Obtaining workers’ compensation benefits can seem like an intimidating process, especially if your employer shows no interest in helping you with it.
The Missouri Division of Workers’ Compensation recommends that you consult a lawyer if you feel confused or unsure about the process. While following a successful claim to completion can take some work, here is an overview of the the basics.
1) Report the injury or illness to your employer.
You must report your injury or illness to your employer in writing. Your employer may provide a form to you; if not, you can find one on the Missouri Department of Labor website. You must report your injury or illness within 30 days of noticing it.
The facts that you provide on this form will be crucial to the success or denial of your workers’ compensation claim. Discrepancies or omissions that are found among medical reports, accident reports, and witness statements are a major cause of claim denial.
The form that your employer provides to you may or may not have enough space for you to include all of the relevant facts. You should not hesitate to attach additional sheets if necessary.
If you are concerned about filling out your report fully and correctly — especially right after an accident — wait. You may want to have a workers compensation attorney help you. You can fill out the report a few days later if necessary and after ensuring that your pressing medical concerns are receiving the care they need.
2) Seek medical attention.
If you have a significant illness or injury that developed or occurred while you were working, seek medical help as soon as you notice the illness or injury. Be sure to explain to the doctor that your illness or injury arose at work so that he or she can gather the facts necessary to write a complete report.
You will not have to pay for medical care that you need as a result of a work-related injury. However, your employer has the right to select the doctor who treats you. Alternatively, you may see whatever doctor you wish to see if you are willing to pay out of pocket.
At this point, your employer and your doctor should both submit reports to the Missouri Division of Workers’ Compensation and to the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier. Once these reports have been processed, you may begin receiving payments.
If not, or if you feel that you are not receiving the full benefits you deserve, you will need to proceed to the next step.
3. File a workers’ compensation claim.
You will file your formal claim with the Missouri Division of Workers’ Compensation. The Department of Labor website provides a form, but you may need more space than the form provides. If you are unsure what information you need to include in order to succeed in obtaining different types of benefits, you should contact a workers’ compensation attorney who can provide advice based on the facts of your case.
In most cases, Missouri law provides a two-year statute of limitations for filing a workers’ compensation claim. It is usually advisable to file your claim much sooner.