FAQ Worker’s Compensation Law

1.   I was injured at work, who has to pay for my medical expenses?

Your employer is required to cover such medical, surgical, chiropractic and hospital treatment as may be reasonably required to cure or relieve the effects of your injury.  In addition, your employer must pay for your prescription costs.

2.   Now that I’m injured, I have to miss time from work in order to recover.  Will I have to use my vacation or sick time?

Your employer may allow or require you to use any of your accumulated paid leave, personal leave, medical leave or sick leave to attend medical treatment, physical therapy, or medical evaluations that occur during work time.

3.   The doctor has not released me to go back to work and I cannot afford to miss my paycheck, will my employer still pay me during my time off?

Yes. Your employer is required to pay you Temporary Total Disability benefits during your rehabilitative process.  However, if you refuse to attend rehabilitation services or to submit to a vocational rehabilitation assessment, all of your disability payments shall be reduced by fifty percent for each week you refuse to attend.

4.   How are the Temporary Total Disability benefits calculated?

The employer is required to pay you 2/3 of your average weekly wage for your time off during the rehabilitative process not to exceed seventy percent of the state’s average weekly wage.  Your average weekly wage is determined by averaging your wages for the thirteen weeks prior to your injury.  However, once a doctor has declared that you have reached “maximum medical improvement” or has authorized you to return to work, your employer is no longer required to pay these temporary benefits.

5.   What if I am not receiving my Temporary Total Disability benefits?

Hire the law firm of Harper, Evans, Wade & Netemeyer.  We will file a claim on your behalf with the Division of Worker’s Compensation and request a Hardship Hearing.  The hearing will be presided by an administrative law judge who will determine whether or not to order your employer to pay your benefits.

6.   My employer told me I have to be treated by their doctor, can I not see my own doctor?

Since your employer is required to pay for the treatment, your employer gets to decide who you can be treated by, in addition to what treatment you’re allowed to receive.  However, if you desire, you have the right to select your own physician or surgeon, but it will be at your own expense.

7.   My employer wants me to go to a doctor in a different city but I can’t afford to get there; how am I supposed to get to my appointment?  Will I be reimbursed for my mileage?

When you’re required to submit to a medical examination or necessary medical treatment at a place outside of the local or metropolitan area from your place of employment, your employer is required to advance or reimburse the cost for all of your necessary and reasonable expenses, this includes reimbursement for mileage.

8.   My doctor said I have reached “maximum medical improvement” and that there is no more he can do for me.  I am not back to 100% and likely will never be, will I be compensated for my permanent disability?

Yes.  Once a doctor has determined that you have reached maximum medical improvement, that same doctor, or a different doctor will make a determination regarding your medical condition.  This determination is called a “rating” and will explain how much of a permanent disability you have.  The doctor may determine that you are partially disabled, meaning you can still obtain gainful employment, OR that you are totally disabled, meaning you can no longer work.

If it is determined that you are partially disabled, you will be compensated for your permanent disability through a lump sum payment.  However, if you are determined to be totally disabled, you are entitled to receive disability payments for the remainder of your life

9.   My spouse died while they were on the job.  What are my rights?

First, your spouse’s employer is required to pay for the burial expenses not to exceed $5,000.00.  The employer must pay for these expenses within 30 days after receiving notice of the services.

Further, the employer must also pay death benefits based upon your spouse’s average weekly wage.  Again, the employer is only required to pay 2/3 of the weekly wage not to exceed one hundred and five percent of the state’s average weekly wage.  You, as the spouse, will receive these death benefits for the remainder of your life unless you remarry.  For your children, the employer is required to make these payments until that child reaches the age of eighteen unless the child attends college.  If the child remains a full-time student at any accredited educational institution, the death benefits will continue until the child reaches the age of twenty-two.

10.   I was injured at work five years ago, can I still bring a worker’s compensation claim?

No. Under Missouri law, you may not be compensated unless you filed a claim with the Division of Worker’s Compensation within two years after the date of injury (or death), or two years from the date you received your last payment under the worker’s compensation law.  However, there are some exceptions which will allow you to file a claim three years after the date of injury.  Call Harper, Evans, Wade & Netemeyer to determine whether or not you still have time to file your claim.

11.   How can a lawyer help me with my worker’s compensation claim?

Typically, employers have worker’s compensation insurance.  Once a claim has been filed, the insurance company takes over in an attempt to resolve the claim for the employer.  It is well known that insurance companies would prefer to pay out as little as possible for each claim.  Therefore, when it’s time to settle your case, you will likely be offered a value much less than what your claim is actually worth.  An experienced attorney will know what the actual value of your claim is and negotiate with the insurance company on getting you a fair settlement.  However, a fair settlement amount cannot always be reached.  In that event, the attorney will take your case to trial and an administrative law judge will determine the amount of your settlement.

12.   My boss said that it was my fault that I got hurt and therefore I am not entitled to any worker’s compensation benefits, is that right?

No.  The only time fault matters for a worker’s compensation claim is if you were 1) intoxicated, 2) you hurt yourself on purpose 3) you were horsing around or 4) someone else intentionally hurt you for personal reasons.

13.    My injury is so extensive that I will not be able to return to work.  Am I able to receive Social Security Disability benefits?

Yes.  If you are disabled from working and it is anticipated that your disability will last for longer than 1 year, you may be eligible for social security disability.  However, any worker’s compensation benefits that you receive may reduce the amount of your social security benefits.

14.   My friend was hurt in a car accident and received a lot of money for pain and suffering.  Can I receive money for that, too?

No.  Worker’s compensation is only required to pay for approved medical expenses, plus any temporary or permanent disability you’re entitled to.

15.   I’m not sure whether or not I need a lawyer for my worker’s compensation claim and I definitely cannot afford one, what should I do?

At the law firm of Harper, Evans, Wade & Netemeyer, we will evaluate your case for free.  If we determine that you do need a lawyer, we are paid on a contingency fee basis, meaning we don’t get paid unless you get paid.  Under Missouri law, attorneys may collect twenty five percent of your final worker’s compensation settlement for attorney’s fees.