A Missouri Worker Compensation Claim Tip For Recovering Full Settlements

The majority of employees injured while on the job are entitled to worker compensation benefits under state law. For the purposes of this article, Independence Missouri Work Comp lawyer, Doug Horn, offers recommendations that are based on his experience in handling hundreds of Missouri worker compensation cases. Keep in mind, no matter where you suffered a work-related injury, if you were hired in Missouri, the Missouri worker compensation laws will be relevant to your claim for benefits.

It is important to know that most employees who are injured at work are entitled to 3 basic work comp benefits, including their medical care, reimbursement for their wage loss (after 3 days of missed work due to the injury), and compensation for the longer-term effects of the injury called “Permanent Partial Disability”.

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In most claims, injured workers can receive medical care and reimbursement for lost income (called Temporary Total Disability) without much problem. The issue causing the dispute in most claims involves the award the injured worker will receive for Permanent Partial Disability (PPD). As a result, legal consultation with a lawyer who concentrates in Missouri worker compensation law is important. It is important because the difference between a low PPD settlement and a fair/full PPD settlement usually involves thousands of dollars.

Here is how it works. The employer’s worker compensation carrier will have the injured worker’s work comp doctor “rate the permanency” of the injury. The “rate of permanency” directly effects the PPD compensation owed to the injured worker. In the large majority of cases, the work comp doctor will have a tendency to rate the employee’s injury favorable to the interests of the insurance carrier. This can cost an injured worker thousands in fair/full PPD compensation.

This is where legal representation can be vital. An attorney who represents an injured worker can arrange for his or her client to be independently rated for PPD compensation.

This independent rating is used, as evidence, to arrive at a fair, full, and negotiated settlement.

If you were injured at work, and live and/or work near Kansas City, Missouri, you would be wise to consult with an Independence MO work comp lawyer at the earliest possible time after the injury. Although the PPD compensation is important, an attorney also take care of immediate issues like medical care and reimbursement of wages issues. Call Attorney Doug Horn at Horn Law 816-795-7500. His office is close and convenient to many to live in Jackson County, Missouri.

If I Return to Work Part-Time, Can I Still Receive My Benefits?

Kansas City Workers’ Compensation Attorney - Horn Law, P.C.When you are receiving workers’ compensation benefits, you may hear often that it is always best to return to work as soon as you are ready. While you too are eager to return to work and your normal lifestyle, you do not want to rush it. One question injured employees often have is what happens if they return to work part-time. Since they are not working as they did before, they often wonder if that means they will eliminate their chance to further collect compensation.

Returning to work part-time does not necessarily mean you will be without compensation, but it will also depend on the type of work you are doing, your income and a few other factors.

The Effect of Returning to Work

When an injured employee returns to work, the wages that they earn upon their return will determine if they continue to receive workers’ compensation benefits. If you are receiving wages that are greater than or equal to what you were earning prior to the injury while on part-time work arrangements, then your wage benefits will discontinue via workers’ compensation. If, however, you are still earning less than what you earned prior to the injury, you would receive the difference from workers’ compensation benefits.    

Typically in these cases, your employer and the workers’ compensation insurer will be notified ahead of time that you are returning to work. Your physician will work with your employer closely to arrange the part time hours as well as discuss any limitations. You may not be able to return to the same type of work or you may have to take another position at the company that accommodates your new range of motion and other issues. If this is the case and your income decreases significantly, workers’ compensation will help compensate for the difference in pay as long as it is not more than what you earned prior to the injury.

When You Realize You Are Unable to Continue Working

If you return to work, even part-time, you may realize that you are unable to complete the work. In this case, notify your employer and your physician immediately for re-assessment. Your physician may decide that you need further treatment or may decide that your disability is more severe. In this case, they will report this to your caseworker and your benefits will be adjusted.

Speak with a Workers’ Compensation Attorney

If you are concerned about returning to work, contact a workers’ compensation attorney at Horn Law. We can discuss your options as well as your existing wage benefits to help you better understand your compensation after you return to work. Schedule your consultation by calling 816-795-7500 or fill out our online contact form with your worker’s compensation questions.

New Discovery Could Help Reduce the Risk of Fatigue Involving Shift Workers

It’s no secret to any Missouri worker’s compensation lawyer that shift-based workers are at a high risk for accidents and injuries. In many cases, these workers are at a higher risk of having an accident while they are driving home after a long night shift, because they’re so drowsy after their shift. They may also be at a much higher risk of accidents involving machinery and equipment in the workplace.

A new discovery recently found that a protein prevents the body from adjusting to any changes in the sleep cycle. Scientists have also found that a drug can be used to regulate the protein that prevents the body from adjusting quickly to changes in its circadian rhythm. In the future, this drug can also be used to help reduce the effect of changes in the circadian rhythm on workers in shift-based jobs.

Shift-based work is a fact of life for many workers, especially those in the manufacturing sector, automotive industry and other industries. These workers may be at a higher risk of fatigue, and the drug may help them get back on track and reduce the effects of fatigue and drowsiness on the job. The tests have so far been conducted on mice, and the researchers say that they have been able to identify a gene and protein that is responsible for preventing the person from adjusting to sleep pattern changes. When the drug was used to block the protein, the mice were able to easily adapt to the changes in the circadian rhythm.

Doug Horn is a Kansas City work accident lawyer, dedicated to the representation of victims of workplace accidents across Missouri.

Surgery Indicated for Many Who Suffer Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Work-Related Injuries

Approximately 75% of all persons who suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome and are given steroid injections for their condition, will require surgery in the future. That information comes from new research that indicates that three-quarters of patients who were given steroid injections for the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome, eventually undergo surgery for this painful condition.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that is marked by pain in the wrist. The pain occurs as a result of repetitive stress injury affecting the median nerve which is located in the carpal tunnel. The carpal tunnel consists of ligaments and bones, and is located at the base of the hand. If this area is constantly subjected to contact with a hard object or surface, or is frequently used or deviated, the person may suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome.

The person can suffer from pain in the wrist, which eventually develops into shooting pain that goes right up into the arm. There may also be a numbness or tingling sensation in the hand or wrist.

The traditional method of surgery is called an “Open Release” where the carpel ligament is cut to enlarge the carpel tunnel. Endoscopic surgery is becoming more popular because this type of surgery allows for rehabilitation.

Manufacturing sector workers who are frequently required to use their hands for manual work, and desk job workers who sit at a computer all day, comprise two groups of workers that may be at a higher risk for carpal tunnel syndrome. We see carpal tunnel syndrome often diagnosed with workers who do repetitive work with their hands.

Often, patients are administered steroid injections in order to reduce the pain, and eliminate the swelling in the area. However, the researchers found that even when steroid injections are given, patients will still need surgery down the line. In fact, they found that surgery to free up the carpal tunnel, and eliminate the pressure on the nerve that causes the pain, is the most effective and widely used treatment for severe cases of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Doug Horn is a Missouri work accident lawyer, dedicated to the representation of victims of workplace accidents across Missouri.

 

 

Senior Transportation Workers More Likely to Die on the Job

New data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that senior transportation workers above the age of 65 have a much higher risk of being killed in a workplace accident, compared to workers in the age group of 55 to 64, and below 18 years of age.

The data was based on an analysis of accidents that occurred between 2003 and 2010. The analysis indicates that workers aged 65 who have to drive as part of their workplace duties, are much more likely to die in accidents. This could be because these workers have a greater susceptibility to serious injury that increases their risk of a fatality. As a person ages, his risk of dying when he is involved in an accident increases, because of ageing-related issues.

There may also be other issues like a decline in cognitive abilities that also places a senior worker at a higher risk of fatal accidents. Overall, the analysis found that employees between the age of 55 and 64 were approximately 50% more likely to die in an accident, and workers above the age of 65 were three times as likely to die in an accident.

It is likely that this is a workplace safety problem that will only get worse as the years go by. More senior workers are expected to join the American workforce over the next few years, as the recession and the dismal economy postpones retirement plans. When you have more seniors in the workforce with declining cognitive abilities, deteriorating vision, poor hearing, poor coordination and all kinds of other age-related issues, there may be a higher risk of being involved in accidents.

Douglas Horn is a Missouri work injury accident lawyer, dedicated to the representation of victims of workplace accidents across Missouri.

Missouri Workers’ Compensation Alert: Medical Treatment Considerations

Under Missouri Worker Compensation laws, injured workers are entitled to three (3) benefits, including appropriate medical treatment. While injured workers have the right to have all of their medical treatment and rehabilitation paid for, it is the employer’s insurance company who will decide which doctor and medical facility will treat the injured worker. This is called “authorized treatment” and means that the injured worker is prevented from going to their choice of doctor.

It has been my experience in handling Missouri Workers’ Compensation over the last 20 years that the choice of medical care can lead to problems for the injured worker. This is because the level of care is often less than what you might expect. Because the insurance company is footing the medical bill, the chances are that the insurance adjuster is going to send the injured worker to an “occupational health” doctor. These doctors contract with the insurance company and agree to substantially discount their rates in exchange for referrals of injured workers. “Occupational health” doctor’s positions are entry level positions and it is common for these type of doctors to lack the qualifications and experience to properly diagnosis and treat patients.

For instance, I know of a recent case where the injured worker was diagnosed with a shoulder injury. After several months of “authorized treatment”, including a shoulder MRI, the patient continued to have persistent shoulder pain which prevented the patient from returning to work. Finally, after an attorney got involved, the insurance company authorized a neck MRI. This neck MRI revealed 2 herniated discs in the cervical spine which were causing radiating pain to the shoulder. From there, the patient was authorized to go to a competent orthopedic surgeon who was able to treat the injury appropriately.

As is obvious, in the above case, the “occupational health” doctor botched the initial diagnosis and caused a substantial amount of damage to both the injured worker and the employer’s insurance company.

Although the primary benefit of legal representation in a Missouri Workers’ Compensation claim is to obtain a fair and full disability award to the injured worker, an attorney who is well-versed in workers compensation law can also help police the medical treatment and rehabilitation efforts. Ultimately, the goal is to get the injured worker the best medical and financial recovery. When insurance companies try to cut corners to serve their own best interests, it pays to have an attorney who is concerned with all aspects of the case, including the progress of medical treatment and rehabilitation

 

New Law Will Protect Missouri Highway Workers from Accidents

Highway construction workers in the state of Missouri are at a high risk of accidents when they are engaged in construction activity in a work zone. They are at risk of being involved in accidents involving negligent and aggressive motorists, and truck drivers who are speeding through the work zone. Missouri car accident lawyers believe that those risks will soon drop. A new piece of legislation that has just been signed in the state of Missouri is aimed at protecting highway workers.

Gov. Jane Nixon recently signed Senate Bill 611. The bill expands the Slow Down and Move Over law that had been passed in 2002. That 2002 law only applied to law enforcement vehicles and emergency response vehicles. Under the new expansion, the law is also expanded to include vehicles of highway construction workers.

Under the new law, motorists who are traveling through a construction work zone will have to slow down or change lanes when they approach a vehicle of the Missouri Department of Transportation parked on the side of the road. Missouri Department of Transportation vehicles that are parked, and have amber and white lights flashing are included in the rule.
According to official estimates by the Missouri Department of Transportation, since the year 2000, a total of 4 department employees have died in accidents while they were on the job. Every day, approximately 2,400 agency employees are engaged in construction activity on the state’s highways. These workers work long hours in highly dangerous conditions, so that they can make the highways safer for all drivers to use.

They do not deserve to be at risk from motorists who are speeding through a work zone, or aggressive drivers, or drunk and intoxicated motorists. Unfortunately, very often, these workers are at risk from exactly these types of drivers. Hopefully, the new law will help protect highway workers, and minimize the risk of work zone accidents.

Accident Risks Exist Even in OSHA’s Model Workplaces

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/the-center-for-public-integrity/model-workplaces-not-alwa_b_892322.html

A report by the Center for Public Integrity indicates that even those workplaces that have been designated as model workplaces by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration may still be at risk of workplace hazards that increase the risk of an accident.
The investigation found several workplaces across the country that had been included in the agency’s Voluntary Protection Program, but had still been the scene of several serious and even fatal accidents. There are more than 2400 workplaces across the country that are members of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Voluntary Protection Program. This is a program that exists to benefit workplaces that the agency considers to be safe, by giving them a range of benefits, including fewer numbers of inspections.

However, according to the Center for Public Integrity report, since the year 2000, there have been at least 80 workplace accident fatalities in these model workplaces and in at least 47 of these, investigations turned up a number of serious safety violations. These are places have been the scene of crane accidents, explosions, fires and toxic exposure incidents. These are not the kind of accidents that you expect to find in a work place that has been granted special exemption from regular inspections by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration because of their high safety standards.

Missouri Injury Lawyers find it even more shocking that these employers continue to retain membership in the Voluntary Protection Program even after serious accidents have occurred in their premises. When there is a serious accident or a preventable fatality in a “safe” workplace, it should be a sign that the workplace is not as safe as designated, and should be put through regular inspections.

Missouri Poultry Company Cited after Workplace Death

http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=20016

A Missouri poultry company has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for a number of violations after a worker was killed in a trucking accident inside the facility. According to the agency, this tragedy occurred because the company failed to identify and eliminate hazards in the workplace.

The company, Marshall Durbin Companies in Hattiesburg was the site of a worker death in December 2010. Close to 1,000 people work in the Hattiesburg facility. The victim was working at the entrance of the facility, when he was struck by a tractor-trailer.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration began an investigation into the accident. The agency has now cited the company, for at least 12 violations. These include

  • Exposing workers to pedestrian accident hazards by not requiring them to wear brightly colored clothing
  • Failure to implement traffic control measures
  • Lack of illumination for stairs and exits
  • Missing rails on stairs
  • Lack of machine guarding
  • Failure to label electric circuit breaker panels
  • Exposing workers to corrosive materials without providing them protection for their eyes
  • Failure to provide clean bathrooms, and failing to label hazardous chemicals.

The Occupational Safety And Health Administration has proposed total penalties of $120,000.

It shouldn’t be so hard to provide a safe workplace for American workers. Unfortunately, every year, dozens of people are killed or seriously injured in accidents in Missouri that can be traced to employer’s negligence. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration lays down strict standards for safety and health for almost every industry. Missouri work accident lawyers know that meeting these standards and improving safety conditions in the workplace require investments in time, effort and money. Employers often scrimp on safety measures, resulting in injuries and fatalities.

Older Worker Injuries on the Rise

An increase in the number of older Americans in the workforce has meant an increase in the number of injuries involving these workers in workplace and industrial accidents in the US. Those statistics come from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which states that there has been an increase in the number of older worker-related injuries over the past seven years.

In 2003, older worker-related injuries in the workforce accounted for 12% of all workplace injuries, and that number has increased to 17% in the latest tally. Besides, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is also warning that the percentage of injuries involving older workers could actually increase to 19% by the year 2018, unless American employers increase focus on safety for older workers.

Missouri industrial accident lawyers believe that there are a number of reasons that are contributing to this increase in older worker-related injuries. Firstly, there has been an increase in the number of senior citizens returning to the workforce because of the recession. Additionally, many seniors are returning to a workforce that has not been equipped with safety aids for them. Employers have failed to take seriously senior safety considerations like slip and fall accidents, into account while recruiting older workers. This has had a disastrous impact on their safety.

However, there has been some encouraging news. For instance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study does not seem to indicate that older workers are at a much higher overall risk of injuries than younger workers. However, their risk of certain types of accidents seems to be higher. For instance, these workers are much more susceptible to slip and fall accidents, falls from elevations, and other such risks. Besides, these workers are also at a much higher risk of suffering fractures, broken bones and ribs and other such injuries in accidents. These injuries can have a devastating impact on worker safety, because seniors are already at a much higher risk of osteoporosis which can lead to brittle or weak bones. Such injuries take a much longer time to heal in older workers.

Employers could be doing more to reduce the risk of injuries among older workers through increased training, and adoption of better fall prevention techniques.