What workers’ compensation benefits are available to me?

If you are injured at work, there are three basic types of benefits that are available to you. The fact that you are receiving one type of benefit does not preclude you from receiving the other two on the same injury. If you’re injured at work and the injury occurred within the scope of your employment, the benefits available to you are as follows:

MEDICAL

Your employer, or your employer’s insurer, is required to provide you with medical care. However, Missouri law provides that the employer has the right to select your treating physician. If you do not like the physician your employer has provided, you may elect to find your own physician at your own expense.

For work related injuries, you are entitled to medical treatment, with no deductibles or co-pays, until your injury or condition is alleviated. If you feel like your employer’s designated physician is not treating you properly you can demand additional treatment.

TEMPORARY DISABILITY

Temporary Disability are meant to provide income if you are unable to work because of you work related injury or condition. If you are unable to work for three or more days due to your injury or condition, you could be entitled to Temporary Disability Benefits. These benefits are paid weekly and are calculated by paying out two-thirds (2/3) of your Average Weekly Wage (“AWW”). The AWW is always subject to a maximum amount set by law and the Missouri Department of Labor.

PERMANENT DISABILITY

Permanent Disability benefits are meant to compensate an employee for any permanent injury or condition that they may have due to a work related injury. The Missouri Division of Workers’ Compensation provides a chart that divides the body up into what the law calls “levels.” Every body part, or level, has a specific value that was assigned to it by the Missouri General Assembly. Additionally, the chart (also seen below) provides indicates the maximum “compensation rate” allowable under law for the time period of the injury.

When calculating permanent disability benefits, workers’ compensation lawyers and Administrative Law Judges evaluating the merits of a Claim for Compensation, usually look for a medical expert to set a percentage of disability. It is common for medical experts to disagree about the proper percentage of the disability. Once you have all three factors you can multiply them all together and come up with an amount that should be awarded in Permanent Disability Benefits (do note all contested outcomes are dependent on the decision of Administrative Law Judges and vary depending on the facts of your case). The equation would look like this:

(Level) x (Compensation Rate, or AWW) x (Percentage Disability) = Permanent Disability Award

As an example, consider an employee who injured their back on the job (a 400 level). The employee had a good job making $1100/week in September of 2017, when they were injured. A medical professional evaluated the employee’s injury and determined that her percentage of a permanent partial disability is 35%. The calculation of benefits would be as follows:

(400 Level) x ($483.48; maximum AWW) x (35%) = $67,687.20 Permanent Partial Disability Award

CONCLUSION

These are the basic schedule of benefits possible to an employee injured on the job. The descriptions and the examples provided are very simplistic and are to be used for informational purposes only. Additionally, these may not be the only types of benefits that are available to you under Missouri Workers’ Compensation laws. If you or a loved one was injured on the job, consult with a workers’ compensation lawyer immediately to discuss what benefits you may be entitled to and what you need to do to safeguard your rights to those benefits.