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.
If you sustained an injury on the job, you may need medical treatment and time off work to recover. With few exceptions, employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage to address these needs.
Unfortunately, some employers fail to provide the required insurance coverage. Others may deny benefits to injured workers or terminate benefits prematurely. Some employers retaliate against employees who file legitimate workers’ comp claims.
If you believe you aren’t getting the benefits you are entitled to, you need an experienced advocate to fight for you. The workers’ compensation attorneys at the Cottrell Law Office can help. We assist injured workers in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Kansas. We fight to protect your rights and help you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries and lost wages.
Please don’t hesitate to contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney for assistance.
Do You Qualify for Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Although the laws vary between states, most employers are required by law to provide coverage for their employees.
If you sustained an injury on the job, you are likely entitled to have your medical treatment paid for under your employer’s workman’s compensation insurance. You may also be entitled to at least partial compensation for your lost wages.
Under the standard workers’ compensation rules, this coverage is considered to be “no fault” insurance. This means that even if the injury accident was your fault, you are still covered—with only a few exceptions. Outside of those exceptions, your employer cannot wrongfully deny your benefits.
Your employer may be able to deny your benefits if you caused an on-the-job injury accident while you were:
- Drunk or high,
- Breaking the law,
- Engaged in unsafe behavior,
- Not wearing required safety gear,
- Violating company policy, or
- Violating safety rules or regulations.
These and other exceptions may leave room for interpretation, potentially opening the door for your employer to deny your benefits wrongly. Workers compensation lawyers understand this complex area of the law. With an experienced attorney on your side, you can fight to get the benefits you deserve.
The specific workers’ compensation benefits to which you are entitled vary based on the laws of your state.
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. Visit your state’s page to learn more about its specific laws and how they affect your job-related injury claim.
- 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.
How to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim
The deadlines and details for filing a workers’ compensation claim vary slightly from state to state; however, the process is essentially the same:
- The employee must report an injury accident to their employer prior to the prescribed deadline;
- The employer must then advise the injured employee how to obtain treatment within the allotted time frame;
- The employee must file a formal accident report with the insurance company; and
- The insurance company will award benefits based on a medical examination and the recommendations of the doctor.
Be very careful when completing the formal accident report for the insurance company. Your employer and the insurer can use anything you include in your report as a basis for denying your benefits.
Another area of concern is the medical examination. Both your employer and the insurance company want to minimize the benefits they must pay out. Consequently, the doctor you are required to see might try to downplay the seriousness of your injury or deny necessary treatment.
Consult an experienced workers’ comp attorney to discuss these potential areas of concern. Your attorney can assist you in preparing your formal report, helping protect your legal right to obtain benefits. Your attorney can also help you get the care you need and seek appropriate compensation for any temporary or permanent disability you might have suffered.
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 Our Workers’ Compensation Attorneys
The workers’ compensation lawyers of the Cottrell Law Office understand how frustrated you may be if you aren’t getting the medical care and compensation you deserve. We can assist you in filing a new claim or appealing a denial of your original claim. We can also help if your employer has denied your benefits or has retaliated against you for filing a claim.