Representing St. Louis Work Related Injury Accident Victims
Being hurt on the job can lead to a number of hardships and complications, such as medical bills, unpaid wages, and thousands of dollars in associated expenses and costs. Our experienced St. Louis workers’ compensation lawyers can assist you with your recovery after a work related accident by recovering compensation through a personal injury claim.
Here are a few things you should know about Missouri workers’ compensation claims:
- If you’re injured at work in Missouri, you may be able to receive temporary total or partial disability benefits. Usually, temporary disability covers 66 percent of an injured worker’s average gross wages for a certain amount of time. Temporary partial disability entitles workers who were injured to 66 percent wages who are placed in a modified job position. Temporary benefits end once a physician clears a worker as recovered or when maximum medical improvement has been reached.
- In Missouri, you have 30 days to inform an employer about an injury. According to Missouri Statute 287.430, there is a two-year timeframe to file a claim with the Division of Workers’ Compensation. However, it is essential to contact a workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible if you’re injured on the job.
About Missouri Workers’ Compensation Claims
- Some benefits you can claim include medical care, partial/temporary disability, and other expenses. If a family member is killed on the job, survivors can receive up to $5,000 in burial costs, among other benefits.
- Missouri Statute 287.148 mentions loss of gainful and suitable employment. For instance, if you are injured, you may not be able to work in your previous position. Most employers will have to offer vocational training so an injured employee can get a new job within their abilities.
- A major difference between Missouri workers’ compensation claims and personal injury cases is that injured employees can’t claim pain and suffering. Workers’ compensation laws are a trade-off between workers and their employers. You can’t sue employers or co-workers and, in return, you can claim lost wages and other benefits. Personal injury claims are framed around fault and negligence.
Missouri labor laws are complicated. It’s our goal at The Dixon Injury Firm to help you get through the claims process and make sure you get the maximum compensation possible. Remember, the point of workers’ compensation is to provide coverage—not give you the ability to start a lawsuit.
Leading Causes of St. Louis Employee Injuries
Each year the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) publishes the top ten most frequently cited workplace safety violations. All of these violations involved construction and industrial employers.
- Failure to protect employees from dangerous falls, provide necessary fall-prevention training, and provide protective scaffolding and safe ladders
- Communication failures regarding hazards and dangerous conditions
- Failure to provide proper respiratory, eye, and face protection
- Electrocutions due to lockout/tagout failures
- Negligent operation of trucks and industrial machinery
- Failure to provide proper machine guards
Injuries resulting from an employer’s violation of relevant safety regulations may qualify employees for a fifteen percent increase in workers’ compensation benefits. These safety failures frequently result in sudden accidents, such as crushed limbs and head trauma. However, overuse injuries, work-related car crashes, and workplace falling accidents all cause disabling trauma.
Injuries Resulting in Workplace Accidents
According to the American Chiropractic Association, back and neck pain are the leading causes of workplace disabilities. Back and neck trauma frequently develop when claimants spend too long using computers, driving/sitting, or performing the same repetitive tasks.
Back muscles and tendons weaken over time, making long-term employees more likely to suffer from herniated discs and strained tendons. Minor injuries, such as strained backs from lifting boxes, may also develop into disabling conditions over time.
Consider these injuries and medical conditions commonly supporting workers’ compensation benefits:
- Paralysis/Spinal Cord Damage – Elevated falls are the leading cause of construction worker injuries and frequently cause severe back, neck, and spinal cord damage. Falls may result in partial or complete paralysis.
- Traumatic Brain Injuries – Falls, striking accidents, and car crashes commonly cause concussions and more severe brain injuries. Even workers with mild brain trauma often struggle with confusion, difficulty concentrating, memory loss, and irritability. Workers’ compensation insurers frequently deny initial long-term disability claims for concussions and post-concussion syndrome due to self-reported symptoms. Metro East and St. Louis injury lawyers might help claimants struggling with head injuries recover needed benefits.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – This overuse injury often results in nerve damage around the wrist and hand. Claimants may experience numbness, tingling, and weakness that worsen with repetitive use. Injured employees often struggle to type, write, draw, or perform detailed tasks. Many claimants require surgery or struggle to perform normal job functions.
- Broken Wrists and Ankles – The numerous small bones located in wrists and ankles may cause surprisingly complex injuries. Many claimants require surgery for minor wrist fractures and require months of physical rehabilitation thereafter.
- Cancer and Respiratory Illnesses – Employees in hazardous industries, including construction workers, might develop debilitating diseases from prolonged exposure to dangerous substances. These conditions frequently include leukemia, mesothelioma, bronchiolitis, pneumoconiosis, silicosis, and related disorders. Claimants who developed these disorders, which previous litigation has linked to certain industries, might qualify for enhanced workers’ compensation benefits.
- Back Injury
- Broken Femur
- Burn Injury
- Catastrophic Injury
- Eye Injuries
- Herniated Disc
- Lung Injury
- Neck Injury
- Shoulder Injury
To qualify for workers’ compensation coverage, employees must suffer these injuries in the course of their employment. This includes injuries suffered during employer-mandated recreational activities but excludes off-duty accidents.
Claimants should file injury reports with their employer, preferable in writing, as soon as they suffer from potentially disabling injuries. This includes reporting seemingly minor neck pain following car accidents or the first signs of wrist numbness. Failing to report the injuring event or onset of disabling pain to employers within 30 days may compromise your ability to claim workers’ comp.
Advocating for Workers’ Compensation Benefits in St. Louis
Employees struggling with potentially disabling injuries should consult with a local workers’ compensation attorney. It’s important to have dedicated counsel on your side when workers’ compensation doctors conduct initial physical examinations to establish your disability level. This categorization determines your entitlement to benefits.
Claimants generally receive one of the following five disability classifications:
- No Disability – The claimant does not qualify for benefits because the condition does not interfere with primary work duties or they did not have a workplace injury. A personal injury attorney might still help claimants recover compensation for negligently inflicted injuries under general negligence laws.
- Temporary Partial Disability – The claimant suffered an injury that interferes with some of his/her primary work duties but can perform alternative work, including light duty. Claimants may typically recover the net difference between pre-injury wages and light-duty wages (if less than full duty wages).
- Temporary Total Disability (TTD) – The injury/illness completely incapacitates the claimant from normal duties until treated, and he/she qualifies for temporary benefits. Injured workers may recover net wage compensation (66 percent of average weekly wages) during the disability period. TTD injuries generally include minor traumatic brain injuries, leg fractures, curable illnesses, and herniated discs.
- Permanent Partial Disability – The claimant suffered from a permanent injury, such as paraplegia, that incapacities him from normal duties but does not disable him from all work. Workers’ compensation insurance may offer claimants lump sum settlement awards and career training benefits in such cases.
- Permanent Total Disability – These conditions generally include quadriplegia, severe brain trauma, widespread burns, and terminal illnesses and often entitle claimants to lifetime workers’ compensation benefits. Most claimants elect to accept a lump sum settlement from insurers in such cases, which experienced St. Louis and Metro East attorneys may negotiate on your behalf.
Many insurance-approved doctors do not perform thorough examinations and drastically underestimate your disability level. You have the right to appeal these determinations, but you must do so quickly. Clients frequently contact our workers’ compensation lawyers after receiving surprising benefits denial letters.
Appealing Disability Certifications and Benefits Denials
Attorneys generally appeal the initial decision by submitting conflicting medical reports from doctors and occupational experts, medical records, and worker testimony. They may also challenge the adequacy of the initial workers’ compensation examination. Workers’ compensation insurers often deny benefits when employers do not submit proper records or claimants cannot obtain the necessary paperwork. If you act quickly, our St. Louis lawyers can help you challenge unfair workers’ compensation denials designed to discourage you from pursuing your claims.
Filing Compensation Claims with the Missouri Department of Labor
The Division of Workers’ Compensation provides injured workers with an alternative method of recovering insurance benefits from unresponsive employers. Eligible claimants may file a claim for compensation with the state, which triggers administrative law proceedings. The state recommends consulting with local attorneys before filing official compensation claims, as claimants must meet certain prerequisites and may forfeit alternative legal rights.
This claims process exists for injured workers who informed employers about workplace injuries and filed necessary workers’ compensation paperwork but did not receive benefits. This often occurs when employers fail to provide insurers with the official incident reports and wage information necessary to verify claims. Do not file a state claim for compensation without discussing your options with a workers’ compensation lawyer. Lawyers may appeal administrative decisions to a higher administrative board and, if necessary, appeal these denials in court.
Suing Negligent Coworkers and Third Parties in Civil Court
Workers’ compensation insurance laws only protect employers, co-workers, and (occasionally) general contractors and construction site owners from personal injury lawsuits. They do not protect third parties from liability. Claimants injured by negligent drivers while working might claim workers’ compensation benefits and sue the negligent driver for damages. Likewise, delivery persons injured by dangerous conditions on another’s property might demand additional damages from property insurers.
Missouri law protects co-workers from personal injury liability for negligently inflicted workplace injuries, such as accidentally creating slipping hazards, but does not protect workers from liability for extremely negligent conduct or intentionally inflicted injuries.
Estimating the Value of St. Louis Workers’ Compensation Claims
Most claimants receive set payments in workers’ compensation cases – typically two-thirds of their gross weekly salary plus medical costs and death benefits. However, claimants suffering from permanent or long-term disabilities might negotiate lump sum payouts with disability insurers. Attorneys often recommend accepting these payouts if it would allow claimants to comfortably retire and they’ve reached maximum medical improvement.
Consider negotiating workers’ compensation settlements in contested cases or when insurers are looking for ways to cut off your benefits. Some permanent disability cases settle for over $400,000.
Long-term disabilities resulting from workplace injuries might also qualify claimants for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and frequently support third-party personal injury liability. All these awards, personal injury settlements, SSDI benefits, state aid, and workers’ compensation benefits offset one another. As such, it’s essential to discuss the best option for your situation with a dedicated St. Louis workers’ compensation lawyer. Experienced attorneys might help clients maximize the value of their workplace injury claims and avoid expensive medical liens and conflicting demands.
Workers’ Compensation FAQs
Workers’ compensation insurance exists to give injured workers quick, no-fault lost wage and medical benefits to prevent financial distress. Unfortunately, St. Louis workers’ comp claimants often experience payment delays and benefits denials. Injured employees should discuss their workplace injury claims and financial recovery rights with the experienced attorneys at The Dixon Injury Firm. Our prospective clients frequently ask us the following questions about their St. Louis workers’ compensation rights.
Q. How can I tell if my employer has workers’ compensation insurance?
A. Most St. Louis employers carry workers’ compensation insurance. They must generally post workers’ right notices that contain claims information and inform new hires of available coverage. The law requires all construction industry employers and any employer with more than five employees to maintain workers’ compensation insurance (Mo. Rev. Stat. § 287.030). Even employers who aren’t legally obligated to carry coverage often purchase workers’ comp policies.
It’s the exception, not the rule, to work for an employer without workers’ compensation insurance. However, this insurance only covers employees (full or part-time) and not independent contractors. Injured workers can check if their employers carry coverage online through the Department of Labor. If your employer does not carry coverage but should, contact a lawyer and report your claims to the state.
St. Louis workers’ compensation lawyers can quickly determine whether your employer maintains (or should maintain) coverage. Attorneys can also help workers distinguish between employee and independent contractor status, as this depends on the level of control exerted by employers and your industry. Do not let employers discourage you from filing workers’ compensation claims or asking questions about mandatory coverage. Many employers required to maintain coverage cannot afford insurance premiums and might even threaten injured workers. Our attorneys offer free and confidential workers’ compensation coverage consultations if you’re unsure about available coverage.
Q. Am I eligible for workers’ compensation benefits in St. Louis or the Metro East?
A. Workers’ comp insurers provide no-fault benefits. Adjusters do not base eligibility on accident liability unless evidence indicates the claimant inflicted the injury intentionally and committed fraud to recover benefits or violated employer drug and alcohol policies. To recover initial benefits, employees must show that they suffered injuries at work, such as in a car accident while making deliveries or neck pain from computer overuse, and this injury prevents them from performing essential job functions. Insurers generally request the initial accident/injury report filled with the employer, wage information, and corroborating medical documents.
Most workers’ comp insurers will pay the first few weeks of eligible claimant’s medical expenses and lost wage benefits without requiring additional documentation. However, claimants requesting more extensive benefits must generally undergo independent medical examinations with workers’ compensation doctors. These doctors conduct physical examinations and review medical records before making disability determinations dictating your future compensation rights.
Insurance doctors and adjusters classify injured workers as follows:
- Not Disabled/Not Eligible for Benefits – Claimants may receive denial letters if insurers determine the injury was not sustained on the job or does not interfere with your work. Injured workers might also receive denial letters if they fail to attend necessary insurance examinations or submit the proper paperwork. Experienced workers’ compensation attorneys might help claimants appeal these denials.
- Temporary Partial Disability – Most workers with temporary partial disabilities have to be on light duty. Back pain, sprained wrists, and whiplash are common examples of temporary medical conditions preventing workers from performing physically demanding tasks. However, many employers simply place workers on administrative or light duty during their recovery. Temporarily disabled workers may recover the net difference between their pre-injury wages and light-duty wages, including for lower-paying work or reduced hours.
- Temporary Total Disability (TTD) – TTD injuries or illnesses completely prevent claimants from working and qualify them for temporary benefits. Injured employees may recover medical expenses and 66 percent of their gross weekly wages while disabled. Employees suffering from broken legs, herniated discs, and mild traumatic brain injuries might receive temporary benefits. Insurers will require claimants to attend periodic doctors’ appointments to reassess their conditions.
- Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) – PPD claims involve serious and permanent injuries—such as amputations, third-degree burns, and nerve damage—that prevent claimants from engaging in their previous careers. Insurers generally negotiate lump sum settlements with PPD claimants after they reach maximum medical improvement.
- Permanent Total Disability (PTD) – These conditions—generally severe traumatic brain injuries, paralysis, and terminal cancers—might entitle St. Louis claimants to lifetime workers’ compensation benefits. However, claimants must continuously attend medical recertification and often struggle to maintain valuable PTD benefits. Most PTD claims settle with workers’ compensation insurers.
These critical disability determinations establish your entitlement to benefits, including your benefit’s level and anticipated length of coverage. You may appeal denials or request reassessment due to inaccurate medical determinations. It’s important to have an attorney on your side if you disagree with your categorization, as the appeals window is limited.
Q. What kind of lost wage benefits does workers’ comp insurance offer?
A. St. Louis claimants entitled to WC payments receive wage, medical, and death benefits. Generally, injured employees recover two-thirds (66.6 percent) of their gross weekly salary (or average weekly earnings). Because these benefits are tax-free, this normally equates to the claimant’s net wages.
Certain factors increase or decrease these benefits.
For example, claimants diagnosed with the following medical conditions linked to workplace toxicity might recover enhanced weekly benefits:
- Mesothelioma (300 percent of the state average weekly wage)
- Myelodysplastic Syndrome
- AML Leukemia
National litigation has already linked these serious conditions to certain workplace hazards, such as asbestos and silica dust. Many of the above illnesses result in fatalities, and families might recover additional death and funeral benefits in such cases. If you received a diagnosis of one of the above conditions, even years after potential exposure, contact a St. Louis workers’ compensation attorney immediately to discuss your rights.
Q. What should I do to get workers’ compensation benefits?
A. Generally, eligible claimants trigger their employer’s obligations by reporting the injuring event and resulting injury/illness. Employees should immediately report their injuries to a supervisor verbally and fill out incident report forms as provided. If your employer does not ask you to review, sign, and/or complete paperwork, you should follow up with supervisors or human resources in writing (generally via email).
It’s important to have written documentation that you reported the injury/illnesses and provided details of the event shortly after developing symptoms. Many injuries, especially back pain, worsen overnight or in the weeks following the workplace accident. You must report any incident to employers, including general contractors, as necessary, within thirty days or risk losing benefits. For claimants suffering from medical conditions linked to toxic work environments, report the condition to employers once you receive a diagnosis even if you continue working. These illnesses may worsen over time.
Employers must provide claimants with immediate medical care following workplace injuries. Contracted doctors will generally determine your disability level and certify your workers’ compensation claims thereafter. Claimants may begin receiving workers’ comp benefits if they’re disabled for more than three workdays. If your employer fails to take immediate action after you’ve reported a potential workplace injury or illness, you should contact an attorney and may file a claim with the Missouri Department of Labor.
Q. Can I choose my own doctor to treat my workplace injuries in St. Louis?
A. Workers’ compensation providers act as claimants’ medical insurers for work-related injuries. As such, you cannot generally use your own doctor. You must see a doctor in-network with the workers’ compensation insurer or medical professional provided by your employer. Sometimes it’s difficult, if not impossible, to find in-network doctors and schedule needed appointments. An attorney might help you obtain quality and efficient medical treatment following workplace accidents.
Q. What is a workers’ compensation IME, and how should I prepare?
A. Any good workers’ compensation attorney knows that independent medical exams (IMEs) are anything but independent. However, they are necessary to obtain and maintain workers’ compensation benefits in St. Louis. IME doctors rarely conduct quality examinations, as they’re often overbooked and seeking to please providers by minimizing the insurer’s financial liability. Many claimants also hesitate to express their pain and discomfort during exams. They perform all requested tasks but don’t discuss the specific difficulties, discomfort, or pain associated with certain tasks.
Make no mistake, doctors are even watching the way you enter the room. Claimants can receive denials of needed workers’ compensation benefits simply because they walked into the examination room without support. If you have an upcoming IME, it’s essential to contact a local workers’ compensation lawyer before your exam date.
You have the right to request third-party oversight, challenge medical conclusions, and appeal benefits denials. Workers’ compensation attorneys can also ensure IME doctors receive all relevant medical records and explain how claimants should accurately express their physical concerns to examining doctors. If you cancel or skip your IME, this gives WC insurers grounds to deny you benefits even with reports from private physicians.
Q. How long do I have to file a workers’ compensation claim in St. Louis?
A. You must report the injuring event and/or diagnosed workplace illness within thirty days. This includes providing detailed written notice about the date, time, and facts causing the injury. Thereafter, the employer must send these claims to the workers’ compensation carrier within five days. Injured employees have two years from the date of the accident to file disputes with the Department of Labor. If you don’t receive confirmation of scheduled medical appointments and claims within one week, contact a St. Louis workers’ comp attorney to discuss your options.
Q. What should I do if my workers’ comp carrier denies or reduces my benefits?
A. Get a lawyer.
Even the Department of Labor strongly advises workers’ comp claimants to obtain private legal counsel if:
- You’re not getting quality and sufficient medical care
- The carrier denies, reduces, or terminates your benefits
- Your carrier is not effectively communicating with you, including refusing to return phone calls or creating lengthy responsive delays
- The insurer is denying benefits by incorrectly accusing you of drug/alcohol or safety violations
- Your employer has threatened, retailed against, or harassed you for asserting your workers’ compensation rights
- You’re receiving or eligible for SSDI, Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid
Additionally, the state recommends claimants work with counsel if they’ve suffered from a total or partial permanent disability. These high-value claims commonly include brain trauma, amputations, widespread burns, paralysis, late-stage cancer, lung disease, organ failure, and disabling back and neck pain.
Q. How much does it cost to hire a St. Louis workers’ comp lawyer?
A. It costs nothing upfront to hire our reputable workers’ comp lawyers in St. Louis. Workers’ compensation lawyers offer free initial consultations and accept eligible cases on a contingency fee basis. Contingency fee arrangements mean the attorney doesn’t receive payment unless you recover a workers’ comp settlement or judgment in your case. Then, your counsel will take a percentage of your overall financial recovery as their fee.
This means injured workers struggling to obtain benefits may hire dedicated legal counsel for insurance and administrative appeals without any up-]front or out-of-pocket costs. Your attorney might even appeal your case to Missouri or Illinois civil courts and sue third parties, including neglectful doctors, drivers, and proper owners, for personal injury compensation.
Q. What’s the average workers’ compensation settlement?
A. Claimants diagnosed with permanent partial or total disabilities generally reach lump-sum settlements with workers’ compensation carriers. This includes families of claimants wrongfully killed in workplace accidents. Because claimants disabled (or killed) by workplace injuries might demand the lifetime value of their lost wages, benefits, and medical costs, insurers often present petitioners with reasonable settlement offers. The value of your potential settlement depends on whether you suffered a partial or total disability (whether you can’t work at all or can’t work in your previous career), your salary, and your age.
Claimants closer to retirement generally receive smaller settlement offers because they’re nearing the end of their work-life, while young construction workers disabled after building site accidents might receive six or seven-figure settlements to cover years of lost work. Reported workers’ comp settlements have ranged from $2,000 to $10,000,000. As such, only a qualified St. Louis workplace injury lawyer can accurately estimate your WC settlement and potential take-home value.
Do Employers Pay for Medical Treatment?
If you’re injured on the job, you have the right to request reimbursement for reasonable and necessary medical treatment. There are limits to reimbursement, however, and an insurer may decide that your treatment has lasted several months more than expected and you haven’t shown signs of improvement. Also, an insurer may hesitate to pay out for seemingly unrelated treatment, such as visits to the chiropractor for a hand issue or expensive prescription drugs.
If an insurer refuses to pay for treatment or withholds payment, it’s important to reach out to a workers’ compensation lawyer, bring it up to your human resources department, and/or reach out to the state’s workers comp agency. “Reasonable” treatment usually includes transportation costs for victims traveling to and from appointments.
Employers may also offer what is known as vocational rehabilitation, or job retraining, if an injured employee is unable to continue their former duties after a temporary or permanent injury.
The majority of the time, when employees are undergoing treatment for a workplace injury, working with a workers’ comp lawyer can be the difference between a smooth and easy victory and an expensive, time-consuming loss.
What to Expect from a Workers Compensation Claim
Most states don’t allow workers’ comp victims to claim non-economic damages. These include:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Emotional distress
Workers’ compensation claims are meant to reimburse injured workers but only for the injury that occurred on the job and because of the job.
Types of Workers’ Compensation Cases We Handle
In most cases, the process for filing a compensation claim is straightforward. The important thing for you to do is to communicate with your lawyer, union rep if you have one, and your employer.
Our St. Louis workers’ compensation lawyers can help you with claims involving the following and more:
- Occupational exposure
- Construction equipment injuries
- Railroad accidents
- Wage and hour violations
- Social security disability
- Truck yard accidents
- Airline injuries
- Barge/shipping accidents
- Employer negligence
- Boathouse injury
- Mining accidents
- Delayed payment claim
- FMLA leave
- Bus accidents
- Vocational rehabilitation
- Company doctor claim
- Sports equipment injury
- Conveyor belt injury
- Forklift injury
- Medical care claims
Contact a STL Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today
At The Dixon Injury Firm, we understand what it takes to recover the most compensation for your workers’ compensation claim, and we won’t give up even in the face of highly complex and challenging claims. The Dixon Injury Firm has recovered more than $50,000,000 in settlements for personal injury victims. Recently, founding attorney, Christopher Dixon, and our team recovered notable damages for slip and fall accident victims, truck accident victims, and car accident victims, with the average settlement ranging between $50,000 to $2,000,000.
The Dixon Injury Firm
9666 Olive Blvd #202,
St. Louis, MO 63132