St. Louis Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Hiring a St. Louis Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Many workers that are injured on the job are cheated out of their rightful compensation from employers and insurance companies. More often than not, the injuries are downplayed to reduce benefits. At other times, employers might claim the injury occurred outside of the workplace to avoid compensating workers.
You can make sure you receive all due benefits by getting a workers’ compensation lawyer on your side. Having legal counsel makes applying for and receiving compensation simpler, faster and convenient.
To find out how a St. Louis workers compensation attorney can assist you, give us a call. We’d be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Finding the Right Workers’ Compensation Lawyer in St. Louis
If you have suffered an injury on the job, it is best to find an attorney specializing in personal injury. Fortunately, we have years of experience with work comp processes. Not only can we simplify the application process, we can also help you avoid the fraudulent strategies frequently used to rob workers of their compensation.
As active members of organizations that regulate laws in Missouri, our team of attorneys are always aware of changes in workers’ compensation acts. Despite laws that work against workers, we employ our years of expertise to protect your rights and ensure our clients receive what they deserve.
How to File a Work Comp Claim
Any business with four or more workers in the state of Missouri is required by law to have workers’ compensation insurance. The only exception is construction companies, which are obliged to have insurance even if they have one employee. This means it is within your legal right to file a claim.
After being injured at your place of employment, you have 30 days to submit an incident report. Once the report is received, you are given two years to file an official workers’ compensation claim.
Although the initial report does not require specific details, the workers’ compensation claim does. You will need to state the cause of the accident, where it occurred, when and if there were any witnesses at the scene. At this time, you may contact a workers’ compensation lawyer for assistance.
Claims are not limited to personal injury. Illnesses incurred on the job are also included. In the event of death, a family member or loved one can file the claim as a representative. Bear in mind that Missouri does not need the claimant to verify who is at fault for the injury, illness or death.
We understand filing a workers comp claim can be extremely time consuming and confusing. Let us eliminate that confusion AND help you get a larger settlement.
Requesting a Medical Examination
After filing the claim, the next step is to undergo a medical examination. The practitioner conducting the exam is typically chosen by the employer. However, employees can seek a second opinion. In either case, the medical professional needs to be approved by the employer first.
Because the extent of the injury or illness affects the compensation a worker receives, it is important to request a medical examination immediately after the incident. In some cases, workers only need a medical assessment. In others, an insurance medical exam (IME) might be required.
Although the purpose of an IME is to assess the severity of injury to determine appropriate compensation, it is often used against employees. This is because some insurance companies collaborate with medical professionals to minimize the damage and subsequently reduce the compensation.
If an insurance company has such an association with a medical practitioner, there is little a worker can do to obtain an accurate diagnosis. The best way to defend yourself is by hiring a workers’ compensation lawyer to add transparency and accuracy to the process.
Appealing Workers’ Compensation Claims
It is not unusual for compensation claims to be denied. An insurance company can argue that an injury or illness was caused by an existing medical condition. In some cases, the company might claim the injury occurred outside of the workplace or that a worker was untruthful about the severity of the situation.
If, for any reason, the claim is denied, employees can still appeal the case through the Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH). The injured worker needs to submit a petition to appeal. If successful, a date for a hearing will be set within 40 days of the application being approved.
DOAH hearings require extensive preparation. The injured party needs to organize documentation to present it as evidence to a judge. Documentation includes but is not limited to:
- Detailed incident reports
- Medical reports from approved practitioners
- Witness information and statements
In addition to presenting relevant documentation, workers also need to find medical experts and witnesses willing to offer a testimony and prepare rebuttals against arguments made by the insurance company.
If a worker is injured or battling an illness, gathering the resources to appeal at the hearing may be an overwhelming task. An experienced work comp attorney can lift the burden of enduring a legal battle by organizing documentation, selecting expert witnesses and arguing the case professionally on the worker’s behalf.
If you’re struggling with an appeal, we can help.
Resolving Workers’ Compensation Claims after Denied Appeal
With the help of experienced work comp attorneys, most employees are rewarded their benefits by a judge 30 days following the hearing. In other cases however, the appeal is unsuccessful.
Workers whose appeals are denied can still launch another attempt to receive compensation through the Missouri First District Court of Appeals. Because it is the last opportunity for workers to claim compensation through the legal system, it is extremely important to hire a lawyer at this stage.
If taking the matter to the courts is an undesirable option, employees can choose to resolve the dispute through mediation. With the mediation process, a neutral third party may be asked to head negotiations between the injured employee and insurance company.
To get the most of out the mediation process, workers should have an attorney present during the talks. A workers’ compensation lawyer can negotiate a financial reward on your behalf or request that a company keeps you as an employee by providing work tasks that accommodate your injury.
Types of Work Injuries that Qualify for Workers’ Compensation
Our St. Louis workers’ compensation attorneys can file for, process and secure benefits for a range of work injuries. Some of these include:
- Injuries incurred at all types of workplaces, including theme parks and construction sites
- Injuries incurred from lack of adequate job training
- Injuries to muscle, bones and disks caused by actions that exert stress on the body
- Injuries to the head, eyes, neck, shoulders, spinal cord, back, arms, chest, hips, knees and legs
- Damage to respiratory system and other diseases that result from being exposed to toxins
- Head and brain injuries caused by trauma
- Burn injuries caused by cold and heat sources
- Injuries or death from using malfunctioning machinery
If you don’t see your specific injury listed above that’s ok! You should still give us a call so we can discuss your particular injury and claim.
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Workers’ Compensation
Workers are frequently discouraged from pursuing injury compensation because of the misconception that the process is lengthy, costly and complicated. This is not true. The right workers comp lawyer can teach you procedure basics and provide accurate answers to your burning questions.
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions workers have about the process:
What qualifies as a work injury?
A work injury is one where an employee suffers a health-related problem as a result of performing daily duties. Injuries can range from sustaining trauma to the head due to a falling object to accidents caused by faulty equipment.
What do I do if I have sustained an injury?
An injured employee should immediately report details of the injury to the employer. You have 30 days to file the report and 2 years to submit a compensation claim.
How much compensation can I expect to receive?
The amount of compensation depends largely on the type and severity of the work injury. Only certified medical practitioners are allowed to examine the injury and provide a professional prognosis.
Workers should keep in mind that recent law changes have reduced the amount of compensation received for injuries. Without a lawyer, it is likely you will receive less benefits. If you want to obtain full compensation, hiring a workers’ compensation attorney in St. Louis is a wise choice.
When will I receive compensation?
Compensation is usually given 21 days after employers receive the initial incident report. Should your employer deny the claim, you should consider hiring a lawyer to set up a hearing with the DOAH. After the hearing, you can expect to wait 30 days before a judge makes a ruling.
What happens if my claim is denied after the hearing?
If the hearing is not successful, workers can opt to either take the case to the Missouri First District Court of Appeals or request mediated discussions with an attorney present.
Will my employment be terminated if I file a claim?
An employer cannot fire you for filing a workers’ compensation claim.
Should I still file a claim if the injury was my fault?
Missouri is based on a no-fault system. This means you can apply for and recover benefits regardless of whose fault the work injury or illness is.
If you were injured at work and need assistance with receiving full compensation, contact a lawyer in St. Louis, MO to take you through the process. Our attorneys can assist in all aspects of your case to ensure you receive benefits from employers, insurance companies and/or third parties.
What Should You Do Next?
To ensure you get a settlement you deserve, you will want an experienced Work Comp Attorney in your corner. At Drivers Defense Counsel, we fight hard to represent our clients who have been injured on the job. We use aggressive, ethical tactics to help good people get a fair settlement. Remember… you don’t pay a dime unless we reach a settlement. If we don’t win, you don’t pay, so calling us for a free case evaluation is no cost to you.