The majority of the average individual’s life is spent at work, earning and providing for themselves and their families.
Inevitably, with that much time spent at the workplace, injuries while working are likely to occur at some point. Luckily, there is a state-run insurance program known as Workers’ Compensation, which provides wage replacement and medical benefits for injured employees.
Please don’t hesitate to contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney for assistance.
Workers’ Compensation Claims Differ by State
Workers’ compensation insurance eligibility and benefits differ from state to state. The differences can be significant.
The workers’ compensation attorneys at the Cottrell Law Office are extremely knowledgeable regarding the workers’ compensation laws for Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma. Click one of the links below for state-specific workers’ compensation rules:
- Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Laws
- Kansas Workers’ Compensation Laws
- Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Laws
- Missouri Workers’ Compensation Laws
In Arkansas, Workers’ compensation coverage is paid by your employer at no cost to you. However, it is your responsibility to report a work-related accident as soon as it occurs. Workers’ Compensation coverage will pay for reasonably necessary medical care and will also replace part of your lost wages if your doctor says you must be off work for a certain length of time because of a work-related injury or illness. Remember that either your employer or its workers’ compensation insurance carrier has the right to choose the doctor who will treat you.
In Missouri, employees are entitled to medical treatment and care, including all costs for authorized medical treatment, prescriptions, and medical devices. There is no deductible and all costs are paid by the employer or its workers’ compensation insurance company. In addition to medical benefits, an employee may be entitled to temporary total disability benefits and permanent partial or permanent total disability benefits.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits are Important for Employees
The key 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 employees who are covered under the law 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 lead to retaliation by your employer, the benefits may not seem worth the risk.
Your workers’ compensation lawyer can help you if that happens.
What does Workers’ Compensation Retaliation Mean?
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 they filed a workers compensation claim.
Retaliation for Making a Workers’ Compensation Claim is Prohibited
Although the right to workers’ compensation benefits is established by law, many employees are afraid to file a claim because they fear they lose their job. However, both Arkansas and Missouri law prohibit an employer from discriminating or firing an employee for filing a workers’ comp claim.
However, an employer may “lawfully discipline or terminate pending workers’ comp claimants [or] those who have former workers’ comp claims as long as it is not retaliatory and as long as it is based on misconduct that is unrelated to the workers’ compensation claim.” So, it may be difficult to prove that the discipline or termination is actually related to the worker’s compensation claim.
If you are treated differently at work following your submission of a workers’ compensation claim, seek the counsel of the experienced worker’s compensation attorneys at the Cottrell Law Office.
Retaliation takes many forms and we can explain your rights and assist you to pursue all available remedies.
How Widespread 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 workers compensation claims have dropped, the number of worker’s compensation retaliation claims has doubled.
A Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Explains Why some Employers Retaliate
The bad news is, many employers respond to claims of workplace injuries by blaming the employee for the injury and challenging the claim. Some employers even find ways to punish employees for making a workers compensation claim.
Consequently, many employees are fearful of bringing workers compensation claims because of the potential negative consequences. This type of conduct by employers goes against the purpose and goals of the worker’s compensation system, which is to quickly provide relief to employees who are injured on the job.
Your workers compensation lawyer can assist you.
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.
When Should You Hire a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer?
While it is certainly a good idea to consult a workers compensation lawyer when you are facing retaliation issues, which is not the only situation where professional advice would be wise.
When there are any complicated issues in your case, the wisest decision is to consult with a skilled workers compensation lawyer. For instance, if your employer denies your claim or you do not receive your benefits, as you should, then an attorney should get involved. Nearly 80% of employees who are injured at work do not appeal the denial of their claim.
Consulting a workers compensation lawyer provides you with the best chance of receiving a fair settlement for your injuries. Reach out to our firm to get started on your case.
Getting Help from Our Workers’ Compensation Lawyers
The Cottrell Law Office represents injured workers in Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma.
Our law firm is devoted to helping people obtain the compensation they are entitled to for their injuries. Every day our workers’ compensation lawyers talk to people who are unable to work due to a serious injury.
We understand the anxiety and stress of worrying about how to support yourself and your family. In every case, our only goal is to help you recover the compensation to which you are entitled.
Contact Us Today for a Free Workers’ Compensation Consultation
Before the workers compensation system was put into place, an employee’s only remedy was to file a lawsuit, which required proof of damages.
Now, nearly all employees are automatically entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Likewise, the employer is automatically protected from lawsuits based on the employee’s injury. Basically, workers compensation benefits are meant to be a substitute for filing a lawsuit against the employer. In other words, if you accept workers’ compensation benefits, you waive your right to file a lawsuit.
If you have questions regarding worker’s compensation benefits, retaliation or any other workers’ compensation issues in Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas or Oklahoma, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation, either online or by calling toll-free at (800) 364-8305.