Workers’ Compensation benefits are intended to provide health care benefits to employees who are injured on the job, without having to resort to the courts. Typically, if you suffer a personal injury as a result of your work on a job, you would sue your employer for compensation.
The way the Workers’ Compensation system works is that the injured employee receives compensation for the work-related injuries and agrees not to file a legal action against the employer. The employee is not required to prove negligence or liability in order to be compensated for his injuries; making it essentially a no-fault system. Here are some of the most important Workers’ Compensation rules that apply in Missouri.
Worker’s Compensation Benefits in Missouri
Workers’ Compensation coverage is paid by your employer at no cost to you. However, it is your responsibility to report any work-related accidents or injuries to your employer as soon as it happens. Workers’ Compensation insurance benefits pay for reasonably necessary medical care you receive as a result of a work-related illness or injury.
It is important to recognize that your employer or your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier has the right to select which doctor will provide your medical treatment. Workers’ compensation benefits may also replace a portion of your lost wages if your doctor says you need to be off work for a certain period of time because of a work-related illness or injury.
The Process of Obtaining Medical Care and Other Benefits Through Workers’ Compensation
In order to begin receiving Workers’ Compensation benefits, your employer must first report the injury or illness to its workers’ compensation insurance carrier. This is typically done by submitting a First Report of Injury or Illness. Then you will go see the doctor chosen by your employer or your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier for the necessary treatment.
It is important to do everything your employer requests and be cooperative. Otherwise, your benefits could be stopped or delayed. That means complete all workers’ compensation forms timely, keep all of your doctor’s appointments. You should obtain approval from the carrier before actually receiving treatment. If you are not satisfied with the doctor they tell you to see, you can ask them to approve another doctor.
Types of Medical Benefits You Can Receive
Workers’ Compensation insurance will generally pay for all reasonably necessary medical care related to your on-the-job injury or illness. This includes visits to an approved health care provider, necessary surgeries, hospital care, physical therapy, prescription drugs, braces, and crutches or other medical supplies, as long as they are ordered by your approved physician.
You are not responsible for the medical bills as long as the workers’ compensation carrier has approved the health care provider from whom you receive treatment. Therefore, before being treated make sure you have that approval. Otherwise, if you see a doctor without the carrier’s approval, you may be legally responsible for the expenses you incur. As long as your treatment is approved, the doctor will either bill the insurance carrier directly or you can send the bill to your employer or the carrier.
Payment for Lost Wages Under the Worker’s Compensation System
In cases where you are absent from work because of a work-related injury or illness, you may be entitled to receive cash benefits, often referred to as indemnity benefits. However, the waiting period for these benefits is seven calendar days and will only be awarded at the direction of your approved doctor. Payments for lost wages are meant to help you through the period of time you are disabled from your workplace injury or illness. Your coverage will begin on the eighth day of partial or total disability and you will be compensated for the first seven days only if you are disabled for more than fourteen days.
What is Workers’ Compensation Retaliation in Missouri?
The Missouri workers’ compensation statute prohibits an employer from discriminating or discharging an employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim. To successfully bring a claim, you must prove you were an employee before the injury, you filed a workers’ compensation claim, your employer discharged or discriminated against you, and a causal relationship existed between the filing of the workers’ compensation claim and discharge or discrimination.
Retaliation Often Includes More Than Simply Termination
Unlawful discrimination or retaliation for exercising workers’ compensation rights includes more than just termination. The following kinds of employment actions can also be lawful if it is determined that the employer was motivated by an employee exercising his or her rights:
- Poor performance review
- Failure to promote
- Reduction of wages
- Intimidation in the workplace
- Threats of adverse action
- Negative reassignment, reclassification or transfer
- Unreasonable increase or decrease in job duties
- Unwarranted disciplinary action
Call for a Free Consultation at Our Rogers or Joplin Office
If you have questions regarding worker’s compensation benefits, retaliation or any other workers’ compensation issues in Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation, either online or by calling toll-free at 800-364-8305.