Interviewer: What are some of the things that people do that hurt their case?
Testing Positive for Drug Use after a Workplace Injury Reduces Benefits by 50%
Kevin Roach: In Missouri, most insurance companies, initially after you're injured, will send you straight over to the doctor. One of the first things the doctor does is they do a drug test on you. If you come back positive for marijuana or any other drug, then your benefits in Missouri are immediately slashed by 50%.
When you automatically have a 50% penalty against your claim it becomes very hard to even find an attorney that will take the case because of that. The judges in Missouri are very prejudicial when they see these positive drug tests. That's one of the big things that people can do to hurt their case.
You Must Report Any Workplace Injury within the 30 Day Statute of Limitations
Another thing would be not reporting your injury within the 30-day period. Employee’s might injure their back or knee and assume that the pain is going to go away. Therefore, they don't report it to their employer. That becomes a problem if it goes over the 30 days.
Sometimes you can get around that because maybe the injury didn't manifest itself or maybe you weren't aware that you were injured. Maybe you just thought it was a strain and maybe you didn't know it was injured until you went to the doctor.
Always Document the Reporting of an Injury to the Employer
That is another big thing that people could do to really hurt their case - not reporting and/or not obtaining written proof of your reported claim of injury. A lot of times these matters are conducted verbally. An employee may report their injury to their supervisor, but their supervisor might not do anything further. They might not write anything down and it becomes your word against theirs’ as to whether or not it was reported.
Avoid Confrontations in the Workplace That Could Lead to a Termination for Misconduct during a Workers Comp Claim
Sometimes an employer can become unhappy when an employee is on workers comp. A lot of times it can become a confrontational situation. The employee can be alleged to have engaged in misconduct. Say if you told your boss off because you were sick of him giving you the run around while you were going through your workers comp claim. Your boss can just say, "Okay, you're fired for misconduct."
In Missouri, it's very hard to fire someone when they're on workers compensation, but if you allegedly engage in misconduct then you can be fired and can miss out on a lot of benefits with your pay. The employer will still have to provide you medical treatment for your work related injuries, but if you're discharged for misconduct, then they would not have to pay you while you're off work.