October 2011 - Missouri Court of Appeals Addresses What Injuries Fall Under Missouri Workers' Compensation Laws

What types of injuries qualify for workers’ compensation claims in Missouri? This is a question that is frequently asked of a St. Louis workers’ compensation attorney. In October 2011, the Eastern District Court of Appeals addressed what types of injuries are covered under the Missouri workers compensation law in Johme v. St. John’s Mercy Healthcare.

What types of injuries qualify for workers’ compensation claims in Missouri? This is a question that is frequently asked of a St. Louis workers’ compensation attorney. In October 2011, the Eastern District Court of Appeals addressed what types of injuries are covered under the Missouri workers compensation law in Johme v. St. John’s Mercy Healthcare. Subject to various exceptions, Missouri law provides that an employee will have a workers’ compensation claim when he or she suffers personal injury or death because of an accident arising out of and in the course of the employee’s employment. The accident must be the prevailing cause of the injury.

In 2005, the Missouri legislature amended the Missouri Workers Compensation laws to narrow the injuries that were covered under the law. The Johme court noted that an injury only arises out of employment if it is the prevailing cause of the injury and if the risk is one to which the worker would not have been exposed equally in normal non-employment life.

The injury at issue occurred when the worker fell while making coffee at work. The court of appeals found that the incident was not one that would be covered under the Missouri workers’ compensation system. The court reasoned that the injury did not “arise out of employment” because there was nothing about her employment that caused the employee’s injury. Because of the importance of the issue, and because of an additional issue not discussed here, the court of appeals recommended transferring the case to the Missouri Supreme Court.

As St. Louis workers’ compensation attorneys, we are concerned with making sure our clients are able to recover for their workers’ compensation claims when they are injured at work. As seen by this recent opinion, the legislature has reduced the ways injured workers can recover. The Johme decision leaves questions as to how courts and administrative law judges will interpret what being “equally exposed in normal non-employment life” means. We will have to wait to see how the Missouri Supreme Court handles this issue so we can adequately represent our clients’ interests.

In the meantime, there is no question that employers and their insurance companies will use this new case to argue that an injury did not arise out of employment. Unrepresented workers will no doubt have their claims for workers compensation denied. Hiring qualified St. Louis workers’ compensation lawyers can help you protect your interests. Please contact us for more information about your potential Missouri workers’ compensation claim. For more information on workers’ compensation claims in St. Louis and the surrounding areas, please click here.

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