Valuation of Missouri Workers' Compensation Injuries versus Calculation of Damages for General Negligence Claims
In Missouri, the calculation of damages (money) for the same injury under general negligence law (i.e. injured in a car or truck accident) as opposed to the calculation under Missouri workers compensation (i.e. work related injury) are very, very different. As a St Louis injury lawyer that handles both workers compensation cases and general negligence cases, I deal with both ways of calculating damages routinely.
A common reaction I get from clients injured at work, is the disbelief that an injury, just because it occurs at work, can be worth less than that same injury under a general negligence theory, typically meaning it was caused outside of work or by a negligent driver, doctor, or business. However, the benefit to workers' compensation coverage is that liability (whose fault it is) does not matter. Even if it is the injured employee's fault (in most cases), you still get the same compensation. Additionally, in many cases if the work related injury was not the fault of a co-employee or your employer (i.e. a 3rd party not employed by the same company) then a 3rd party claim exists and the injured employee can recover under both work comp and negligence claims outside the work comp structure and through the jury trial system. See: "St Louis Work Comp Lawyer discussing Work Comp Claim and 3rd Party Liability Issues" Additionally, in certain situations, even if the injury is caused by a co-employee, sometimes you can pursue the co-employee for their negligence. Any liability the co-worker may have will be covered by the employer's general liability insurance coverage; so don't feel bad about making a claim against your co-worker, their covered. See"Missouri Work Comp Law - Courts Open up Pathway to Co-Worker Liability".
Calculating Damages in Missouri Personal Injury Cases (non work Comp)
Damages (money) for injuries under Missouri general negligence cases are determined by the amount of medical bills incurred (past and future), lost wages (past and future), prescriptions, property damage, other expenses attributable to the injury, and finally, pain and suffering. Pain and suffering is that uncertain dollar amount that a jury may award you for the pain and suffering of having to go through the entire ordeal and the future problems it will cause physically, emotionally and mentally. Except if it is a medical malpractice claim, under Missouri law pain and suffering in medical negligence claims are capped at $350,000. Missouri medical damage caps have not been fully challenged yet and it is still possible they could be found unconstitutional by the Missouri Supreme Court. See "Limits on Medical Malpractice Awards Constitutional? Missouri Supreme Court Signals .... Not Constitutional"
Calculating Damages in Missouri Work Comp Cases
Under Missouri workers' compensation, the employer's work comp insurance covers the medical expenses for your medical treatment, missed work pay or "TTD pay" (Temporary Total Disability Pay) for the days missed prior to the doctor releasing you to return to work, and then finally a final settlement for the ongoing disability. The ongoing disability is essentially the only amount the employee is awarded directly and is calculated using the Missouri "Permanent Partial Disability Schedule". This is a very specific calculation and does not take into consideration any pain and suffering. However, the Missouri Work Comp Second Injury Fund is also available for additional compensation in certain cases. See "Missouri Workers' Compensation Claims, Claims against the Missouri Second Injury Fund or 'SIF'"
Missouri's Division of Missouri Work Comp: State Website with information regarding workers compensation and explaining the process.
Regardless if you have a work comp or a general negligence case, the legal procedure and all the ways to maximize compensation for your injuries are very complex. If you need an experienced Missouri personal injury lawyer handling cases in St Louis, St Charles, Jefferson County, and all across Missouri and Illinois, call the St Louis injury law firm of Sansone / Lauber today.