Burn Injuries Lawyer – Missouri Workers Compensation Benefits

Burns are among the deadly injuries that occur in the workplace. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration puts the annual death count from burn injuries in the workplace at 5,000. This figure will likely rise as most companies continue to expose their workers to serious burn threats, such as open-source flames and dangerous chemicals.

Here’s everything you need to know about workplace burn injuries, including the common workplace burns, how to avoid them, and what the law says about compensation.

Types of Workplace Burn Injuries

Burn injuries come from different sources, depending on your industry and line of work. The common types of burns include:

Thermal Burns

Employees who suffer thermal burns mostly handle heated items such as hot liquids, fires, and furnaces. These are workers involved in the food service industry or industrial warehouses where heat is the primary energy source.

Workers in this line of work should ensure they get protective gear from their employers before undertaking their responsibilities. Companies should also have rapid response teams in the event of an accident.

Chemical Burns

Direct exposure to corrosive substances such as alkaloids, acids, or industrial cleaners can cause skin and eye burns. Most workers who suffer chemical burns either end up with second or third-degree burns, both of which are potentially life-threatening. Therefore, companies should ensure proper labeling of chemical substances. If possible, they should train workers on how to treat chemical burns.

Electrical Burns

Burns from electrocution are among the leading causes of death, especially for workers in the construction industry. In 2018, there were 160 recorded fatalities from electrical burns. After electrocution with high voltage electricity, the current travels through your body, creating heat burns that damage the skin tissue.

When handling electric materials, ensure your body is not in direct contact with water and you have protective gear on. You should also be aware of high voltage areas and live wires within the workplace to be secure.

Compensation for Workplace Burns

A burn injury can render you inactive and unable to attend work for some time. However, you still need to eat, keep a roof over your head, and pay your medical bills during this period.

Workers who suffer workplace burn injuries can file for compensation from their employers provided they were sober then, and the injury is not self-inflicted. This payment covers most of your expenses, including your hospital bill, lost wages, and pocket expenses during your period off.

You must quickly report a burn injury to your employer or risk losing a significant portion of the compensation package. You should also avoid delaying treatment as it only makes it harder to get paid.

Workplace Burn Injuries Attorneys

Workplace burn injuries can be expensive to treat. An experienced workers’ comp attorney can help determine the financial costs of a burn injury. They’ll also work hard to ensure you get maximum compensation, depending on the severity of the injury.

Therefore, look for a reputable firm to present your claim and follow it up. If you’re in Missouri and looking for a workers comp attorney, contact the Law Office of James. M. Hoffman 24/7 at (314) 361-4300 for a FREE case evaluation.

Posted in Work Injuries, Workers Compensation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Can You Still File a Workers Comp Claim if You Fail a Drug Test?

If you get hurt while on the job, your employer may request a drug test to determine whether you were intoxicated or under the influence of an unlawful controlled substance at the time of the accident. If this has happened to you, you may be wondering: Are you still eligible for workers’ comp benefits if you fail a drug test? 

Can Drug Tests Affect a Workers’ Comp Claim?

After failing your drug test, you might think you won’t be able to claim compensation. However, this isn’t necessarily true — a positive result doesn’t automatically disqualify you from receiving workers’ comp benefits. Your employer must show a direct relationship between your injuries and the drugs found in your system for your compensation to be denied. It is advisable to consult an attorney to help you understand your rights and legal options.

What Types of Drugs Are Tested for Workers Comp?

Workers’ comp drug tests typically test five types of drugs:

  • Psychostimulant drugs such as methamphetamine and ecstasy
  • Opiates such as codeine, heroin, and morphine
  • Cocaine
  • Cannabis

Examples of permissible workplace drug tests include:

  • Routine drug tests to ensure the workplace is free from drugs.
  • Drug test unrelated to the reported injuries.
  • Drug testing in compliance with state and federal laws.
  • Drug testing to assess the cause of work-related accidents.

Urine tests are the most common workplace drug tests. However, your employer can also request blood and breath tests.

Are Drug Tests a Mandatory After a Work-Related Injury?

Your employer can still request a drug test after a workplace accident if they suspect intoxication contributed to the accident. Drug testing after a work accident is generally allowed as long as it is not used to retaliate against an employee. Your specific situation should be discuss with an experienced attorney.

What If You’ve Failed Your Drug Test – Now What?

If you fail your drug test, don’t panic. Most of the drugs that workers’ comp drug tests test stay in the body for longer than four days. And many of the drug test tools that employers use can’t show the time frame an employee used a particular drug. 

Also, there are strict standards that a drug test must meet to be admissible in court. For instance, a drug test should generally be administered eight hours from when you incurred your injuries. The test should also be administered by a qualified physician using the right tools. Finally, the test should be sent to a reputable, well-known laboratory for proper analysis. Unfortunately, these standards are not always met.

Speak With an Experienced St. Louis Workers Compensation Attorney

Your employer may try to use your failed drug test as a reason to reduce or even deny your workers’ comp claim. As such, it is essential to have an experienced St. Louis workers comp attorney evaluate your claim and help you understand your legal rights. The Law Office of James M. Hoffmann has the experience and resources you need to fight for your rights and compensation. Contact us today for a free consultation. Call (314) 361-4300.

Posted in Answers & Resources, Workers Compensation | Tagged | Leave a comment

Workers’ Comp “Buyout”: What Is It and Should You Accept It?

Workers’ compensation is a system meant to protect workers in the event of an injury or occupational disease that prevents them from working at their full capacity and requires medical care beyond first aid. 

Workers’ compensation will generally cover the medical investigations, treatments, and interventions recommended by certified medical professionals. It also pays for the lost hours of work caused by your injuries or disease. 

What Is a Workers’ Comp Buyout?

Also known as a lump sum payment or closed medical benefits, a buyout represents a fixed payment you receive from the insurance company instead of monthly payments that last until you reach MMI (Maximum Medical Improvement). 

In some cases, the victim might be tempted to accept the lump sum, as a way of dealing with the piling medical bills right away, but this feeling of security might disappear quite fast if the fixed payment is used before your treatments are over.

The main reason why you should not accept a buyout without careful consideration is that the insurance company will generally no longer be liable for your compensation once the buyout settlement is signed. This leaves you uncovered in case you still have to pay for treatments once the lump sum has been used entirely.

With this in mind, it’s clear that such a settlement should be calculated thoroughly to determine a reasonable amount that would cover your future treatments. It’s also wise to work with a St. Louis workers compensation lawyer who can tell you about the risks of a lump sum and help you get a reasonable amount that will secure your future. 

When to Consider Accepting a Workers’ Comp Buyout?

One very important mention is that the insurance company generally doesn’t have the right to impose a lump sum payment. It’s your decision and it should be weighed very carefully before accepting such a settlement. We strongly recommend only make this decision after consulting an experienced workers’ comp attorney about it.

Some work accident victims decide to go for the lump sum payment instead of the weekly payments because it gives them control over their medical treatment, and frees them from the conditions imposed by insurers when it comes to the doctors they must see, and the types of treatment they receive. 

Some states will not allow you to negotiate a buyout when you are permanently disabled, but in Missouri this option is available. Be sure to receive accurate information and estimates on your future treatments and discuss all options with an attorney before agreeing to a lump sum versus weekly payments.

Generally, it’s safe to say that a workers’ comp open compensation plan is safer and offers more advantages than a buyout. To determine if it applies to your case, speak with an experienced St. Louis workers’ comp attorney who can help you determine what is best for your unique situation. Call (314) 361-4300 for a FREE case evaluation.

Posted in Workers Compensation | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Penalties for Workers’ Compensation Fraud in Missouri

Workers’ compensation insurance is invaluable for workers who work in dangerous environments, suffer injuries, and need to cover their costs and medical bills while they recover.

While workers’ compensation fraud in St. Louis and Missouri is rare, it does happen. Employees may falsify injuries to get money they don’t deserve, or employers may lie about incidents in order to avoid insurance payouts. In some cases, insurance companies may even engage in fraud to try to maintain their profits.

off the clock workplace injury

In this article, we’ll look at a few of the penalties that may be incurred as a result of workers’ compensation fraud in Missouri – and why violating the law is such a bad idea!

Penalties For Employee Fraud

If an employee makes a claim for workers’ compensation benefits to which they know they are not entitled – or file multiple claims or the same occurrence – this is a Class E felony. As any St. Louis work injury attorney will tell you, you should absolutely never falsify or make a fraudulent claim for workers’ compensation insurance.

The typical punishment for this is a fine of up to $10,000 or twice the value of the fraud – whichever is larger. Class E felonies can also carry a prison term of up to 4 years. Violating this law again will likely result in a class D felony.

Penalties For Employer Fraud

Employers can also get in serious trouble if they are fraudulent.

If an employer knowingly misrepresents the classification of an employee’s job to save money on insurance, this is a Class A misdemeanor, and further violations may be charged as a Class E felony.

If an employer knowingly makes a false statement about a worker’s entitlement to benefits in order to discourage them from claiming benefits – or falsifies evidence or statements to deny a worker benefits to which they are entitled – this is a class A misdemeanor. Further violations will be charged as Class D felonies.

Employers may be charged up to $10,000 for initial Class A misdemeanor violations, with steeper penalties and potential jail time for further violations.

Penalties For Insurer Fraud

If an insurer knowingly and intentionally fails to meet worker’s compensation obligations to which an employee is legally entitled, they may be charged with a class E felony, with a fine of $10,000 or double the value of fraud, whichever is larger. Further violations may be charged as a class D felony.

Get Help From a St. Louis Workers’ Compensation Attorney!

If you think that your employer or insurer is attempting to lie about your injury and is making fraudulent claims, you will greatly benefit from the help of an experienced St. Louis work injury lawyer. With the help of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney in St. Louis, you can protect your legal right to compensation.

If you’ve been injured on the job in the state of Missouri, give us a call 24/7 at (314) 361-4300 for a FREE case evaluation.

Posted in Workers Compensation | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Can You Receive Compensation for a Viral Illness Like the Flu?

workers-compensation-for-flu

Flu season is around the corner, and soon you will be watching out for any signs that could differentiate it from an ordinary cold. Many people miss work because of the flu, and sometimes it can lead to complications and even hospitalization.

If you are worried about what would happen to your job if you would miss work because of it, workers compensation may seem like a plausible option for employees, especially since the vast majority of jobs involve contact with other people.

When Can You Receive Workers Compensation?

First of all, we need to clarify what exactly qualifies for workers compensation. This protective measure is implemented in every state to ensure that employees who suffer injuries or disease because of their workplace will be able to sustain themselves during recovery. Regulations vary from state to state, but the principles of qualifying for workers comp are the same everywhere: one must demonstrate that their injury or illness is caused by conditions at work or by the nature of their job.

There are two conditions that have to be met for a disease or illness to be covered by workers comp:

  • It is “occupational”, meaning it arose out of the course and scope of the employment;
  • It is caused by conditions “peculiar” to the work.

When it comes to the flu, both tests would be difficult to pass in order to get workers comp. First of all, it is not simple to demonstrate that you have contracted the flu virus while at work, but it is not impossible either. You would have to demonstrate that you didn’t have any symptoms up to a point, you would need to point to the conditions that exposed you to the flu virus. You can see how this is hard information to demonstrate when it comes to the flu, since it can be contracted anywhere there’s a gathering of people.

The second test would be even more difficult to pass. The flu is an ordinary disease that you can get anywhere, it is not a characteristic of a certain workplace or job.

What About Health Workers Who Are More Exposed to Flu?

It is common sense that a health worker is exposed to a wide range of viruses, and the flu is one of the most common of them. This is why employers in the health sector have the obligation to implement a combination of controls to prevent a flu pandemic. Vaccination, giving sick employees free days and limiting the exposure to ill patients are the basic steps an employer must take during flu season.

However, the flu is generally not covered by workers compensation, since it can be transmitted anywhere, not only at the workplace. However, you don’t have to worry about missing work because of it, since any full-time employer generally gets paid medical leave in case he has a contagious airborne disease.

 

If you have been injured on the job call the Law Office of James M. Hoffmann 24/7 at (314) 361-4300 for a FREE consultation.

Posted in Answers & Resources, Workers Compensation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Can I Speed up My St. Louis Workers Compensation Claim?

st-louis-workers-compensation-claim

When a worker in Missouri gets injured or ill at work, by law they are generally entitled to workers compensation benefits to cover the costs of their treatment. In some cases, time is of the essence, and it’s required for these proceedings to go over as quickly as possible.

However, the consideration date may put a damper on that. Here’s everything you need to know about that.

What Is a Consideration Date?

Once you file a claim for workers compensation, the insurance company and employer have a period of time called consideration date to challenge your claim. Ideally, they will take the claim at face value and allow it to continue in order for you to get the necessary treatment.

However, it’s also possible for them to use this right if they have cause to believe your injury or illness is not a direct cause of your work, and therefore they are not required to pay for your treatment. If this does happen, then you, unfortunately, will have to build a case to defend yourself and your claim. At this time, it’s best to reach out to a St. Louis workers comp lawyer to ensure you gather the necessary evidence to back up your claim and get through this as soon as possible.

Can You Speed the Process?

In these cases, you would expect for everyone to sympathize with the injured worker and not do anything to delay them getting the treatment they need to get better, particularly if they require emergency care.

If this is not the situation you find yourself in, you are not without options. It is in your best interests to speak with an experienced workers compensation attorney as soon as possible. They can help you build a case that shows you are entitled to these benefits, and the insurance company will then have no choice but to greenlight your treatment.

If the lawyer cannot reach a mutually-agreed settlement with the insurance company, then you also have the option of taking the matter to the Missouri Division for workers compensation. Generally, you could ask the state to provide a mediator that would help you reach a conclusion everyone agrees on. If the matter is more urgent, you may be better off going through the Fraud and Noncompliance Unit if your lawyer has proof the insurance company is delaying the process on purpose.

The FNU will then begin to investigate your claim, and may even impose penalties on the insurance company or your employer if it is found they broke the law. Often, the fear of having these matters investigated by the state is enough to convince the insurance company to agree to a fair settlement.

Speak With an Attorney

If your claim is delayed and you can’t get the treatment you need, it is very important that you speak with an experienced attorney if you have not already. Contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible after a work accident to ensure your legal rights are protected right from the start of your claim. Call us 24/7 at (314) 361-4300 for a FREE consulation.

Posted in Workers Compensation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Workers Comp for Firework Injuries on the Job

firework-injury-at-work

It’s a time for great celebration in America, but also one that seems to send a lot of people to the emergency room.

Most 4th of July celebrations are nothing without a nice display of fireworks to mark the occasion, but the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission reports there were roughly 9,100 fireworks-related injuries in 2018. Of all, 62% of them happened around the fourth of July mark. If this happens, do you know what your rights are?

What Happens If You Get Hurt?

If you work with fireworks, then you should know that fireworks-related injuries can be compensated, but only under some specific circumstances

  1. Firework Malfunction

Here, the company that produces the fireworks may be liable for damages if the firework that got you hurt was defective. As long as you used it according to the indications, and you still got hurt, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the company.

Note that Missouri allows only 2 periods during the year for purchasing and selling fireworks: June 20—July 10 and December 20—January 2. However, if you bought your fireworks from the black market and not from an approved seller, it may be difficult to sue the manufacturer, as the firework itself may not even be made by them. You may hold the seller responsible, though you are also opening yourself up for liability for purchasing illegal fireworks.

  1. Mishandling Fireworks by Another Individual.

If a coworker is handling fireworks inappropriately, fires them, and gets you hurt, then that individual is liable for a lawsuit. It was their negligence that produced you harm, so they may be held responsible for your medical expenses.

If you are reckless in using fireworks and get hurt as a result, then you may have a more difficult case. The insurance company may argue that you got hurt because of your actions and try to make it difficult to offer compensation.

Your Best Strategy Is to Stay Safe

To stay safe, the CPSC issued the following recommendations:

  • Ensure the fireworks come from an approved vendor;
  • Do not allow children to use or come near fireworks;
  • Do not place any body part directly on it;
  • Keep your distance;
  • Keep some water close in case of fire;
  • Do not relight the firework.

Legal Options

If you get injured around the 4th of July because of fireworks, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries but, as you can see, it greatly depends on the circumstances of your injury, specifically your involvement.

To understand if you are entitled to get compensated, you should reach out to a St. Louis work injury lawyer and talk about your case with them. Your lawyer can tell you if your case has merit, and what you need to do to get coverage for your medical treatments.

 

Law Office of James M. Hoffmann
2001 S Hanley Rd #325
St. Louis, MO
63144
Phone: (314) 361-4300
Posted in Work Injuries, Workers Compensation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Private Investigator Hired After Work Injury – St. Louis Workers Comp Attorney

private-investigator-workers-compensation-1024x683

If you recently filed for a workers compensation claim, you may now you feel like someone’s following you. Well, it may not just be in your head. Many employers or insurance companies go to investigators to check up on people who’ve filled these types of claims to see if what they’re saying about their injuries is actually true. They are also looking for things that could potentially dismiss the claim.

Many workers are understandably outraged by this practice. In terms of its legality, however, it is unfortunately legal for employers to do so, under certain conditions.

There’s a Fine Line

Per the Missouri law, private investigators have the right to follow and take pictures or videos of you as long as you’re in public spaces. As such, any materials they gather while you’re in a park, public institutions, certain parking lots, or the street, for instance, can, unfortunately, be used by the insurance company.

They cannot, however, violate your rights for privacy. If you’re on private property (your home or at a friend’s house, for instance), then your St. Louis workers compensation lawyer can move to dismiss any images taken from these areas.

Another common practice these investigators might freely do is talk to people who know you, and see if the medical condition you mention in your workers’ compensation claim checks out. For instance, if you say the injury prevents you from being on your feet, and the investigator finds out from one of your friends that you played tennis with them just last week, that can prove you lied in your claim, and the insurance company can dismiss it.

If You Feel Unsafe, Act

Many workers don’t know what an investigator can legally do or not, and often these individuals may take advantage of that. As a result, it’s possible for some workers to feel unsafe, or uncomfortable knowing everything they do is being tracked.

If you feel like the investigator is overstepping, you should contact the police and file a report. They can remove the individual of the property, and you can even file a report against them. The investigator can even be arrested if they are breaking the law. Document all the practices of the investigator and hand them to your St. Louis work injury lawyer, as they can use it in the settlement proceedings to potentially negotiate a better deal.

Speak With an Attorney

Unfortunately, you may feel uncomfortable even if the investigator is acting within the legal limits. The truth is, it’s your responsibility to be careful at this time, and not partake in any activity that might jeopardize your workers’ compensation claims.

Speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible after a work injury. They can help you understand what these activities are. Your lawyer will also move to dismiss any evidence taken by the investigators illegally and advise the right course of action if you feel in danger because of this practice.

Call the Law Office of James M. Hoffmann 24/7 for a FREE case evaluation :: (314) 361-4300

Posted in Answers & Resources, Workers Compensation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Common Work Injuries Among St. Louis Office Workers – Workers Comp Attorney

office-worker-injury

When you think about work-related injuries, you may picture construction work that has horribly gone wrong, or chefs cutting their fingers, utility climbers lacking safety equipment, etc. Maybe you have an office job and you feel relatively safe in your thermoregulated cubicle, where everything is in place and the only thing to worry about is the monthly reports that keep you doing overtime this week.

 

If you relate to our description, then you might be surprised by the actual statistics about work-related injuries. Office workers are also prone to injuries. How?

 

Even though these injuries may not be as immediately serious as construction site injuries, for instance, they are more prevalent. Many people work in an office and these little injuries happen quite often.

 

Let’s see what are the most common office injuries.

 

Falling

Falling is one of the most common causes of injury reported by office workers. Loose carpeting, electrical cables that aren’t secured properly, spills and office furniture can make you slip, trip and fall. Falls can be quite serious, some leading to many days off work for medical treatment.

 

Non-Ergonomic Office Furniture

Long-term injuries are often related to working stations that are not ergonomic. They are either improper for prolonged use or just unfit for the individual worker’s proportions. That can lead to back and neck injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, leg and knee pain, etc. Combined with long working hours and overtime, sitting at an improper working station can quickly take a toll on the office workers.

 

Electrocution

Office workers are surrounded by electronics, and many incidents happen when safety regulations are ignored or there is a fault in the equipment’s functioning. Spilling liquids and foods around the office can also be dangerous and expose the workers to electrocutions through contact with the electronics or with cables.

 

Building Sickness

Other injuries and conditions that are often related to office jobs are those that affect the respiratory system due to the poor quality of indoor air. Many office buildings rely solely on the HVAC system to provide fresh air to the offices. If the venting system is damaged, it can lead to poor indoor air quality, allergies and other conditions derived from that.

 

Damage to the Eyes

Another consequence of office work is having your eyesight affected. Long hours of working in front of a computer can leave your eyes strained, dry and prone to infections.

 

If you suffer from a condition or injury that is related to the nature of your work, contact an experienced St. Louis workers compensation attorney and see if you can get any workers comp benefits for your injuries. Give us a call 24/7 at (314) 361-4300 for a FREE consultation.

Posted in Work Injuries, Workers Compensation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Signs of Workplace Violence and How to Protect Your Rights

workplace-assault.jpg

Almost 2 million Americans report being victims of workplace violence each year. These unfortunate episodes often involve unstable colleagues or disgruntled employees, and in some industries like healthcare, it can even be the leading cause of injury for workers.

Not all violent outbursts in the workplace are preventable. Though the employer may work hard to ensure a safe environment for everyone, the reality is that workplace violence likely isn’t going anywhere.

What Counts as Workplace Violence?

Workplace violence can take different forms, but it is mostly considered any action or outburst made by one employee that could hurt/affect another. Some of these actions include:

 

  • Threats;

  • Destroying property;

  • Harassment;

  • Verbal abuse;

  • Assaults.

 

Essentially, just about any action taken by someone to make others feel unsafe in the workplace is violent behavior.

Warning Signs

It’s important to know the warning signs of workplace violence so that employees and employers alike could act in time and possibly avoid anyone getting hurt.

 

The signs of violence often have to do with a worker’s mental state, which is the root of the violent outburst. The worker could be going through a stressful time, or even suffer from a mental disorder.

 

Some red flags that may tell you to take actions are:

 

  • A sudden change in behavior;

  • Uncontrollable impulses – crying, temper tantrums;

  • Being disrespectful;

  • Reduced quality of work, not paying attention;

  • Being aggressive when criticized;

  • Not connecting to the group;

  • Displaying inappropriate behavior.

 

It’s important to note that if you see these signs, it doesn’t necessarily mean the worker is bound to have a violent episode. Actually, these are often signals that the worker is in need of assistance, and if employers act fast when they see these signals they can prevent any violent episodes.

 

How to Keep Yourself Safe

If you notice any of the signs in one of your coworkers, you should notify a supervisor as soon as you can. Particularly if the violent behavior is directed at you, you should ask your supervisor to transfer you to a different team and try to minimize your contact with the other employee.

 

Even if the behavior is not violent, you still have to make your employer aware of any inappropriate conduct any worker might have. It’s often the only thing you can do to prevent a violent outburst.

I’ve Been Hurt. What Now?

If you’ve been injured by a coworker, then you may be entitled to workers compensation benefits, though it greatly depends on the case. You will most likely have to fight to get this compensation, which is why you should consider hiring a St. Louis workers compensation attorney at this time.

 

Give us a call 24/7 at (314) 361-4300 for a FREE Case Evaluation.

Posted in Workers Compensation | Leave a comment