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Workers Compensation

Buchanan Williams & O'Brien
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Dedicated Workers Compensation Attorneys in Joplin

We are Workers’ Compensation attorneys with locations in Joplin and St. Louis to help you.

If you are injured at work, you are likely entitled to compensation. In Missouri, most businesses have Worker’s Compensation insurance.

Filing a worker’s compensation claim against your employer is simply a request for benefits. To recover, you do not need to prove that your employer was at fault. The Joplin and St. Louis workers’ compensation attorneys at our firm can help you make sure you know what kind of benefits you may receive under workers’ compensation coverage if you have suffered an injury on the job.

We have the resources and expertise to help you in any type of workers’ compensation case.

We have represented injured Missourians for over 35+ years. We have experience representing injured workers in nearly every industry, including trucking, construction, heavy equipment, factory, industrial, health care, and education, and every type of injury, including:

  • Knee Injuries
  • Shoulder Injuries
  • Back injuries
  • Sight and Hearing Loss
  • Muscle Tears
  • Meniscus Tears
  • Repetitive Stress Disorders
  • Neck injuries
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, CTS
  • Brain Injury
  • Heart Attack
  • Amputation
  • Burns

Contact us today because, with our law firm, you owe nothing unless we recover money for you.

If you are unable to travel to our offices, most Workers’ Compensation claims cases can be opened over the telephone, and without an office visit by the client. In some cases, we can meet you at your home, or at another location to discuss your case.

If you have any questions about your claim or would like to set up a telephone conference or an office visit, call us in St. Louis at 314-878-2537, in Southwest Missouri at 417-623-0900, or Toll-Free at 800-371-8220 or send us an email. We will evaluate your case free of charge. We will never take a fee unless and until we obtain a settlement or award for you.

Worker’s Compensation Claims

WORKER’S COMPENSATION CLAIMSIf you have been hurt on the job, you are, (or will be) dealing with an experienced insurance adjuster. Workers’ compensation law is complicated, technical and full of traps for the unknowing. We will represent you on a contingency fee basis. This means that there is no attorney’s fee unless we recover money or benefits for you.

If you are injured on the job, here are some things you need to do:

  • Report the accident to your employer as soon as possible.
  • Write down how the accident happened while it is still fresh in your mind.
  • See your doctor as soon as possible and tell him or her that you were injured.
  • Do not sign any documents from the employer or the insurance company without talking to an attorney about it first. You may be signing away some important rights.
  • Call an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer.

The following answers frequently asked questions regarding worker’s compensation claims. If you have any questions about your claim, contact our worker’s compensation attorneys today in St. Louis at 314-878-2537, in Southwest Missouri at 417-623-0900, or Toll Free at 800-371-8220 or send us an email. We do not charge for phone or office consultations.

 

Workers’ Compensation Injuries

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION INJURIESWorkers’ Compensation injuries come in many forms. The injuries discussed below are just some examples of injuries that may be covered by Workers’ Compensation law.

If you have any questions regarding whether you have suffered an injury covered by Workers’ Compensation, call us at 417-623-0900, or Toll-Free at 800-371-8220 or e-mail us to set up a free consultation.

  • Accidents caused by other workers
  • An injury caused by defective equipment
  • Injuries sustained on the job in a motor vehicle accident
  • Work-induced Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Occupational Diseases

Accidents caused by other workers

If you are injured by another worker, you are entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits. There are limited circumstances such as horseplay or a personal assault by a fellow worker in which you may not be able to collect Workers’ Compensation benefits. If your employer refuses to provide medical care because of these circumstances, you should contact an attorney for advice.

An injury caused by defective equipment

If you are injured on the job because of unsafe or defective equipment, you are probably entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits. Under some circumstances, you may also have a right to damages from the company (other than your employer) who manufactured, installed or maintained the equipment. Claims of this type are usually called products liability claims. If you have been injured by defective or unsafe products, you should contact a lawyer experienced in Workers’ Compensation and products liability law.

Injuries sustained on the job in a motor vehicle accident

A car or truck accident is like any other on-the-job accident, and you will usually be entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits including medical care, lost wage benefit and the lump sum payment for permanent, partial disability. In addition to Workers’ Compensation benefits, you may be entitled to recover damages for negligence against another driver.

The damages that you can recover in a suit based on negligence are sometimes much broader than the benefits under Workers’ Compensation coverage. For example, in a negligence claim you can recover damages for pain and suffering, all of your lost wages, future lost wages and impairment to your future earning capacity.

Work-induced Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a wrist and hand injury caused by repetitive use of hands. Carpal tunnel syndrome can be caused by repetitive motion at work such as assembly line, work in poultry plants and even such things as clerical work. There are other types of similar repetitive motion injuries such as tendonitis. If you believe you have a repetitive motion injury, you should contact an attorney experienced at Workers’ Compensation law.

Occupational Diseases

If you have a disease that is work related, you may be entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits. Examples of occupational diseases include hearing loss due to industrial noise, radiation disability, diseases of the lungs, contagious or communicable diseases and lead poisoning.

 

Workers’ Compensation Benefits

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION BENEFITSDetermining the full Workers’ Compensation benefits you are entitled to receive can be complicated. The determination can depend on calculations of your average weekly wage, which can be complicated depending on the industry in which you work.
The insurance adjuster will often argue that your injury is not serious and will attempt to minimize your Workers’ Compensation benefits. We have been representing injured Missourians for 35+ years. We know the benefits you are entitled to receive, and we know how to get them for you.

We provide answers to questions regarding Workers’ Compensation benefits. If you have any questions regarding Workers’ Compensation benefits, call us today in St. Louis at 314-878-2537, in Southwest Missouri at 417-623-0900, or Toll-Free at 800-371-8220 or send us an email. We will evaluate your case free of charge. We will never take a fee unless and until we obtain a settlement or award for you.

 

Workers’ Compensation Discrimination

 

Loss of Employment

LOSS OF EMPLOYMENTWhat if I cannot return to work?

The answer to this question involves several complicated issues. If you are unable to return to work because of your work-related injury, you may be entitled to a weekly benefit of two-thirds of your average weekly wage, up to a maximum cap, for the rest of your life.

To be entitled to this benefit, you must be totally disabled from any employment. If you are totally disabled because of a combination of a pre-existing disability plus the disability caused by your work-related accident, then you may be entitled to benefits from the Second Injury Fund. Generally, this benefit is two-thirds of your average weekly wage, up to the maximum cap, for the rest of your life.

Under Workers’ Compensation, you are not totally disabled simply because you are unable to return to your old job. To be totally disabled under Workers’ Compensation, you must be disabled from all employment and not simply the employment you had before the accident.

Any time you are disabled from employment, you should also consider whether you are entitled to Social Security disability benefits. There is sometimes a set off between Social Security disability benefits and Workers’ Compensation benefits, and you should always contact an attorney experienced in Workers’ Compensation law if you are receiving or plan on receiving both Workers’ Compensation benefits and Social Security disability benefits.

Is my employer required to hold my job?

The Missouri Workers’ Compensation law does not require the employer to hold your job while you recover from your disability. However, there are other federal and state statutes that give a worker some protection, such as the Americans With Disabilities Act, the Family Leave Act, and the Missouri Human Rights Act. These laws are complicated and if you believe you have not been treated fairly, you should contact an attorney experienced in this area of the law.

 

Negligence Claims

NEGLIGENCE CLAIMSCivil Negligence Lawsuit Against Your Employer or Fellow Employees?

Generally, you cannot bring a negligence claim against your employer to recover for work-related injuries. However, there are limited circumstances in which a negligence action can be brought against the employer or fellow employees.

The most common circumstance in which an employer can be liable for negligence is if the employer has fewer than five employees and is, therefore, not covered by the Workers’ Compensation statute.

The other exceptions that allow a negligence suit against an employer or fellow employees are limited and complex. To be safe, you should always ask an experienced attorney if there is a possible negligence claim.

What About a Negligence Lawsuit Against 3rd Parties?

If your injury was caused by the negligent activities of someone who does not work for your employer, you may have a “third party” claim against the negligent party. This third-party claim might be available in addition to Workers’ Compensation benefits.

Money damages in a “third party” claim are often greater than the Workers’ Compensation benefits available for the same injury. The possible existence of a “third party” case is a good reason why a trucker should promptly consult with an experienced lawyer.

 

Second Injury Fund

SECOND INJURY FUNDIf you had an injury or disability before you were hurt at work, you might qualify for additional benefits from the Missouri Second Injury Fund. The purpose of the Second Injury Fund is to encourage employers to hire and retain employees who have disabilities.

An injured employee must have a permanent preexisting disability to trigger liability of the Fund. The prior disability must be “of such seriousness as to constitute a hindrance or obstacle to employment.”  In some cases, the Second Injury Fund’s benefits can be substantial.

For example, an injured employee may be entitled to lifetime weekly benefits from the Second Injury Fund when a permanent total disability results from a combination of the employee’s preexisting conditions and those caused by the current injury. In death cases, when the employer failed to obtain Workers’ Compensation insurance, the Second Injury Fund can be held responsible for death benefits to the employee’s dependents. 

The Fund is also responsible for paying medical bills of injured employee’s when the employer fails to ensure its Workers’ Compensation liability. The Fund also provides benefits to injured employees who are undergoing physical rehabilitation. To qualify for these benefits, the employee must be seriously injured and be receiving therapy at a facility certified by the Division. If the injured worker qualifies, he or she will receive $40 per week for up to 20 weeks for rehabilitation. 

Second Injury Fund also provides benefits to injured employees with multiple jobs. If an employee is unable to work at a job as a result of an injury that occurred while working at another job, benefits may be claimed from the Second Injury Fund in connection with the job at which the employee was not injured. 

The Second Injury Fund is funded by a surcharge applied to Workers’ Compensation insurance premiums paid by employers. The Missouri legislature has capped the amount of the surcharge paid by employers, which has caused the Second Injury Fund to be underfunded. Unless the Missouri legislature acts, in the near future, the Fund will become insolvent and unable to pay claims. Contact your local state legislator and encourage him or her to remove the cap on the premium surcharge so that the Second Injury Fund can continue to pay worthy claims.

 

Nursing Accidents and Injuries

NURSING ACCIDENTS AND INJURIESNurses Workers’ Compensation claims are among the most common Workers’ Compensation claims. By this measure, hospitals are among the most dangerous places to work as far as work injuries. In fact, nurses are twice as likely to suffer a work in injury than the average private industry worker. Recent reports recorded 58,860 work-related injuries per year in hospitals that caused missed work time.

Nurses are on their feet for long hours helping care for people who suffer from illness, diseases, and injuries. Nursing is a rewarding job, but it can take a toll both physically and emotionally. Nursing assistants and orderlies suffer injuries at almost three times the rate as construction laborers. Registered nurses have more back and arm injuries than all but four other occupations (according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data) ­ including truckers and workers who lug heavy loads in warehouses. Some of the most common Workers’ Compensation claims by nurses are back injuries, slip and falls, and needle sticks. 

Back Injuries for Nurses

Back injuries are the most common Workers’ Compensation injuries suffered by nurses. Nurses are required to move, lift and carry patients on a regular basis (and often at awkward, uncomfortable angles), which leads to back injuries. Overexertion, stress, and repeated heavy lifting can cause injuries such as muscle tears, tendon strains, herniated discs, sprains, and overall soreness. The rising rate of obesity among patients coupled with staffing shortages has put added pressure on nurses, forcing them to lift heavier people and to work more often than they would have in recent years. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the nursing industry reports the highest amount of work-related back pain among female workers. The CDC also states that an estimated 12 percent of nurses leave the profession entirely, citing a back injury as the reason. The method of lifting and moving patients that hospitals and nursing schools have taught for more than a century ­ using “proper body mechanics” ­ is actually dangerous, laboratory studies show. There’s a well-known solution: using mechanical lifts to move patients, much the way heavy machinery is moved on an assembly line. But hospitals around the country routinely choose other funding priorities.

Slip and Fall Injuries for Nurses

Slips and falls occur due to a spill or slick spot on the floor, improper footwear, or just being in a hurry. While sometimes these can leave the victim unscathed, often the fall results in a serious work injury, particularly to the knees and ankles. Tendon and muscle strains to the knees and ankles can be very painful and take extensive time to heal, causing a nurse to be unable to work for a prolonged period of time.

Needle Stick Injuries for Nurses

According to the American Nursing Association, 64 percent of nurses say they experienced a prick by a syringe or needle while on the job. While these pricks may cause a small puncture wound or a little bleeding, that’s not the full extent of the danger. Needle sticks come with serious possibilities of infections and bloodborne pathogens if a syringe has been used already. This puts the nurse at risk for HIV and other serious conditions. If you are a nurse injured on the job, give us a call today at 314-862-6865 or 417-623-0900 for a free case evaluation. We have been helping injured nurses for 40 years. We can help you too!

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