Workers’ compensation benefits are designed to cover costs associated with injuries sustained on the job. Through your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance, you could not only get coverage for your medical bills, but also for part of your lost income caused by the injury.
The question of how long you can stay on workers’ comp in Missouri will depend on several factors, including the nature of your injury and the extent to which it prevents you from working. Our trusted attorneys at OnderLaw can help you fill out the necessary paperwork to file for benefits, but that’s just the first step. We’ll also work diligently to ensure your case moves through the system as quickly as possible so you can get the benefits you deserve.
Overview of Missouri Workers’ Comp Claims
The first step in obtaining workers’ compensation coverage after you sustain a job-related injury is to submit notice of the injury and incident to your employer. You will need to complete paperwork detailing the nature of the injury and where it occurred. Notifying your employer of the injury too late could cause serious issues with your claim, as the law affords just 30 days for injured workers to take this first crucial step.
After you notify your employer about the injury, they are then legally required to report the incident to the insurance company within five days. The insurance company also has 30 days to tell the Division of Workers’ Compensation about your injury. You will need to receive medical treatment from an approved medical provider included in your employer’s workers’ compensation network. The company should provide you with a list of these doctors when you submit your notice of injury.
The average workers’ compensation case can take anywhere from months to over a year from start to finish, depending on:
- The injuries you have
- The treatment you need
- Your ability to work
- The willingness of the insurance company to negotiate a settlement
Generally speaking, you will not be able to settle your case until you are at maximum medical improvement (MMI), which basically means that your condition has improved as much as it can with the prescribed course of treatment.
MMI might mean that you are fully healed from your injury. However, this designation could also refer to a situation where you are facing a long-term disability and medical treatment can no longer help you, or where you require ongoing maintenance therapy. Some claimants will finish treatment and settle the case with the insurance company for the value of their medical benefits and lost wages within months with minimal complications.
Others may require additional treatment before they can pursue a settlement, or may even need permanent disability benefits because the injury is so severe. These are just a few examples of situations that could prolong the need for workers’ compensation benefits. Regardless, our attorneys at OnderLaw can provide invaluable assistance at every stage of a workers’ compensation case, from seeking a favorable settlement to taking the case into the hardship phase if your employer or insurance company refuses to play ball.
Duration of Workers’ Comp Benefits in Missouri
Depending on your injuries, the treatment you need, and the impact these factors have on your ability to work, you could receive:
- Temporary partial disability benefits
- Temporary total disability benefits
- Permanent partial disability benefits
- Permanent total disability benefits
Temporary partial disability benefits can pay for part of your lost income if you are temporarily unable to carry out certain job tasks, while temporary total disability benefits pay a percentage of your lost wages if you are unable to work at all for a time.
Permanent partial disability benefits are designed for workers who can still carry out meaningful work, but not all the job duties they could before the injury. Permanent total disability benefits are reserved for workers who are left completely disabled by the injury. All four categories of disability benefits are based on 66 2/3 percent of the injured worker’s average weekly earnings.
However, each of these benefits are subject to caps set by state law, as well as limits on how long they can be paid out. A worker can receive temporary partial disability benefits for no more than 100 weeks, while temporary total disability and permanent partial disability benefits can be paid out for up to 400 weeks.
A worker who has a permanent total disability may receive benefits for life, although these are usually paid out in a lump-sum amount. The Missouri Division of Workers’ Compensation also pays out survivor benefits to dependents of a worker who passed away from a job-related injury, including up to $5,000 in funeral costs.
Get Help from a Missouri Workers’ Comp Attorney
Most companies in Missouri have to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Because workers’ compensation payments are distributed on a no-fault basis, obtaining coverage should be as simple as filing a claim and getting benefits.
Still, hurdles frequently arise with these cases. Employers may deny claims or try to end benefits too early. Insurers frequently lowball injured workers in the hopes of winding up the claim as soon as possible, even though that may mean you end up settling too soon and before you are ready to finish treatment.
Making sure you get the medical care you require and the full scope of benefits you are entitled to so you can stay on workers’ compensation as long as you need will be your attorney’s number one priority. From filing the proper documentation to building a strong claim on your behalf to representing you at hearings or other court appearances, we will walk alongside you through every phase of your workers’ compensation case. If you have questions about getting benefits, call our office now and speak with one of our trusted workers’ comp lawyers at OnderLaw.