Missouri workers who get hurt on the job are entitled to workers’ compensation. When that compensation actually gets paid, though, is very important. People who read our blog may have noticed that some of the cases we have covered involve workplace injuries that happened years earlier.
These cases are outliers, though, because they took a judge or magistrate to resolve the dispute. The vast majority of workers’ compensation claims are resolved out of court.
When Can Hurt Workers Expect to Begin Receiving Workers’ Compensation?
Injured workers in Missouri can expect workers’ compensation for lost wages within a couple of weeks. However, compensation for medical expenses is only paid out when the case is settled. Generally, workers’ compensation lawyers recommend waiting for maximum medical improvement before settling a workers’ comp claim. Depending on the injury, this can take a while.
Immediately after the workplace accident, workers should get medical attention. The treating doctor can do one of three things:
- Treat the injury and send the worker back to the job,
- Start treatment but diagnose a temporary partial disability and restrict the worker to light duty, or
- Start treatment but diagnose a temporary total disability and take the worker off work, entirely.
If the doctor's diagnosis finds a disability and either takes the victim off work or puts the victim on light duty at a lower wage, the worker may be entitled to compensation for lost wages. Under Missouri Statute 287.160, there is a waiting period of three business days, during which there is no compensation for lost wages. However, if the disability lasts more than 14 days, those first three days of lost wages are retroactively paid.
That compensation for lost wages is paid the same way that the worker was paid, before the injury. If the employer issued paychecks every other week, for example, the hurt worker would receive compensation for their lost wages from the employer on the next payday. However, under this statute, if paydays happen less often than biweekly, lost wage compensation has to be paid every other week.
If the victim’s workers’ compensation claim is approved, the workers’ compensation insurer will then indemnify the employer for what has been paid in lost wages, already.
During this time, though, workers will be receiving medical bills for the care they receive. Workers’ compensation will only cover those bills when the case is settled.
The timeline for settling a workers’ comp claim generally depends on the extent of the injuries suffered. Many workers’ compensation attorneys urge victims to hold out on settling until they have reached maximum medical improvement, or MMI. This means that either the victim has fully recovered or a permanent disability has been diagnosed.
Only when a victim has reached MMI is it clear how much compensation they deserve for their medical treatment.
Unfortunately, workers who have suffered a significant injury will take longer to reach MMI than those who have suffered a minor one. This can delay the workers’ comp settlement and the payout for medical bills.
Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at the Smith Law Office Serve St. Joseph
The personal injury and workers’ compensation lawyers at the Smith Law Office legally represent hurt workers in St. Joseph, Kansas City, Springfield, and the rest of western Missouri. Contact them online or call their law office at (816) 875-9373 for legal help.