Licensed in Missouri and Kansas

Missouri Workers' Compensation Awards Can Include Attorney's Fees and the Cost of the Entire Proceeding.

Workers' compensation claims can be drawn out and complicated, especially when parties fight over the percentage of disability. When an attorney files frivolous lawsuits and refuses to work toward settling workers' compensation cases, the state of Missouri has provisions that allow the courts to grant both attorney's fees and the whole cost of the proceeding. Under Mo. Rev. Stat. §287.560 (2014), the Missouri Labor and Industrial Relations Commission has the authority to require opposing counsel to pay a party's attorney fees and related costs under certain conditions. "[I]f the division or the commission determines that any proceedings have been brought, prosecuted or defended without reasonable ground, it may assess the whole cost of the proceedings upon the party who so brought, prosecuted or defended them."

So now, you are thinking "YES! That attorney on the other side has been a jerk, I'm gonna get my attorney's fees paid!" Well, not yet. The statute uses the phrase "without reasonable grounds," which leaves one to wonder what falls into the "without reasonable grounds" category. The Missouri Supreme Court has found unreasonable grounds when the employer offers absolutely no ground, reasonable or otherwise for refusing an employee's workers' compensation benefits that are clearly owed to the employee because the injury was undisputedly work related. This includes an employer's lack of reasonable grounds when denying treatment or payment.

Egregious behavior can include:

  • An employer's lack of action
  • Doing nothing to further settlement
  • Resume negotiations
  • Promptly resolve the claim
  • Refusing to make settlement offers
  • Rejecting attempts by its own attorney to obtain settlement
  • Unwillingness to mediate

This is especially significant when an employer has medical evidence to support a finding that the injury or medical condition is the result of a workplace injury. For example, when an employer receives a doctor's report detailing the causal connection between the claimant's workplace injury and the manifested harm, an employer likely has no reasonable grounds to defend the claim.

When considering the whole cost of the proceedings, the court looks at everything the innocent party expended in the proceeding, including attorney fees. Attorney fees are part of the cost of recovery. There is a catch. The innocent party must provide specific proof and be able to establish evidence of the whole cost of the proceeding or no award of the costs will be granted. This means both you and your attorney should keep detailed and copious receipts and documentation of all funds incurred on the case.

The Kansas City based personal injury law firm of Meyerkord, Russell & Hergott is here to advise you on your workers' compensation case. In addition to handling Kansas and Missouri workers' compensation cases, we handle all types of personal injury cases. Let the attorneys at Meyerkord, Russell & Hergott take your case to the next level. If you need assistance with you personal injury or workers' compensation claim, please call our Kansas City office at 816-221-7555.