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Category Archive: Workers’ Compensation

  1. Your Rights While Working in Missouri

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    What to Do If You’ve Been Injured at Work in Missouri

    If you are injured at work, Missouri law requires that you provide written notice to your employer within 30 days of the date of injury.  For occupational disease cases and repetitive trauma injury, written notice should be provided within 30 days of the diagnosis of your condition.  Your written notice should include the date, time, and place of where the injury occurred; the nature of the injury; and your name and address.  The website for the Missouri Division of Workers’ Compensation contains an online form that can be used to report an injury to your employer. The failure to provide the required notice to your employer regarding your work injury may jeopardize your rights to receive benefits under Missouri’s Workers’ Compensation law.  However, the failure to provide notice to your employer will not always prevent you from pursuing a claim or receiving benefits if you can show that your employer was not prejudiced by the failure to receive notice.  It is important to note that providing notice to your employer is NOT the same as filing a Claim for Compensation.  The failure to file a Claim for Compensation with the Missouri Division of Workers’ Compensation within the time required by law will forever bar a claim.

    What Injuries Are covered Under the Missouri Workers’ Compensation Law?

    For an injury to be covered under Missouri’s statute, the injury must arise out of and in the course of one’s employment.  Further, the work accident must be the “prevailing factor,” or primary factor, in causing both the resulting medical condition and disability.  The Missouri Workers’ Compensation statute covers occupational diseases as well.  For an assessment of your claim, you should consider consulting a Missouri attorney in the St. Louis area who is experienced in workers’ compensation cases. He or she can discuss with you your rights while working in Missouri.

    Can I Be Fired for Getting Hurt on the Job?

    The Missouri Workers’ Compensation statute (Sec. 287.780 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri) provides that, “No employer or agent shall discharge or in any way discriminate against any employee for exercising any of his rights under this chapter. Any employee who has been discharged or discriminated against shall have a civil action for damages against his employer.”

    Though you cannot be fired for filing a workers’ compensation claim, that does not mean you are completely protected. For example, you may still be terminated from your job for misconduct on the job, just as you could at any time, regardless of injury status. The statute also is not an absolute guarantee of continued employment. If, for example, you are physically unable to perform your job duties after your medical treatment has been completed, you may be terminated from employment for that reason.

    If you have suffered a workplace injury, a Missouri workers’ compensation lawyer may be able to help you get fair, just compensation for your claim, including necessary treatment and payment for time off work.

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  2. Recent Missouri Workers’ Comp Ruling Helps Define Employee’s Rights to Medical Care

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    As a Missouri workers’ compensation lawyer, I was particularly interested in a recent decision of the Missouri Court of Appeals that found that an injured Missouri worker does not need to prove that his or her work injury is the prevailing factor in the need for specific medical treatment.  The case is Tillotson v. St. Joseph’s Medical Center.

    In Tillotson, a worker injured her knee in a Missouri work accident.  The diagnosis was a torn meniscus.  The worker also had preexisting arthritis in the same knee.  Due to the overall condition of the worker’s knee, including her significant arthritic condition, her physicians recommended a total knee replacement.  The workers’ compensation insurance carrier refused to pay for a total knee replacement.  It was their position that the need for the replacement was due to her preexisiting arthritic condition.  Stated differently, their position was that the prevailing factor for the knee replacement was not the work injury.

    The Missouri Labor and Industrial Relations Commission agreed with the insurer’s position.  The Commission interpreted §287.140.1 of the Missouri Workers’ Compensation Act as requiring that the work injury be the prevailing factor in the need for a total knee replacement.  The Missouri Court of Appeals reversed this decision holding that § 287.140.1  sets forth that the legal standard for determining an employer’s obligation to provide medical care is whether the treatment is reasonably required to cure and relieve the effects of the injury.   The Court pointed out that there is no mention of the “prevailing factor” test in this Section of the statute.

    Under Tillotson, Missouri accident attorneys representing injured Missouri workers may be able to obtain more complete treatment to cure the effects of a work injury without having to establish that the work injury was the prevailing factor in causing the need for some specific treatment.

     

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  3. St. Louis County Officer Injured in Accident Involving Drunk Driver

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    KSDK news reports that early yesterday morning a Pine Lawn Police Officer was injured when a car driven by an Arnold, Missouri, man struck his police cruiser. It happened at a DWI stop near westbound I-70 and Jennings Station Road in St. Louis County, Missouri. As a St. Louis personal injury attorney, I see many drunk driving related automobile accidents. Accidents with drunk drivers cause an alarming number of injuries on Missouri roadways.

    According to the news article, the officer was standing outside of his car in Pine Lawn attending to another traffic stop. Apparently the officer had stopped another vehicle for speeding. Thereafter, the automobile being driven by the Arnold man crashed into the officer’s police cruiser. The officer tried to jump onto the car he had stopped to avoid being hit. He subsequently wound up with multiple injuries.

    In this case, the officer may have a personal injury claim against the drunk driver. Depending on the facts, the officer may also have negligent entrustment claims or dram shop liability claims.

    The officer injured may also have a claim under the Missouri workers’ compensation laws. Because it appears that the officer was in the course and scope of his employment, he may be entitled to benefits including the payment of medical bills and payment for temporary and permanent disability benefits. For more on Missouri workers’ compensation law, click here.

    Pine Lawn Officer Struck by Car at DWI Stop, KSDK, July 24, 2011

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  4. Worker Injured in Tractor-Trailer Accident in St. Charles County

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    KMOV news in St. Louis reports that a Missouri Department of Transportation worker was injured in an accident involving a tractor-trailer in St. Charles County, Missouri, on Interstate 70 near the Zumbehl Road exit. Apparently, the tractor-trailer crashed into a Missouri Department of Transportation truck that was being used to work on Highway 70. The injured worker was in the MoDot truck at the time.

    When a worker is injured in the course of their employment through the negligence of another automobile driver, the injured worker may have both a workers’ compensation claim against his or her employer as well as a liability claim against the driver causing the injury. A Missouri workers’ compensation lawyer might file a claim on behalf of the injured worker. Generally, Missouri workers’ compensation law provides benefits to Missouri workers in the form of payment of medical costs, payment of temporary disability benefits and payment of any permanent disability benefits. For more information on Missouri workers’ compensation benefits, click here.

    A Missouri personal injury lawyer, in this case a truck accident lawyer, might also pursue a claim against the tractor-trailer driver as well as the company the driver was working for at the time of the accident. This might be a liability-based claim arising out of the negligent actions of the tractor-trailer driver. The KMOV article does not go into details about the facts of the semi-truck accident, but the driver’s conduct would be relevant in determining whether any punitive damage factors were present.

    While both Missouri workers’ compensation claims and third-party liability claims may be pursued, the workers’ compensation insurance carrier may be entitled to some reimbursement from proceeds of the third-party claim for benefits paid to the injured worker. It usually is helpful, if not necessary, to have a Missouri personal injury attorney advise as to the relationship between the workers’ compensation claim and third-party truck accident case.

    MoDot Worker Injured in Crash on I-70, KMOV, April 1, 2011

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  5. Car Accidents Still Account for Most Workers’ Comp Deaths

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    The Wall Street Journal reported last week that death from work place accidents is at an all time low. The largest cause of work related deaths, however, remains automobile and truck accidents.

    When someone is injured or killed in a car wreck in Missouri through the negligent actions of another vehicle driver, the accident may give rise to several types of injury claims. A Missouri injury lawyer may make a negligence claim against the other driver or other entity whose negligence contributed to the accident causing the injury or wrongful death. This is referred to at times as a third-party claim. However, if the injured or deceased party was driving or occupying the car involved in the crash during the course of his or her employment, then the injured party may also have a claim for benefits under the workers’ compensation laws of Missouri.

    Missouri workers’ compensation law provides three basic benefits to employees injured in car crashes while on the job. First, the injured employee will get their medical costs paid. This will usually be paid by the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier. Next, the injured employee will get weekly benefits called temporary total disability (TTD) or temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits for the period he or she is off of work, after a waiting period, or on light duty. Third, the injured employee may be entitled to benefits for any permanent disability arising out of the injury from the car or truck accident. The Missouri Department of Labor website provides more specific information on these benefits.

    If benefits are paid under workers’ comp, then the workers’ compensation insurance carrier will have a lien or subrogation interest in the negligence claim against the driver or other liable parties who caused the car or truck accident. Missouri law provides for a certain formula for calculating how much money the comp insurance carrier gets from the funds of the third-party case.

    As a Missouri workers’ compensation lawyer, I have represented many workers who have been injured in car accidents. Frequently, I will file a claim for both workers’ compensation benefits and a third-party claim against the responsible driver. The third-party case will usually wait until the workers’ comp case is resolved and the full amount of the lien is known. At times, the lien can be negotiated beyond what the statute provides for reimbursement purposes. It is usually not in the employee’s best interest to resolve the third-party claim first because the law provides for an offset of benefits. This is usually less beneficial for the client than dealing with the lien at a later time.

    Workplace Fatalities Decline to Historic Low, The Wall Street Journal, August 20, 2010

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