workers' compensation in joplinThere are many jobs out there that carry with them a high risk of injury, such as construction, grounds maintenance, electrical maintenance and installation, roofing, mining – the list goes on.  There are also jobs that frequently cause repetitive movement injuries or illnesses due to, for instance, exposure to toxins.  So, what happens if you are injured while working?  Who is responsible for paying for necessary medical treatment?  That depends on the state you work in and the type of employer you work for.  If your state requires your employer to maintain workers’ compensation insurance, then you will be able to file a claim for payment of your medical expenses.

What is Workers’ Compensation?

Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that provides reimbursement for medical care for employees that are injured while working.  This right to reimbursement requires the employee to forfeit his or her right to sue the employer for negligence related to the injury.  Each state has its own requirements and scope of benefits.
The purpose of state workers’ compensation laws is to provide employees who are injured on the job with insurance coverage.  These laws were designed so that the employee is not required to prove who was at fault for the injury before the employee can receive benefits.  Before these laws were implemented, an employee who was injured or made sick while at work would have to hire an attorney and file a lawsuit against their employer in order to be compensated for that injury.  Now, in exchange for benefits, employees agree not to sue their employers.

Is my employer required to maintain workers’ compensation insurance?

If you live in Arkansas, and your employer has at least three (3) employees, that employer is required to have workers’ compensation insurance coverage. There may be some exceptions to this requirement.  In Missouri, any employer with five (5) or more employees must maintain workers’ compensation insurance.  One important exception in Missouri is for employers in the construction industry.  Those employers must carry workers’ compensation coverage as long as they have just one employee.

What kind of benefits or compensation will I receive?

Typically, workers’ compensation benefits can include medical expenses, lost wages, and vocational rehabilitation, if necessary.  Benefits may also be available for the family if a worker is killed while on the job.  It is not uncommon that an injured employee and his or her employer do not see eye to eye on what an injury is worth.  However, most state workers’ compensation laws provide specific limits on the amount of benefits the employee can receive for a workplace injury.  An employer would not be required to make any payments above those preset limits.

Exceptions to coverage

There are some situations where an employee may not be covered, even if an injury occurred on the employer’s premises.  For instance,  if the employee was injured while under the influence of alcohol or drugs or while committing a crime, the claim will be rejected.  Also, if an injury is self-inflicted, it will not be covered. If you have any questions about workers’ compensation in Joplin, contact the Cottrell Law Office.

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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