MO workers compensation guide

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 wage payable for 100 weeks after the date of diagnosis (those diagnosed with mesothelioma are eligible for 300% for 212 weeks).

Survivor Benefits

If an employee dies before all benefits are paid, benefits will then be paid to surviving spouse or children, including the required death benefits provided by law. If there is no surviving spouse or children, the remaining amount is paid to the employee’s estate.

Permanent Total Disability

Permanent total disability benefits are paid when all enhanced benefits or additional benefits have been exhausted.

Second Injury Fund

Missouri’s Second Injury Fund may help injured workers when a current work-related injury combines with a previous disability to create an increased disability. The specific formula used to calculate the Second Injury Fund benefits will vary by case.

What Happens After a Claim Is Filed?


The employer and their workers’ comp insurance have 30 days to file an Answer to the Claim for Compensation. The Answer is prepared by the lawyer representing the employer and the workers’ compensation insurance company. The Answer will either admit or deny the allegations made in the claim filed by the employee.

If a claim is also made to Missouri’s Second Injury Fund, the Attorney General’s office also has 30 days to answer the Claim for Compensation.

Settlement Discussions

Either party may request a pre-hearing or mediation at any time to discuss the issue at hand and attempt to resolve it.


If the issue is not settled in the above manner, an evidentiary hearing can be requested by either party to determine whether the employee is eligible for the benefits they seek.


If either party is dissatisfied with the award, they may ask for a review from the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission (LIRC). From the LIRC, there may be an appeal made to the Missouri Court of Appeals or the Missouri Supreme Court.

How Can a Missouri Workers’ Compensation Attorney Help with Your Claim?

A Missouri workers’ compensation lawyer can be an invaluable ally. Workers’ compensation claims can be tricky to navigate on your own, and a knowledgeable attorney can help streamline the process to get you maximum benefits.

Wes Cottrell has over 32 years of experience helping the injured in Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Kansas. He has the skills and proven results to help you obtain the compensation you are entitled to. Contact us to learn more about your rights as a victim of a work-related injury. Call the Cottrell Law Office today at (800) 364-8305.

Author Photo

Wesley Cottrell

Wes Cottrell earned his B.A. from Pittsburg State University in 1981 and his J.D. from the Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kansas in 1985. He was admitted to practice law in Kansas in 1986, in Missouri in 1987, in Arkansas in 1989, and Oklahoma in 1993. He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.

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