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

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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

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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.

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Signs of Workplace Violence and How to Protect Your Rights

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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.

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Forced Retirement Due to Disability – St. Louis, Mo

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A work injury means more than just the physical pain you endure. Being forced to stay home, isolated from your coworkers and the work environment can take a toll on one’s mental health.

Although workers compensation can give you the peace of mind that you will have the funds to support yourself, the process isn’t that easy either. You have to report your injuries, have them checked by a doctor, talk to witnesses, file reports, and so on. The documentation can be quite lengthy and tiring, but a good St. Louis workers compensation attorney can make things easier for you.

Let’s say that, on top of that, you find out that your employer is forcing you to resign after your work-related injury. What happens now?

First of all, know that injured workers are protected by the law. If you suffer a work-related injury, your employer is partially or fully responsible for not offering a safe environment for you to perform your work duties. If you are eligible for workers compensation, it is clear that your employer owes you protection, benefits and is obliged to respect your rights.

Firing versus Forced Resignation

An employer who is trying to intimidate you into resigning or is firing you for filing a workers comp claim or being injured can be sued for wrongful termination. If they would straight-out fire you, it would be clear that they should expect a wrongful termination suit, but what if they force you to resign? Let this be clear: if your employer creates hostile working conditions that are forcing you to resign, they are basically firing you.

Since a forced resignation is treated as a termination, you will have legal options that allow you to claim benefits to cover your work-related injuries and damage.

How to Prove a Forced Resignation

It may not be easy to prove that you were intimidated and forced to resign, especially if a paper with your signature says that you quit your job. If you did, indeed, sign a resignation, you must be able to provide evidence that your employer compelled you to quit your job. Attention! If you will not be able to prove that your employer compelled you to resign and it will be decided that you quit voluntarily, you will not be eligible for workers compensation benefits.

Depending on what exactly they do to force your resignation, you can use video evidence, audio recordings, text messages, witness depositions, and so on. Linking your employer’s behavior to your work injury can also be difficult.

If you find yourself in this situation, it is important to speak with an experienced St. Louis work injury lawyer. They will be able to help you build a strong case and fight for your workers’ compensation benefits. Call 24/7 for a FREE Consultation  – (314) 361-4300

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Can I Take a Vacation While Collecting Workers Comp?

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This is a question many injured workers struggle with, and it’s easy to see why. After all, taking a few days off to relax might be what the doctor prescribed after you’ve been injured at work. However, is it right to do so if you’re collecting workers compensation?

 

What Does the Law Say?

Nothing. Missouri law, particularly the framework regarding workers compensation, does not restrict anyone’s desire to go on vacation while receiving workers compensation. However, you should know that under state law, employers are not required to offer vacation pay, but they are free to do so at their discretion.

 

As such, if you’re planning to go on vacation, check to see if you are entitled to vacation pay under your contract. If you do, under some circumstances you may be legally allowed to take said pay even if you are already on workers compensation.

 

Things You Should Keep in Mind

Even if the government has no problems with you taking a vacation on workers compensation, you should still be careful.

 

Workers compensation is essentially an insurance policy. So, if you get injured at work, you will receive some money that’ll go into your medical bills, recovery, and account for any lost wages. Therefore, there are specific conditions based on which a person gets workers compensation, and these conditions are upheld even after the claim is approved.

 

As such, when of on vacation you should also consider:

 

 Your Recovery

Workers compensation is designed to help you while you recover from a work injury. As such, you have a particular treatment plan you should follow. That can vary based on the type of injuries you sustain but can include anything from medication to regular doctor’s appointments. Failing to keep up with this treatment because you’re off on holiday can be grounds to take you off workers compensation.

 

Instead, it’s best to talk with your medic about the fact that you are considering taking a vacation and follow their recommendations.

 

The Insurance Company

Insurance companies will often check up on the people they’re giving workers compensation payments to see if there is a cause for making these payments or not. Now, you don’t have to worry about people following you. Something as small as a photo on Facebook or Instagram from your vacation can let the insurance company know your condition may not actually warrant further payments.

Of course, that is only applicable under certain circumstances. For instance, if they detect you are performing an activity that goes against doctors’ orders, then they may argue your condition is not serious enough for workers compensation. Though your doctor may clear you to take a vacation, it’s generally best to avoid posting anything on social media as it may give the wrong impression.

 

If you’ve lost your workers compensation earning because you went on a vacation, it could be a direct violation of your rights. Speak with a workers comp lawyer to find out what your legal options are. Vacation time generally shouldn’t affect getting properly compensated for your work injuries.

 

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How Much Do Workers Compensation Lawyers Usually Charge?

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Injured workers have a list of crucial decisions they need to make after they sustain their damages. One of the most important of them is whether or not to hire a workers compensation attorney. Doing so will significantly increase their chances of winning a fair settlement, but many don’t due to perceived “financial risk”. As you’ll soon learn, this fear is unfounded.

 

The Typical Lawyer Fee Structure

The typical lawyer fee structure is charging you hourly. What that usually means is that business billing you for every hour they work on your case, meet with you, and talk to you on the phone. At the end of some period, you will receive a bill and have to pay it to keep getting that service. A common example of this structure is divorce lawyers, who usually charge a few hundred dollars per hour. As you can imagine, divorces can be incredibly expensive for both parties.

 

How Most Workers’ Compensation Lawyers are Different

What makes most work injury lawyers different is that they take a percentage of your winnings, rather than charging by the hour. Those in the legal system call this a contingency fee, and it is common in cases that involve injuries. It has a variety of benefits and experts generally consider it to be very friendly to clients.

 

What it Means For You

Contingency fees are beneficial to injured workers for the following three reasons.

  • Limited Downside – Though you will likely provide a small retainer fee up front, you will likely avoid paying any attorney bills throughout the process. People that hire hourly lawyers cannot say the same thing.
  • No Massive Bills – One of the most stressful aspects of hiring an hourly lawyer is getting bills every week. If you don’t pay them, your attorney will stop working, and you’ll be out of luck. Those that work for a contingency fee will continue to be an advocate for you and won’t send you a bill until the case is resolved.
  • Paying For Itself – Lastly, you might find that your legal provider pays for themselves by getting you a much better deal. As an example, you might give that business a percentage of your settlement, but since their skillful negotiating leads to an overall increase in the total amount you could actually make money by hiring a professional.

One of the best things you can do after a work injury is hire a lawyer to assist you. Now that you understand the typical work injury attorney’s fee structure, we hope that you make that decision without any doubt. Ultimately, legal professionals will not only help you win your case, but might even negotiate such a high settlement offer that they pay for themselves. That kind of win-win situation is why enlisting a workers’ compensation lawyers should be at the top of your to-do list after an injury.

 

Law Office of James M. Hoffmann
2001 S Hanley Rd #325
St. Louis, MO
63144
Phone: (314) 361-4300
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Why Injured Workers Need to Be Careful with Painkillers

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If you pay attention to the news, you’ve probably heard about the “opioid crisis.” What you might not know is the exact dangers surrounding these drugs. Unfortunately, there are many, and any workers compensation attorney will tell you that injured workers need to be extremely careful when using pain medication. Below, we explain why.

 

Note: Speak with your doctor before taking any medication.

 

Organ Damage

Over the counter (OTC) medications are usually relatively safe. Still, some of them come with risks. One of the dangers associated with Tylenol, also called acetaminophen, is liver damage. Other OTC medications have similar consequences but affect different parts of the body. An example is ibuprofen, which can take a toll on the kidneys, especially for those with high blood pressure. These non-prescription drugs are generally considered safe, but you still need to be careful with how high your doses are.

 

Addiction

Now, on to harder and more dangerous medications. What has happened in our country is that a large population of Americans have been prescribed painkillers and are now addicted to them. The results are various debilitating side effects, withdrawals, and frequent overdoses. Addiction is perhaps the most dangerous aspect of painkillers because getting hooked puts you at risk of every other associated issue.

 

Short-Term Side Effects

One thing that may happen right away when you take painkillers is having digestive problems. These issues will come in the form of nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Many patients report that these issues alone cause them to go off of painkillers and manage their problems in other ways. Another short-term symptom that many suffer with is muscle spasms. Painkillers affect your nerves in unnatural ways, and the result can sometimes be muscles that twitch periodically.

 

Long-Term Side Effects

The long-term effects of painkiller usage include both health complications and risk of death by overdose. The former is made up of heart attack risk, decreased lung function, ulcers, digestive diseases, and an increased risk of infection. The latter comes from the fact that you could get addicted, and if you do, your tolerance will drop. This will make you turn to higher doses, and you could suffer an overdose.

 

Driving While Medicated

One painkiller issue that people rarely discuss is problems with driving. Just because something is a prescription medication doesn’t mean it is safe to use on the road. Painkillers often have effects similar to alcohol, and thus significantly inhibit people’s ability to drive. Additionally, combining pills and alcohol makes for an especially dangerous cocktail of substances that can cause injury to you and the people around you.
The fact that many dangers are associated with painkillers does not mean that everyone should avoid them. Instead, those that suffer from pain should understand the risks, be careful with this type of medication, and have an in-depth discussion with their medical provider about whether or not they should utilize this type of treatment.

 

 

 

2001 S Hanley Rd #325
St. Louis, MO
63144
Phone: (314) 361-4300
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How to Find a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer in St. Louis

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If you’re ever injured at work, there is a good chance you will want to obtain workers’ compensation benefits. While some of these cases are straightforward, many are not. When this is the case, you may want an attorney to guide you through the process and fight to protect your legal rights. Here are some ways you can go about finding the right attorney for your workers compensation case.

Talk to Coworkers

Think back over your time as an employee and try to remember if one of your coworkers has sustained a workplace injury. If they have, ask them what provider they used for their legal services. Personal references like this can be extremely valuable in your search.

Ask Your Social Circle

The second way you can obtain a personal reference is through your social circle. If you search through your friends and family, there is a chance that one of them has used a workers’ compensation lawyer before. If they had a great experience, you can look into hiring that same lawyer.

Do a Basic Internet Search

Inputting a general term on your favorite search engine can yield a list of reliable options. Though you should not just choose the first name that shows up without researching further, this will give you a good starting point.

Search Review Sites

Much like the best restaurants in St. Louis, the best lawyers are usually well reviewed on Yelp, Google, Facebook, etc. The reason these sites are so useful is that they tell you exactly what other customers’ experiences were with that company. First, you can get a general idea of their success through the simple star rating. Next, you can read some individual reviews to see precisely what people like and don’t like about that lawyer.

Use an Online Lawyer Directory

In addition to review sites, there are online directories that work exclusively with legal providers. The process of finding them on these sites is very similar to Yelp or a search engine. You indicate the kind of lawyer you are looking for and your location, and the directory provides a list of attorneys. Additionally, most of these directories have review systems, so you can get a feel for how happy the average client is too.

Set Up a Consultation

Reviews and recommendations are extremely valuable, but they cannot be the entire reasoning behind your decision. Instead, you should meet with the lawyer yourself and get a feel for them. A few things you should look out for are politeness, professionalism, legal knowledge, and a transparent fee structure. At the Law Office of James M. Hoffmann, we offer FREE consultations and you may call us 24/7 at (314) 361-4300.

In the modern world, you have many tools at your disposal when finding any kind of service provider. This is definitely the case when looking for a St. Louis work injury attorney. First, you can ask your coworkers and social circle for personal recommendations. Next, you can move on to searching for lawyers and reading reviews on the internet. Last, you will set up a consultation and see if your interaction with that provider matches up with the research you conducted. If it does, you’ve likely found your attorney and can go forward with your case.

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How Social Media Behavior Affects Workers’ Compensation Cases

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Our modern world is deeply focused on sharing. That usually means people share their life experiences, their opinions, and things that they love. The days of sharing with only your family and friends are over, though. In the era of social media, people are constantly putting personal information out into the world, for better or for worse. This effect has even reached the world of workers’ compensation claims.

Why Evidence Is so Important

A lot can go wrong in a workers’ compensation case. You can get an unfair compensation offer from your employer, or you can be rejected and not receive benefits at all. The best way to ensure a great deal is by presenting relevant evidence to your employer. The other side of that coin is that your employer can also collect evidence. If they believe that you do not deserve benefits, they will go searching for evidence against your injury. One of the places they might look at is your social media accounts.

How Social Media Can Hurt

The primary way social media can hurt you is if you post anything that is not consistent with your official work injury case. If you claim not to be able to walk due to a leg injury and then post a video of yourself playing basketball on social media, your employer could see that and use it against you. This can come in the form of words, too. Some people triumphantly brag about the benefits they are receiving or the time they are getting off work. Even if your injury is legitimate, this will not look good.

Best Practices

The best advice we can give is to keep your social media usage limited after a work injury. More often than not, social media content hurts cases rather than helps them. If you are insistent on using these platforms, you need to be careful. Never brag about your benefits, downplay your injury, or makes posts that are not consistent with your official claim.

Social media has brought a significant amount of positives to the world, but it also comes with complications. If you are involved in a workers’ compensation case, your social media usage could affect your case. Knowing this, you should resist using it or be very careful in your usage.

If you have been injured on the job in St. Louis, it is a good idea to speak with an experienced St. Louis workers compensation attorney ASAP. Call the Law Office of James M. Hoffmann 24/7 at (314) 361-4300.

 

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What to Expect If Your Workers Compensation Case Goes to Trial in Missouri

appealing-missouri-work-comp-claim

In Missouri, the vast number of workers compensation cases are settled. Only about 5% of all cases ever go to trial, according to the Missouri Department of Labor.

However, if you are involved in a workers compensation case and have hired a St. Louis workers comp attorney for your case, it’s important to know what you should expect if you have to go to trial.

There are a few reasons you may want to go to trial for your workers compensation claim. The insurance company may dispute your injury and fail to pay, or offer you inadequate compensation. If these issues aren’t worked out in a settlement, you may go to trial, and have your claim determined in a Missouri court of law. Here’s what you can expect.

You’ll Likely Have To Testify And Present Evidence To The Court

Your trial will proceed like any other non-jury civil trial in Missouri. You and your lawyers will present evidence related to your case, you will have to testify and be cross-examined by the opposition, and you will have to prove every element of your workers compensation argument in the court of law.

There are two kinds of hearings – “hardship hearings”, and “final hearings”. In a hardship hearing, the employee can bring a dispute about medical payments and compensation to the judge, who can make a “temporary or partial award” to the plaintiff. However, the case has not been concluded. It remains on the docket.

The case is only concluded when a “final hearing” is conducted – which consists of the trial outlined above.

You Will Benefit From Hiring a Workers Compensation Attorney

If you pursue a trial for your worker’s compensation claim, you will benefit from having an experienced attorney on your side. Every aspect of your claim must be proven in a court of law – and if is not, you will lose the case. It generally isn’t a good idea to try representing yourself.

You May Be Responsible For Some Court Costs

You will usually share responsibility for at least part of the court costs, though the judge may award repayment of these costs as part of the final verdict of the trial, in some cases. This is something to discuss with your attorney.

The Judge Makes The Final Determination – But You Can Appeal

A workers compensation hearing is not a jury trial. The judge is presented with the evidence and arguments from both sides, and makes an impartial decision based on the facts, and what can be proven in a court of law. At the final hearing, they will issue their decision, and their reasoning for making it, as well as the compensation that you are or entitled to.

If the verdict is not in your favor, you may be able to appeal the judgment. See the Missouri Department of Labor website for more details.

Know What To Expect When Going To Trial – It’s A Last Resort

Settling your workers compensation case is often better than going to trial. If you go to trial, you may run the risk of getting much less compensation, if your case cannot be adequately proven in a court of law.

Because of this, it’s best to discuss your case with an experienced St. Louis workers compensation attorney, and let them guide you in the process. An experienced attorney can help you make the best decisions to ensure that you get the full amount of compensation your are entitled to.

 

Law Office of James M. Hoffmann
2001 S Hanley Rd #325
St. Louis, MO
63144
Phone: (314) 361-4300
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