Interviewer: What are some of the thing I should not do? What are the mistakes that people could make that could ruin things for the case?
Kevin Roach: The number 1 thing that can ruin your claim is not reporting it within 30 day. One thing that I'm seeing more and more of lately is post-injury misconduct under the changes to the Missouri workers compensation law back in '05, there was a change regarding post-injury misconduct, basically it states that if an injured worker returns to work and is terminated from employment due to "post-injury misconduct", the employee is not eligible to receive any temporary total disability or total disability benefits following the post-injury misconducts.
Post Injury Misconduct is a Commonly Committed Mistake By the Injured Party
So that's one mistake that I see people make because sometimes they may get injured and maybe they are out of work for a couple of days and they might go back on light duty or limited duty. Sometimes there are hard feelings between them and their employer which can lead to an argument which can be considered “post Injury Misconduct” and result in a termination. When an employee is fired under these circumstances, the employer and the insurance company, they are not entitled to pay them any benefits after that misconduct. So, they could be out of work for a substantial amount of time and they would not be entitled to any weekly benefits and they would still be entitled to their medical care, and their permanent parts disability settlement but they could lose out on a substantial amount of weekly benefits, or temporary total disability benefits.
Refusal to Take a Drug Test Following an Injury is Another Mistake
Another mistake I see people make is refusing to take a drug test following an injury. It is pretty routine in Missouri, and probably in every other state, whenever someone is injured at work, one of the first things they do is they send you over to the medical clinic, and one of the first things they do over there is they drug test you and some people are taken aback by that and they may refuse to do it. Well, if you refuse that drug test, all of your benefits are forfeited in Missouri, that's a huge mistake that I see people make.
Testing Positive for Drug or Alcohol Abuse after Being Injured is Another Vital Mistake
Another mistake or just a related issue is you can get your injured workers who test positive for drugs, marijuana or any sort of non-prescription drug, alcohol, they test positive post-accident, then their benefits can be reduced up to 50%, so for instance, if someone was injured at work not because they were high or drunk but just because they may have tested positive for marijuana, that maybe they smoked 2 weeks prior, they could still have their benefits reduced to 50%. So that's a huge mistake, I don't know if that's a mistake, but that's a huge barrier in getting the amount they want.
If the Injury is Determined to Be Caused Due to Intoxication, the Benefits are Totally Forfeited in Missouri
Another related issue, related to drugs and alcohol, if you're in Missouri, if your injury was a result of you being drunk or on drugs, then your benefits are totally forfeited. So if you were, for instance you work at a bar or you were drinking alcohol and you fell on the steps because you were drunk, you don't get any benefits for that obviously, but that's another thing that I don't see very often but that's one thing that can really mess up your benefits.
Personal Injury Lawyers Work on a Contingent Fee Basis
Interviewer: How does a lawyer get paid with this?
Kevin Roach: For workers compensation claims, we work off of a contingent fee, meaning we take a percentage of what's recovered from your permanent partial disability settlement and that percentage is 25% of the recovery and if there is no recovery, then you don't owe any attorney fees or cost so it's very similar to any other personal injury case, except the attorney fees are a little less.