In some ways, workers’ compensation insurance is a bit of a mystery to employees across the country. They know it exists, they see the yellowed, dusty poster in the break room, they hear of people collecting it, but they don’t really know what their rights are for benefits.
This may be because busy workers aren’t interested in knowing more about it until it affects them. It may also be because their employers are purposely vague about how it works in the hopes that workers won’t file. Either way, it's important to understand how the program works and what workers' compensation benefits you're entitled to if injured on the job.
Understanding the Basics of Workers' Compensation
Workers’ compensation is an insurance program that all employers in Missouri and Kansas are required by law to carry. It covers the medical costs and other losses of employees who are injured on the job. All employees are covered and benefits should be awarded regardless of what caused the injury or illness.
In exchange for providing this coverage, companies are protected from lawsuits by injured workers.
Common Workers’ Comp Myths Debunked
There are many common misconceptions about how workers’ comp insurance works. These false beliefs often prevent qualified workers form collecting the benefits to which they're entitled.
If you've heard any of the following claims about workers’ comp, it’s time to set the record straight:
- Filing a claim will reflect poorly on my job performance. Your employer is legally barred from punishing you in any way for filing a workers’ comp claim. You cannot be fired for needing workers’ comp, nor can a supervisor use this fact against you in a performance review or promotion consideration. This kind of retaliation is prohibited under both state and federal laws.
- If the accident was my fault, I cannot file a claim. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault insurance program. This means it doesn't matter how your accident occurred—you'll be automatically covered by workers’ comp. For example, if you trip going down stairs and break your arm and there were no extenuating circumstances that caused your fall, you'll still be covered. The only exceptions to the no-fault clause are if you are intoxicated or willfully harm yourself.
- I can wait to file a claim until I need the money. It's in your best interest to act quickly when injured at work. Filing an injury report as soon as possible will provide evidence of your injury later on if your claim is denied. In both Kansas and Missouri, there's a statute of limitations of two years from the date of the injury.
- I can sue my employer to recover for workplace injuries. Part of the deal with workers’ comp is that your employer provides the insurance, but cannot be sued by employees for injuries that happen in the workplace. Even if there's evidence of unsafe conditions, you cannot sue your employer.
- I cannot be denied workers’ comp benefits. Even though workers’ comp is no-fault insurance, your employer can still claim your injuries or illness weren't the result of a workplace accident or exposure. In other words, if you cannot provide sufficient evidence—such as surveillance video or statements from co-workers—that you were injured on the job, your employer’s insurance company can deny your coverage.
- I don’t need an attorney to file for workers’ comp. This is only a partial myth. If there's no dispute about your eligibility and your benefits cover all your losses, you don’t need a lawyer. However, if your employer is disputing your claim—or you've suffered retaliation because of your claim—you'll need an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.
Have You Been Injured On The Job?
If you've been hurt at work on the job in Kansas City you need to speak with an experienced workers' compensation attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Kansas City office directly at 816.471.5111 to schedule your free consultation.