In Part 3 of our 4 part series, "Best Practices for Injured Workers," our Missouri workers' compensation attorneys provide information about the different kinds of benefits available to workers' compensation claimants.
If you are unable to return to your job as the result of workplace injuries, you are most likely entitled to disability benefits. There are several factors that affect what kind of benefits you are eligible for:
Temporary Total Disability
• If you have to take time away from work to recover from your injuries and/or any medical procedures associated with those injuries; or your doctor says you cannot return to work because of your injuries, you may be eligible for Temporary Total Disability benefits to compensate you for your lost wages.
• If your employer has offered you "light or modified [duties]," and your doctor says that you are capable of performing those tasks, you may not be able to collect Temporary Total Disability benefits.
• However, if you accept "light or modified" duties, but at less than full pay, the law allows you to collect Temporary Partial Disability benefits.
• Temporary Total Disability benefits should continue until your doctor releases you to return to work, either because your "treatment is concluded" or because you have "maximum medical improvement," whichever comes first.
Permanent Partial Disability and Permanent Total Disability
• Permanent Partial Disability benefits are designed to assist injured workers whose injury impacts the tasks they can perform, but who can still work (even if the job isn't exactly the same one that they had before the injury).
• Permanent Total Disability benefits are awarded to employees who are no longer able to work, in any capacity, at any job. Depending on the circumstances - in particular, the nature and extent of the injury - these benefits may be paid out in lifetime weekly installments, or as a lump sum payment.
• Temporary Partial Disability payments should consist of 66 2/3% of the "difference between [your] average earnings prior to the accident and the amount to which the employee, in exercise of reasonable diligence, will be able to earn during the period of disability."
• Temporary Total Disability payments should consist of 66 2/3% of your average weekly wages, which is determined by your gross wages (your earnings before taxes and deductions). There is a maximum amount for these payments, set by Missouri law.
• Permanent Partial Disability and Permanent Total Disability payments should consist of 66 2/3% of your average weekly wage, not to exceed the maximum amount determined by law. The maximum amount is considerably higher for Permanent Total Disability than for Permanent Partial Disability.
• Benefits are not paid during the first 3 days (or less) of disability, during the state's waiting period. If an injured worker cannot return to the job after 14 days, benefits will be paid for the original 3 days.
• All benefits should be paid by the workers' compensation insurance company that covers your employer.
• You should contact your employer and/or insurer if you do not receive disability checks or payment for medical services in a "timely fashion." If you have retained a workers' compensation attorney, discuss this issue with him or her before attempting to negotiate with the insurance company on your own.
• If you are receiving any other benefits, you should talk with your attorney about the effect that workers' compensation awards may have on those benefits.
For more information about workers' compensation claims, please visit our website. In the last installment of this 4-part series, coming next week, we'll discuss the different ways that Missouri workers' compensation claims are typically resolved.
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