1- How does workman’s comp work in Missouri?
It is supposed to be a no-fault system but there are carve outs for penalties and items you must prove to be successful. Generally, if you are hurt on the job during the course and scope of your employment then you are supposed to report it in writing within 30 day to your employer, ask for treatment, and the employer is supposed to turn it over to their insurance to provide you with benefits. The main benefits are free medical care with the Employer’s selected approved doctors, TTD which is paid time off work while you are under treatment and can’t work, and in the end a lump sum of money if you can go back to work or lifetime weekly payments if you cannot. There are many other benefits but these are the big ones.
Reporting your injury is not the same as filing a claim for compensation. You must file your “Claim for Compensation” which is the actual lawsuit within two years after the date of injury or death, or the last payment made under Chapter 287 on account of the injury or death, except that if the report of the injury or the death is not filed by the employer as required by 287.380, the claim for compensation may be filed within three years after the date of injury, death, or last payment made under chapter 287 on account of the injury or death. (See 287.430). Chapter 287 is the statute on Missouri workers compensation.
I recommend you check out our guide at: Missouri Workers’ Compensation Benefits | Edelman Law Office
2- How are workers comp settlements calculated in Missouri?
This depends on if you can or cannot go back to work in the open competitive labor market. If you have only seen the work comp doctor then they probably gave you a very low disability percentage or even zero. Value is calculated in part based on percentage of disability. Do not accept the defense doctor disability percentage. We send our clients to an independent doctor who provides the truth as to your percentage of disability.
If you are injured but can go back to work (Permanent Partial Disability) then this is calculated as a lump sum settlement based on your wage rate (2/3 your AWW capped at 55% of the SAWW) multiplied by the number of weeks of disability (% disability x body part involved). You may also be entitled to other benefits like disfigurement, mileage, ttd, penalty, amputation increase, etc.
If you are unable to work (Permanent Total Disability) then the calculation for settlement value can be very complicated based on your life expectancy, wage rate (2/3 your AWW capped at 105% of the SAWW) etc. However, at trial if the Judge finds you PTD then the Judge may award lifetime payments every week for the rest of your life paid at your PTD wage rate.
If you are PTD or die from an occupation disease due to toxic exposure then you may be entitled to additional benefits.
This is not an exhaustive list. There are many case specific benefits that depend on the injury sustained.
3- How do I file for workers compensation in Missouri?
You must file what is called a “Claim for Compensation” with the Division of Workers Compensation using the Division form. The form has been changed and updated throughout the years so verify you have the most updated form first. As of 5/11/2021 the current form is WC-21-A-AI (06-15) for accidents, injuries, or occupational diseases occurring on or after 1/1/2014. You have the right to file it yourself but usually it is done with the assistance of a lawyer.
The Claim for Compensation is the actual lawsuit. A report of injury is not. Be careful because a report of injury does not defeat the statute of limitations.