Answers to All Your Workers Compensation and Workplace Injury Questions
At KCAIA we know that it is essential for every injury victim to get good information about how to pursue their accident claim and receive the workers’ compensation benefits that they’ve earned. Following an accident that causes serious injury to you or a loved one, there are often many unanswered questions.
Listed below are some of the most frequently asked questions we get from new clients. You can browse by category using the dropdown menu. Alternatively, for a quicker, more customized search, try typing your question into the search bar above.
Don't see what you are looking for? If you don't find the answers you need, contact us today for answers to your specific questions. Remember, the consultation is FREE and there is no obligation.
- Page 1
How do personal injury claims differ from workers’ compensation claims?
If you were involved in a workplace accident, it may be confusing to determine whether you need to file a workers’ compensation claim or a personal injury claim against your employer. In Kansas and Missouri, you most likely will need to file a workers’ compensation claim. You should know how this option differs from a personal injury claim, because it affects your rights to compensation.
Workers’ Comp and Personal Injury Claims: The Question of Liability
One of the key differences between personal injury and workers' compensation claims is the issue of fault. Personal injury cases involve many different types of injury claims, such as car accidents, slip and falls, and medical malpractice. In a personal injury case, you must prove the negligent party’s fault in causing your injuries in order to receive compensation.
Workers’ compensation operates differently. It's a no-fault system that provides you with benefits if you're injured in a workplace accident, regardless of who was at fault for causing it.
This means you could be entitled to benefits even if you were the negligent party.
Compensation in Personal Injury vs. Workers’ Comp Cases
Potential compensation in workers’ compensation is different than personal injury cases. Under workers’ compensation laws, you're entitled to benefits to pay your medical bills, a fixed portion of your wages, vocational rehabilitation and, if applicable, permanent disability benefits. You're not entitled to any pain and suffering damages.
In a personal injury case, you have the possibility of recovering to the full amount of your losses if you prove the other party’s negligence. This can make your claim worth more than in a workers’ compensation case. Types of compensation you may receive include:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future lost wages and benefits of your job, such as commissions, bonuses, and sick and vacation time
- Lost earning capacity if you must make a career change or are permanently disabled
- Pain and suffering
Can You Sue an Employer in a Workers’ Compensation Case?
Your rights to sue when you suffer an injury at your job are more limited than in a personal injury accident. In exchange for the more guaranteed right of compensation that workers’ compensation provides, you give up the right to sue your employer and any co-workers whose negligence may have caused your injuries, except in limited circumstances. However, you do retain the right to file a lawsuit against third parties that were partially or completely at fault in causing your workplace accident.
In a personal injury case, you can—and should—pursue a claim for compensation against any potentially liable party. By doing so, you increase the likelihood you'll receive all you deserve for injury recovery.
Process of Filing a Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury Claim
If you're hurt at work, you have to file a claim with your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company. In a personal injury case, you would file a claim with the negligent party’s insurance carrier. This could be a driver’s automobile insurance, a homeowner’s insurance policy, or a business’ liability insurance coverage.
If there are disputes about your right to compensation, here's what happens:
- Workers’ compensation. Your claim would be filed with your state workers’ compensation agency, and an administrative judge decides your case. There are special laws and procedures governing workers’ compensation cases.
- Personal injury. When you cannot settle a personal injury case, you must file a lawsuit in civil court, where your case would be decided by a jury if it's not resolved during the litigation process.
Personal injury and workers’ compensation claims are similar in a few ways. In both, you may need to fight for the compensation you deserve. In addition, when filing either type of claim, you may need the assistance of an experienced attorney who handles the type of case you have to protect your interests and ensure a full chance at financial recovery.
Were you injured in a workplace accident? Our skilled workers’ compensation attorneys are here to explain your rights and to fight for your benefits. We also represent clients in personal injury claims, and can pursue litigation for you. Contact us online or call us directly at 816.471.5111 to schedule your free consultation.
What is a workers’ compensation Independent Medical Exam?
When you're injured at work or become ill due to exposure to a toxic substance in the workplace, you're entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ comp is an insurance program employers are required to enroll in that is designed to cover the medical expenses and other damages suffered by employees while on the job.
However, these insurance payouts are expensive for companies, so representatives do everything they can to make sure the claims are legitimate, and then enable workers stop collecting benefits and return to their jobs as soon as they are able. To ensure this, your employer may require you to undergo an Independent Medical Exam (IME). We explain what that means and why you may need an attorney.
How Does Workers’ Compensation Work?
There are many ways to be injured at work—it's not just construction workers and warehouse employees who get hurt on the job. People in healthcare, food service, retail stores, and even offices can suffer slip and fall or repetitive use injuries, or experience toxic exposure illnesses.
Whether or not the accident that left you injured was your fault, if it happened at work or while you were offsite but on the clock, you should receive workers’ comp benefits to cover your medical bills and pay you while you are unable to work. Your employer wants proof the accident occurred at work and that you're actually injured or ill.
To fulfill the first requirement, you should report the incident to your supervisor as soon as possible. You may also need witness statements or surveillance video footage to support your claim. To prove you're actually injured or ill, you'll need medical tests and a doctor’s report. However, you employer or his insurance company may not trust your personal physician’s diagnosis and may require you to see one of their own doctors for an IME.
How Does an Independent Medical Exam Work?
If you want to receive workers’ comp benefits, you have to follow your employer’s instructions to have an IME. You'll be sent to a doctor of the workers’ comp insurance company’s choosing. Most states maintain a list of doctors approved to conduct IMEs and your employer tells you where to go.
The insurance company is legally obligated to ensure its requirement is “reasonable.” This means you shouldn't have to travel a great distance or submit to an excessive number of examinations. If you're required to travel to see the approved doctor, worker’s comp benefits should reimburse you for your travel expenses.
Some employers require you to have an IME before approving your benefits. Others accept your incident report and emergency medical treatment report as sufficient to grant your initial benefits. In either case, if your recovery is lengthy, you'll likely be asked to attend follow-up IMEs as deemed necessary by the insurance company. Again, the insurer is required to be “reasonable” in its request, but may require you to submit to multiple medical evaluations.
In an IME, the doctor is determining the following:
- Were you injured?
- Is your injury as serious as you claim?
- Is your injury consistent with your description of the workplace accident?
- Have you fully recovered?
If the doctor concludes as a result of the IME that you've recovered and are capable of returning to work, your benefits may be revoked, and you'll be required to return to work, despite how you feel or what your personal physician might say.
When You Need A Workers' Compensation Attorney
As a no-fault system, workers’ comp programs are designed to be fairly straightforward. However, if your employer denies your claim following an IME, or an IME determines that you're ready to return to work and you and your doctor disagree, you should consider hiring an experienced workers’ comp attorney.
We know many of the approved workers’ comp doctors in the area and we know when you may have legitimate grounds for an appeal. Contact us online or call us directly at 816.471.5111 for your free consultation.
Am I covered by workers’ comp when I'm injured on the way to or from my job?The simple answer to this question is no—but there may be exceptions. Workers’ compensation insurance is provided to cover employees for injuries or illnesses they suffer while on the clock at their jobs. Because workers aren't being paid for the time it takes to and from their jobs, they're not covered by workers’ compensation during that time.
However, some workers are paid for travel time, which makes them eligible for workers’ comp if they are injured while traveling. There may be other exceptions as well.
Why the Limits on Coverage?
The purpose of workers’ comp is to cover the medical expenses and lost wages of employees who are injured on the job or made ill by exposure to a dangerous substance at work. When an employer carries workers’ comp insurance—which every company with over five employees in Kansas and Missouri must do—he is also exempt from being sued by the worker because of an accident.
Workers’ comp is considered “no fault” insurance because it applies whether the employee was injured by his own carelessness or because of the negligence of a co-worker or employer. But if a worker is impaired by alcohol or drugs or hurts himself intentionally, his workers’ comp claim will likely be denied.
In most cases, the sticking point is whether or not the worker was actually injured on the job. Workers’ comp insurance adjusters will dispute claims if they suspect the worker is trying to get benefits for an injury he sustained outside of work or for an illness unrelated to his work environment.
Exceptions to the Going and Coming Rule
Even though you could argue that commuting to and from your place of employment is “work related” and should, therefore, be covered, the going and coming rule says otherwise. If you're driving to or from work; walking from your car to the building; or out on a lunch break when you slip and fall or get in a car accident, you would not be covered by workers’ comp.
Some exceptions might include the following:
- Driving a company car. If you have a company car and are in an accident while driving it to or from work, you'll probably be covered by workers’ comp.
- Traveling as a job duty. If you're a delivery truck driver, messenger, bus driver, police officer, or have another job that requires travel, and are injured while traveling, your injuries will be covered by workers’ comp because you're on the clock and the travel is part of your job description.
- Traveling between job sites. If you work at multiple sites throughout the day and are in an accident while traveling between sites, this is generally considered job-related and will be covered.
- Running an official errand. If your manager sends you on an errand—including a coffee run or personal errand—and you're injured, you should be covered by workers’ comp.
If you're injured outside of your workplace and aren’t sure if you're eligible for workers’ comp, report your injury to your supervisor immediately and contact an experienced Kansas City workers’ compensation attorney. He or she will be able to tell you if you have a case.
Examples Of "Going and Coming" Workers' Comp Case Exceptions
Recent workers’ comp appeals in Kansas and Missouri illustrate the uncertainty involving the "going and coming" rule.
In a 2014 case in Kansas (Williams v Petromark Drilling, LLC), a young oil worker was denied workers’ comp when he suffered a rollover accident after leaving a remote job site in a co-worker’s car. Even though traveling to the site was considered work-related, he turned down a ride from his supervisor and chose to drive for his own convenience. Thus, his injuries were deemed not related to work.
In an unusual ruling in a 2011 case in Missouri (Lantie Wilson v Buchanan County), the appeals court found that an employee who slipped on ice in his employer’s parking lot on his way into work was eligible for workers’ comp, because he would not have been in the parking lot if he was not reporting for work.
These cases show the "going and coming" rule is open to some degree to interpretation.
If you're injured on your way to or from work and you believe there are special circumstances related to your accident, contact us online or call us directly at 816.471.511 for a free consultation.
Can I sue a third party when I'm injured at work and still receive workers’ comp benefits?
No matter what your work environment is, you can have an accident that leaves you injured. Some of these accidents are just that—an accident that's no one’s fault. Other accidents are caused by the worker’s carelessness and still others are caused by employer negligence.
Regardless of the injury cause, an employee is entitled to collect workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits are considered to be no-fault benefits, so the worker doesn't have to show he wasn't at fault to receive them.
However, when an employee is injured due to defective equipment, in a car or truck accident, or on property not owned by the employer, he or she may be able to sue a third party for negligence and receive compensation. The employer may also be entitled to some of that money.
Third-Party Liability for Work Injuries
When you suffer an accident at work, it's a good idea to determine the cause of the accident to see if you can hold a third party liable. In general, if your employer has workers’ comp insurance, you cannot sue him for an on-the-job injury, but you may be able to seek compensation from a third party.
If you're injured on faulty equipment, during a slip and fall on a dangerous surface, or through some other way, another party may be partially to blame for your injury. Some examples of third-party liability include the following:
- You're hit by another motorist while driving on company business. You would qualify for workers’ comp because you're performing work duties, but you could also sue the driver who hit you for additional compensation.
- While working on an assembly line, the machinery jams and your hand is crushed. Worker’s comp will cover your medical expenses up to a point, but the manufacturer of the machinery could also be held liable for your injuries.
- You fall from an unstable scaffold as a contractor on a construction site. Your employer should be carrying workers’ comp insurance, but the owner of the construction site may be held liable for creating an unsafe work environment.
- You're attacked and injured by a co-worker. If the incident happens at work, you'll be eligible for workers’ comp, but you can also take civil action against the person who attacked you.
It can be difficult to prove third-party liability, and it often takes a long time to settle a claim. Workers’ comp benefits will become important in the meantime, allowing you to pay your medical bills and make up for lost income if you have to miss work.
However, if you're successful in your third-party lawsuit, your employer may be entitled to a portion of your settlement to reimburse his company for the workers’ comp benefits.
Workers’ Comp Subrogation
Your employer’s worker’s comp insurance representative is likely paying close attention to any additional legal action you choose to take. If you file suit against a negligent third party, your employer will probably also file a subrogation claim. This filing will place a lien on the proceeds you get from any third-party award. The purpose of this is to recoup the losses the company experienced through your workers’ comp payout.
If you win your suit against the third party, your employer will first be reimbursed for workers’ comp benefits before you receive your settlement. This only happens when the employer files a subrogation claim. If a claim isn't filed, you'll keep the whole settlement.
Working With an Attorney Can Help
When you hire the workers’ comp attorneys at Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys, you'll get trustworthy advice about filing a third-party claim and learn about your chances for success. If your injuries aren't serious and your workers’ comp benefits will cover your expenses, it probably isn’t worth filing a third-party claim. Contact us online or call us directly at 888.348.2616 to learn more about workers’ comp claims.
What dangers are present when working with robots?
Automation may be the wave of the future, but many Kansas City workers are already sharing their workplace with robots and other automated machines. While robots are ideal for performing strenuous and repetitive actions on an assembly line, they're not capable of problem solving when something out of the ordinary happens. This limitation puts human employees at serious risk of injury, or, even worse, the possibility of wrongful death while on the job.
When you work in a partially-automated environment, what should your employer do to ensure your safety? What can you do if you're injured by a malfunctioning robot?
The Danger Is Real
While there are not yet a large number of publicized workplace deaths caused by machinery, when they do happen, they're gruesome.
In a tragic 2015 incident at an automotive stamping plant in Michigan, a maintenance technician was working in an area when a robot entered, attempting to load a hitch assembly to a fixture that was already loaded with an assembly. With no place to release its load, the robot hit the worker and crushed her skull, killing her. In another incident in 2016 in Alabama, also at an auto parts manufacturing plant, a worker entered a robotic station to clear a sensor fault after the assembly line shut down. The machinery unexpectedly restarted, crushing the worker. In both cases, family members filed wrongful death lawsuits, claiming a lack of safety procedures and worker protection.
The safety of robotics in the workplace has been a concern since the technology was first available, and it's up to employers to ensure the safety of workers. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the following are the types of accidents that can occur when working with robots:
- Impact or collision accidents. Unpredicted movements, component malfunctions, or unpredicted program changes related to the robot's arm or peripheral equipment can result in contact accidents.
- Crushing and trapping accidents. A worker's limb or another body part can be trapped between a robot's arm and other peripheral equipment, or the individual may be physically driven into and crushed by other peripheral equipment.
- Mechanical part accidents. The breakdown of the robot's drive components, tooling or end-effector, peripheral equipment, or its power source is a mechanical accident. The release of parts, failure of gripper mechanism, or the failure of end-effector power tools (e.g., grinding wheels, buffing wheels, deburring tools, power screwdrivers, and nut runners) are a few types of mechanical failures.
- Other accidents. Other accidents can result from working with robots. Equipment that supplies robot power and control represents potential electrical and pressurized fluid hazards. Ruptured hydraulic lines could create dangerous high-pressure cutting streams or whipping hose hazards. Environmental accidents from arc flash, metal spatter, dust, electromagnetic, or radio-frequency interference can also occur. In addition, equipment and power cables on the floor present tripping hazards.
What Are the Safety Standards?
Although these safety recommendations date back to 1984, they're still the go-to standards for automation in the workplace. Developed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), these standards have also been adopted by OSHA.
NIOSH identifies three key areas to focus safety efforts: robotic system design, worker training, and worker supervision. The following are key recommendations:
- Include physical barriers that incorporate gates equipped with electrical interlocks so that operation of the robot stops when the gate is opened.
- Include remote diagnostic instrumentation as much as possible so that the maximum amount of troubleshooting of the system can be done from areas outside the operating range of the robot.
- Employees must be familiar with all working aspects of the robot—including full range of motion, known hazards, how the robot is programmed, emergency stop buttons, and safety barriers—before operating or performing maintenance work at robotic work stations.
- Operators should never be in reach of the robot while it's operating.
- Supervisors should assure that no one is allowed to enter the operational area of a robot without first putting the robot on "hold," in a "power down" condition, or at a reduced operating speed mode.
Although these recommendations are over 30 years old, had they been in place in the auto plants described above, tragic deaths would have been prevented.
Concerned About Safety in Your Workplace?
If you work with industrial robots, you may be concerned about your safety. If you're injured in an accident involving automated machinery, your claim for workers’ compensation should be quickly approved, as determination of fault isn't required for a workers’ comp claim. If your claim is denied for any reason, you should call an experienced workers’ comp attorney to assist you. If you have concerns about the safety of your workplace, contact OSHA or your state agency to report your concerns. You could save a life.
Have you been injured on the job? Contact us online or call us directly at 888.438.2616 to discuss your claim.
How do workers’ compensation guidelines define an independent contractor?
If you work in any field and are classified as an independent contractor, you should understand that you won't be covered by an employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. Even in dangerous jobs such as roofing, building, road construction, and warehouse work, if you're not a regular employee, your injuries and illnesses won't be covered by workers’ comp insurance. However, many workers are classified as independent contractors when they shouldn't be. Learn more about work status classification and your right to benefits, including workers’ comp.
What Is an Independent Contractor?
While employers in many industries are happy to hire workers as contractors, it may not always be legal. There are strict guidelines for classification as a contract worker, and many employers are in violation of these guidelines. Hiring a worker as a contractor saves the employer a great deal of money in state and federal taxes and in workers’ comp insurance premiums. Even if you're desperate for work and happy with the pay rate, you should understand when you're truly an independent contractor and when you're not.
According to the Internal Revenue Service, an independent contractor meets all of the following requirements:
- Does the same work for multiple employers
- Has his own tools and equipment and can hire, supervise, and pay assistants
- Can make a profit or suffer a loss
- Sets his own hours and work schedule
- Has a business license
A traditional employee, on the other hand, fits the following description:
- Has a continuing relationship with an employer
- Is furnished equipment and supplies by the employer
- Can quit at any time without incurring liability
- Must comply with instructions about how, when, and where to work
- Is trained by the employer
If, according to these definitions, you're truly a self-employed independent contractor, then you won't be eligible for workers’ comp benefits if you're injured on the job, or made ill due to exposure to something at work. If this happens in the course of your employment, you should be covered by your health insurance, assuming you have it.
However, being an independent contractor doesn't prohibit you from seeking compensation if your injury or illness was caused by the employer’s negligence. In fact, in this case, you have an advantage over a traditional employee.
Suing an Employer for Negligence
Regular employees covered by workers’ compensation insurance are prohibited by law from suing an employer for damages for a workplace injury or illness. Workers’ comp benefits are awarded to an injured worker no matter who's at fault.
However, independent contractors aren't limited in the same way. If you're injured on a construction site, for example, due to faulty equipment or a lack of worker protections and you're an independent contractor, you may be able to sue the employer. Most companies carry liability policies of at least $1 million, but can be compelled to pay even more in damages if your injuries require it.
Determining Your Status
Before you're in a situation where you're seeking damages for an injury, make sure you're legally classified in your workplace. Filing a workers’ comp claim is much easier than suing an employer for negligence, so if your work relationship and job duties indicate that you're indeed a regular employee, approach your employer as soon as you discover the error—don't wait until you're already injured or require some other guaranteed benefit. Employers who classify workers illegally can face considerable tax penalties, and should be motivated to correct the situation.
If you're legitimately an independent contractor, make sure you have adequate health insurance to cover any potential workplace injuries. You may also consider purchasing accident insurance to ensure full coverage for medical costs and lost wages.
We Can Help With Your Workers’ Comp Claim
If you have a legitimate workers’ compensation claim and it's been denied by your employer, our workers’ comp attorneys may be able to help. Connect with us through the link on this page for more information.
Will I be protected if I report my employer for OSHA violations?
No matter where you work, you're entitled to working conditions that are free of dangerous hazards. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides safety guidelines to employers in all industries. Business owners and managers are required to comply with these guidelines.
If you're aware of safety violations in your workplace, you have the right to request they be corrected, and to report the violations to OSHA without fear of being punished by your employer. When you face injury or illness at work due to unsafe conditions, it may be up to you to take action to ensure your safety and the safety of your coworkers.
Worker Rights Under OSHA Guidelines
Workers in industries such as construction, assembly, and food service face many dangers on a daily basis. Some of these dangers are inherent to the nature of the work, but it's up to your employer to make sure all required safeguards are in place so that the work is as safe as possible.
As a worker, OSHA guarantees certain rights for your protection, including the right to:
- Be trained in a language you understand
- Work on safe machines
- Be provided required safety gear, such as gloves, or a harness and lifeline for fall prevention
- Be protected from toxic chemicals
- Request an OSHA inspection, and the opportunity to speak to the inspector
- Report an injury or illness, and get copies of your medical records
- See copies of the workplace injury and illness log
- Review records of work-related injuries and illnesses
- Get copies of results for any tests conducted to find hazards in the workplace
Federal law permits you to report your employer for violation of these rights without fear of retaliation. Specifically, the law protects you from the following employer actions:
- Applying or issuing a policy which provides for an unfavorable personnel action due to activity protected by a whistleblower law enforced by OSHA
- Denying overtime or promotion
- Denying benefits
- Failing to hire or rehire
- Firing or laying off
- Making threats
- Reassignment to a less desirable position, including one adversely affecting prospects for promotion
- Reducing pay or hours
If you believe your employer engaged in any of these actions in response to you reporting a safety violation, you also have a right to file a complaint with OSHA.
Reporting Employer Retaliation
Reporting a violation of your rights to OSHA is simply a matter of sending your complaint to the appropriate office. You should be aware of the time limit for reporting, which differs depending on which federal act applies to your industry. For example, you have 30 days to report a violation of the OSHA Act, but 180 days to report a violation of the Federal Railroad Safety Act. Learn more about whistleblower rights.
An employee can file a complaint with OSHA by visiting or calling the local office or sending a written complaint to the closest OSHA regional or area office. The Administration accepts written complaints by email, fax, personal delivery, or U.S. mail. No particular form is required and complaints may be submitted in any language.
Your complaint will be reviewed, investigated and, if your employer is found to be at fault, a representative from OSHA will issue an order requiring the employer to make amends by reinstating you, paying wages, restoring benefits, or other remedies.
Common OSHA Violations
Many workers aren't aware of all of the OSHA's safety requirements for their industry, but OSHA doesn't require that you know the specific safety rule that was violated by your employer. Any situation that's resulted in injuries to workers, or simply doesn't feel safe, may be reported without fear of retaliation. Being aware of common safety hazards may help you understand the protections to which you're entitled.
The following are the top ten violations reported to OSHA each year:
- Fall protection
- Hazard communication
- Respiratory protection
- Powered industrial trucks
- Machine guarding
- Electrical wiring
- Electrical, general requirements
If violation of these or any other safety expectation leads to your injury, you're eligible for workers’ compensation. If your employer denies your claim, you may need the help of a workers’ comp attorney. Please contact our office to share your workplace injury story and see if we can help.
Does my employer have to accommodate my disability when I return to work after a workplace injury?
Many types of workplace injuries can lead to permanent impairments that will change or limit the things a victim can do when he eventually returns to work. Depending on your disability category, you may or may not be able to return to work, but if you do, you may need some assistance.
Whether there is a physical limitation, such as an inability to stand for long periods of time, or a sensory impairment, such as hearing or vision loss, the employee isentitled to accommodations for his new limitations whether he returns to his original place of employment or gets a new job. Workers are protected under both workers’ compensation law and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Debilitating Workplace Injuries
Even seemingly minor workplace injuries can change the types of tasks an employee can be expected to complete when returning to work. For example, a grocery store cashier suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome may not be able to continue to work at the check-out.
Here are the five most common workplace injuries and how they can affect job performance:
- Overexertion injuries. Injuries related to job duties such as lifting, carrying, holding, pushing, and throwing are the most commonly reported in workers’ compensation filings. When a worker suffers an injury from repeatedly performing one or more of these tasks, he may not be able to continue the same tasks when he returns to work after recovery.
- Slipping/tripping. Slipping on a wet floor or tripping over something placed on the floor leads to a large number of on-the-job injuries each year. When a worker trips and falls, he can suffer muscle strains, broken bones, and head injuries that could require a change in duty upon return to work.
- Falling from heights. These accidents are common in construction and manufacturing jobs and may cause serious injuries such as traumatic brain injury, spinal cord damage, and broken bones. Workers returning to the job after suffering this type of fall might not be able to continue doing platform or scaffolding work due to physical limitations and a traumatic fear of heights.
- Reaction injuries. When a worker trips or slips, but manages to brace himself and prevent a fall, he can suffer from muscle strains and body trauma that could require physical therapy and avoidance of hazardous environments in the future.
- Falling object injuries. Workers in many industries can be injured by objects falling from shelves or platforms above them. These accidents often lead to head injuries, and returning workers need to protect themselves from re-injury by avoiding the environment or wearing protective gear.
When you recover sufficiently from a workplace injury and your workers’ comp doctor declares that you are fit to return to work, don't hesitate to request changes to your duties or work environment in order to accommodate any disabilities you suffer. In fact, you're given the right to do this by the ADA.
How the ADA Helps Injured Workers
While workers’ comp law doesn't require an employer to hold your job open for you while you recover from a workplace injury, the employer may be compelled to under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Stay in touch with your supervisor while you're recovering and make your desire to return to work clear.
When you return to work following a disabling workplace injury, you employer may not deny you a job based on your disability, and is required to help if you request specific reasonable accommodations, such as the following:
- Restructuring a job
- Modifying work schedules
- Acquiring or modifying equipment
- Providing qualified readers or interpreters
- Appropriately modifying examinations, training, or other programs
- Reassignment to a vacant position for which you're qualified
If an employer isn't willing to accommodate your disability, you may have a case for discrimination.
Our Attorneys Will Support Your Workers’ Comp Claim
If you're struggling to get the workers’ comp benefits you're entitled to following a workplace injury, contact Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys today. We'll help you support your claim so you get the medical care and time to heal you need now. Call us at (888) 348-2616.
How can seatbelt use in the workplace save lives?
Many of us are careful to safely secure our children in their seats when we drive around town, and even wear seatbelts in the family car ourselves to be good role models. However, a new study indicates that these safety precautions do not always transfer to the workplace and may contribute to the high number of workplace fatalities caused by car accidents each year. One solution may be company policies that mandate seatbelt use.
In 2014, the most recent year for which statistics are available, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports there were 4,281 fatal workplace injuries. While workplace fatalities have dropped by nearly 1,000 over the last ten years, 2014’s number is five percent higher than 2013, a trend we don't want to see continue.
There are many causes of fatal workplace injury, including falls from heights, being struck by an object, and even homicide, but the leading cause of fatal injuries at work is transportation incidents. This type of injury results in 41 percent of all work injuries resulting in death.
Transportation incidents are broken down as follows:
- Roadway collisions with another vehicle (31 percent)
- Other roadway incidents (28 percent)
- Pedestrian vehicular incidents (16 percent)
- Non-roadway incidents (13 percent)
- Aircraft incidents (7 percent)
- Rail vehicle incidents (3 percent)
- Water vehicle incidents (3 percent)
- Other (1 percent)
In 2014, 379 workers were killed in multiple-fatality incidents, 64 percent of which were caused by transportation incidents. Clearly, motor vehicles are a dangerous workplace hazard.
Seatbelt Use Among Workers
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), workers’ compensation costs for serious, nonfatal injuries among work-related roadway incidents involving motorized land vehicles were estimated at $2.96 billion. Add this to the high rate of worker fatality due to motor vehicle accidents, and this becomes an issue that clearly needs to be addressed.
As the CDC points out, a proven and well-documented method to reduce injuries to motor vehicle occupants is the use of seatbelts. Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that use of lap/shoulder seat belts reduces the risk for fatal injuries to front seat occupants of cars by 45 percent and the risk to light truck occupants by 60 percent.
However, a recent survey of driving behavior found a significant lack of seatbelt use by workers in particular occupations. Not surprisingly, the workers who report the lowest seatbelt use are the workers who are most at risk for suffering a fatal workplace injury. According to the survey, workers in construction and extraction; farming, fishing, and forestry; and installation, maintenance, and repair reported the lowest use of seatbelts while at work.
The BLS report indicates that construction workers suffered the most fatal injuries at work, followed by transportation and warehouse workers, and forestry, fishing, and hunting personnel. This link between self-reported seatbelt use and worker fatality is no coincidence. Not wearing a seatbelt at work is risky, and employers can make a difference.
How to Protect Workers From Transportation Incidents
The CDC report further found that workers in states that have a primary seatbelt law—meaning you can be pulled over and ticketed for not wearing a seatbelt—report a higher rate of seatbelt use than workers in states with a secondary seatbelt law. Only 10.4 percent of workers in states with a primary seatbelt law report not wearing one while at work; by comparison, 23.6 percent of workers in states with secondary seatbelt laws do not wear them. This finding indicates that workers will wear seatbelts more often if they are required to do so. The CDC recommends that employers—particularly those whose employees use motor vehicles as part of their job duties—develop a policy that requires seatbelt use by their workers and enforce the requirement.
What Role Workers' Comp Plays
If you're injured in a motor vehicle accident while performing your job duties—even if the accident is your fault—you may be eligible to receive workers’ compensation to cover your medical bills and time away from work. If an immediate family member is killed in a motor vehicle accident at work, you could be eligible for workers' comp survivor benefits. Call Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys for assistance with your worker’s comp claim in Kansas or Missouri. We're here to help.
How could I lose my workers’ compensation benefits?
When a worker is injured on the job or becomes ill due to a workplace exposure, he is entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits to cover the cost of medical care and lost wages while he is unable to work. The worker’s ability to perform job duties will be assessed by a doctor chosen by the employer or the employer’s workers’ comp insurer. Disabilities will be classified according to whether they are permanent or temporary and whether they are total or partial. A temporary disability is one from which the worker is expected to eventually recover and return to work. An injured worker should expect to continue receiving benefit payments until he or she returns to work. There are situations, however, that can cause a worker to lose his or her benefits.
Losing Workers’ Comp Benefits
If you are legitimately ill or injured and have followed your doctor’s and your employer’s instructions regarding your medical care and work status, you should not have to worry about suddenly being cut off from benefits. However, when an employer mistrusts your intentions, you may find yourself in danger of losing your benefits. If you engage in any of the following actions, or your employer believes you have done any of these things, workers’ comp payments could be terminated:
- You fail to follow through with medical treatment as ordered by a doctor. The intention of workers’ compensation is to provide income while you are recovering from injuries suffered in the workplace that prevent you from doing your job. In order to qualify for the benefits, you must make every effort to heal and return to work. If you don’t, you could lose benefits.
- You refuse to comply with an order to have a medical exam. If your employer suspects you have recovered enough to return to work, he may order you to submit to a medical exam. If you refuse, your benefits could be terminated.
- You are convicted of a crime and are put in jail. Prisoners are not eligible for worker’s comp benefits. If you are imprisoned, your benefits will cease, even if you have family members who rely on the benefits as well.
- You have returned to work. If you are earning an income, even if it is not in your original line of work, your benefits may be terminated. Workers’ comp is meant to provide an income when you are not otherwise able to earn one. Returning to any type of work could cancel your benefits.
Even if you have jeopardized your benefits in one of these ways, your checks should not stop without warning. If your employer wants to begin the process of terminating your benefits, he will have to submit a request to be reviewed by a judge.
Petition to End Benefits
If your employer has submitted a request to terminate your benefits, you should receive a copy of the request. The request will be reviewed by a judge who will make the final decision about ending your benefits. Until the hearing takes place and a decision is made, you should continue to receive your worker’s comp checks. As soon as you receive notification that a request to terminate your benefits has been filed, you should contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. If your employer’s doctor has determined that you are fit to return to work, but your personal doctor disagrees, you will have to provide evidence of your ongoing disability to the judge. These cases can become complicated very quickly, so hiring an attorney is always a good idea.
Don’t Hesitate to Hire a Lawyer
Even a legitimate workers’ compensation claim can be overturned by a judge. If there is a chance that you will lose your benefits before you are physically able to return to work, you should contact a workers’ comp attorney as soon as possible. Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys will work hard to document your injuries and demonstrate the legitimacy of your claim. Contact us at (888) 348-2616 to get started.