I was injured on the job in Missouri: What is my Missouri workers compensation case worth?
If you are injured on the job in Missouri, you are entitled to your medical expenses, payment for your temporary total disability (the time you cannot work), as well as compensation for your permanent partial disability. If you become permanently and totally disabled, you are entitled to payments for the remainder of your life. Permanent and total disability will be covered in a future post. This post summarizes the value of your Missouri Workers Compensation case in the event of permanent partial disability. The value of you case will be adjudicated by the Missouri Department of Labor's Division of Workers Compensation which is an administrative court created for the sole purpose of determining the value of an injured Missouri worker's claim.
The value of your Missouri workers compensation claim is determined through the application of a formula based upon the percentage permanent loss of use of the body part which was injured multiplied by the total number of weeks assigned to that body part multiplied by your average weekly wage up to a maximum value of $422.00 per week. Got that?
An example will help you understand the value of your Missouri job injury claim. Let's say you injure your back on the job and you make $800.00 per week. Your Missouri Workers Compensation Claim benefit for permanent partial disability is worth the maximum weekly benefit of $422.00 times 400 weeks (for the back) times the percentage your back is deemed permanently disabled.
Different body parts are assigned different week values based upon a chart known as the Permanent Partial Disability Schedule. A back or spine injury has the highest weekly value of 400 weeks. Other body parts are assigned different values which depend upon the Schedule. Some examples of the arbitrary weekly values assigned to injured body parts in Missouri include: 140 weeks for a work related eye injury resulting in complete loss of sight; 232 weeks for a shoulder injury and 160 weeks for a knee injury. The weekly value assigned to body parts injured on the job in Missouri is random and reflects someone's decade's old thought about the relative worth of Missouri workers body parts.
The percentage of permanent partial disability is arrived at through the opinions of doctors. Typically, an employer's doctor will assign a low percentage of disability to the body part. This low assignment is often counterbalanced by the rating of an independent doctor. If the back injury mentioned above were rated 5% by an employers doctor and 35% by an independent doctor, the settlement value for the claim will come to rest somewhere in the middle range of these ratings. The percentages discussed are a doctor's opinion of the overall permanent percentage loss to the Missouri workers' injured body part.
So, to complete the example of the worth of the Missouri worker's back injury, it would be the average weekly wage of $422.00 per week multiplied by the back's value of 400 weeks multiplied by the percentage of loss of use to the body part as compromised here at say 20%. Therefore, the example above would be worth $33,760 (422 x 400 x .20) the product of the three components.
This is obviously an arbitrary value, but it is the method employed in Missouri for decades to determine the value of permanent partial disability.