Missouri workers' compensation
Missouri workers' compensation laws were established to help workers. Here's what you need to know about filing a claim in your state.

Missouri Workers’ Compensation Benefits Process

Important: We updated this article in July 2023 to ensure the information below is both current and correct. State law outlines who receives Missouri workers’ compensation benefits and how the process works. If you’re a Show-Me Stater who’s experienced an accident or illness on the job, you should focus on feeling better ― not feeling anxious about the claims process.

We’ve gathered the information you need to get the workers’ comp benefits you deserve.

Missouri Workers’ Compensation Eligibility

Important: State rules don’t cover federal employees. Learn how to file a federal claim.

State law requires all employers with at least five employees to carry Missouri workers’ compensation insurance. This includes all full-time, part-time, and most independent contractors.

However, these workers are excluded from automatic insurance coverage:

  • Farm laborers
  • Domestic workers (i.e., housekeepers and live-in nannies)
  • Certain real estate agents working on commission-only basis
  • Direct real estate sellers (i.e., owners selling their residences)
  • Commercial motor-carrier owner-operators (i.e., tour bus operators, commercial truck drivers)
  • Sole proprietors

Get more information on how to qualify for workers comp benefits.

Important: Find out about workers’ comp for employees of family businesses and vehicle owner-operators.

Covid-19 Workers’ Compensation Claims

The state legislature passed an emergency rule extending Missouri workers’ compensation coverage to EMTs, law enforcement officers, and firefighters going back to February 1, 2020. First responders who tested positive for COVID-19 before that may still apply for workers’ compensation.

Important: This ruling doesn’t apply to healthcare workers (i.e., doctors, nurses, hospital staffers) who contract COVID-19 at work.

How to File Your Missouri Workers’ Compensation Claim

Important: Get treatment immediately if you require emergency or urgent care. Tell the doctor your case is work-related and keep all receipts and bills.

Every case is different, but according to the Missouri Department of Labor, follow this process for filing your workplace injury or illness benefits application:

Include the date, time, location, and nature of your injury, any witnesses, your name, and current mailing address. You must file a claim for compensation within two years of your diagnosis or injury date to qualify for benefits. Your employer has five days to notify their insurer and 30 days to file a First Report of Injury form with the state’s Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC).

Important: If you’re not confident you have an open-and-shut claim or you have a pre-existing health condition, then you may want to consult a workers’ compensation attorney.

2. Ask your supervisor for the name of the employer-authorized doctor who will treat you.

Going to a doctor without your employer’s prior approval means you must pay those medical bills. And if you refuse to seek treatment, then you likely won’t qualify for compensation. See what a Missouri workers’ compensation doctor can do for you.

3. Wait for a decision.

Important: Your claim can be denied if you test positive for drugs or alcohol.

If your claim’s approved, your employer’s insurer is directly responsible for paying your medical bills. If your illness or injury doesn’t require you to take time off, Missouri workers’ compensation only covers your medical bills. To qualify for lost-wage payments, your illness or injury must force you to miss at least three work shifts. If you’re out for at least 14 days, you’ll get paid for those first three days.

4. Take action if you’re denied or want to dispute your benefits.

To either dispute a decision or appeal a denial, contact your employer’s insurer. If you need more help, use the DWC’s dispute management service, request a conference with an administrative law judge or consult a Missouri workers’ compensation lawyer.

Important: Three-quarters of appealed cases result in paid settlements or awards.

More Facts About Missouri Workers’ Compensation

The Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics analyzes workers’ comp data on most U.S. states and territories. The total number of recordable cases in the Show-Me State was rising pre-pandemic before beginning a COVID-caused slide in 2019. By 2020, cases were down 19% from the previous year to 53,600 before rising to 59,100 in 2021.

Claims filed in service-providing industries and the total number of employees who missed work, transferred jobs, or received restrictions rose through 2020. Both metrics dipped slightly in 2021, approaching pre-COVID levels. 

According to Missouri state data, almost 1 in 10 claims (9%) in 2022 came from healthcare and social assistance employees. This includes home health aides, nurses, doctors, physical therapists, and residential care facility workers. Find more interesting claim data and statistics here.

Important: You can get free, confidential claim assistance.

When you’re living with a workplace accident or injury, navigating the Missouri workers’ compensation system can make you feel even worse. And since your employer chooses the doctor who diagnoses your illness or injury, you may feel they aren’t treating or compensating you fairly.

That’s why we recommend working with an experienced Missouri workers’ compensation lawyer. These specialists work on contingency.

Important: If you don’t win a cash settlement, then you owe your lawyer $0. If your case is successful, then you pay only a reasonable, one-time fee.

Ready to see if you qualify? Click the button below to sign up for a free phone call during regular weekday business hours:

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Margot Lester is the CEO of The Word Factory, a B2B & B2C content marketing agency that provides services for Fortune 100 brands, healthtech companies and SaaS developers. An award-winning business and brand journalist, she writes for daily and weekly newspapers and business journals, national magazines, in-flight publications and leading websites. Margot is also an in-demand writing coach and organizational communications trainer, helping individuals and teams write more effectively. Twitter/X: @word_factory LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/margotlester.