Workers’ compensation is one of the oldest concepts in documented law, with roots dating as far back as 2050 B.C. While the laws have evolved immensely since then, the importance of protecting and compensating workers for injuries, remains. If you are injured at work, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits (sometimes referred to as workman’s comp). Regardless of how the injury happened or who was at fault, your employer is required to pay for medical treatment, compensate for time lost at work and provide disability benefits for any long-term problems associated with the injury.
Such injuries include, but are not limited to:
- Construction Site Accidents
- Car Crash While Driving for Work
- Occupational Disease, such as mesothelioma from asbestos
- Occupational Exposure, such as chemical exposure
- Repetitive Motions, such as carpal tunnel
Unfortunately, even though workers’ compensation is a no-fault insurance, employers oftentimes try to deny benefits under the position that an accident did not happen in the workplace, that the injury was not work-related or that the employee did not give notice of the injury to the employer. When this happens, injured employees should seek the advice of experienced workers’ compensation lawyers, such as those at Padberg, Corrigan & Appelbaum. Based in St. Louis, our attorneys and staff work hard on behalf of victims of workplace accidents to help recover maximum compensation for their injuries.
Notable Workers’ Compensation Cases
For a St. Louis County man who sustained several orthopedic injuries in a work accident, rendering him permanently and totally disabled.
For a workers’ compensation claim.
In a workers’ compensation claim for hand and back injuries.
Am I eligible for workers’ compensation?
Anyone who is injured while doing work for their employer is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Employees do not have to perform physical tasks as part of their job duties and it can happen in unexpected instances, such as while taking a break in the lunchroom or during a company-sponsored outing. An attorney can evaluate whether someone is entitled to benefits in the case of nontraditional employer/employee relationships.
What should I do if I get hurt at work?
After any workplace injury, the employee should notify his or her employer IMMEDIATELY and then seek medical help. In addition to any verbal communication that may take place at the time of the incident, it is important to put the notice to the employer in writing or certified mail. Typically, the employer dictates the medical care, chooses the doctors and pays the bills, so without proper notice, they will not begin to provide treatment.
Is there a time limit for filing a workers’ compensation claim?
There are a few deadlines to meet when filing workers’ compensation claims. First, the employer must be notified of the injury as soon as possible. In Missouri, notification must be made within 30 days. In Illinois, notification must be made within 45 days.
Then there are time limits on how long someone can wait to file a claim, called statutes of limitations. In Missouri, generally a claim must be filed within two years from the date of the injury. If the claim has a second injury fund component, there is a statute of limitations of two years after the date of the injury OR one year after the claim for compensation is filed. In Illinois, the filing deadline is typically three years from the date of the injury. Depending on the facts of a case, there are exceptions to these time limits and an attorney can determine if there is still time to file or if there is a possibility for a time extension.
What can I expect if I file a workers’ compensation claim?
Workers’ compensation is an administrative process, making the accuracy of each step important for success. First, a claim for compensation is filed and it is put on a pre-hearing docket of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The responsibility of the ALJ is to act as an impartial third-party to facilitate settlements and to resolve disputes between the parties during mediations.
Depending on the issues in the case and what is being contested, a hardship hearing may also be requested by the employee while medical treatment is still ongoing, in order to hold the employer accountable for treatment or temporary total benefits.
Once the injured employee completes treatment and/or is back to work, the next step is negotiating a settlement based on medical records and the long-term effect of the injury. If the parties can’t reach a reasonable settlement, the case will be mediated with the ALJ. If the case doesn’t settle after mediation, then a final hearing is scheduled and tried in front of a different ALJ who did not previously mediate the case.
What type of damages can I recover?
Someone who is injured at work can file a workers’ compensation claim to recover the following:
- Medical Treatment
- Temporary Total Disability Benefits (TTD): for the time off work because of an injury.
- Permanent Partial Disability Benefits (PPD): for a percentage of a permanent disability suffered as a result of an injury.
- Permanent Total Disability Benefits (PTD): for total disability as a result of a work injury. If granted, the employer is responsible for paying the employee a weekly benefit payment for the rest of his or her life.
How long will it take for the insurance company or my employer to pay my workers’ compensation benefits?
An employer should pay for medical treatment as soon as an employee is injured at work. The employer should pay any Temporary Total Disability benefits (TTD) immediately as well and the employee should receive a weekly check while off work. Permanent Partial Disability benefits (PPD) come after the injured employee has completed treatment and is ready to close his or her case. If the case is contested, the payments will be delayed.
What should I collect or keep if I get injured at work?
Following an injury at work, keep track of any documentation regarding medical treatment, communication with an employer or the claim. Photographs of the injury also help the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) understand the extent of the injury. It is also helpful to collect paycheck stubs for the 13 weeks prior to the injury because the average of those weeks makes up the number that workers’ compensation benefits are based on.
Can I sue my employer and collect workers’ compensation?
Generally, workers’ compensation is the exclusive remedy for employees who are injured at work. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule, for example, if you are injured at work by an exposure to a hazardous material, or if you are injured at work due to the negligence of someone who is not your employer. A workers’ compensation attorney can evaluate your case to determine if there is an additional or alternative lawsuit that can be filed.
How much does it cost to hire a workers’ compensation attorney?
St. Louis workers’ compensation firm Padberg, Corrigan & Appelbaum works on a contingency fee basis, so you don’t pay anything unless we recover a settlement or judgment for benefits. If we recover benefits, clients then reimburse the firm for expenses incurred to prosecute the case as well as pay attorney’s fees. The fees are an agreed upon percentage of the recovery, which are capped at 25 percent in Missouri and 20 percent in Illinois. If you are not being treated fairly by your employer after an injury or if you are not getting the medical treatment you need, contact us today for a free and confidential case consultation.