Cape Girardeau Workers' Compensation Lawyers
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Unfortunately, even if the employee or employer takes the appropriate safety precautions necessary to safeguard themselves or their employees, workplace injuries can happen in any work environment. These injuries can sometimes be severe, debilitating, and even long-term or permanent.
State and federal officials thereby designed workers’ compensation to compensate injured workers until they can return to work or for their work injury-related disability and protect their employers from civil liability, aiming for a win-win resolution for both parties. Effectively, it is a “no-fault” insurance system mandated by the State of Missouri that allows workers injured on the job to receive compensation for a part of lost wages, medical care, and permanent disability.
For employers, workers’ compensation provides immunity from civil lawsuits filed by their injured employees. An employer meets their workers’ compensation obligation if they either purchase insurance or become a self-insurer certified by the state.
If you or someone you know sustained serious injuries at their workplace or on the job, the Cape Girardeau attorneys at NST Law can evaluate your claim and determine how we can best help you get the compensation you need.
Steps to Take Following a Workplace Injury in Cape Girardeau
Immediately following a workplace injury, you need to take several steps to file your workers’ compensation claim and involve an attorney specializing in workers’ comp.
- Report the Injury: The first step you should always take after suffering an injury on the job is to inform your supervisor. If the circumstances surrounding your injury require a police report, you can contact the Cape Girardeau Police Department or other local law enforcement agencies. According to the Missouri Department of Labor, if you fail to report your injury to your employer within 30 days, you may jeopardize your ability to receive any workers’ compensation benefits.
- Seek Medical Treatment: Barring an emergency requiring immediate medical attention, you should seek medical treatment for your injury after informing your supervisor and filing a police report (if necessary) to start a paper trail and fully document the extent of your injuries. Don’t forget to tell your medical provider or physician that your injury happened at work, as it’s vital for them to note the same in your medical record. If you have a primary care provider (PCP), set up an appointment as soon as possible and explain what happened at your workplace in detail. If you don’t have a PCP, visit a local hospital or clinic like Saint Francis Medical Center or Southeast Health. Your insurer or employer must provide necessary medical treatment for your workplace injury. In addition to the medical benefits you’ll receive, you may also be eligible for temporary total disability benefits and either permanent partial or permanent total disability benefits depending on your injuries.
- File Your Claim: As soon as you are able, begin the process of filing your workers’ compensation claim so that you complete it on time. Remember, it’s important to file your claim per the required deadlines, usually within two years from the date of injury or death in Missouri. You can file a claim with the Missouri Department of Labor.
- Track Receipts & Expenses: For all injury-related expenses, keep an accounting of all costs and ensure accurate documentation. Save all receipts and be prepared to produce all of your expense reports as your claim progresses.
- Contact a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer: A workers’ compensation attorney can help walk you through the claim process and maximize your compensation. The workers’ compensation lawyers at NST Law can also help you file an appeal if you receive a denial for benefits or insufficient benefits.
When should I report a work injury to my employer in Cape Girardeau?
You should report your injury to your employer or supervisor as soon as possible. The Missouri Department of Labor requires you to inform your employer within 30 days of the date of the incident. If you report your injury beyond this timeframe, you risk jeopardizing your workers’ compensation claim and forfeiting any available benefits.
Filing a Workers' Compensation Claim in Missouri
If you suffered injuries at your workplace in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, you’re eligible to file a compensation claim with the Division of Workers’ Compensation. The Missouri Department of Labor is very strict about the 30-day period injured workers have to report the injury to their employer. It’s your responsibility as an injured worker to make this happen.
Once you’ve reported your injury, complete and fill out the claim for compensation document and return it to the address indicated on the form. If you wish to obtain a physical form instead of a digital copy, you may do so at any Division of Workers’ Compensation office.
Even though Missouri aims to streamline and simplify the workers’ compensation claim process, many cases can be highly complicated. Hiring a capable attorney such as NST Law is an important part of the process of seeing your claim through to fruition and receiving the compensation you deserve.
Common Causes of Work Accidents in Missouri
Many different factors contribute to workplace accidents in Missouri, including:
- Defective or unsafe equipment
- Exposure to hazardous materials
- Unsecured work environments
- Insufficient training
- Work-related motor vehicle accidents
- Lack of necessary precautions or safety resources or equipment
- Negligent or reckless behaviors by coworkers
- Overexertion from excessive physical labor
- Slip and falls on unreliable surfaces
What injuries are covered by Missouri's workers' compensation benefits?
Missouri updated the standards of the types of injuries covered under their workers’ compensation laws on August 28, 2005. From August 2005 and onward, Missouri workers’ compensation laws cover injuries and disabilities resulting directly out of a workplace injury in the course of employment. You must identify the prevailing factor of the injury as having arisen from the workplace incident.
Similar standards apply for occupational diseases occurring after August 2005, where the occupational exposure must be the prevailing factor in a resulting disability or medical condition.
Occupational diseases as defined by the Missouri Department of Labor include:
- Repetitive Motion Injuries: These injuries include carpal tunnel syndrome, epicondylitis, trigger finger, and any injury occurring from constant repetitive motions in the workplace.
- Loss of Hearing due to Industrial Noise: A worker may be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits if they experience a loss of hearing in one or both ears as a direct result of prolonged exposure to harmful noise levels in their work environment.
- Radiation Disability: This type of disability happens when a worker becomes disabled due to exposure to various types of radiation in their work environment.
Missouri’s labor laws found within the Workers’ Compensation Law sections 287.010/.020 dive much deeper into specific instances of workplace injuries that warrant a workers’ compensation claim. The statutes describe examples of workplace injuries that qualified for workers’ compensation benefits previously, including:
- Inhaling noxious fumes
- Fall injuries resulting in disability
- Automobile accidents on the way to work in transportation provided by the employer
Types of Workers' Compensation Benefits in Missouri
The State of Missouri has multiple types of benefits available to injured workers claiming workers’ compensation in addition to the typical baseline compensation for medical benefits and lost wages. The types of benefits provided by the state include:
- Medical Benefits
- Temporary Total Disability Benefits
- Permanent Partial or Permanent Total Disability Benefits
- Payment for Lost Wages
- Benefits for Occupational Diseases Due to Toxic Exposure
- Benefits for Emergency Personnel Killed in the Line of Duty
What do I do if there's a denial of my claim?
If the state denies your workers’ compensation claim, you may file an appeal with Missouri’s Labor and Industrial Relations Commission. Understanding why the commission denied your claim can help you argue on appeal why it should receive approval.
Your workers’ compensation claim may have received a denial due to:
- Not reporting your injury to your supervisor or employer timely
- Not filing your claim within the period required
- Your employer disputed the claim or stated it happened outside of the workplace
- Your injury isn’t eligible for compensation
- You didn’t obtain medical treatment for your injury
- There’s insufficient evidence that the injury is work-related
If your claim receives a second denial, you can file a timely notice of appeal to the Missouri Court of Appeals. If your efforts are fruitless for a second time, the Missouri Supreme Court will rarely accept a third appeal when significant legal issues are present.
Appeals can be much more complicated than initial claims. A workers’ compensation lawyer can ensure the filing of the necessary notices and documents to the appropriate individuals on time and formulate the best legal arguments to provide you with the best chance for an optimal outcome.
How can a workers' compensation attorney help me?
Workers’ compensation attorneys know relevant laws and procedures to better your claim’s results. They can offer you legal advice and guidance to maximize your benefits.
Insurance adjusters might try to take advantage of an injured worker’s lack of legal knowledge, misrepresent facts, or stall or deter the process of receiving benefits. Your lawyer can communicate directly with the insurance companies to avoid potential problems with your claim and its timeliness so that you can get paid more money quicker. Additionally, a workers’ compensation lawyer can advocate on your behalf to an administrative law judge.
Your attorney can help ensure the proper handling of your claim the first time so that you can hopefully avoid an appeal. If you need to appeal the commission’s initial decision, your lawyer knows how to do this quickly and effectively, so you’re not left in a prolonged financial bind.
Why should I hire the Cape Girardeau workers' compensation lawyers at NST Law to handle my injury claim?
The attorneys at NST law are compassionate, experienced, and dedicated to the communities they serve. NST Law has seen success in multiple workers’ compensation cases, including:
- $950,000 payout for a personal injury in the workplace
- $561,961 workers’ compensation claim for a traumatic brain injury accident
- $561,916 workers’ compensation case for an individual suffering a permanent disability
- $211,000 judgment awarded for inadequate safety regulations
Contact the Cape Girardeau workers’ compensation attorneys at NST law today for a free consultation.