Dog Bites

Dog Bite Accidents in Joplin, MS

If you or a loved one is injured from a dog bite, you may be able to recover compensatory damages for your losses.  Like car accidents and slip and fall cases, the purpose of a damage award is to compensate the injured party with money, with the intention of making him “whole.”  But, how prevalent are dog bite accidents?  Are they as common as car accidents, for instance?  The statistics might surprise you. Dog bite statistics may be frightening According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 4.7 million dog-bite incidents occur in the United States each year. Of those 4.7 million, approximately 800,000 victims seek medical attention. Half of those victims are children.  Other reports indicate that every day, approximately 1,000 U.S. Citizens seek emergency medical treatment for dog bite accidents.  A study published by the Agency for Healthcare Research and quality in 2010 indicated that the number of individuals hospitalized in the U.S., for dog bite injuries, has doubled over the last 15 years.  Unfortunately, the average medical costs of dog bite-related hospital admissions was $18,200.  The rate of emergency room visits related to dog bite injuries is substantially higher in rural areas. What you can do to avoid being a victim These statistics are certainly not comforting. But they can be less alarming if you have sufficient information to potentially avoid becoming a victim.  One thing you must do is we aware of your own behavior around animals.  More importantly, if you know why dogs actually bite in the first place, you will be more likely to avoid a dangerous situation. Why dogs may be prone to biting Typically, dogs bite due to stress or being scared or threatened.  Dogs are also very protective, not only of their puppies but also of their owners.  If they are startled or not feeling well, they may lash out.  They also bite accidentally during play, especially rough play.  If you keep these common triggers in mind when you are around dogs that do not belong to you, it will be easier to recognize a potential situation and avoid the possible danger. What makes a dog dangerous? There are certain breeds of dogs who are historically known to be aggressive or very protective.  Historically, these traits we encouraged because of the breeds’ usefulness as hunters or herders.  A significant source of undesirable traits primarily comes from irresponsible breeding, or “bad breeding” practices that potentially pass on a genetic tendency towards aggression.  In other words, there are some breeders who seek to create “tough” dogs. Unfortunately, there are those breeders who seek to breed dogs for fighting or guarding. Another source of aggression and undesirable traits is neglect by dog owners. Protecting yourself against the risk of liability As far as protecting yourself from liability, some people consider purchasing dog liability insurance, especially if they own a dog recognized as a “dangerous breed.”  These special policies can give you peace of mind, just in case a situation ever arises.  It is better to be proactive, rather than reactive.  Some landlords may even require such insurance. If you have questions regarding dog bites or would like to speak to a Joplin, MS dog bites attorney, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.

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Worker's Compensation claims in Missouri

The Basic Workers Compensation Timeline in Missouri

Most employees in the United States are entitled to workers compensation benefits through their employers. With this program, employers are also protected from lawsuits involving an employee’s injury. As your workers’ compensation lawyer will tell you, if you accept those benefits, you are required to waive your right to file a lawsuit. Essentially, workers’ compensation benefits are considered a substitute for filing a lawsuit against your employer. Although each workers’ compensation case will vary depending on the situation, there are some basic elements of a workers’ compensation timeline. Report your injury to your employer The first step in handling a workers’ compensation injury is to report that injury to your employer. You should do so immediately after the incident or, at the most, within a few days of the injury. Some employees try to “tough it out” and not report the injury officially, hoping that they will recover in a few days. This is not the right course of action. Even if you believe the injury is minor, you need to report it immediately so that you can document when the injury actually occurred. Not doing so could result in your claim being denied. If that happens, your workers’ compensation lawyer can help. Obtain a medical evaluation from your physician Once you report your injury to your employer, they will typically send you to a physician to determine the extent of your injuries. The physician will also have to offer an opinion about whether you are able to return to work.If your injury is too severe to allow you to return to work, or if you need to return with restrictions, then the physician can provide a report for your employer. Receive necessary medical treatment It is crucial that you comply with all of the physician’s instructions regarding treatment. Complete all treatment or rehabilitation programs.If for some reason, you do not agree with the treatment recommended by the physician, you can request a second opinion. But, ultimately, you must follow whatever treatment plan is required, in order to receive all of the benefits to which you are entitled. Reaching maximum medical improvement Once you have completed all of the necessary treatment for your injury, you will reach “maximum medical improvement,” as determined by your physician. What this means, basically, is that your physicians have done all they can to improve your medical condition following your injury. At that point, your treating physician can evaluate you and assign a disability rating based upon any partial or permanent disability resulting from the work-related injury. Participate in settlement negotiations Once you have reached maximum medical improvement, it is time to start negotiating with your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier for a fair settlement of your claim. You should involve your workers’ compensation lawyer in these negotiations to make sure the settlement you receive is fair. Negotiations could last several works or several months, depending on the extent of your injury and the willingness of the insurance provider to pay a fair amount for your injury. The Workers’ Compensation Appeals Process The Worker’s Compensation insurance system is based on administrative law, which means an administrative agency, as opposed to a court of law, will oversee the entire system, including any claim contest or appeal.Administrative law judges are responsible for conducting hearings that are very similar to civil trials. If your claim is contested by the worker’s comp carrier, then your next step is to seek an appeal.  This is another step in the timeline in which you should seriously consider seeking the assistance of your workers’ compensation lawyer. Asking for reconsideration of the decision The steps in the Worker’s Compensation Appeals process may be somewhat different, depending on the state you work in, but here are the basic steps that everyone must take in order to appeal a decision denying worker’s comp benefits. The first step is to determine why your claim was contested or denied.If you are lucky, the matter may be resolved quickly. If you failed to submit a required document or some necessary evidence, you may be able to remedy the problem by simply supplying the required information.  Once you do that, the worker’s comp carrier can reconsider your claim. Requesting a formal appeal may be necessary If those steps do not resolve the problem, it may be necessary to file a formal appeal, pursuant to the guidelines established by your state worker’s comp agency. Typically, the written notice of denial that you received will describe the specific steps you need to take to begin the appeal process. Be sure you read the letter carefully and make note of all appeal deadlines.If you have questions regarding worker’s compensation claims or any other personal injury concerns in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a consultation, either online or by calling us as (888) 433-4861.

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Accident Reports

How to Get Your Arkansas State Police Accident Report

Were you in a car crash in Arkansas? Regardless of the circumstances of your crash, it’s essential to get a copy of your Arkansas state police accident report. Accident reports are essential to have. You can protect yourself from legal action, as well as pursue legal action against the other driver. What Information is in an Arkansas State Police Crash Report? Police officers create accident reports at the scene of the accident. Collision reports are the officer’s account of the accident as well as any additional observations. Accident reports contain essential information such as: Date, time, and location of the crash; People involved in the accident; Insurance information for the involved parties; If anyone received a ticket, and if so, why; Weather conditions during the crash; Vehicular damage; Injured parties; and Any other relevant information. You should get a copy of your Arkansas state police accident report as soon as possible. Doing so will allow you to see what the reporting officer observed and concluded about your accident. How do I Get a Copy of My Arkansas State Police Accident Report? Arkansas car accident reports are available to the public for $10 per copy. There are a few different ways to get your report: Request your crash report online. Visit the Arkansas State Police website to submit a request for your report. Request your crash report in person. Visit a police department in Arkansas near you during business hours to request a copy of your report. Request your crash report by mail. Mail the request to the following address: Arkansas State PoliceAttn: Crash Records SectionOne State Police Plaza DriveLittle Rock, Arkansas 72209 When requesting your Arkansas Highway Patrol crash report, you will need to know the date of the crash, the highway number where the accident occurred, county, and the name of at least one driver. Get an Arkansas Auto Accident Lawyer You Can Trust If you have any questions about getting your Arkansas highway patrol crash report or want to file a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver, speak to an experienced Arkansas car accident lawyer at the Cottrell Law Office. Our personal injury lawyers can answer any questions you may have about getting your accident report and help you with your claim.Contact us online or call (800) 364-8305 today to schedule your free consultation.

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Wrongful Death

4 Things You Need to Know About Wrongful Death Claims in Arkansas

Each state has its own statutory provisions regarding wrongful death claims.  Those statutes define “wrongful death,” determine who can file the lawsuit, the deadlines that apply, and the types of damages that may be recovered. These are essentially the 4 things your Arkansas wrongful death lawyer will tell you about these types of claims. What is “Wrongful Death?” A wrongful death claim arises when one person dies because of the negligent or intentional conduct of someone else. A wrongful death claim is basically a special type of personal injury claim. The difference is, with personal injury claims, the person who was injured usually brings his or her own lawsuit. In wrongful death cases, the injured person is deceased which means someone else must bring the claim to court. Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim? In Arkansas, the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate is the only person who can bring the wrongful death lawsuit. If there is no personal representative — for example, if the deceased person is a child who has no estate — then the claim can be filed by the deceased person’s heirs at law. In Arkansas, that would include: The deceased person’s surviving spouse, children, parents, or siblings Individuals standing in loco parentis Individuals to whom the deceased stood in loco parentis. In Missouri, those with first priority in bringing a wrongful death claim are the surviving spouse, child or grandchild. In claims that involve the death of a child, the parents can bring the lawsuit.  If none of these options are available, then a surviving sibling would be next in line. The last option is the personal representative, but if no one has been appointed, the court will appoint a “plaintiff ad litem.” Statute of Limitations Period for Wrongful Death Claims The statute of limitations period provides a deadline for a person to file a lawsuit. These statutes vary by state, as well as, by cause of action. The Arkansas wrongful death statute of limitations is one year from the date of the decedent’s death. In Missouri, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim is (3) three years from the date of the death. Damages Available in Wrongful Death Claims Arkansas law separates wrongful death claims into two sub-categories: the estate claim and the family claim. The estate claim is made by the estate of the deceased, seeking compensation for losses the deceased person suffered as a result of the unexpected death. Typically, these damages will include: funeral and burial costs medical bills for treatment of the deceased person’s last illness or injury pain and suffering the deceased endured before death, and the loss of the value of the deceased person’s remaining life, including wages he or she would likely have earned. The family claim, on the other hand, is made by the surviving family members of the deceased. The family claim seeks compensation for losses the family members suffered, as a result of losing their family member. These damages, paid to the family, include: loss of the financial support of the deceased person loss of household services, and loss of care, comfort, and guidance. Neither of these categories of damages become part of the estate’s taxable assets. Also, damages paid to the family are paid directly to family members, not to the estate. In Missouri, damages for wrongful death are very similar to those allowed in Arkansas. The purpose of a wrongful death claim is to seek compensation in the form of monetary damages, including the following: funeral and burial expenses medical bills related to the deceased person’s final injury or illness value of wages and benefits the deceased would likely have earned pain and suffering experienced by the deceased just prior to death Also, there are potential damages for the “reasonable value of the services, consortium, companionship, comfort, instruction, guidance, counsel, training, and support” the deceased person provided to surviving family members. This is similar to the family claim recognized in Arkansas. Proving a Wrongful Death Claim Depending on the case, making the connection between the wrongful conduct and the death can be pretty easy, such as with an auto accident and medical malpractice. However, in other situations, like the use of defective products, the connection may not be discovered without extensive investigation and research. If you have questions regarding wrongful death claims, or any other personal injury issues, contact the Cottrell Law Office either online or by calling us at (888) 433-4861.

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Auto Accidents

Knowing the Hit and Run Laws in Missouri

There are more serious legal consequences, for the at-fault driver, following a hit and run accident. The term refers to an accident where the guilty driver leaves the sign of the accident, after causing injuries and damage. Not only are their civil consequences, but there are also possible criminal consequences, as a result of fleeing the scene. Knowing the hit and run laws in your state will make it easier to understand how to pursue your claims, if you are a victim, or the consequences you may face, if you are found to be at fault. Our experienced Joplin, MO car accident lawyers explain what you should know. The Basic Duties of an Automobile Driver Not only are there duties for drivers when traveling on the roadway, there are also certain duties when a driver is involved in an automobile accident.  If the accident resulted in an injury, the uninjured driver is normally required to, at the very least, call 911 to report the accident.  It is also necessary for the parties involved in the accident to exchange contact and auto insurance information.  Obviously, in order to fulfill these duties, the drivers involved in the accident must stay at the accident scene. Punitive Damages Following a Hit and Run Accident Unlike many auto accidents, punitive damages are more likely to be awarded in a hit and run accident.  Punitive damages are a type of compensation that is available when the person at fault caused the harm, either intentionally or recklessly, or acted in a particularly egregious way.  The purpose of punitive damages is to punish the guilty party and to deter others from engaging in the same reckless conduct.  The punitive damages award is meant as a warning. Because everyone is deemed legally aware of their responsibilities at the scene of an accident, committing a “hit-and-run” will almost always be considered morally reprehensible and worthy of punitive damages. Even if the accident was unintentional, fleeing the scene was an intentional act potentially justifying punitive damages. Possible Criminal Consequences of a Hit and Run In many states, the person found responsible for a hit and run accident, the person who left the scene after causing injury or damage, may be guilty of a crime as well.  In Missouri, if injuries or death are caused by a hit and run accident, it is considered a Class D felony, punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and/or imprisonment for up to four (4) years. A hit and run accident that causes less than $1,000 in damage to the victim’s vehicle, is a Class A misdemeanor.  If the damage exceeds $1,000, or the defendant has a prior violation, it is a Class D felony. Arkansas has somewhat stiffer penalties.  Injury, death, or property damage, resulting from a hit and run accident is a Class D Felony, punishable by up to 6 years in prison and a possible fine of up to $10,000.  The guilty party’s driver’s license or non-resident operating privilege is also revoked. Injured in a Hit and Run? Contact a Skilled Auto Accident Lawyer If you have questions regarding hit and run accidents, or any other personal injury concerns, call the Cottrell Law Office at (800) 364-8305 or send us an online message.

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Uncategorized

How Does the ADA Affect My Social Security Disability Claim in Rogers, AR?

Missouri residents with disabilities face many challenges, including receiving appropriate benefits and accommodations at work. It is common for people who qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits to also be entitled to accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Let our Joplin, MO Social Security Disability attorneys explain the interplay between these two types of benefits available to individuals with disabilities. What is Social Security Disability? Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a benefits programs designed for the disabled and managed by the Social Security Administration. SSDI is only available to workers who have earned enough “work credits” with Social Security in order to be entitled to benefits. If you qualify and you are unemployed because of a physical or mental disability, then you may be entitled to certain benefits. When your disability application is submitted, your file is turned over to a designated state office that actually reviews your medical records and any other documentation you submit along with it. In Missouri, it is known as Missouri Disability Determination Services. These state agencies determine medical eligibility for Social Security disability for their residents. However, the process has been standardized throughout the country. Accommodations for Individuals Covered by the ADA The ADA refers to the Americans with Disabilities Act, which protects individuals with certain disabilities from being discriminated against in the workplace. The ADA also requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities in order for them to perform their job duties. However, if a requested accommodation would create an undue hardship on the employer, then the employer may not be required to provide that accommodation. Differences in SSD and the ADA One of the most basic differences between the ADA and SSD is that they have very different eligibility requirements. In particular, for an individual to receive SSD benefits, they must not be able to work. On the other hand, ADA protections are available for those who can still perform their essential job duties but may need a reasonable accommodation to do so. For that reason, individuals who qualify for SSD benefits typically do not qualify for ADA accommodations. This does not mean that you cannot make claims under both. If you have further questions about the differences, speak with one of our Joplin disability attorneys. How the Social Security Administration Considers ADA Accommodations When the Social Security Administration considers your disability claim, they will look at whether you have been able to perform your job duties. In doing so, they will consider any accommodations you may have received from your employer in order to perform your job in the past. In many cases, the Social Security Administration uses a vocational expert to assess whether an individual is capable of performing certain jobs. The required job duties are determined by the Dictionary of Occupational Titles published by the US Department of Labor. This dictionary provides a list of job titles and descriptions for all jobs for the entire country. Then the expert will determine the ability to perform those duties in light of their physical or mental limitations. Some Attorneys Recommend that you Stop Working When Applying for SSD Benefits Like collecting unemployment benefits, it is better to stop working, since you are claiming your disability prevents you from working.  If you don’t quit your job entirely, you should at least cut your hours substantially, in order to not jeopardize your eligibility for disability benefits. Social Security actually determines the amount of work you can do, while still being eligible for benefits.  This is known as the SGA (Substantial Gainful Activity). If you earn more than the Substantial Gainful Activity limit, your claim will likely be denied. Contact an Experienced Social Security Disability Attorney If you have further questions, discuss your situation with our Joplin disability attorneys. If you have questions regarding disability determinations, workplace accommodations, or any other Social Security disability 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

How Much Does a Wrongful Death Attorney Charge?

When asked, how much does a wrongful death attorney charge, the answer is not really that simple. The majority of wrongful death and other personal injury cases are billed on what is referred to as a “contingency fee” basis. This system of payment allows the injured party to hire an attorney without having to pay the cost of legal fees up front. Based on this system, the client does not pay anything initially.  If the lawsuit is resolved successfully, then the attorney would generally be entitled to a percentage of the monetary award, plus expenses. Frequently Asked Questions About Wrongful Death Attorney Fees Below, our experienced Arkansas wrongful death lawyers answer common questions about the attorney fees for wrongful death attorneys. What is a Wrongful Death Contingency Fee Agreement? A contingency fee agreement refers to a payment arrangement where the client does not have to pay any fees up front.  Instead, the client agrees to pay the wrongful death attorney a percentage of the client’s award, should they win the case. The rules governing the practice of law in your state will most likely determine what percentage is appropriate in a contingency fee agreement. What is the Purpose of Contingency Fees? The basic purpose of the contingency fee arrangement is to allow the client to pay little or no upfront costs, and ultimately to pay nothing unless the wrongful death case is won. At that point, the attorney receives a specified percentage of the recovery as a fee. If the case is lost and there is no recovery, the attorney does not receive a legal fee. When are Contingency Fee Agreements Used? Contingency fee agreements are normally used in cases where a plaintiff is seeking money damages for an injury. Depending on the nature of the case and the damages being claimed, attorneys may not always accept a contingency fee arrangement. Some legal claims have limits on how much a plaintiff can recover in damages, in which case an attorney may not be willing to work on a contingency fee basis. Typically, though, wrongful death cases are handled on a contingency fee basis. What to Expect with a Wrongful Death Contingency Fee Agreement After a contingency fee agreement has been reached, the wrongful death attorney pays all of the expenses associated with the lawsuit. These expenses can include filing fees, payment of depositions, and copies of medical records. In many cases, expert witnesses are required to testify, which is another expense that the attorney will pay up front. If the attorney is successful in resolving the case for the client, the written contingency contract will control how the funds are ultimately dispersed. Some contingency fee agreements operate under a graduated percentage contract. Some contingency fee contracts provide for expenses plus a percentage of the recovery. Contact an Experienced Arkansas and Missouri Wrongful Death Lawyer If you have questions regarding wrongful death claims, or any other personal injury concerns, call the Cottrell Law Office at (800) 364-8305 or send us a message.

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Workers' Compensation

Does Missouri Workers' Compensation Cover Coronavirus (COVID-19) Claims?

We are currently in the midst of an unprecedented and nationwide pandemic, and nothing is certain. Coronavirus has rapidly begun to affect nearly every facet of life, and workers’ compensation legal claims in Missouri are no exception. While businesses continue to adapt to these ever-changing circumstances, this will also inevitably give rise to questions about workers’ compensation rights and benefits for employees. If you are wondering how COVID-19 could affect your workers’ comp rights, contact us today. While our Joplin, Missouri workers’ compensation lawyers don’t take employment or unemployment cases, we do have extensive experience handling workers’ compensation claims. We are ready to adapt to these changing times and help you with your case. Overview of Missouri Workers’ Compensation Missouri workers’ compensation laws provide a statutory avenue for recovery for employees who sustain work-related injuries or diseases. If you sustain injuries that arise out of and in the course of your employment, then you may be entitled to compensation. What Are Employers Required to Do? In general, a Missouri employer with five or more employees must carry workers’ compensation insurance. However, construction companies with one or more employees must also carry workers’ compensation insurance.Additionally, under Missouri workers’ compensation law, an employer or its insurer must provide compensation for medical treatment and care to cure and provide relief to an employee injured on the job. However, the employer does have the right to choose the medical provider for the injured employee. What Do I Need to Do? To get the compensation you deserve, there are certain steps that you must take. Below are some crucial things to keep in mind as you navigate your workers’ compensation claim: Notify your employer First and foremost, you must report any work-related injury immediately to your employer or supervisor in writing. Failure to do so within thirty days of an accident or diagnosis for any occupational disease could jeopardize your potential recovery. Seek medical care While the employer has the right to choose the provider or treating physician, your employer must cover the cost. Thus, once you get approval from your employer, you should absolutely get the medical care and treatment you are entitled to. Act fast There is a two-year time limit to file a claim with the Division of Workers’ Compensation, so time is of the essence. Make sure to contact an attorney as soon as practicable to maximize your chances of success. Benefits Available Workers’ compensation is a great benefit to employees. In general, an employer’s workers’ compensation insurance will pay for all reasonably necessary medical care related to your on-the-job injury or illness. Specifically, employers must compensate employees for the following under Missouri workers’ compensation law: Medical, surgical, and chiropractic services; Hospital treatment; Nursing and custodial expenses; Ambulance costs; and Medicine. However, make sure that you first get approval for your treatment. Otherwise, you may end up being responsible for the expenses you incur. Missouri workers’ compensation will also help make up for lost wages if you are unable to work for a period of time due to your workplace accident. If your injury results in permanent disability, you may even be entitled to long-term benefits. Workers’ Compensation for Occupational Diseases Missouri workers’ compensation law specifically covers occupational diseases in addition to injuries sustained on the job. An occupational disease is a condition or illness that results from exposure in the workplace.Employees who contract an occupational disease are generally eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. However, Missouri workers’ compensation law requires an employee to prove that the workplace environment was the “prevailing factor” that caused the medical condition and disability. This means that the cause of contracting the occupational disease must be related to the conditions that exist in that particular job. How Coronavirus Relates to Missouri Workers’ Compensation This raises an important question: Can you recover workers’ compensation benefits if you contract COVID-19? The answer, unfortunately, may not be so simple. Generally, workers’ compensation benefits are not available for ordinary diseases that the public at large is exposed to, such as the flu or common cold. However, due to the unprecedented nature of Coronavirus, this is largely uncharted territory. On the one hand, COVID-19 is a nationwide pandemic, to which a significant portion of the public has certainly been exposed. This could make it difficult to prove that the workplace environment was the prevailing factor in contracting the disease, which is necessary to prevail on a workers’ compensation claim. On the other hand, the State of Missouri has not closed off any possibility of covering such claims. In fact, Governor Mike Parson and State Labor Department Director Anna Hui recently announced a new rule providing that all first responders who contract COVID-19 shall be presumed to have contracted the virus in the course of their official duties. This could go a long way in determining how workers’ compensation coverage for Coronavirus will be handled moving forward. How a Missouri Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Can Help It is always a good idea to contact a Missouri workers’ comp lawyer to discuss any legal issues you may be facing. But now, more than ever, it is crucial. The legal landscape is rapidly changing to accommodate and adapt to the issues raised by COVID-19. If you believe you have contracted COVID-19 during the course of your work, you may be entitled to compensation. However, navigating a successful claim on your own may be an uphill battle. An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer can help you assess your case and fight to prove that your work environment was the prevailing factor in contracting COVID-19. This could make the difference in achieving a successful claim. Contact Us Today If your workers’ compensation claim has been denied, you believe you have not received all the benefits you are entitled to, or you have questions about whether your Coronavirus-related claim qualifies under Missouri workers’ compensation law, now is the time to act. When it comes to your health and your workers’ compensation claims, you deserve the best. Wes Cottrell has […]

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Workers' Compensation

Guide to Missouri Workers’ Compensation Claims

A work-related injury comes with many hardships. If you have been injured while on the job or diagnosed with a disease caused by harmful exposure at work, the Missouri workers’ compensation law can provide relief. Types of workers’ compensation benefits may include medical care, lost wages, and possible disability. Our experienced Missouri workers’ compensation lawyers will explain what you should know. What Is Workers’ Compensation? Workers’ compensation is a type of required insurance used to cover workers injured on the job. This kind of insurance covers medical care, part of a worker’s lost wages, and, if needed, permanent disability. In return for carrying workers’ compensation insurance, employers are immune from lawsuits arising out of work-related injuries. Workers’ Compensation Eligibility Employees are eligible for workers’ compensation coverage simply by working for an employer carrying this type of insurance. Employers are required by law to maintain workers’ compensation for their employees. Workers Covered Under Missouri Workers’ Compensation If an employer in the construction industry has a business with one or more employees, they must carry Missouri workers’ compensation insurance. For all other industries, a business must carry Missouri workers’ compensation insurance if it has five or more employees. Postal, railroad, and maritime employees are not required to have Missouri workers’ compensation insurance, as federal laws cover them. Exemptions to Missouri Workers’ Compensation Missouri workers’ compensation requirements do not apply to: Farm labor, Real estate agents and direct sellers, Domestic servants Occasional work performed in private households, Certain unpaid volunteers, Certain inmates, and Specific individuals employed by youth programs. Jobs outside this list may be entitled to workers’ compensation. Covered Injuries To qualify for workers’ comp in Missouri, injuries must arise out of work performed during the time of employment. Injuries occurring while an employee commutes to and from work, or those for which the cause is unknown, are not covered by Missouri workers’ compensation. Steps to Take When Injured on the Job 1. Report the Injury Report the injury immediately to your manager or supervisor. Failure to notify your employer within 30 days of the work-related injury or diagnosis may put your workers’ compensation benefits at risk. It is best to report the injury or diagnosis in writing with great detail. If your employer has an accident or injury report form, complete and return it to your employer as soon as possible. Should your employer not carry a report form, it is available here from the official Missouri Division of Workers’ Compensation. 2. Get Medical Treatment Should the work-related injury require medical care, communicate your needs to your employer. Under Missouri law, employers can select their preferred doctors in workers’ comp cases. Employers must provide employees with medical care and file the proper paperwork with the Division of Workers’ Compensation. 3. Seek Legal Help To better understand your rights and receive all necessary benefits, a Missouri workers’ compensation lawyer can be of great assistance. Timeline for Filing Workers’ Comp in Missouri If an employee decides to file a workers’ comp claim, the Missouri Division of Workers’ Compensation must receive the claim. The claim must be made within two years after the date of the injury or within two years after the final benefit payment is made, if payment was made. If the employer does not promptly file a report of injury with the Division, an employee is then given three years after the date of injury or the last benefit payment made to file a claim. Types of Workers’ Compensation Benefits Medical Care Medical testing and treatment, prescription, and medical devices are covered under Missouri workers’ comp. There is no deductible to be paid by employees, and all medical costs are covered by either the employer or their workers’ comp insurance company. The employer reserves the right to send employees to a physician of their choosing. All medical costs are covered, provided the employee seeks medical treatment with the authorized care provider. Should the employee seek their own unauthorized medical care provider or treatment, the employer and their workers’ comp insurance company are not required to pay. Reimbursement for Lost Wages If a work-related injury keeps you from returning to work for some time, you may be eligible for temporary total disability. If you are able to return to work with instructions to perform light or modified work and are earning less than full pay, you may be eligible for temporary partial disability. Temporary disability benefits continue until full work is resumed or when medical treatment is completed. Compensation for Permanent Disability Once you have reached maximum medical improvement (you have recovered as much as physically possible), but are left with a permanent disability, you may be entitled to certain benefits. Permanent partial disability You may be awarded permanent partial disability if the work-related injury has left you unable to perform specific work tasks, but not completely unable to work. For example, you may still be able to work at some job, but perhaps not the job you had at the time of injury. A lump-sum payment may be available depending on the extent of the injury. Permanent total disability Permanent total disability is available if you are no longer able to work in any capacity. If the work-related injury is the cause of the permanent total disability, you may be eligible to receive weekly payments for life from the employer or their workers’ comp insurance company. A lump sum instead of weekly payments may also be available. Survivor Benefits If an employee dies from a work-related injury or disease, their surviving dependents may receive weekly benefits paid at approximately 66% of the employee’s weekly benefits at the time of injury. The employer is required by law to pay for the deceased employee’s funeral expenses up to $5,000. Additional Benefits Available for Diseases Caused by Toxic Exposure Enhanced benefit payments are available for employees who have become partially or totally disabled or have died due to diseases caused by toxic exposure. Enhanced Benefits An amount equal to 200% of Missouri’s average weekly […]

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Personal Injury

Is My Personal Injury Settlement Taxable?

Anyone who has been injured through someone’s negligence may be entitled to receive compensation, typically in one or two ways. Either you can settle the matter outside of court or you can file a lawsuit and obtain a legal judgment through the court system. Generally speaking, jury awards in civil lawsuits result in more substantial recovery than a settlement. However, a favorable jury verdict is not always guaranteed.For that reason, as a personal injury lawyer in Joplin can attest, the majority of personal injury claims settle before trial. But the question is whether that settlement will be taxable. When Does an Injury Settlement Occur? On the whole, a personal injury settlement will only occur when either the defendant or the defendant’s insurance carrier makes an offer of payment, but only before liability has been established. The offer of settlement can be made before the lawsuit is filed or after the lawsuit has been filed.  A settlement can occur before the court dismisses the case. A case could even be settled right before or during the trial, as long as the jury has not yet returned a verdict. In fact, in some cases, an injury settlement can be reached while the jury is deliberating. What Happens After a Settlement? As any personal injury lawyer in Joplin has experienced, only a small percentage of personal injury cases are tried to a verdict. Once you accept the settlement offer and the defendant has been notified, you just need to wait to receive the settlement proceeds. A common question that many clients ask is whether their settlement award will be subject to personal income taxes. The answer to that question depends on a few factors. Compensation for a Physical Injury is not Taxable Generally speaking, settlement proceeds received from a typical personal injury claim are not subject to either federal or state taxes. That is true regardless of whether you settle the case before or after filing a lawsuit or if you went to trial. Under Federal tax law, damages received as a result of personal physical injury or illness are excluded from the gross income of the taxpayer. Damage Awards Related to Personal Injury are Also Excluded In addition, damages meant to compensate for lost wages, medical bills, emotional distress, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and attorney fees are also not taxable, but only if they relate to a claim for personal injury or illness. Exceptions to the Rule Even if you suffer a physical injury or illness, you can be taxed on any damages that relate to a breach of contract if it as the breach of contract that is the basis of your lawsuit and caused your injury. Also, punitive damages are always taxable. For that reason, a personal injury lawyer in Joplin will typically ask the court or jury to separate the verdict into compensatory damages and punitive damages. That way, it will be easier to demonstrate to the IRS that portion of the award was untaxable for the compensatory damages. Interest Accrued on a Judgment is Taxable In some cases, you may also be awarded interest on a judgment for the length of time the case has been pending. The interest that is earned on the judgment is taxable. For instance, if your lawsuit was filed on January 1, 2017, you could be awarded interest on the judgment starting from that date and continuing until the judgment is paid. This can be significant if the case is appealed, for example.  All of the tax that accrues is taxable. Claims for Emotional Injury Only are Taxable Considering the rule that a settlement or judgment is only non-taxable if it arises from a physical injury or illness if your claim is only based on emotional distress or employment discrimination for instance, but no actual physical injury, then your settlement or judgment would be taxable. A Personal Injury Lawyer in Joplin, MO Can Help Ensure Your Award is Not Taxed In many personal injury cases, there may be more than one claim against the defendant. That would result in a portion of the award being taxable and the other portion being non-taxable. As a personal injury lawyer in Joplin understands, it is important to explicitly state in the settlement agreement that the awards for the two different types of claims need to be kept separate. Although the IRS may challenge your claim that the settlement or judgment is non-taxable, when you specifically allocating your settlement in this way, you will have the best chance of keeping most of the settlement excluded from taxation. If you have questions regarding taxation of personal injury awards, or any other personal injury issues in Missouri or Arkansas, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation, either online or by calling toll-free at (800) 364-8305.

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