MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENTS CAUSING ON-THE-JOB INJURIES WORKERS COMPENSATION

The most common on-the-job causes of death are motor vehicle accidents. Truck and delivery drivers along with sales workers who travel are among the occupations with the highest on-the-job fatality rates.
Motor vehicle accidents, even when they do not result in death, are a common cause of on-the-job injuries.
OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has issued guidelines for workers who drive.
Not surprisingly OSHA’S first guideline is to use a seat belt at all times.
Missouri workers’ compensation law provides that, in some circumstance, a worker’s recovery under workers’ compensation can be reduced for failure to wear a seat belt.
The law reads: Where the injury is caused by the failure of the employee to use safety devices where provided by the employer, or from the employee’s failure to obey any reasonable rule adopted by the employer for the safety of employees, the compensation and death benefit provided for herein shall be reduced at least twenty-five but not more than fifty percent; provided, that it is shown that the employee had actual knowledge of the rule so adopted by the employer; and provided, further, that the employer had, prior to the injury, made a reasonable effort to cause his or her employees to use the safety device or devices and to obey or follow the rule so adopted for the safety of the employees.
A seat belt is a safety device under the statute.
The litigation that has taken place has focused on whether the employer made a reasonable effort to cause an employee to use the safety device.
In the case of Elsworth v. Wayne City, the court did not reduce the workers’ compensation award. The driver who was severely injured had been on the job less than a month. The court looked at the fact that there was no training program and the employer had not monitored employee compliance.
In the case of Buescher v. Missouri Highway and Transportation Commission, the court found the employer had a clear rule requiring employees to wear seatbelts at all times and the rule was posted in a conspicuous place. The penalty was not imposed because the employer failed to establish that the injury was caused by the failure to use a seat belt.
Numerous cases have found that such an employer’s reasonable effort to cause the employer to use a safety device can include: distribution of written safety materials; scheduling and presentation of regular training seminars to educate their employees about their safety rules and devices; warning employees that disciplinary action will be taken if employees fail to follow necessary safety guidelines; giving employees written tests to confirm they understand employer’s safety rules; and having a history of punishing known safety rule violations.
Because an employee is at fault for causing an accident does not mean that the employee is not entitled to receive workers compensation benefits.
Because an employee was not using a seat belt, does not mean that his benefits will be cut.
There is one way that an employee can avoid having his benefits under workers compensation cut because of failure to wear a seat belt: wear your seat belt.
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident while working, give Dean Law Office LLC a call, 816-753-3100. Free consultation. No fee, if no recovery.
The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertisements.

Marijuana and Injuries on the Job

Missouri voters on November 6, 2018 approved Amendment 2 which allows the use of marijuana for medical purposes under certain guidelines.
Missouri’s workers’ compensation law has a number of provisions regarding drugs and alcohol.
One provision reads: Where the employee fails to obey any rule or policy adopted by the employer relating to a drug-free workplace or the use of alcohol or non-prescribed controlled drugs in the workplace, the compensation and death benefit provided for herein shall be reduced 50% if the injury was sustained in conjunction with the use of alcohol or non-prescribed controlled drugs.
An employer can request an employee take a test for alcohol or a non-prescribed controlled substance if the employer suspects usage by the employee or if the employer’s policy clearly authorizes post injury testing. If the employer does request a test of the employee, when an injury occurs under these conditions, and the employee refuses to take the test, the employee forfeits all workers’ compensation benefits.
A positive drug test for a non-prescribed controlled drug or its metabolites raises a rebuttable presumption that the injury was sustained in conjunction with the use of the drug.
Under Amendment 2, it may be that the doctor doesn’t prescribe marijuana, it may be that the doctor just confirms the patient has a medical condition that qualifies the individual for marijuana.
Another provision of Missouri law is that if the use of alcohol or non-prescribed controlled drugs in violation of the employer’s rule or policy is the proximate cause of the injury, then the benefits or compensation otherwise payable under this chapter for death or disability shall be forfeited. In other words, if the alcohol or drug was the proximate cause of the injury, the employee gets nothing.
Missouri Amendment 2 does nothing to make marijuana legal at the federal level. Marijuana remains an illegal Drug Enforcement Administration Schedule I controlled substance. Even if marijuana is prescribed, federal employees and contractors will still have zero-tolerance policies. Truckers, drivers, airplane mechanics and other jobs regulated by the Department of Transportation will still be subject to DOT regulations.
The new amendment may not bar employers from continuing to enforce a zero-tolerance policy. The exception may be if medical marijuana use is found to a reasonable accommodation for qualified patients using marijuana. The courts will need to decide whether permitting use of medical marijuana is a reasonable accommodation under state law prohibiting disability discrimination.
The amendment bars claims against employers who discipline or terminate employees for working or attempting to work “under the influence” of marijuana. The phrase “under the influence” is not defined. There is no simple way to check for current levels of marijuana. Evidence of the drug remains in the user’s system for weeks. Judges in some states have ruled that it is legal to fire someone for using medical cannabis away from the job.
There are still a lot of questions about what the approval of Amendment 2 means for injured workers.
It may be that the legislature changes the current workers’ compensation law.
If you want to preserve all your workers’ compensation benefits, the safest course of action is not to use alcohol or non-prescribed controlled drugs.

WHAT SHOULD YOU TELL YOUR EMPLOYER WHEN YOU HAVE BEEN INJURED.

The recent case of Harley-Davison Motor Co. V. Kenneth Jones addresses the issue of whether the notice given by an employee to the employer was sufficient.
Mr. Jones injured himself using a pneumatic gun. The employer had him fill out a report of injury. Mr. Jones indicated an injury to his arms/shoulder. The next day, Mr. Jones started experiencing back pain. The back pain got worst over the next few weeks. Employee mentioned the pain to the doctor treating his original injury. That doctor sent Mr. Jones to a back specialist. That back specialist diagnosed Mr. Jones with spondylolisthesis and said the work accident was the prevailing factor in causing his back pain. Employee called the employer’s health department the same day and was told to call the insurance company.
The employer then denied treatment for the back injury claiming it didn’t have proper notice. The case was tried and the judge decided notice was sufficient.
What saved the employee was that he called his employer the same day the doctor diagnosed the back condition.
What can be learned from the case? One, put all body parts on a report of injury or the notice you provide to the employer. If a body part starts to bother you after you have submitted a report of injury or given the employer notice, update your notice or report of injury as soon as possible.
If you have been injured on the job and need legal assistance, please call Dean Law Office, LLC at 816-753-3100.
No fee if no recovery.
Free Initial Consultation.
The choice of an attorney is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertisements.