Can a Missouri Workers’ Comp Lawyer Help Me Recover Losses?
February 1, 2022 | Worker's Compensation
If you suffer a work-related injury or illness in Missouri, you face considerable hardships. You are injured and can’t work, but at the same time, your medical bills continue to pile up. Obtaining the compensation to which you are entitled—and that covers all the losses you’ve experienced—is an essential component of your ability to regain your health and well-being, and an experienced Missouri workers’ comp lawyer can help you do just that.
How Workers’ Compensation Works
In Missouri—and across the nation—workers’ compensation is intended to balance the rights of both employees and employers. If you suffer injuries on the job, your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance almost certainly covers you. In addition, the issue of fault will not factor into your claim. This fact ensures that the claims process will be somewhat less complicated and more streamlined and that you can generally rely upon being compensated for a work-related injury. However, in return for no-fault coverage, you give up the right to sue your employer for the complete range of compensation you can seek in a personal injury claim. Specifically, you cannot seek compensation for your non-economic losses like pain and suffering and lost quality of life that you can pursue in a personal injury claim. In exchange for covering you and all the other employees, your employer doesn’t have to worry about the damaging effects that personal injury lawsuits can have in terms of both expense and the amount of time invested. Both sides give something up and receive something in return. Because workers’ compensation claims are limited in their scope, you must obtain just compensation in every category of loss—in support of your fullest recovery.
A Note About the Insurance Company
While workers’ compensation covers you if you suffer a work-related injury, this does not mean that the workers’ comp insurance provider covering your claim will automatically compensate you for your entire range of losses. The insurance company is a for-profit enterprise, and as such, it will do what it can to keep its profits high (and its settlements correspondingly low). In other words, you will need to advocate for your rightful compensation, and the surest path forward is with a dedicated Missouri workers’ compensation lawyer in your corner.
The benefits you can seek through your workers’ compensation claim include your necessary medical expenses and your lost wages (at a specific percentage of what you were earning when you were injured, with a cap limiting the total amount per week you can receive). The insurance company can also tell you which doctor to see and/or which medical facility to use, and failure to do so can leave you on the hook for all related medical expenses. Further, the workers’ compensation insurance provider may put up roadblocks regarding which medical expenses are necessary and which are not. In other words, you very likely face challenges ahead. Too many injured or ill workers assume that benefits are a sure thing, only to experience claim delays or denials. If you need to file a claim for benefits, the best thing you can do is call a Missouri workers’ compensation attorney from the start of the process.
Common Medical Expenses
If you have suffered injuries on the job, your medical needs will be unique to the exact injuries you’ve sustained. Still, some of the most common medical expenses that workers’ compensation insurance typically covers include:
- Emergency care and emergency transportation
- Surgical care and aftercare
- Hospital stays
- Medical tests, procedures, exams, and treatments
- Treatment and care from doctors and specialists
- Prescription medications
- Pain management
- Physical and/or occupational therapy
- Adaptive physical devices
- Mobility aids, such as walkers and wheelchairs
- Home healthcare
Your injuries, if severe, may lead to secondary healthcare concerns and/or to ongoing medical care that may not readily appear at the outset. You need a good handle on your diagnosis and prognosis before accepting a settlement offer from the workers’ comp insurance provider. In addition, always discuss your case with a workers’ compensation lawyer in Missouri before accepting a settlement.
After Suffering Harm on the Job
After an on-the-job accident, it is your responsibility to let your employer, supervisor, manager, or direct boss know about the incident. Inform your employer about the accident as soon as possible. Provide your immediate supervisor or boss with your full name and address, the date and time of the accident that caused you to be injured, the nature of the accident, and basic information about the injuries you have experienced as a result. The law allows 30 days to accomplish this task, but take care of this matter as quickly as possible.
Addressing Your Lost Income
If the injuries you sustain at work keep you off the job, you can seek compensation for this form of loss as well—with what is called temporary total disability (TTD) benefits. In most cases, you will receive benefits at the rate of two-thirds of what you were earning each week at the time of the injury-causing accident. If your doctor greenlights it (and your employer can accommodate it), you may be allowed to return to work on light duty and/or for an abbreviated weekly schedule. If this is the case, you can receive temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits, which can afford you two-thirds of the decrease in earnings you experience due to your light-duty work, limited hours, or both.
Length of Coverage
Your workers’ compensation coverage will continue until:
- Your doctor okays you to return to work at full capacity
- You reach what is known as your maximum medical improvement (MMI)
There is also a maximum number of weeks you can receive either temporary total or temporary partial workers’ compensation, which can occur before either of the above does. Once you have received an MMI designation, it means that you have reached the fullest recovery that your healthcare professional expects you to reach (to any degree of medical certainty). Your doctor, who was likely assigned to you by the workers’ compensation insurance provider, will make the determination, and once made, your partial or total disability benefits will end. An important point to make here is that the insurance provider has an incentive to end your benefits as quickly as possible—and thus is invested in your MMI designation being assigned sooner rather than later.
The Next Step
Just because your doctor has determined that you have reached maximum medical improvement does not necessarily mean that you are back in tip-top shape. Your doctor may determine that you require ongoing medical attention even though they do not expect your condition to improve. Treatments necessary for you to retain your current health and pain management are prime examples. Finally, if your injuries are permanent and you have reached maximum medical improvement, you will receive a disability rating that guides the compensation you will receive from this point.
How an Experienced Missouri Workers’ Comp Lawyer Can Help
While workers’ compensation exists to make it easier for employees to recover on the losses they incur when injured on the job, this doesn’t mean you will receive just compensation right off the bat—without assertively advocating for the benefits to which you are entitled. Because you are injured and are likely in about as vulnerable a position ever, you’re not in a great position to tackle these issues on your own. Fortunately, you do not have to go through the claims process on your own, and an experienced lawyer can ensure you get the benefits you deserve under Missouri law. Your seasoned workers’ compensation attorney can:
- Help you understand the claims process and your best options moving forward
- Protect your claim from the outset
- Compile evidence in support of your strongest claim, which generally includes demonstrating the extent of your injuries (and if your injuries are very serious, may require hiring one or more expert witnesses)
- Communicate with the insurance company on your behalf
- Skillfully negotiate with the insurance company for advantageous terms that uphold your rights and best interests.
- Prepare your claim for a workers’ compensation hearing if the insurance provider fails to negotiate in good faith
Having a workers’ compensation attorney on your side can make an important difference in the outcome of your claim.
The Workers’ Compensation Insurance Company
While it seems like the workers’ compensation insurance provider should simply cover your losses fairly and move on, it is very rarely this simple. Because the insurance company is a for-profit entity, it uses the tools at its disposal to keep settlements low. Consider these common techniques:
- Claims Denial – If the worker’s comp insurance provider denies your claim outright, it’s important to remember that the law will have the final say in the matter (consult with your Missouri workers’ comp attorney, and don’t give up hope).
- Early Settlement Offers – If the workers’ compensation insurance company makes you an early settlement offer, it may be a bid to finalize your claim before you recognize the extent of your total losses.
- Denial of Necessary Treatment – The insurance company may deny that specific medical treatment options are necessary and/or may call the extent of your medical expenses into question.
- Additional Complications – Another tactic the insurance company may try is simply dragging out the process, hoping that you will give up in frustration
- Doubt Cast on the Severity of Your Injuries – The insurance company may even doubt how seriously injured you are (in essence, accusing you of lying about the severity of your injuries).
Considering these tactics provides a prime example of how your workers’ compensation lawyer in Missouri can help you recover compensation for your losses—by recognizing and fighting back against any antics on the part of the insurance company handling your claim.
Help Your Workers’ Comp Lawyer Help You
Your workers’ compensation claim is important to your recovery and to your future, which makes helping your workers’ compensation attorney help you paramount. The workers’ compensation insurance company handling your claim listens very closely to what you have to say and watches you, hoping that you will do something to justify limiting or denying benefits. The following steps can all help ensure that you don’t inadvertently help the insurance company tarnish your claim:
- Let your attorney do the talking. If the insurance company needs information or a statement, your workers’ comp attorney can provide it.
- Follow your medical team’s instructions and advice very carefully. Doing so is not only the best way to bolster your recovery but also demonstrates to the insurance company that your injuries are as serious as you say they are.
- Take a hiatus from social media while your workers’ compensation claim is pending. It’s far too easy to post something that the insurance company can misconstrue to mean something that it doesn’t. When it comes to your workers’ compensation claim, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
You might not know what to do or not do, so please discuss the best way to protect yourself with an attorney right away.
Don’t Delay Consulting an Experienced Missouri Workers’ Comp Lawyer
If you have suffered injuries at work, your workers’ compensation claim will help guide your recovery and help support your future. Having an accomplished workers’ compensation lawyer in Missouri on your side can provide many benefits. The right lawyer understands exactly how important your claim is, and will have the experience, compassion, and drive to help you. An experienced legal team is standing by to help you recover compensation for your full range of losses, so please do not wait to reach out today.