What to do if you get hurt at work

The risk of workplace injuries is very real for everyone, even those in the most sedentary occupations. The good news is you can get help with the resulting medical bills and loss of earnings through Missouri workers’ compensation.

To make sure you get the full extent of compensation you are entitled to, you need to follow all the necessary procedures. While these can get complicated, an experienced attorney can do what it takes to get you the help you need.

What injuries does workers’ comp cover?

The first thing to know is that, unlike a negligence lawsuit, a workers’ compensation claim does not need the injury to be your employer’s fault. You can file a claim as long as the injury or illness stems entirely or mostly from your work.

Workers’ compensation covers both traumatic injuries and occupational conditions. A worker can suffer a traumatic injury because of a single accident. Occupational conditions develop gradually, often due to factors such as repeated motions or exposure to materials.

What are your responsibilities?

You must notify your employer in writing as soon as you get injured or find out that you have an occupational disease. This notification is mandatory for your claim but is not the same as filing a claim. While some employers submit the claim for you, others will neglect or delay it. Do not assume that no news is good news; it is always a good idea to keep informed of what is going on.

While the law gives you up to two years from your injury to file a claim, it is better to get the ball rolling as soon as you can. Filing your claim promptly also makes it easier to submit complete and up-to-date documentation.

What expenses will your benefits cover?

Once your workers’ compensation claim is approved, the insurance carrier will cover your medical bills. Typically, the insurer or employer will tell you which health care providers to use. If you use a different facility, you will have to pay for it on your own. Covered treatments may include hospital stays, surgery, doctors’ appointments, physical therapy, medications and supplies such as wheelchairs.

Often, an injury or health condition can cause you to lose time from work or temporarily reduce your hours as you recover. Temporary disability benefits can make up for a portion of your resulting loss in earnings. Permanent disability benefits may be available in the case of permanent full or partial loss of function.

Whether or not you will get the maximum benefits you are entitled to can depend on many factors, including the completeness of the paperwork, adherence to deadlines and the insurer’s medical determinations, which often aim to save money rather than provide you with the help you need. A qualified attorney can increase the likelihood of a successful claim and challenge any determinations that do not reflect th e severity of your condition.