States have workers’ compensation laws to ensure that employees who are injured while performing job duties will receive payment for their medical expenses and other financial losses. Before the workers’ comp system was developed, employees often had to sue their employers for these damages.
In both Kansas and Missouri, most employers are required by state law to carry workers’ comp insurance, either through the state program or via an independent insurer. In return, the program limits how much the employee can be awarded and prevents the employee from suing the employer for additional damages.
Workers’ Comp Is a No-Fault System
In most cases, the cause of the injury in question is not at issue in a workers’ comp claim. Regardless of whether the worker was careless in his actions or the employer did not provide a safe environment, workers’ comp is awarded to the injured worker. However, if an employee was impaired by drugs or alcohol at the time of the injury, this may prevent a workers’comp award.
An injured worker might also seek additional damages from a third party. For example, if the worker is injured by faulty equipment, he can seek workers’ comp from his employer and also sue the manufacturer of the equipment.
What You Can Be Awarded in Missouri
Each state is governed by its workers’ compensation laws, which may differ from another state's laws. In Missouri, businesses are required to carry workers’ comp insurance if they employ five or more people—or one or more in the construction industry.
When an employee is injured on the job in Missouri, he is entitled to the following:
- Coverage for medical care. This includes all costs for authorized medical treatment, prescriptions, and medical devices. There isn't a deductible, and all costs are paid by the employer or its workers’ comp insurance company.
- Payment for lost wages. If a doctor confirms you're unable to return to work because of your injuries, you'll be entitled to partial payment for your lost wages until you are able to return to work. The benefits provided are calculated at 66 2/3 percent of your average weekly wage, not to exceed a maximum amount set by law. The average weekly wage is based on your gross wages. The duration of these benefits depend upon the extent of your injuries.
- Additional payment for occupational diseases. Effective January 01, 2014, workers’ comp provides for some enhanced weekly payments if it's proven that an employee is permanently, totally disabled or has died due to one or more occupational diseases as a result of toxic exposure.
- Survivor benefits. If a worker dies on the job, his family may be entitled to survivor benefits under workers’ compensation.
Kansas Offers Similar Benefits
If you're employed in the state of Kansas, your workers’ compensation benefits are similar to those offered in Missouri.
Specifically, Kansas workers’ comp provides the following:
- Medical coverage. If you're injured on the job, you're entitled to all medical treatment that may be reasonably needed to cure or relieve the effects of the injury. Under the law, your employer has the right to choose the authorizing treating physician. If you seek treatment from a doctor not authorized or agreed upon by your employer, your employer or its insurance company is only liable up to $500 toward such medical bills.
- Lost wages. No compensation is paid for the first week you are off work. After this waiting period, Kansas workers’ compensation law requires that an employer or its insurance carrier pay an injured employee two-thirds of the employee's gross average weekly wage up to the amount of the applicable maximum benefits.
- Survivor benefits. These are paid to an employee's surviving spouse and dependent children if death occurs as a result of injury. Burial expenses up to $5,000 are also covered.
When Your Claim Is Denied
While workers’ comp benefits should be paid promptly once you have demonstrated that you're injured and that your injury occurred at work, employers or their insurers will sometimes push back against your claim. Certain types of injury, such as repetitive use injuries and occupational diseases, can be difficult to prove. Sometimes, workers make simple mistakes that jeopardize their claims. In these cases, you need an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to help you file your claim. The attorneys at Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys are here to help you with your claim in Kansas or Missouri. Call today for a consultation.