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What You Need to Know About the Missouri Workers’ Compensation Statute of Limitations

If you’ve been injured in the workplace, you may be reeling amidst several unknowns. Questions start to rise as you sort through the aftermath of the injury, the recovery process and what you need to do to take care of yourself and your family.

You may ask:

  • Can I keep working through the pain?
  • What will happen to me if I can’t work through my injury?
  • Will I get fired from my job?
  • How will my recovery process look?
  • How will I pay my bills and provide for my family?

There are many things you can’t control when you’re in this situation. Working through the pain or masking your symptoms can worsen your injury. However, there is one thing you can control promptly notifying your manager, human resources director or employer about your injury and the incident that caused it. 

Reporting your injury is the essential first step to recovery. Missouri has a window of time for employees to tell their employers about their injuries. If you wait, it can affect the compensation you can receive through workers’ compensation insurance or a workers’ compensation claim

Missing the window can make it more difficult to get the medical coverage and lost wage payments you need to recover.

Missouri Workers’ Compensation Statute of Limitations: What It Is and How It Works

Meeting the Deadline: What Is a Statute of Limitations and Why Do We Have One for Workers’ Comp?

Statutes of limitations were introduced in Roman Law thousands of years ago and have been reiterated as the needs of societies have changed. These limitations keep parties from trying to bring up events that are too far in the past to try in court.

For personal injuries and workers’ compensation claims, a statute of limitations is a window of time that allows an injured party to file a claim against the party that is responsible for the injury. Statutes of limitations protect people and organizations from claims that are made too far after the events of the incident, as evidence is lost and memories fade.

There are two separate deadlines under the Missouri Workers’ Compensation law:

  • First, there is a deadline to report your injury to the employer.  The first deadline must always be met as an employer, and their insurer cannot provide you with Workers’ Compensation benefits if they don’t know that you have been injured and need benefits.
  • Second, there is a deadline to file a formal Claim for Compensation with the Missouri Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC). The deadline to file a Claim for Compensation form with the DWC only arises if the employer is not providing you with the benefits to which you are entitled. If they provide all necessary benefits, then you never need to file a formal claim form with the DWC. 

If there is ever a question as to whether you have received all benefits to which you are entitled, then you should consult with an attorney who practices in this area. At Eng & Woods, we always offer a free consultation and can tell you in that consultation whether you have received all benefits and whether you need to file a Claim for Compensation or not.    

When Should I Report My Injury?

If you’ve been injured in your workplace, you need to report it in writing as soon as possible. If you can’t report your injury immediately, then you need to make a written report within 30 days of the injury or discovery of the injury. 

According to the Missouri Department of Labor & Industrial Relations, the written report should include:

  • The date, time and location of the injury
  • The nature of the injury
  • Your name and address

The Department of Labor & Industrial Relations also states that failure to report your injury within that timeframe “may jeopardize your ability to receive workers’ compensation benefits.”

Once you report your injury to your employer, the workers’ compensation process can begin, as your employer should then take the necessary steps to file your report. 

When Should I File a Workers’ Compensation Claim

If your claim was denied or you feel you did not receive fair benefits from your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance, you can file a workers’ compensation claim within two years after the date of the injury or the last payment on account of the injury. 

The reference to the “last payment on account of the injury” means that if your employer or their insurer pays for medical or disability benefits for a period of time, your statute of limitations is tolled and does not begin to run until the last benefit that they pay. If your employer does not file a Report of Injury with the DWC, as they are legally required to do, that can extend your Statute of Limitations to file your Claim for Compensation to three years.   

If you haven’t received fair compensation, contacting an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer is a great way to see what your options are for compensation and how the claim will affect your current benefits.

4 Best Practices: How to File Workman’s Comp in Missouri

Now that you’ve seen the timetable you have to report your injury, here are a few other best practices to keep in mind whenever you go through the workers’ compensation process.  

  1. Get medical treatment. You should be able to get medical treatment through your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. Getting an examination as soon as possible is essential to identifying the scope and severity of your injury. This will help determine your recovery plan and maximize your workers’ compensation benefits. This is one of the benefits that the workers’ compensation insurer is required to provide, though they have the right to choose what doctor you see. You can always see your own doctor or get a second opinion, but if the workers’ compensation insurer is authorizing treatment, they are only required to pay for the treatment they authorize. Any outside treatment or second opinion will be at your own cost.  
  2. Collect any and all evidence from the incident that caused your injury. It’s smart to collect evidence in case you have to make a claim against your employer. If your employer or their workers’ compensation denies your claim, having photos, eyewitness testimonies and medical examinations are essential.
  3. Contact a knowledgeable workers’ compensation lawyer. Consulting an experienced attorney can help you determine what rights you have, and help you receive the benefits to which you are entitled.  

If you’re looking for a knowledgeable workers’ compensation lawyer, contact Eng & Woods Attorneys at Law. Our legal team is known for our expertise, negotiation skills, dedication to fighting for our clients and, most importantly, our results.

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    1000 West Nifong Boulevard, Building 7
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    Columbia, Missouri 65203
    Phone: 573-874-4190
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