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How to Qualify for Workers’ Compensation Benefits

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The workers’ compensation system is designed to provide benefits to employees who are injured at work or develop occupational medical conditions. If you were hurt at your job or learned that your medical condition was caused by the conditions in your workplace, you might be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. As long as you are eligible, you might receive benefits for your medical bills and a portion of your lost wages no matter who was at fault. Scroll down to learn how to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.

Who Qualifies for Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

Missouri requires that all employers with five or more employees carry workers’ compensation insurance. However, construction companies must carry workers’ compensation insurance when they have one or more employees. To qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You are an employee and not an independent contractor.
  • Your employer carries workers’ compensation insurance.
  • You suffer a work-related injury or contract a work-related illness.
  • You report your injury to your employer immediately, or no later than 30 days after it occurred.

Below, we’ll take a look at a few of these basic requirements.

Your Employer Has Workers’ Compensation Insurance

As noted above, most employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. If your employer has five or more employees or one or more employees and is a construction business, it should have coverage. If you are a federal employee, you will need to go through the federal system instead of Missouri’s workers’ compensation system for benefits.

You Are an Employee

Employees are eligible for workers’ compensation, but independent contractors are not. If you are classified as an independent contractor, you will be ineligible for workers’ compensation benefits through your employer. However, if your employer has misclassified you as an independent contractor, you might be eligible. In that situation, the court will consider how much control you have over your work and other factors to determine whether you have been misclassified and should be characterized as an employee.

You Have a Work-Related Injury or Medical Condition

If you are injured at work, you should qualify for benefits. However, it can be harder to determine whether your injury is work-related or not in some cases. For example, if you were injured while you were at a company-sponsored social event, it might be more difficult. An attorney can help determine whether your injuries should qualify for workers’ compensation.

You Report Your Injury on Time

You must report your injury or occupational illness immediately or within a maximum of 30 days. If you don’t, you might lose your right to pursue benefits. For an occupational illness, you should report it to your employer as soon as you learn that your condition is related to the conditions of your job.

Once you report your injury or illness, your employer must report it to the insurance company within five days.

What Happens If Your Employer Doesn’t Have Workers’ Compensation Coverage?

If your employer is required to have workers’ compensation insurance but does not, you can step outside of the workers’ compensation system and file a lawsuit against your employer. Through a lawsuit, you might recover compensation for all of your losses, including your medical expenses, income losses, and pain and suffering damages. An attorney can help you understand your options.

Talk to an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney

If your employer told you that you don’t qualify for workers’ compensation benefits or that it doesn’t have coverage, you should speak with a lawyer at the Law Offices of Bryan Musgrave. Insurance companies and employers sometimes deny valid claims and try to do what they can to avoid or minimize liability. An experienced attorney can help you protect your rights to benefits and ensure that you receive everything to which you should be entitled. Call the Law Offices of Bryan Musgrave today at 417-322-2222 (Springfield) or 417-624-4258 (Joplin) to schedule a free consultation and learn more about your legal rights. You can also contact us online. We look forward to hearing from you!