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Your Rights Under the Missouri Workers' Compensation Law


What is the Workers' Compensation Law?

All states have workers' compensation laws. The Missouri Workers' Compensation Law is contained in Chapter 287 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri. The workers' compensation statute is the law that controls the rights and obligations of employees and employers when employees are injured at work.


Which State's Laws Apply to My Case?

The state in which your accident occurred will have jurisdiction in your case. Also, the state in which your contract or hire with your employer was entered into may also have jurisdiction. Finally, the state in which your employment was principally located could also have jurisdiction. In some cases, there is jurisdiction in more than one state. In those cases, you have a right to pursue your claim in any state having jurisdiction. Your rights and benefits will vary from state to state.


Who is Covered ?

If your employer has five or more employees, or if your employer is in the construction industry and has even one employee, it is required by Missouri law to either obtain insurance coverage or become authorized to self-insure so you will be protected.


I was Injured at Work. What Should I Do?

If you have been injured at work, the first thing you should do is report your injury to your supervisor. Missouri law requires employees to provide prompt notice of any injury or accident to their employer.


Will I be Paid for Scarring ?

In Missouri you can be paid for scarring or other disfigurement if it is to your head, neck, arms or hands. The disfigurement payment is determined by the administrative law judge.


How Do I Get Medical Treatment?

Under Missouri law, the employer (and not the insurance company) has the right to select the treating doctor. If you need to see a doctor as the result of an on-the-job injury, you should tell your employer you want to see a doctor. If your employer does not refer you to any particular doctor, you should ask your employer which doctor to see. Since your employer has the right to select the treating doctor, your employer (and its insurance company) may not have to pay your bills if you choose to go to your own doctor.


Will I be Paid When I am Off Work?

If the treating doctor certifies that you are unable to work, you should be entitled to "temporary total disability benefits" under the Missouri Workers' Compensation Law when you are off work. You will not be paid benefits for the first three regularly scheduled work days you are off, but you should be paid for each day missed thereafter, and also for the first three days if you are off more than two weeks. The amount of these benefits is two-thirds of your gross average weekly wage, subject to certain maximums which change each year. The law contains a formula for determining your average wage, which usually involves computing the average gross wages you earned over the 13 weeks prior to the accident.


What if My Employer Failed to Obtain Insurance?

If your employer failed to either obtain insurance or become authorized to self-insure its liability, and if you have sustained an injury arising out of and in the course of your employment with that employer, you have the right to either sue your employer in civil court for damages (if you can prove your employer was negligent in causing your injury) or file a workers' compensation claim against your employer with the Missouri Division of Workers' Compensation. Also, when employers fail to obtain insurance coverage or become authorized to self-insure when required, state law allows the Missouri Second Injury Fund to pay for an employee's medical bills if the employer fails to do so.


Will I Be Paid Mileage for Doctor’s Visits?

In Missouri, you are entitled to be paid mileage for driving for medical treatment, but only if you are required to be treated "outside of the local or metropolitan area from the place of injury or the place of [your] residence," subject to a 500- mile round trip limit.


Are Occupational Diseases Covered?

In Missouri, occupational diseases (as well as accidents) are covered.


What is the Second Injury Fund?

In Missouri, if you had a physical or mental disability before you were hurt at work, you might qualify for additional benefits from the Second Injury Fund. The purpose of the Second Injury Fund is to encourage employers to hire and retain employees who have disabilities. Claims against the Second Injury Fund must comply with special time limits in the law.


What is "Vocational Rehabilitation?"

Vocational rehabilitation services are designed to help injured people return to work. The Missouri Workers' Compensation Law does not require the employer or its insurance carrier to provide vocational rehabilitation assistance to injured workers. However, they may be furnished by an employer or insurance carrier at their option. Also, you may qualify for assistance from the Missouri State Division of Vocational Rehabilitation if, because of your injury, you are unable to return to your former work and you need help finding another line of work.


When Should I File a Claim?

Generally, a claim under the Missouri Workers' Compensation Law must be filed with the Division of Workers' Compensation within two years of the date of the accident, the last payment of workers' compensation benefits, or the last medical treatment provided.  Or, within three years of the last of those dates if the employer failed to file the Report of Injury with the Division of Workers' Compensation. Remember that simply notifying your employer or its insurance carrier about your injury does not constitute filing a claim. A claim is "filed" by filing the claim form with the Division of Workers' Compensation. A claim against the Second Injury Fund must be filed within two years of the date of the accident or within one year after the claim is filed against the employer, whichever is later.


What if I am Unable to Return to Work?

If you are permanently and totally disabled from all types of employment, you may qualify for "permanent total disability benefits.”. The weekly rate for these benefits is the same as the temporary total rate. You may also qualify for Social Security disability benefits. You should contact the Social Security office, or consult your attorney to apply for those benefits. In some cases Social Security disability benefits are reduced by your workers' compensation benefits.


Will I Get a Settlement?

If you are able to return to work after your injury, you may be entitled to a settlement or payment for your "permanent partial disability" if you have permanent disability as a result of a covered accident or injury. The amount that you will receive for your permanent injury depends on the extent of your disability. Your disability may be evaluated by doctors or other experts. There are formulas in the workers' compensation statute to determine the amount of permanent partial disability awards. The amount of the settlement will vary depending upon several factors, including the disability ratings from the doctors, your average weekly wage and the date of your accident. Doctors often disagree regarding the percentage of permanent partial disability in any given case. The amount of your permanent partial disability, if any, probably cannot be determined until you have completed your medical treatment.


Do I Need a Lawyer?

Not everyone who suffers an injury or illness at work needs a lawyer. However, a lawyer can answer your questions and represent your interests in your workers' compensation case. If necessary, your lawyer can take your case to trial before an administrative law judge.


This pamphlet does not constitute legal advice.

Note that this pamphlet provides a general understanding of the Missouri Workers’ Compensation Law, and does not constitute legal advice of the Missouri Bar, of Michael W. Blum or of the Blum Law Firm, LLC. If you have additional questions, or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact Michael W. Blum at the address below:


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The Blum Law Firm, LLC
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Columbia, MO 65201-4800
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