Licensed in Missouri and Kansas

Safety Equipment in Workers Compensation Claims

There is a law within Missouri's workers' compensation statutes that gives employees a penalty in their comp claim if they failed to use a required safety device. The law says that if you are injured at work in Missouri, then you will receive between twenty five and fifty percent less compensation in your workers' compensation claim. For example, your employer may require you to wear a seat belt if you drive as part of your job. If you were hurt in a car accident on the job, but you weren't wearing a seat belt, you will probably have to take a deduction on your lump sum settlement in your comp claim. There are a couple of caveats, however, that workers should know.

First, it must be shown that your failure to use the safety device made your injury worse. This is difficult to do because it almost always requires the use of some kind of expert. Using the car accident example, if you employer wants to claim that your failure to wear a seat belt entitles them to a deduction, then they must prove that your failure to wear a seat belt made your injuries worse. This is something to which only an expert can testify. Would wearing a seat belt have lessened your injury?

Second, your employer must have a policy in place requiring the use of the safety device. If they don't, they are not entitled to the deduction. So, using the car accident/seat belt example, the employer must be able to show a policy of requiring seat belts while driving. It's not enough to say that seat belts are required by law; there must be a company policy requiring them.

If you've been hurt on the job in Missouri, and your employer wants a reduction in benefits because they claim you failed to use a required safety device, please contact my law firm. We handle Missouri workers' compensation claims and deal with these issues regularly.