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When to hire a workers’ comp lawyer

A laborer in construction gear cradles his bandaged arm in a sling

Injured workers in Missouri, are usually eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits through their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company. These benefits cover the cost of medical treatment and lost wages from time missed at work. However, sometimes an injured worker does not get the benefits they are eligible for or has their claim unfairly denied. If you have difficulty getting your workers’ compensation claim approved, learn when to hire a workers’ comp lawyer from Steelman Gaunt Crowley by calling (573) 341-8336 today.

Filing a Worker’s Comp Claim in Missouri

The first step to filing a workers’ compensation claim in Missouri is to report the injury to the employer. If an individual’s claim involves a disease or diagnosed overuse injury caused by their work environment or in the course of their job duties, then they should report the diagnosis to their employer as soon as possible. The Missouri Department of Labor, responsible for overseeing workers’ compensation claims in the state, requires all injuries to be reported within 30 days of the incident.

In some case, an employee filing a workers’ compensation claim may be required to have a second medical evaluation by a doctor covered by the employer’s workers’ comp plan. To retain benefits, the employee will typically need to follow all the directives of the treating physician, including attending all required follow-up appointments, any physical or occupational therapy to which the patient has been referred, and wearing any prescribed brace or other medical device. The treating physician will also be responsible for approving the injured employee’s work return or for recommending light duty or work restrictions.

What Do Workers’ Compensation Benefits Cover?

Missouri workers’ comp benefits are intended to ensure that injured Missouri workers have access to quality medical care after being hurt on the job and can pay their bills while recovering from their injuries. Benefits include:

  • Medical treatment, including emergency care, surgery, medication, or a hospital stay
  • Recuperation costs, like occupational or physical therapy
  • Lost wages from time missed at work
  • Partial disability pay

These benefits cover medical costs but do not give any compensation for pain and suffering or a diminished quality of life. In addition, if your injury was caused by a third party, like a vendor or contractor, or if you were in a car accident while on the job, you may need to file a third-party lawsuit to recoup your losses and the cost of medical care.

How Long Do Most Workers’ Comp Settlements Take?

The Missouri Department of Labor explains that workers’ compensation benefits may begin after three missed workdays. However, if a worker’s injury is severe enough that the employee must spend 14 days or more out of work, then they will be paid for the three-day waiting period as well as the other days of missed work.

In a complex case, or in the event of a dispute, such as a disagreement over who was at fault for a work-related accident, proving the legitimacy of a claim and receiving appropriate benefits may take some time. More straightforward workers’ comp claims, especially with a minor injury, can settle in just a few months.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Workers’ Comp?

You do not need a lawyer to file a workers’ compensation claim with your employer. However, there are many occasions where an injured worker may benefit from working with an experienced Missouri workers’ comp lawyer. If one of these situations applies to you, this may be when to hire a workers’ comp lawyer:

  • The insurance company denied the claim or has alleged you have a pre-existing condition and are therefore uncovered
  • Treatments, tests, lab work, or surgery ordered by your treating physician are denied
  • You are not getting your weekly benefits checks 
  • You are unsure whether to file an appeal of your claim denial or how to do so
  • You have been fired while out on workers’ comp, and believe you are a victim of retaliation
  • You have been rendered permanently disabled and unable to work because of the injury
  • A third party caused your injury
  • Your employer did not have workers’ compensation insurance
  • Your medical bills are not getting paid even though you are going to an employer-approved physician

If you feel uncomfortable with how your employer treats you after filing your claim, or if you are not getting the benefits you should be, consider contacting an experienced workers’ compensation attorney with Steelman Gaunt Crowley to explore your legal options.

How Much Do Workers’ Comp Lawyers Charge?

Each Missouri workers’ compensation law firm sets its own rates. In some cases, such as if you need to file a lawsuit to get your benefits and medical care reimbursement, your worker’s compensation lawyer may be willing to work on a contingency basis. This fee arrangement means that your lawyer is paid on the contingency that they win your case and assess legal fees as a percentage of the final settlement.

How Are Workers’ Comp Settlements Calculated?

Workers’ comp settlements depend on the cost of treating an employee’s injuries and associated medical care, as well as how much the injured person was earning at the time of their injury. A missed wages check is based on a percentage of the employee’s salary, so each person’s will be different.

Currently, Missouri Department of Labor sets the missed wages guide at about two-thirds of the employee’s weekly wages at the time of the incident, with a maximum of 55% of the state average weekly wage. However, if an employee becomes partially or fully disabled because of their workplace injury, then the calculation for disability benefits will be determined by what part of the body was injured and the degree of severity of the injury.

Do You Need Help With Your Missouri Workers’ Compensation Claim?

If you have had your claim unfairly denied and need help filing an appeal, or you need to file a lawsuit for a workplace injury caused by a third party, you may wonder when to hire a workers’ comp lawyer. Contact the experienced Missouri workers’ compensation attorneys at Steelman Gaunt Crowley at (573) 341-8336 for a free case review.