Information for Injured Workers
Injured on the job? You’re not alone. In 2013 alone, benefit payments under workers’ compensation programs totaled 63.6 billion dollars. Although that figure is staggering, any injured worker needs to face the harsh realization that employers and insurance companies do not part ways with that money easily. Oftentimes, the injured worker must fight an uphill battle to receive the compensation due to him or her. Fear not, however. With the law firm of Hollingshead & Dudley at your side, you will not fight alone!
Coverage for workers’ compensation varies greatly In Missouri, Chapter 287 of the Missouri Revised Statutes governs workers’ compensation law. To put it simply, anything from minor sprains and strains up to death may be covered. The law ensures that workers have rights when they are injured in the workplace. However, the law does not ensure that the employer will freely and willingly cooperate. Many times, an employer will try to twist the ambiguities in the law in an attempt to get out of paying employees that file claims. Furthermore, the insurance company conglomerates do everything they can to ensure their coffers stay filled while good, hardworking individuals are forced to stay home because of their injuries. In some cases, they will deny liability completely. In others, they may accept liability for some injuries, but not all of your injuries. The only way you can ensure that your rights are being protected is to hire an attorney who is not only willing to take your case, but is also willing to fight for you every step of the way as the case develops.
Steps You Must Take
First and foremost, you must report your injury to your employer. In most cases, you have thirty (30) days to do so. If you fail to report the injury in a timely manner, you risk losing your opportunity to claim workers’ compensation benefits. Upon reporting, your employer should give you the paperwork necessary to properly file your claim with the company’s human resource department or its equivalent. Be aware: some employers do not hold your hand through the process, because they would prefer that you miss your deadlines. Do NOT allow them to do so! The deadlines in workers’ compensation are extremely important, and any delay may bar you completely from recovery.
After you report your injury, your employer has the right to send you to a doctor of their choosing. Although you retain the right to consult your own physician, you must do so at your own expense. Fortunately, our firm has had success in convincing the insurance company to foot the bill for your own independent second opinion.
The next step in the process is filing your claim for compensation. In the vast majority of cases, the deadline to file your claim is two (2) years from the date of injury. If you think you may have missed this deadline, call us immediately. It may be possible to extend your deadline.
At this point, it may be necessary to file for other benefits, including but not limited to filing for unemployment benefits, short/long term disability, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and the Second Injury Fund. It is important to contact an attorney to discuss what benefits you may or may not qualify for. Fortunately, the attorneys at Hollingshead & Dudley can guide you through the process!
The next phase of your case involves compiling your medical records, research into applicable statutes and case law related to your claim, conducting interviews with witnesses, and potentially obtaining expert opinions.
At various stages throughout your case, we will potentially have pre-hearings to inform the administrative law judge of the status of your treatment and other occurrences in your case. Your case may also be sent to mediation, in the hope of finding a resolution with a third party acting as a negotiator. If a resolution cannot be reached, your case may be taken to trial.
If the administrative law judge does not rule in our favor, we have the opportunity to appeal to the Industrial Commission. Following that appeal, we can turn to the court system. Appeals can be intricate and the courts do not take missed deadlines and mistaken pleadings lightly.
As you can see from this brief overview, the process is not straightforward and simple. There are many moving parts to a workers’ compensation case. You need a workers’ compensation attorney who not only knows the law, but will fight for you every step of the way. Do not hesitate. Call the attorneys at Hollingshead & Dudley today!
Contingency Fee: If We Accept Your Case and You Don’t Get Paid, We Don’t Get Paid
Oftentimes, injured workers delay hiring an attorney because they are concerned about the cost. Even worse, they wait to report the injury in the hope that either they will get better on their own or that their employer will have their side. Unfortunately, more often than not, this is simply not the case.
The attorneys at Hollingshead & Dudley understand your concerns. In an effort to make the process as unburdensome as possible on our clients, if we accept your case, we work strictly on a contingency fee basis. Simply put: if you don’t get paid, we don’t get paid. We front all of the costs associated with the case, because we know the most important outcome for your case is your health. Why should you have to worry about fees and costs when you should be focused on improving your health to the fullest extent possible? We are fully committed to our belief that the injured worker should take care of his injury, and we’ll take care of the legal side. Under Missouri law, attorneys are required to charge a 25% contingency fee on workers’ compensation cases. Thus, if we are successful, you will keep as much as 75% of your settlement, depending on any costs.
In line with our commitment to keep costs as low as possible to you, we offer free consultations. Injured on the job? We will fight for you and with you. Don’t try to take on your employer and the insurance company alone. They know the law. Fortunately for you, so do we. Call us today. It costs you nothing and could save you everything down the road.