties to discuss the status of the claim and for the injured party to speak about the rehabilitation of his injury. A mediation is a negotiation in which a judge is present; at mediations, the judge will guide the settlement of the case, if possible. Trials are formal proceedings wherein a court will enter a finding of liability. In the event that your case goes to trial, and the outcome is not favorable, your case may be ripe for appeal.
Schaeffer Law can guide you through every step of your case. Our fee is determined by statute and contingent upon your award, meaning we don’t get paid unless you do, and there are no out-of-pocket expenses. Contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to discuss your case.