Workers' Compensation

How to Handle Worker's Compensation Retaliation in Joplin, Missouri

The primary purpose of workers’ compensation benefits is to compensate employees for injuries they suffer while at work or performing a job-related activity, without needing to prove who was at fault for the injury. In exchange for these benefits, the covered employees agree not to file a lawsuit against their employer relating to those injuries. As useful as these benefits can be, if making a workers’ compensation claim may lead to retaliation by your employer in Joplin, MS, the benefits may not seem worth the risk. If that happens, though, you should contact a workers compensation lawyer for advice on how to proceed. What is Workers’ Comp Retaliation? The legal definition of retaliation (in the employment context) is basically taking an “adverse employment action” against an employee for “engaging in legally protected activity.” Filing a claim for a work-related injury, under the Worker’s Compensation Act, is considered a legally protected activity, because employees are legally authorized to file such claims. Therefore, the employee is protected from any negative consequences from his or her employer, simply because he filed a workers’ compensation claim. How Prevalent is Workers’ Compensation Retaliation? Some reports have indicated that retaliation by employers has become a serious problem. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, the instances of workplace injuries has decreased by 30% over the last 10 years. This significant decrease has been attributed to various factors, including safer work conditions. Yet, some experts believe a major factor in the decrease of reported injuries is the increase in retaliation for making workers’ compensation claims.It is believed that employers are taking more aggressive steps to discourage employees from reporting their injuries. Indeed, some statistics show that, although worker’s compensation claims have dropped, the number of worker’s compensation retaliation claims has doubled. OSHA’s Opinions About the Causes of Workplace Injuries The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has reported that a substantial number of workplace injuries have gone unreported in recent years. OSHA’s investigations have found that most workplace injuries still arise out of unsafe working conditions, rather than employee negligence.For this reason, if an employee reports an injury, a subsequent investigation may lead to the company’s liability for fines and other violations. Why do Some Joplin, MS Employers Retaliate? Unfortunately, the response some employers have to workplace injuries is to blame the employee for the injury and challenge the claim.Some employers go so far as to punish employees for making a workers’ compensation claim. As a result, many employees are fearful of bringing worker’s compensation claims because of the potential negative consequences. This type of retaliatory conduct by employers goes against the purpose and goals of the workers’ compensation system, which is to quickly provide relief to employees who are injured on the job. Termination While on Worker’s Compensation Leave A common question employees who have been injured on the job have for their workers’ compensation lawyer is whether they can be fired while out on workers’ compensation leave. The answer is not as simple as a yes or no. While you cannot be terminated simply because of a worker’s compensation claim, it is possible to be terminated while you have an open worker’s comp claim. An experienced attorney can evaluate your case and determine the best legal options. What is an Employer Required to Do? Under the workers’ compensation laws, an employer is required to maintain an employee’s job, while a workers’ compensation claim is pending, until the employee has fully recovered, or reached “maximum medical improvement.” Maximum medical improvement, or MMI, describes the point at which your work-related medical condition is not likely to improve with further treatment. Should I Even File a Workers’ Compensation Claim? It is not uncommon for employees to avoid filing a worker’s compensation claim for fear that they will lose their jobs as a result.  So, instead, employees use their health insurance, sick days or short-term disability benefits to handle their work-related injury or illness.  However, many doctor’s offices routinely ask whether an injury occurred at work and, if so, they will bill the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance provider.  So, you may not have a choice but to file the claim. When is it Legal for My Employer to Fire Me While I’m on Leave? If your employer can demonstrate that there were reasons for terminating you, or laying you off, that had nothing to do with your workers’ compensation claim, then you may not have any recourse.  In order to be able to bring a workers’ compensation retaliation claim, which means you were terminated merely because you filed a claim, you have to demonstrate that was the only reason you were fired.  That can be very difficult to do. Contact Our Firm for Assistance If you have questions regarding retaliation, or any other Workers’ Compensation concerns in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a consultation, either online or by calling us as (800) 364-8305.

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Auto Accidents

Pecuniary Losses in an Auto Accident in Rogers, Arkansas

If you have been injured in an auto accident, and you file a personal injury lawsuit in Rogers, Arkansas, you can be awarded damages to compensate you for your losses. What is a Pecuniary Loss? Keeping the legal terms simple, a pecuniary loss is any type of loss that can be measured in financial terms. Additionally, pecuniary losses are easy to measure which makes them the more common type of financial compensation after suffering injuries in an auto accident. Usually, damages are meant to compensate for things such as medical expenses for the treatment of physical injuries. In some cases, compensation may be awarded for pain and suffering.Punitive damages can be available in certain situations, to punish the person who was at fault.  Depending on your situation, you may be entitled to compensation for other pecuniary losses, as well. Other Types of Pecuniary Losses In addition to the typical award for medical expenses, there are other pecuniary losses that may be compensated, after an auto accident.  Pecuniary damages are simply financial losses that can be measured precisely. They are typically out-of-pocket expenses, such as travel expenses to and from medical treatment, the cost of hiring someone to perform certain activities the injured person is temporarily unable to perform (e.g., housekeeping, lawn mowing). Other pecuniary losses can also include past and future economic losses, including future medical expenses and lost wages. In some cases, a future life care planner and/or an accountant may be helpful in evaluating the future damages that may be appropriate. The largest pecuniary loss that most personal injury victims incur is the loss of income. In most cases, compensation will include their loss of income from the date of the accident to the date of settlement or trial. It can also include future loss of income that may be a result of injuries they sustained in the accident. Pecuniary Losses in Wrongful Death Cases Unfortunately, some auto accidents are fatal and lead to wrongful death lawsuits. In those cases, the family members of the deceased person are entitled to recover for pecuniary losses, just as the injured person would have been able to recover, had they not died. Those pecuniary losses could include income that the deceased person would have continued to provide to the family for support.Pecuniary losses, in wrongful death cases, can also include funeral costs. What are Examples of Non-Pecuniary Damages? Not all injuries or losses are monetary. Non-pecuniary losses are those that cannot be precisely measured. One of the most common examples is “pain and suffering.” Other examples include humiliation, emotional distress, and worsening or exacerbation of a previous injury or illness. Are Catastrophic Injuries Different? A catastrophic injury is one that is generally very severe and leads to long-term, if not permanent, disability or disfigurement. Catastrophic injuries typically involve a difficult recovery, multiple surgeries, or possibly a lifetime of medical treatment.Auto accident victims with catastrophic injuries may not be able to return to work. There are various pecuniary damages that can be recovered for catastrophic injuries, including present and future medical expenses, cost of rehabilitation services, current and future lost wages, and permanent disability coverage. Compensation for future treatment for a “residual injury,” should also be considered. Contact an Arkansas and Missouri Personal Injury Lawyer If you have questions regarding automobile accidents or any other personal injury concerns, contact the Cottrell Law Office at (800) 364-8305. We offer free case consultations.

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Personal Injury

Calculating Future Earnings

In personal injury cases, the purpose of awarding damages is to compensate the victim(s) for any losses that result from the injuries. Losses can come in many different varieties. Expenses that are a direct result of the incident include things like medical bills and lost wages during the time of recovery. These types of damages are easy to calculate because the victims receive bills for medical expenses, and can obtain work attendance records to establish time lost at work. However, there are more indirect damages, as well, that really only occur in the future, such as future earnings lost by the inability to continue working. Calculating future earnings can be a real challenge. What is Future Loss of Earnings? Future loss of earnings simply refers to recovery for the reduction in the plaintiff’s ability to earn money, as a result of his or her injuries.  This type of damage is awarded in cases where the injuries have permanently limited the plaintiff’s ability to earn wages, either partially or completely. Future loss of earnings is also referred to as “loss of future earning capacity” or “impairment of earning power”. Determining Future Earnings Future earnings can include more than just future lost pay checks. They can also include loss of pension and retirement benefits, if applicable in your personal injury case.  Calculating future benefits can be even trickier than simple future wages. Because most victims want to be compensated now, future damages must be first calculated, and then reduced to their “present value.” The important thing to remember is that awards for loss of future earnings are based on the person’s potential to make money, even if they have never actually exercised that potential. What Does Present Value Mean? The value of future damages must be converted into their value based on today’s dollar. What does that mean? Consider that 20 years ago, a dollar could buy much more than it does today. Therefore, 20 years from now, the same dollar will buy a lot less than it does today. Court’s use the “present value” in order to prevent overcompensation. A calculation of present value takes into account interest rates, inflation and other economic indicators. How Is Lost Earning Capacity Calculated After an Accident? It may be surprising, but future loss of earnings is not calculated based on the injured party’s actual earnings, but instead on the person’s ability to earn money. The court estimates the earning capacity before the injury, compares it to the reduced earning capacity that has resulted from the injuries.  The damages award is then issued based on the difference in “potential earning power.” Also, the fact that the plaintiff was not completely disabled due to the injury will not prevent or reduce their claim for future loss of earnings. However, the award may be reduced completely barred if the person had contributed in some way to their own injuries. Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer? If you have incurred an injury that you believe has impaired your ability to earn wages in the future, it is possible for you to recover those future losses. The laws regarding damages for future loss of earnings can vary from one state to the next. For instance, recovery may be limited if the victim contributed in some way to his or her own injury, or there was a pre-existing injury or condition involved.  It would be wise to consult a personal injury attorney to assist you in making sure you receive all of the compensation to which you are entitled. Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney for Help If you have questions regarding future damages, or any other personal injury issues, give our injury lawyers a call at (800) 364-8305 or send an online message.

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Workers' Compensation

What is the “Second Injury Fund”?

If you have ever filed a Workers Compensation claim, you may be familiar with the “Second Injury” Fund. The Second Injury Fund is a fund maintained by the State, which is subsidized by a surcharge imposed on the Employer’s Workers Compensation premiums. The purpose of the fund is to provide additional benefits to injured workers, under specific situations. Our workers’ compensation lawyers will explain. The Most Common Use of the Second Injury Fund The most common situation where the Second Injury Fund is used is when an employee receives a lump sum settlement due to an additional disability resulting from a work-related injury, which is combined with a pre-existing disabling condition. Both the primary injury and the pre-existing injury must meet certain minimum threshold requirements before the workers’ comp Second Injury Fund will pay benefits. The Second Injury Fund and Permanent Disability The Second Injury Fund provides benefits when a person is totally and permanently disabled, as a result of the combination of the primary work related injury and other pre-existing disabling conditions. This type of benefit payment may consist of a weekly check for the rest of the life of the injured worker, or a lump sum payment. Other Applications for the Second Injury Fund The Second Injury Fund will also make payments for medical treatment when an employer, who is otherwise required to have Worker’s Compensation insurance, for some reason does not.  Also, under limited situations, the Second Injury Fund will pay lost income benefits from a second job when an injury occurred on a primary job. Arkansas’ Second Injury Fund Arkansas’ Second Injury Fund was first established in 1973. Like many other states, the Arkansas Second Injury Fund was created to encourage employers to employ disabled workers.  The goal was, in the event of a subsequent injury, the employer’s liability for permanent disability benefits would be limited. The Second Injury Fund pays the disabled employee the difference between the employer’s liability and the balance of his or her disability or impairment.  This way, the employee is fully covered. However, the Arkansas Second Injury Fund is a little different from most other states, in that it only pays indemnity benefits.  In Arkansas, the medical benefits are to be paid by the workers’ compensation insurance provider. Missouri’s Second Injury Fund Missouri’s new Second Injury Fund (SB1) became effective January 01, 2014. This new law changed the way Second Injury Fund benefits are awarded.  Now, the benefits depend upon the date of the most recent compensatable injury.  Missouri’s fund, like other states, compensates injured employees when a current work-related injury combines with a prior disability to create an increased combined disability. The injured employee must have a permanent, pre-existing disability to trigger the Second Injury Fund. The fund also pays for the following: Medical bills, Benefits for physical rehabilitation, Second job wage loss benefits, Burial expenses, and Death benefits Contact a Missouri and Arkansas Workers’ Comp Lawyer for Assistance If you have questions regarding Second Injury Fund benefits, or any other Worker’s Compensation issues, send us a message or call the Cottrell Law Office at (800) 364-8305.

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Workers' Compensation

How Long do You have to File a Workers Compensation Claim in Missouri?

If you were injured on the job, workers’ compensation insurance should pay for medical treatment and compensate you for a portion of your lost wages. Unfortunately, many employees who get hurt on the job don’t get the benefits they’re entitled to. One of the ways you could lose your benefits is by waiting too long to report an accident or to file your injury claim. Knowing your rights and how long you have to file your claim can help protect your legal rights. An experienced Missouri workers compensation lawyer can provide you with answers to these and other questions and fight to get you the compensation you deserve. If there are any complex issues or severe injuries in your case, the wisest decision is to consult with a Missouri workers’ compensation attorney. What is the Workers’ Comp Claim Time Limit in Missouri? After a work-related injury, you have two deadlines to consider. Reporting a Work Injury to the Employer First, you must report your injury to your employer in writing within 30 days of the accident. In some cases, you may not realize you’ve sustained an injury. In that case, you should be allowed 30 days from the time you discovered your injury to report it to your employer. If you do not report your injury within this period, you could lose your right to compensation. Your employer may have specific policies or procedures in place for making an injury report. Be sure to follow those guidelines exactly. Otherwise, your employer could use any deviation as justification for denying your benefits. Once you notify your employer of an injury, the employer must notify the Missouri Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC). The DWC should then send you written communication outlining your right to benefits. Filing a Formal Workers’ Comp Claim The second deadline you must consider is how long you have to file a workers’ comp insurance claim if your original claim was denied or if you aren’t getting your benefits for some reason. You have two years from the date of the injury to file a Claim for Compensation with the DWC. If you were receiving workers’ comp benefits but they were wrongfully terminated, you have two years from the date of your last payment to file your claim. If your employer failed to report your injury to the DWC originally, you have three years from the date of injury or last benefit payment to file a claim. What Benefits Does Workers’ Comp Insurance Provide? In most cases, you should receive benefits that include: Reasonable and necessary medical treatment, Reimbursement for lost wages, Vocational rehabilitation, and Compensation for permanent injury or disability. Workers who were injured on the job often report that they receive substandard or non-responsive medical treatment from the doctors they are required to see. You have the right to ask for a different doctor but, in most cases, the insurance company will attempt to minimize the amount they have to spend on your treatment. You will also not be reimbursed for the full amount of your lost income. Indemnity benefits (lost income supplement) do not begin until you have been out of work for seven days. The amount of compensation you receive will depend on whether your case is classified as: Temporary total disability (TTD), Temporary partial disability (TPD), Permanent total disability (PTD), or Permanent partial disability (PPD). The amount of potential benefits varies with each category listed. However, you won’t be compensated more than 2/3 or 66% of your average weekly earnings. All categories are capped by law, at 105% of the average weekly wage in Missouri. Can You Sue for a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Missouri? Missouri law prohibits any employee who is covered by worker’s comp from suing his or her employer. This restriction applies even if you don’t get your rightful benefits. If your employer was required to provide workers’ compensation insurance but failed to do so, you could have the right to pursue a legal claim.In some cases, you could have the right to pursue legal action for a work-related injury. For example, if a third party caused or contributed to your injuries, you may be entitled to recover damages from that party. Your employer cannot discriminate against you for filing a workers’ comp claim nor can the employer unfairly deny your benefits. Should either of those events occur, you might also have the right to pursue a claim. The best way to understand your options for filing a claim or pursuing legal action is to talk with an experienced Missouri workers’ compensation attorney. Should You Talk to a Missouri Workers’ Comp Lawyer? The Missouri workers’ compensation laws and processes are complex and potentially confusing. If you got hurt on the job, you need to focus on getting the treatment you need and recovering from your injuries. Chasing after the benefits to which you are entitled will not allow you to focus on getting back on your feet. Your attorney can answer all your questions, such as “How long do you have to file workers comp?” and “How much compensation should you receive while you’re unable to work?” Your attorney can explain your options for filing a claim and handle all of the legal aspects of your case.Finally, your Missouri workers’ comp lawyer can help you decide when it makes sense to settle your case. You might get a settlement offer from the insurance company that does not cover your damages. Accepting such a settlement could jeopardize your legal right to pursue any further damages. Speak with a Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Missouri Today You don’t have to fight this battle alone. Talking to an attorney will help you make important decisions about your future. The experienced attorneys at the Cottrell Law Office have more than 30 years of experience. We are committed to protecting the rights of injured workers and helping them recover the compensation they deserve for their injuries and lost income. If you have questions regarding workers’ compensation time […]

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Accident Reports

How to Get Your Missouri Highway Patrol Crash Report

According to the Missouri Department of Transportation, there were 142,966 traffic crashes in the state in 2011 alone. The same year, 786 people died in those crashes. Many residents of Missouri are involved in car accidents each year. The process that comes after a car accident or injury can be very confusing. Fortunately, you can get a copy of your Missouri Highway Patrol crash report with all the information from your crash. You can use this report to file a claim against the at-fault driver and report it to your insurance company. If you need help getting your MO State Patrol accident report or think you have an injury claim, please don’t hesitate to fill out the form below to get in touch with our office. We offer free consultations. Why Do You Need Your Missouri Crash Report? A Missouri Highway Patrol crash report is the official report of a car accident. It is important to have this report because it can help determine the following: Your settlement in the event of a personal injury case, How your insurance will handle the claim, and The treatment of your injuries. Keep copies of your report in a safe place. Bring them to all meetings with lawyers, insurance agents, and other people on your team during this process. How To Get Your Missouri Highway Patrol Accident Crash Report Read below about the steps that will be required when looking for a copy of the crash report. How Long Before the Missouri Highway Accident Report Will Be Available? Police reports are available 7-10 days after the crash. At the scene of the accident, the officer will give you an accident card with the report number that you will need when you go to get your accident report. Obtaining your Missouri Highway Patrol accident report is an easy process.You can obtain a copy of your collision report by doing one of the following: Visit a Missouri State Highway Patrol headquarters office during business hours and ask for a copy of your accident report. Make sure to bring a form of personal identification, such as a valid driver’s license. After filling out the necessary paperwork, leave your contact information with the police department. They will contact you when your report is ready to be picked up. If you do not know where the nearest office is, you can find a list of locations on the official website. Request a copy online. Go to the Missouri State Highway Patrol website to submit your request. This is the fastest and easiest way to get your report. Mail a request for your report to the troop headquarters office in the area where the accident occurred. The accident report request form includes a list of all troop headquarters and addresses in Missouri. Payment must be made by check or money order to DPS Missouri State Highway Patrol. Please note that cash payments are not accepted and will be returned. Keep in mind that copies of the report are not free. The cost of the report will depend on the city or county that you get it from. Contact a Skilled Missouri Auto Accident Lawyer Missouri collision reports are invaluable to personal injury cases.They include important information that can determine who was at fault for the accident, as well as damages and other details. If you have questions about obtaining your police report or want to file a personal injury claim against another driver, you need an experienced Missouri car accident lawyer on your side. We can guide you through the process and ensure your rights are protected.For more information or to get started on your case, contact the Cottrell Law Office today at (800) 364-8305.

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Wrongful Death

Missouri Wrongful Death Cases

It goes without saying that the unexpected death of a loved one is extremely difficult for any family. That loss will undoubtedly take an emotional toll and, most likely, result in a financial burden as well. Deaths caused by the negligence of someone else can be more devastating. The legal claims associated with this situation are referred to as “wrongful death” claims. If your loved one dies as a result of the negligence of another, you may be wondering what your family may be entitled to in terms of compensation.Here is what you need to know. What do Wrongful Death Lawsuits Involve? Wrongful death is a complicated area of law involving both the legal elements of a typical personal injury claim, along with certain state-specific limitations and requirements. For that reason, it is crucial that you consult an attorney with experience and knowledge in this area of the law. It is also important that you act quickly because all wrongful death lawsuits are subject to statutes of limitations, which is the time limit for filing your claims in court. Deadlines for Filing Wrongful Death Claims Like all other legal claims, there is a deadline for filing a wrongful death lawsuit, which differs from state to state.  This deadline or time limit is commonly referred to as the ” statute of limitations.” In both Missouri and Arkansas, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death action is three (3) years. Because these types of personal injury actions can be rather complicated claims to litigate, often more complex than basic personal injury cases, and typically result in a large damage award, it would be a good idea to consult with your personal injury lawyer. Common Types of Wrongful Death Cases Wrongful death claims, that is claims that arise due to someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing, are most often brought to court when a person is killed in an auto accident, been exposed to toxic poisoning, defective drugs or defective products. If you can find a wrongful death attorney that has substantial experience in the area of personal injury that is involved, your chances of a successful recovery will likely increase. Are the Survivors Entitled to Recover in a Wrongful Death Case? The personal representative appointed to handle the estate of the deceased person is required to file the wrongful death claim in Arkansas.If no such person has been appointed, then the claim can be filed by the deceased’s legal heirs, which would typically include the “surviving spouse, children, parents, or siblings; individuals standing “in loco parentis” (i.e., in place of the parent) and individuals to whom the deceased stood in loco parentis.” In Missouri, on the other hand, the surviving spouse, children, or grandchildren have first priority to bring a wrongful death claim.The parents of the deceased would be next in line.Usually, when the claim involves the death of a child (minor), the parents will file the wrongful death suit. If none of those individuals have survived the deceased, then a surviving sibling can bring the claim. What are Survivors Entitled to in Wrongful Death Cases? In both Arkansas and Missouri, the survivors of the deceased are allowed to seek damages on behalf of the deceased, as well as compensation for their own personal losses, as a result of their loved one’s untimely death.This compensation received can help to alleviate medical bills and other expenses that may have been incurred, such as funeral expenses. This is not true in every state. For example, in Alabama damages in wrongful death cases are purely punitive in nature. What Questions Should I Ask My Personal Injury Lawyer? There are basically two questions you should discuss with your attorney you may be considering retaining to assist with your wrongful death lawsuit. First, what is the extent of their negotiation and litigation experience in wrongful death cases?  Many cases can settle out of court when both sides can successfully negotiate a settlement. This saves you both time and money. Second, what is their history of success in wrongful death litigation? Ask about the wrongful death cases they had that have settled, as well as those that went to trial. Your attorney should have a history of success with litigating wrongful death claims. If you have questions regarding wrongful death claims or any other personal injury matters in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation.You can contact us either online or by calling us toll-free at (800) 364-8305.

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Wrongful Death

What Damages are Recoverable in Wrongful Death Lawsuits?

The unexpected death of a family member is always devastating, taking an emotional toll on everyone else. When your loved one’s death is caused by someone else’s negligence or recklessness, you may be able to recover for that loss by filing a lawsuit against the party at fault. That type of claim is called “wrongful death.” A question that is frequently asked by clients who have lost a loved one in this way is: what damages are recoverable in wrongful death lawsuits? Here, our experienced wrongful death attorney will explain the different types of damages available in wrongful death claims. The Types of Damages Available Depend on State Law Like all other types of personal injury claims, wrongful death claims are governed by the law of the state where the injury or death occurred. In both Arkansas and Missouri, the decedent’s close family members may bring a wrongful death lawsuit for damages to compensate them for their losses resulting from the decedent’s death. Close family members may receive both economic and non-economic damages in wrongful death lawsuits. Damages Recoverable in Missouri Wrongful Death Lawsuits Every case is different, and the specific damages that can be recovered depend on the circumstances involved. However, Missouri law establishes the different types of damages for which you may recover in wrongful death lawsuits. There are basically two categories of damages available: those related to the deceased and those related to the surviving family members. For example, you may be able to receive reimbursement for funeral and burial expenses and medical expenses that relate to your loved one’s final injury or illness. You may also be able to recover the amount of wages or benefits that your loved one would have earned if he or she had not passed away. Finally, you may recover for any pain and suffering your loved one experienced just prior to their death. As for the survivor’s damages, you may recover the “reasonable value of the services, consortium, companionship, comfort, instruction, guidance, counsel, training, and support” your loved one provided to any surviving family members. We’ll take care of everything else. Submit the short form below to schedule a consultation. Other Important Facts About Missouri Wrongful Death Damages Depending on the situation, you may be able to recover damages if your loved one provided child care or elder care for someone. In that case, you may recover the value of the care that your loved one can no longer provide. In this situation, you can show that your loved one was not otherwise employed full-time but was taking care of another family member for at least 50% of their time. In Missouri, there is a presumption that the value of this care is 110% of the average weekly wage rate in Missouri. However, this presumption can be challenged depending on the facts. Missouri also places a limit on the amount of non-economic damages (e.g., pain and suffering) that can be recovered in medical malpractice cases. The limit increases annually for inflation and is $761,558 as of 2020 for malpractice resulting in death. Damages Recoverable in Arkansas Wrongful Death Lawsuits Similar to Missouri, Arkansas allows for two categories of wrongful death claims: the estate claim and the family claim. The estate claim involves those losses suffered by the deceased person as a result of his or her death, including funeral and burial costs, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and the lost value of your loved one’s life. As for the family claim, surviving family members can recover damages such as the loss of the financial support from their loved one, loss of household services, and loss of care, comfort, and guidance. How Wrongful Death Damages Are Handled in Arkansas When damages are awarded in estate claims in Arkansas, the award is not given to the estate, so they do not become part of the taxable assets of the estate. Also, damages awarded in a family claim are paid directly to the surviving family as opposed to the estate. If the family cannot agree on how to divide the award, the court will decide. Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim in Court? Who can bring a wrongful death claim in court depends on whether you live in Arkansas or Missouri, as each state’s law is different. Arkansas In Arkansas wrongful death cases, only the personal representative of the decedent’s estate may bring a wrongful death claim. The personal representative brings the claim on behalf of the decedent’s surviving family members. If the decedent did not appoint a personal representative of his or her estate before their death, the court will appoint the personal representative. If the decedent is a child, or the court cannot appoint a personal representative, one of the decedent’s heirs may bring the wrongful death claim. Heirs can include: The decedent’s spouse, children, parents, or siblings; Legal guardians of the decedent; or People for whom the decedent served as a legal guardian. A personal injury lawyer can help you properly file your wrongful death claim in Arkansas. Missouri Conversely, Missouri law creates three classes of individuals who may file wrongful death claims. The first group of individuals includes the decedent’s surviving spouse, children, grandchildren, and parents. When the decedent is a child, his or her parents most often bring a wrongful death claim. If none of those individuals survived the decedent, then his or her siblings or their descendants may bring a wrongful death claim. If the decedent has no surviving spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, or siblings, then the court will appoint someone to bring the wrongful death claim. Deadlines for Filing Wrongful Death Claims Like all other legal claims, there is a deadline for filing a wrongful death lawsuit, which differs from state to state. The statute of limitations provides the deadline for filing a case. In both Missouri and Arkansas, the statute of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits is three years. This means that you have three years from the date of the decedent’s death to […]

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Personal Injury

Proving Loss of Income Claims in Rogers, Arkansas

When someone has been injured, as a result of the negligence or recklessness of someone else, there is a potential for recovery of loss of income. Loss of income and loss of earning capacity are both potential elements of damage in a personal injury case. Proving loss of income can sometimes be tricky, and establishing a loss of earning capacity can be even more difficult. However, an experienced Rogers, AR personal injury attorney will have the expertise to find and present the evidence you need to support your claim. Loss of Income vs. Loss of Earning Capacity Loss of income is not the same as loss of earning capacity. Loss of income means exactly that — loss of actual income. Whereas loss of earning capacity refers to the income you could have earned had you not suffered an injury. The distinction may seem subtle, but these are entirely different legal concepts. While you may be able to prove a loss of income, you may not have a claim for lost earning capacity. Regardless, it is wise to claim both so that you don’t unintentionally limit your recovery by claiming the wrong type of damage. How to Prove Loss of Income Loss of income generally covers only “past” losses, up through the date of trial or settlement. Specifically, lost income or lost wages are determined by the amount of money you are paid for the work you do. Proof of this amount can easily be established through your pay stubs or your employer’s payroll records. Along with your payroll records, you would need documentation from your employer regarding the days you were absent as a result of the injuries you suffered. You may also be entitled to recover for lost compensation, which includes the additional financial benefits of your employment. For example, lost compensation can include sick days, vacation days, pay bonuses, and other employment perks. Discuss these other possibilities with your personal injury attorney. How to Prove Loss of Earning Capacity Although the loss of earning capacity claims cover past losses, they also cover future losses. The first element that must be shown is that some aspect of your physical injury affects your earning ability. There are several factors that are considered in establishing a loss of earning capacity, which include the following: Stamina; Weakness and degenerative injury resulting from the injury; Ability to work with pain; and Remaining efficiency. In many cases, actual lost earnings are sufficient proof to establish the amount of future lost earnings. Use of Experts to Determine Future Earning Capacity Proving this element of your damages can be complicated and often requires the coordinated efforts of a medical doctor, a vocational rehabilitation expert, and an economist. The medical doctor is required to describe your medical limitations and how long those limitations are expected to last. The vocational rehabilitation specialist then combines those limitations with the results of your vocation testing and predicts the highest paying job you would be able to hold. The specialist will also estimate your expected pay in that job, had you not been disabled. Finally, the economist reduces these future lost wages to the current fair market value. Ultimately, a prediction can be made, to a reasonable certainty using the best evidence available, as to the monetary value of your future losses. Contact a Missouri and Arkansas Personal Injury Lawyer for Assistance If you have questions regarding personal injury damages, or any other personal injury issues, call the Cottrell Law Office at (800) 364-8305 or submit an online form to schedule a free case consultation.

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Workers' Compensation

When to Hire a Workers' Comp Lawyer

All employees deserve safe and fair workplace conditions. Sadly, work accidents remain a serious problem throughout the United States. According to data published by the National Safety Council (NSC), approximately 4.5 million Americans were injured on the job in 2017 alone. Most workers are covered by a state-based no-fault workers’ compensation insurance program. Through workers’ comp, an injured employee can recover medical benefits and wage-loss compensation — regardless of whether their employer was to blame for their accident. Not all injured workers need a lawyer to get their benefits. If you suffered a minor injury and you missed little to no time at work, you will most likely be able to handle your case on your own. That being said, for more complex claims, it is imperative that injured workers hire an experienced Missouri workers’ comp attorney or Arkansas workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as possible after their accident. Please don’t hesitate to contact us today for help with your case. We’ll explain when you should get a lawyer for workers’ compensation. We’ll take care of everything else. Submit the short form below to schedule a consultation. Should I Get a Lawyer for Workers’ Comp? Five Questions to Ask 1. Did You Suffer Severe Injuries? You should hire a workers’ comp lawyer. In the unfortunate event that you were forced to miss extended time on the job (more than a week) or if you are expecting to feel long-term or permanent effects from your injury, then you need a workers’ compensation attorney. Employers and insurers are far more aggressive in handling claims involving serious injuries. It is crucial that you are able to present a strong, persuasive case so that you can obtain a full and fair workers’ compensation settlement. With severe injuries, it is generally best to hire a workers’ comp lawyer when you submit your initial claim. 2. Are You Preparing to File a Social Security Disability Claim? You should hire a workers’ comp attorney. After a serious accident, an injured worker may be entitled to receive both Social Security disability benefits and workers’ compensation benefits. Pursuing these types of overlapping claims can be complicated. If your workers’ comp settlement is not structured in the proper manner, it could actually impair your ability to recover the maximum available Social Security disability benefits. Do not go it alone. You should consult with a Social Security disability lawyer who has experience representing clients who are also bringing workers’ comp claims. 3. Were You Offered an Inadequate Settlement? You should hire a workers’ comp lawyer. It is important to remember that insurers want to settle work injury cases for the lowest dollar amount possible. Do not accept an unfair, low settlement offer. You should be granted a settlement that offers you the full available financial support for your medical care, long-term rehabilitative costs, lost wages, diminished earning capacity, and any permanent disability or impairment. Your attorney will represent you during settlement negotiations with insurance company representatives. 4. Was Your Workers’ Comp Claim Denied? You should hire a workers’ comp attorney. Workers’ compensation claims are denied for a wide range of different reasons. Even though workers’ comp benefits are paid out on a no-fault basis, it can still be challenging for injured employees to get access to the full and fair financial benefits that they rightfully deserve. If your workers’ comp claim was denied in Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, or anywhere else in the United States, do not give up without a fight. Get your workers’ comp denial letter into the hands of an experienced attorney immediately. They will help you take the next steps needed to move your case forward. 5. Did a Third Party Contribute to Your Injuries? You should hire a workers’ comp lawyer. Workers’ comp is an exclusive legal remedy. Generally speaking, injured workers cannot file a personal injury claim against their employer — even if their employer was negligent in causing their workplace accident. That being said, injured workers do retain the right to file personal injury lawsuits against negligent third parties. If any party other than your employer — another contractor, a property owner, a manufacturer, etc. — contributed to your accident, you should call an experienced work injury attorney for immediate assistance. Additional financial compensation may be available. You may be eligible to bring both a workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury lawsuit. Contact Us At the Cottrell Law Office, our skilled workers’ comp lawyers are strong, committed advocates for injured workers. If you or your loved one was hurt on the job, we are prepared to help. To set up a free, no obligation initial consultation, please contact our legal team or call (800) 364-8305 today to get started. With offices in Rogers, AR and Joplin, MO, we represent injured workers throughout Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Kansas.

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