Employees who get hurt on the job in Missouri are often entitled to workers’ compensation. But what does “compensation” mean? Here is what it includes.
3 Types of Workers Compensation Benefits in Missouri
Each state has a different way of structuring workers’ compensation. Missouri’s system provides 3 kinds of benefits to hurt workers:
- Medical treatment, including travel expenses
- Disability benefits, which cover wages lost
- Death benefits, for fatal injuries
Under Missouri Statute 287.140, the employer has to provide the “medical, surgical, chiropractic, and hospital treatment, including nursing, custodial, ambulance and medicines” that are reasonably required to treat the injury. This includes travel expenses for up to 250 miles, if the treatment has to happen outside of the local or metropolitan area.
Importantly, though, this means that the employer gets to choose the treating doctor or medical institution. This gives employers the ability to steer injured workers towards medical professionals who tend to downplay the severity of the injury.
Perhaps the most confusing aspects of Missouri’s workers’ compensation program are the disability benefits. These benefits cover a portion of the wages that the worker has lost, due to their injury.
In order of severity, there are 4 types of disabilities:
- Temporary partial disability, or TPD
- Temporary total disability, or TTD
- Permanent partial disability, or PPD
- Permanent total disability, or PTD
The amount of compensation for lost wages will depend on the type of disability.
Under Missouri Statute 287.180, workers deemed to have a TPD receive 66.66 percent (2/3rds) of the difference between their average earnings, prior to the accident, and the amount they will be able to earn, during the disability. Benefits are capped at 105 percent of the state’s average weekly wage. These payments can continue for up to 100 weeks. TPD benefits help workers who have to take a pay cut while they recover.
Missouri Statute 287.170 covers TTD, when the worker will recover from the injury, but cannot work in the meantime. These benefits also pay 2/3 of the average weekly wage from before the injury, capped at 105 percent of the state average. However, TTD benefits can last up to 400 weeks, or nearly 8 years. Workers lose their TTD benefits if they also receive unemployment benefits.
Both TPD and TTD benefits end when the worker returns to work or gets cleared to return to work. Workers who refuse necessary care can lose half of their disability benefits.
The benefits for a permanent disability are more complicated.
PPD benefits fall under Missouri Statute 287.190. PPD is for permanent injuries that are not bad enough to keep the worker out of the workforce. When the worker has recovered as well as he or she is going to recover – called “maximum medical improvement” – the doctor will rate how disabled the body part is. The rating is in a percentage. The Statute has a Schedule of Losses that values injuries to different body parts. The amount of PPD benefits for a workplace injury will be the percentage of disability, multiplied by the number for that body part in the Schedule of Losses, multiplied by the worker’s average weekly wage.
For example, imagine a worker who makes $1,000 per week and suffers 50 percent hearing loss to both ears. Item 27 in the Schedule of Losses rates deafness in both ears at 180. 50 percent of 180 is 90. 90 times $1,000 is $90,000.
PPD is often where it becomes problematic that the employer gets to choose the doctor.
PTD benefits are handled by Missouri Statute 287.200. PTD is for injuries that are bad enough that the worker cannot work in any capacity, and will not get better. PTD benefits are the same as TTD benefits, but there is no maximum duration. Workers who receive PTD get 2/3 of their average weekly pay, up to 105 percent of the state’s average weekly wage.
Benefits for permanent injuries are in addition to benefits for temporary injuries. Hurt workers can end up receiving both types of benefits for a single injury.
Finally, Missouri’s workers’ compensation scheme provides death benefits, also known as survivor benefits. We have covered survivor benefits in detail in our blog, before.
In short, though, under Missouri Statute 287.240, the victim’s dependents stand to receive up to $5,000 in funeral expenses, as well as 2/3 of the victim’s average weekly wage, capped at 105 percent of the state’s average wage.
Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at the Smith Law Office Serve St. Joseph
If you or a loved one has been hurt on the job in St. Joseph, Kansas City, Springfield, or elsewhere in western Missouri, call the workers’ compensation and personal injury lawyers at the Smith Law Office at (816) 875-9373 or contact them online.