Interviewer: What is workers comp. and how does it work?
Workers Comp Is Insurance to Compensate Employees for Injuries Sustained at Work
Kevin Roach: I believe every state has workers comp laws. They were written to protect workers from injuries suffered on the job and to make sure that the injured employee is rightfully compensated for their injuries sustained. It is also utilized to shelter employers to limit their liability.
Missouri Has a Relatively Simple Burden of Proof to File for Workers Comp
In Missouri it's a really easy burden to prove that you are injured at work. You don't have to show any kind of negligence or anything. You just basically have to show that you were injured during the course of your employment. You do not need to prove that any misconduct and/or an unsafe working environment caused these injuries.
Employees Do Not Have to Prove Employer Negligence in Order to File for Workers Comp but Must File a Claim within 30 Days of Injury
You don't have to prove that the employer was doing anything wrong. You do have to comply with the Missouri Workers Compensation Regulations. One of the rules in Missouri is that you have to report your injury to your employer within 30 days of the date of the incident.
Always Document the Reporting of an Injury
If you don't report your injury, then you could potentially jeopardize your claim. It could be barred and there you would not receive your benefits in which you would ordinarily be entitled. I always tell people to report an injury, if sustained at work, immediately, and to also get it down on paper if possible. It is always advisable to obtain some sort of documentation that you reported your injury to your employer or your supervisor.
Employee Negligence: You May Be Penalized for Not Following a Safety Rule but Your Workers Comp Claim Will Not Be Barred
Interviewer: I was under the impression that if you performed a duty incorrectly that you would not be eligible. Is that accurate?
Kevin Roach: Not necessarily. If you're doing something improperly, that may fall under the violation of a safety code or rule. You can be penalized for not following a safety rule or regulation, but your claim is not barred.
In Missouri, even if you're engaging in horseplay, it's been found by the Missouri courts to still be a compensable claim. If you are at work and you're doing your job, even if you're at lunch, you're not actually working, and you're punched in on the time clock, technically you're covered.
In the performance of some jobs, you're ordered to wear a harness to lift something. That could be a violation if you are not wearing the appropriate safety equipment. But again, your claim would not be barred. You could possibly be penalized.
Illegal Activities and Self-Inflicted Injuries Are Not Compensable under Workers Compensation
There are some exceptions to that. For instance, if you're engaging in illegal activity or you deliberately injury yourself—that doesn't happen very often; however, there are certain situations where someone may commit suicide at work. This would not be covered under the workers comp law in Missouri. As a general rule, if you're injured at work and you report it, it's normally a compensable injury.
Violations of Safety Rules Are Not Enforceable Unless They Are in Writing and in Easy to Comprehend Language
There needs to be a written rule or safety regulation; the language has to be clear. Sometimes your supervisor or boss might say, "Hey, you're supposed to wear these safety goggles. Where are your safety goggles?" If it's not a written rule and maybe nobody wears their goggles, then it's not necessarily enforceable.
It needs to be clearly enforced and in writing so that it's clear to the employee that they were supposed to follow that procedure.
What Are Common Workplace Injuries?
Interviewer: What would you say are some of the most common workplace injuries?
Back Injuries, Such as Sprains or Strains Are the Most Common Work-Related Injury
Kevin Roach: Probably the single most common work injury is a low back strain or sprain. You see those on a regular basis. I also see a lot of knee injuries as well. With occupational or repetitive use claims, you see a lot of carpal tunnel or trigger finger cases. The occupational claims are caused by the repetitive nature of your job.