What to Do if You Get Injured at Work
Getting injured at work can certainly be a traumatic experience that leaves you unsure of your rights and next steps. The good news is that Missouri law requires most employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance for this type of incident. This coverage is responsible for paying for your medical treatment (injury related) in addition to compensation for lost time on the job. Below is a simplified list of steps to complete if you are injured while at work.
If You’re Injured at Work, seek Medical Attention immediately
If you are in need of first aid or any additional medical treatment, that should always be the first priority and of utmost importance. Also, be sure to inform your employer that you’re seeking this medical treatment. Under Missouri Law, the employer has the right to select the doctor you treat with. If the injured party seeks medical treatment without the employer and the workers’ compensation insurance company’s authorization, they are normally not required nor responsible to pay for such treatment. However, there are also situations where the employer or insurer will authorize the injured to see their own provider.
The employer or supervisor should arrange the medical treatment and file the required reports with the Division of Workers’ Compensation aka DWC. Once the first report of injury is filed with the DWC, you should be receiving a “Notification of Rights” letter if there was lost time from work. If there is no lost time from work then there will be a “Medical-Only” letter. Be sure to keep these for your records upon receiving.
Keep in mind that covered medical care can include authorized medical testing, treatment, prescriptions and medical devices with no deductible. All costs are paid by the employer or workers’ compensation insurance company. If a bill is sent to you, let the employer or insurance company know ASAP.
Notify your supervisor immediately—in writing.
After being injured on the job in Missouri, you have 30 days to inform your employer of the incident. Describe your injury and how the incident happened, including when and where it occurred. Failure to do so within the specified timeframe means the injured employee can lose their right to any and all workers’ compensation benefits.
All states all states have varying deadlines for when a claim has to be filed with the DWC, so check out your state’s Workers’ Compensation website for those details.
Fill out the required paperwork
If the employer has an Accident or Injury Report form, complete that form. If there is no form, use this one for Missouri and give to the employer not the Division of Workers Compensation: https://labor.mo.gov/sites/labor/files/pubs_forms/WC-280-AI.pdf
*Keep a copy of any form/written notice for your records!
Prepare for potential lost wages
Temporary total disability payments are available to those who must miss work in the short-term. If you are unable to return to work or recovering from a surgery, you may be able to take advantage of temporary total disability. In the event you are able to return to work on light duty, temporary partial disability benefits are then paid to you. Once maximum medical improvement is reached, those payments would end.
Top things to remember when an injury on the job happens to you:
Report the incident as soon as possible.
Communication is key with your employer/insurance company. Understand the rules on authorized medical providers. You don’t want to end up paying the bill!
Always follow the doctor’s instructions in order to have a full recovery.
Attend an independent Medical Examination if you are required to.
Go back to work as soon as you are able.
Attend any hearings that are held in the case when you are notified to appear.
If in doubt, contact a workers’ compensation attorney.