A new workers’ compensation case from the Missouri Court of Appeals highlights how the law can seem like a maze. It also showcases how difficult it has become to prevent businesses from abusing loopholes in a system that has become designed to protect them.
Spouse of Killed Worker Wins Death Benefits
The situation involved a lab technologist who worked for the Capital Region Medical Center from 1969 until 2006. His role involved drawing blood from patients and testing it in the lab. For decades, this work was highly unregulated: Not only did the lab technologist work without gloves or protections from syringes during the early years of his tenure at the Medical Center; he was even required to use his mouth to suck blood into pipettes for testing.
In 1991, the technologist was diagnosed with hepatitis C. The disease made it difficult for him to work and caused his death in 2007, while his workers’ compensation was pending. After his death, his wife was substituted into his case to receive his claim.
In 2013, the technologist’s wife was awarded around $300,000 in disability and death benefits, funeral expenses, and interest. However, the Medical Center appealed the case and it was not resolved until 2015.
When the Medical Center lost its appeal, it refused to pay the interest on the judgment. So the wife then filed a contempt complaint with the court to force the Medical Center to pay the interest. The court dismissed the contempt complaint, and the wife appealed.
Contempt Not the Way to Enforce a Monetary Judgment
When the Missouri Court of Appeals heard the appeal, it agreed with the lower court’s decision: A complaint for contempt of court was not for situations where the only thing that had to be done was pay money. This decision fell in line with Missouri Statute 511.340.
Court Filing to Render Judgment is Required
Instead, the appellate court said that the only way to enforce a purely monetary payment was to file a workers’ compensation award with the local trial court to render judgment under Missouri Statute 287.500. Only then could the trial court take steps to enforce the judgment and award from a successful workers’ compensation case.
Another Example of Red Tape in Workers’ Compensation
This decision is just another example of the excessive amounts of red tape in workers’ compensation claims. Businesses and corporations in St. Joseph and the rest of Missouri make use of the numerous loopholes and procedural hurdles to avoid paying what they owe to injured workers.
Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at the St. Joseph Smith Law Office
If you or someone you love has been hurt in a workplace accident, you deserve workers’ compensation to help you recover. Unfortunately, the system does not always work for the good of the workers in the state. Hiring a personal injury and workers’ compensation attorney like those at the Smith Law Office in St. Joseph can make a huge difference in the outcome of your case.
Call us at (816) 875-9373 or contact us online for the legal representation you need.