Allow Us To Answer Your Workers’ Compensation Questions
When facing a workers’ compensation case, you probably have many questions. Because of our experience in these matters, we’re able to answer some commonly-asked questions.
Can my employer fire me for filing a workers’ compensation case?
The State of Missouri has a statute that makes the firing of an employee for exercising his/her rights under the Missouri Workers’ Compensation Law illegal. Having said that, the law is difficult to enforce. Many employees have described to me the pre-textual reasons that are applied to them to get them fired, as well as the increased scrutiny of their work habits. We find that employees who are represented through collective bargaining agreements are much less likely to be fired. Also, employees who have a generally good relationship with their employers are less likely to be fired.
What happens to my medical insurance when I am off work due to a work accident?
If you are covered by an employer which is subject to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and you are off work for up to 180 days and your physician so certifies, your employer may be required to continue your medical insurance during that time. Once that time elapses, or you are employed by an employer not subject to FMLA, you may be required to pay your own medical insurance premiums. That said, your employer and its insurer’s obligations to pay for the medical treatment related to your work injury continues unabated.
Can I change jobs and continue with pursuing my Workers’ Compensation Case with the prior employer?
Yes, you can. For industrial diseases and repetitive trauma though, determining which of your present or prior employers may be liable for your injuries is a legal question which requires close legal analysis
Can I draw both Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability benefits?
Yes. However, because Workers’ Compensation is considered by Social Security to be a “public benefit,” there is sometimes an offset of a certain portion of Social Security Disability benefits against the Workers’ Compensation benefits. This off set ends at normal retirement age (now 66, soon to be 67). Furthermore, if you settle your Workers’ Compensation case, many times an agreement can be reached that contains language that would limit or eliminate the offset. If you provide your lawyer with your prior tax returns, usually for 5 years prior to the injury, you can many times determine if there would be an offset ahead of time, and work to eliminate it.
What happens if I have a work accident or industrial disease and afterward I cannot get back to any kind of competitive employment at all?
If that happens, in Missouri, you would be entitled to permanent total disability benefits, which means payment of two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly wage (with an upper end cap), on a weekly basis for life. In Missouri, the source of the permanent total disability benefit would with be the employer and its insurer alone, or the employer and its insurer, and an entity known as Second Injury Fund. For injuries occurring since 2014, this has become a very complex question. You will need a lawyer to help guide you through it.
How long does it take to process my Workers’ Compensation case to conclusion?
The answer to that question depends on the severity of the injury and any defenses your employer may have. For some smaller injuries, it could take a mere matter of months. In the case of very serious injuries, where there is a need for continuing medical care and/or an inability of the employee to work, it could take a number of years. This is not, of course, very fair. But the system is currently not one that is particularly fair to employees. If you become impatient, and settle early, you likely will “leave money on the table”. If you are patient, and allow your lawyer to do his/her job, your chances of a better recovery increase.