Legal

Appearances at Court
Your appearance at court may be required for pre-hearing conferences, voluntary conferences or settlement hearings. The Missouri Legislature in 2005 put a muzzle on the administrative law judges who preside over workers compensation proceedings. Prior to 2005, a judge would review the settlement and let you know if it was fair. Oftentimes when a judge voiced his or her opinion that the proposed settlement was not fair, an employee would be wise enough to see a lawyer. The judge is no longer going to let you know a settlement is not in your best interest.

Third Party Actions
It is important in every case where there is an accident on the job, to analyze whether someone besides your employer can be held responsible. In workers compensation you are not awarded pain and suffering. Pain and suffering can be a significant component of any injury. A good example stems from a case I handled. A worker lost most of his sight in an eye due to a battery explosion . He was awarded benefits of approximately $40,000.00 in workers compensation. Because he could sue the supplier of the battery, Dean Law Office, LLC filed a civil lawsuit. A jury awarded the individual $2,250,000.00 for the loss of his eyesight.

Light Duty, Limited Duty, Restricted Duty (These terms all mean that you can do some work but you cannot do your full job.)
Oftentimes the treating doctor will release you to light duty also known as limited duty or restricted duty. After each doctor’s visit, the doctor will give you a document that is meant to let you and your employer know if you can work and, if so, what limitations or restrictions you have. A number of doctors’ offices use a fill-in the blank form. It is ultimately your responsibility to get this form to your employer. If the doctor takes you off work completely, there generally is no problems with the information. (Yes, your employer can make you come in and sit.) A number of problems can arise when you are released to light duty. For example, during the doctor’s visit the doctor may say: “no overhead lifting.” The work release form may say no lifting greater than 20 pounds. You get back to work and are assigned a job lifting 15 lbs. overhead. This is not the best time to check the form. If the work release form does not adequately set forth your restrictions, let the doctor’s office know before you leave the office. At the time you are handed the work release form, review it. Is anything missing? Is anything not clearly stated?

Recorded Statements
You must cooperate with your employer in order to receive workers compensation benefits. It is not a good idea to give a recorded statement until after you speak with an attorney. Missouri law does not provide workers compensation coverage if it can be established that the hazard leading to the injury is a hazard to which the worker was equally exposed to outside employment. For example, as part of your job you are required to climb a set of extremely narrow steep stairs in a dark basement and you are injured while carrying a hold load down that set of stairs. The employer, insurer and claims adjustor would like to say climbing stairs is an activity that individuals do everyday not a hazard that is related to your job. It is a wise decision to seek the assistance of an attorney before giving a recorded statement.

Copyright © Dean Law Office LLC, 2010

Margaret Dean 816-753-3100