It’s imperative for all workers to understand what workers’ comp benefits are and what they cover.
Most people know that if they get injured at work, they can access some benefits that can help with their recovery. However, there are certain limitations to these laws, and knowing them can help you understand what your next steps should be.
Workers Compensation 101
In Missouri, worker’s comp laws were adopted back in the 1920s to provide a safety net for injured workers who found themselves having to cover very expensive medical treatment because of injuries sustained at their job.
Of course, the laws have changed throughout the years to keep up with the times and the new workforce dynamic. Today, all businesses with a minimum of 5 employees are generally legally obligated to have workers comp for their employees. Those with less can still purchase it, but they have the option of not doing so.
Additionally, you should know that freelancers and independent contractors are excluded from workers comp laws, as they are not legally employees. Other types of workers like railroad workers are covered under federal laws of compensation, and cannot apply for Missouri worker’s comp, as this is state-regulated.
What Does It Cover?
When a worker gets injured while performing their job or gets sick as a result of it, worker’s compensation benefits can cover:
- Medical expenses directly resulted from the work injury or illness
- Temporary total disability benefits
- Permanent partial or permanent total disability benefits
- Death benefits, which are awarded to the worker’s surviving family, plus $5,000 for funeral expenses.
Though the laws seem very comprehensive, some workers are left on the sidelines. For instance, workers with pre-existing conditions may not be eligible for compensation if their health gets worse because of their job. They can apply for compensation if they sustain a work injury, but the complications to the health problems they already have are not covered.
Other instances where employees are not covered include:
- While on their way to or from work
- On their lunch break if they leave the premise
- If they get injured after hours
In other cases, the worker may be eligible legally for compensation, but have a difficult time proving their condition is work-related. For instance, Missouri covers mental health services as well, even if there is no physical injury too. However, pinpointing your work as the sole cause of your depression can be extremely difficult, and the insurance company will most likely fight your claim.
What Should You Do?
The idea for worker’s comp laws was to design a way to help injured workers without making them hire a lawyer, as they would for a personal injury suit. While you are not obligated to speak with a lawyer, it is in your best interest to do so. From the moment you are injured, it is you against a billion-dollar insurance company and their attorneys. In order to gain more than even footing, it is important to speak with an experienced workers comp attorney as soon as possible.
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