When an employee suffers an on-the-job accident that leaves them burned or with broken bones and fractures, their injuries are obvious and elicit sympathy and support from others. Unfortunately, other types of work-related injuries and illnesses injuries are less noticeable, and those suffering from them can easily end up being denied the benefits they need to recover. Invisible injuries involve physical and emotional conditions, as well as pre-existing conditions. While they may not be immediately apparent to your employer, they may still entitle you to workers' compensation benefits in Missouri.
While certain types of injuries and chronic conditions are not visible to others, they can end up causing you severe pain, weakness, and limited function that impacts your ability to work or perform certain tasks as part of your job. When these injuries or conditions occur as the result of on-the-job accidents and exposure to dangerous worksite conditions, you may be entitled to benefits through the Missouri Division of Workers' Compensation (DWC). This program acts as a form of insurance for employees, providing medical care and compensation in the event you are unable to work on either a temporary or permanent basis. In order to be eligible, you must report any job-related accidents, injuries, or symptoms of other conditions to your employer immediately and seek medical care as soon as possible. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), close to three million employees suffer work-related injuries and illnesses each year. In terms of invisible work injuries, they are likely to fall under one of three categories:
1. Invisible Physical Injuries These include soft tissue injuries, such as muscle or tendon strains, sprains, and tears, which the BLS reports account for nearly 30 percent of all on-the-job injuries. These often occur due to overuse, strain, repetitive motions, and poorly designed workplaces. These often affect the back, neck, shoulders, knees, and other joints and can result in chronic pain, weakness, and permanent disabilities.
2. Mental and Cognitive Impairments Head injuries are an example of a physical injury that can cause serious emotional and cognitive impairments which impact every area of your life. They can occur as the result of any sudden bump, blow, or jolt to the head, and may affect your mood, memory, vision, and comprehension skills. Traumatic events, such as being subjected to abuse, discrimination or violence in the workplace, can also have significant impacts which prevent you from functioning properly on the job.
3. Pre-Existing Conditions Pre-existing conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and even previous injuries, can be aggravated and worsened by conditions on the jobsite. As a result, your health could deteriorate more quickly than it otherwise would, resulting in permanent disabilities and even death.
If you suffer an invisible injury or other condition that impairs your ability to work, help is available. Call or contact The Law Firm of Webster & Carlton online and request a consultation in our Springfield or Joplin office to speak with our Missouri workers' compensation attorney about your case.