Common Tactics Used to Discourage Injured Workers from Reporting an Injury

Being injured on the job is never a fun experience. Not only do you have to deal with the pain of the injury itself, but you also have to navigate the often-complex world of workers’ compensation. And if your employer is less than supportive, that process can be even more difficult.

Unfortunately, some employers will go to great lengths to discourage their employees from reporting work injuries. They may do this for various reasons, including saving money on premiums or avoiding bad publicity. Whatever the reason, injured workers need to be aware of the tactics that employers might use to discourage injured workers from reporting workplace injuries. Here are some common tactics employers use:

Bureaucracy

One common tactic employers use to discourage injured workers from filing claims is complicating the bureaucracy involved in the process. They may require employees to get multiple signatures or jump through hoops to file a claim. In other cases, they may institute new policies that make it more difficult for employees to take time off for doctor’s appointments or physical therapy. All of this can be very frustrating and discouraging for an injured worker already dealing with a lot.

Delays

Another tactic that employers might use is intentional delays. For example, they may drag their feet when it comes to approving time off for doctor’s appointments or filling out the required paperwork. In some cases, they may even try to delay payments of benefits until the employee is desperate enough to give up and return to work before they’ve fully recovered.

Demotion in Disguise

In some cases, an employer may assign injured workers less-paying responsibilities or tasks that are beneath the positions. This can be very demoralizing. And can make it hard for the employee to see a future at the company. As a result, they may decide it’s not worth reporting an injury or pushing too hard when pursuing a workers’ comp claim.

Unreasonable Return-To-Work Policies 

Lastly, some employers institute unreasonable return-to-work policies that make it difficult for injured workers to transition back into their jobs. For example, they may require employees recovering from an injury to return to work before they’re physically able or reduce their hours so significantly that it’s not worth returning. This can put a lot of financial strain on injured workers and their families and make it very difficult for injured workers to report work injuries or pursue workers’ comp claims.

These are just a few tactics employers might use to discourage employees from filing workers’ comp claims. If you’ve been injured on the job, don’t let your employer intimidate you into not reporting the injuries or filing a claim. And if you are experiencing workplace retaliation due to reporting a work-related injury, get in touch with an experienced work injury lawyer.

Speak With an Experienced Work Injury Lawyer

Have you been injured on the job? The Law Office of James. M. Hoffman is here to support you through every step of the process. We understand that this may be a difficult time for you and want to ensure you receive the care and benefits to which you are entitled. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can help. Call (314) 361-4300 for a free case evaluation with an experienced St. Louis work injury lawyer.

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How to Find a Workers Comp Doctor

We can’t stress enough how vital it is to have someone look at your injuries as soon as possible after a workplace accident. Not only will this help you feel better, but it will also document the extent of your injuries, which is important for any potential workers’ compensation claim.

Before you start looking for a doctor on your own after a workplace injury, it is important to understand that according to the Missouri Department of Labor, “The employer has the right to choose the healthcare provider or treating physician, however, the employee has the right to select a treating physician at the employee’s own expense.”

With so many doctors, how do you know whether the doctor selected by your employer is right for you? Here are some things to discuss with your workers compensation attorney.

They’re Qualified Workers’ Comp Doctors

Doctors are not created equal. Some are better than others, and some are more qualified to treat certain injuries than others. Your workers’ comp doctor should be qualified to treat work-related injuries. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s possible to end up with a doctor who isn’t entirely qualified to treat a work injury.

They Have Experience Treating Your Type of Injury

Just because a doctor is qualified to treat work-related injuries doesn’t mean they have experience treating your specific injury. If you’ve injured your back, for example, you want to make sure you see a doctor who has experience treating back injuries. Again, with the help of your attorney, your research and make sure the doctor you choose has experience treating your specific type of injury.

They Are Good at Communicating

Nothing is more frustrating than trying to communicate with a doctor who doesn’t listen or understand what you’re saying. Your workers compensation doctor should be able to listen to your symptoms and concerns and then explain things in a way you can understand. 

They Have a Good Bedside Manner

In addition to being a good communicator, you also want to make sure your workers compensation doctor has a good bedside manner. This means they should be respectful, compassionate, and understanding. They should make you feel comfortable and well cared for. 

They Are Ready to Be Witnesses

Ensure that your workers’ comp doctor is prepared to be a witness, if necessary. This means they should be able to testify on your behalf if need be. They should also be willing to provide any documentation or records that may be needed.If you are concerned about your workers compensation doctors qualifications, discuss your concerns with an experienced St. Louis workers compensation attorney. At the Law Office of James M. Hoffmann, we have over 30 years of experience and would be happy to evaluate your claim for free. Give us a call 24/7 at (314) 361-4300.

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Checking on the Status of Your Workers Comp Settlement Check

Suppose you suffered a work-related injury that left you in pain, out of work, and with piling medical bills. Fortunately, workers’ compensation can help you with your medical expenses and lost wages. The process is long, drawn-out, and frustrating, but you finally have a hearing date set. After what seems like an eternity, the day arrives, and you’re awarded a settlement. The next step is to receive your check, which generally takes about 30 days.

But what happens when that check doesn’t come?

First, don’t panic. It’s not unusual for there to be a delay in receiving your workers’ compensation settlement check. The insurance company may need additional information, or there could be a problem with the paperwork. It’s also possible that the check was sent to the wrong address. Before you panic, speak with your workers compensation attorney.

If, after a week or two, you still haven’t received your check, your attorney will likely contact the insurance company. They will generally document this. The insurance company should be able to track down your check and let your attorney know when you can expect to receive it.

What if, Even After Contacting the Insurance Company, You Still Don’t Receive Your Check?

You may find that even after contacting the insurance company and waiting a reasonable amount of time, you still don’t receive your workers’ compensation check. Could it be a tactic by the insurance company to delay payment in the hopes that you will give up and go away? Would they really do something like that? Unfortunately, the answer may be yes.

An experienced attorney will not let the insurance company take advantage of you and delay your workers’ compensation check. They will be able to take appropriate action to protect your legal rights and get you the compensation you deserve. In some cases, this may mean filing a complaint with the state workers’ compensation board or taking the insurance company to court.

Speak With a St. Louis Work Injury Lawyer

Imagine being out of work and in pain, with no end in sight. To make matters worse, the insurance company is playing games with your workers’ compensation settlement. If this describes your current situation, don’t despair. If you haven’t already done so, speak with an experienced work injury lawyer to ensure your legal rights are protected. Don’t settle for less than you deserve.

At the Law Office of James. M. Hoffman, we understand your situation and can guide you through the process and fight to get you the workers’ compensation benefits you need and deserve. We have over 30 years of experience protecting the rights of injured Missouri workers and can do the same for you. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Call us 24/7 at (314) 361-4300!

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Can Undocumented Workers Get Workers Comp Benefits?

It’s estimated there are around 11 million undocumented workers in the US? If you’re one of them and you’ve been injured on the job, you may be wondering if you are entitled to workers compensation benefits.

Recovering Benefits as a Non-US Citizen

It is possible for a non-US citizen to receive compensation for injuries, lost wages, and suffering. However, despite this fact, some employers still deny non-US citizens, especially undocumented immigrant employees, their compensation, citing that they are not legally recognized. These employers argue that they aren’t legal and hence ineligible to collect benefits.

Universal Workers’ Comp Benefits

In Missouri, non-citizens injured in the scope of their work can generally get workers’ compensation in case of workplace injuries. The justification for this is that the federal law doesn’t discriminate against non-citizens. Moreover, workers’ compensation insurance laws generally don’t consider whether the injured worker is a citizen as long as they meet the eligibility criteria.

That said, most Missouri employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance if they have more than five employees. This requirement is more stringent in some occupations than others. For example, in the construction industry, employers are required to have coverage for their employees despite them working full-time, part-time, casual, or related.  

“What if My Employer Doesn’t Have Workers’ Compensation Insurance?”

Missouri employees, including all legal and illegal immigrants, have a right to initiate legal proceedings against their employers to get compensation. This is because of the non-discriminatory law which applies to employees despite their nationality.

Suppose an employee suffers an injury at the workplace and lacks workers’ compensation insurance coverage. In that case, the injured employee may be able to sue for compensation in a court of law for lost wages and future wages. The argument here is straightforward, if the employer accepted their labor fully knowing they are non-citizens, it would only be fair to give them their dues.

Missouri Workers’ Compensation Attorney

Some employers may, unfortunately, be looking for an opportunity to take advantage of Non-US citizen employees. That’s why it’s important to have an experienced attorney by your side when pursuing worker’s compensation as a non-citizen. 

Your attorney can help you fight any lies or tricks your employer or their insurance company may try to use to avoid paying you the benefits you need and deserve.

If you have been injured on the job, our team of Missouri workers compensation attorneys are here to help. Contact us 24/7 for a free consultation to learn more about your legal rights. Call (314) 361-4300.

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Top 7 Frequently Asked Workers Comp Questions

Workers’ compensation laws can be confusing and complex. That’s why we’ve put together this list of the top 7 workers comp questions that we are commonly asked. Hopefully, this will help to clear up some of the confusion surrounding workers’ compensation law and provide you with a better understanding of your rights and protections under the law.

1. What Is Workers’ Compensation?

Workers’ compensation is a system of insurance that provides benefits to injured employees or those that become ill as a result of their job. Workers compensation benefits can generally include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and death benefits.

2. Is Workers’ Compensation Mandatory?

In most states, employers are required to provide workers’ compensation coverage for their employees. There are a few exceptions, however, such as federal employees and some small businesses. However, if a company has more than a certain number of employees, usually five or six, they will likely be required to provide workers’ compensation coverage.

3. What Is Not Covered Under Workers Compensation?

While workers’ compensation will provide benefits for most workplace injuries or illnesses, there are a few exceptions. These can include injuries that occur outside of work, self-inflicted injuries, or injuries that result from illegal activity.

4. What Should I Do if I’m Injured at Work?

If you’re injured at work, the first thing you should do is seek medical attention and notify your employer. It doesn’t matter if the injury seems minor; it’s always best to get checked out by a medical professional.

Your employer should then provide you with the necessary paperwork to file your claim. Keep in mind that you usually have a limited time to file a workers’ compensation claim, so it’s important to do so as soon as possible after the injury occurs.

5. Is There a Specific Way to Report My Injury?

Yes, there is. You can either do it verbally or in writing, but it’s generally best to do it in writing. This way, you have a record of when you reported the injury and what happened.

When reporting the injury, include as many details as possible, such as how the injury occurred, what part of your body was injured, and what symptoms you’re experiencing.

6. How Can I Prove That My Injury Is Work-Related?

To prove that your injury is work-related, you’ll need to provide medical evidence that links the injury to your job. This can include a doctor’s diagnosis, X-rays or other imaging, and testimony from witnesses.

Your employer may also require you to undergo a drug test to rule out the possibility that drugs or alcohol played a role in the injury.

7. In What Ways Can a Workers’ Comp Attorney Help My Case?

If you’re having trouble getting the benefits you’re entitled to, a workers’ compensation attorney can help. They can assist with filing a claim, appealing a denial of benefits, and negotiating with insurance companies.

In addition, a workers’ comp attorney can help you understand your rights and protections under the law and ensure that you are treated fairly throughout the process.

The Law Office of James. M. Hoffman

If you have been injured on the job, The Law Office of James M. Hoffman is here to help. We have been helping injured workers in Missouri and the surrounding areas for over 30 years.

We offer a free initial consultation so that we can assess your case and answer any questions you may have. To schedule a consultation, call us 24/7 at (314) 361-4300 or fill out our online contact form.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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