You may be wondering when you should hire a Joplin workers compensation attorney. If there are any complex issues in your case, the wisest decision is to consult with an experienced attorney. For example, if your employer denies your claim or you do not receive your benefits as you should, then an attorney should get involved. A large majority of employees who suffer workplace injuries do not appeal the denial of their claim. Consulting a Joplin workers compensation attorney can give you a better chance of receiving a fair settlement for your injuries. First, you need to know how long you have to file your claim.
Be sure to report your injury within the time required
One mistake you can make when it comes to workers compensation claims is confusing the need to report your injury with actually filing a worker’s comp claim. If you fail to report your injury or delay in reporting your injury, you may be abandoning your claim. Under Missouri workers compensation law, you are required to report your on-the-job injury within 30 days of its occurrence.
Your notice should be in writing and should include the date, time and place of your injury. The notice typically needs to be delivered to your supervisor or other appropriate officer of your employer. Your notice should also describe the nature and severity of the injury. Keep in mind that failure to report your work-related injury within that 30-day period could result in losing your right to workers compensation benefits.
You must timely file your workers compensation claim
Once again, reporting your injury to your employer is not the same as filing a workers compensation claim. Generally speaking, a workers compensation claim must be filed within 2 years of the date of the injury. There are a few exceptions where that deadline can be extended. However, it is never wise to delay filing your claim because you risk waiving your right to benefits. Regardless, if you were treated for a work-related injury within the last three years and you have not yet received a lump sum settlement, then you should seek the advice of a Joplin workers compensation attorney as soon as possible in order to protect your rights.
Why do I need to file a workers compensation claim?
The purpose of a workers compensation claim is to ensure that employees who become injured on the job can be reimbursed for those injuries, without having to resort to the courts. The way the 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. But, what happens if you file a lawsuit anyway?
Workers’ Compensation is the exclusive remedy available
Before this 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.
Can I still file a lawsuit against my employer?
If you are not covered by workers compensation laws, meaning you are not eligible for workers compensation benefits, you can bring a civil claim against your employer for your injuries. Also, if the injuries you sustained at work were the result of someone’s intentional conduct, you may be able to bring an action. Depending on the circumstances of your injury, you may also have claims against someone other than your employer.
Deciding whether to settle your workers compensation claim
In some cases, an employer will offer to settle a workers’ comp claim for an amount that does not actually cover your lost wages and your medical bills. If you are concerned that the settlement offer your employer made is not sufficient, it is a good idea to consult with an attorney. It is not always good to simply allow the Workers’ Comp judge to determine whether the settlement is fair because they typically approve the agreement as long as it isn’t unfair.
If you have questions regarding workers comp matters in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us toll-free at (888) 433-4861.
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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