MISSOURI WORKERS COMPENSATION LAW APPLIED
TO AGGRAVATION OF PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS
Workers with back injuries, or carpal tunnel syndrome, or some other preexisting degenerative condition may face the question of whether their symptoms are caused by work-related activities. Missouri law entitles employees to workers’ compensation benefits if they can prove that the preexisting condition was “aggravated or accelerated” by a new “injury” sustained in their employment activities. In other words, work-related functions must result in an identifiable “injury” before compensation is available for worsening of a pre-existing physical condition, or causing a latent condition to surface.
In Missouri, a worker is entitled to workers’ compensation if he or she can demonstrate that his or her injury “arises out of and is in the course of” employment. An injured worker must prove both elements to qualify for workers’ compensation. Missouri courts have interpreted the phrase “arises out of” to mean an injury related in some way to the risks connected with or incidental to the employment. Essentially, this means an injury has to be caused by an employment-related activity. The phrase “in the course of” refers to the time, place and circumstances of an injury.
If a work-related activity causes an injury, an employee with a preexisting physical condition is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. It’s important to note that the work-related activities must be the prevailing cause of the injury. If an employee is injured by an underlying condition not related to a specific work task he or she most likely will not be compensated. For example, a worker may suffer from seizures. If the worker happens to have a seizure on the job, workers’ compensation will not cover any injuries caused by a fall from blacking out.
In contrast, workers’ compensation will likely cover injuries such as a herniated disc or arthritis if those injuries are aggravated or accelerated by specific work tasks, as long as, as long as a work-related “injury” causes the aggravation or acceleration. For example, a forklift operator who constantly twists and turns his neck and back while operating the machine may worsen an underlying degenerative spinal condition. Without a new, identifiable “injury”, workers compensation will likely not cover the injuries even though the man’s job tasks aggravated the degenerative conditions.
Workers’ compensation would likely cover a worker suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome if his or her job required repeated motions using the affected joints. The carpal tunnel injuries occurred in the workplace and were caused by specific requirements of the worker’s job.
Someone with a preexisting disease, such as diabetes, will be likely compensated for an injury suffered on the job that accelerates a particular underlying condition. For example, let’s say a diabetic truck driver sprains his ankle during a delivery, and then suffers the onset of a more serious bone and joint condition caused by the diabetes. He can receive workers’ compensation, even though the diabetes made him predisposed to his eventual condition, because the accelerating event (a new, identifiable “injury”) was related to a work task. In contrast, someone with a heart disease who suffers a heart attack while sitting up from an office chair will likely not be compensated. The heart attack was caused by a normal daily activity (getting out of a chair) unrelated to any specific job duty.
If you have been injured on the job and are told that you are not entitled to benefits because of a preexisting degenerative condition, it’s important that you consult with an attorney to assess your legal rights. For answers to questions about your workers’ compensation benefits, contact Paul E. Evans at BLUE SPRINGS LAW OFFICE, LLC for a free consultation.
If you are injured on the job, a Workers Compensation attorney can help you obtain a fair recovery for any permanent partial disability you have sustained. Without your own attorney, the process is one-sided, and the amount of your recovery will be driven by case managers, doctors and lawyers who all work for your employer (or their insurance company), with one goal: to pay out the least recovery possible!
The calculations for determining your total recovery are complicated and only as good as the various numbers used to make the calculation. That is why it is so important to have your own lawyer who has YOUR interest at heart and will make sure the system works FOR you by holding all the employer’s professionals to the letter of the law. A good Workers Compensation lawyer knows how to fight for your interest and will not leave you at the mercy of the system that is controlled by the employer’s team of professionals.
Q: WHY DOES IT COST SO MUCH AND TAKE SO LONG TO GET DIVORCED when it is so cheap and so easy to get married?
A: Getting married involves the union of two people. Getting divorced involves dissolving that union, in addition to dividing the marital assets. This division can be complicated by the amount of assets, the types of assets and the means of acquiring the assets. Therefore, ALL of the assets, whether considered marital or non-marital, must be listed and valued. If there are minor children born of the marriage, then both parties are required to file proposed parenting plans addressing the issues of physical custody, legal custody, schedules of parenting time, health insurance for the children and child support. Both parties’ income and expenses must be fully disclosed, as it affects child support and the possibility of spousal maintenance.
Divorce is one of the most important events of a person’s life. It affects one’s future relationship with their children, their financial future and all of their property.
Q: WHAT DETERMINES MY CHANCES FOR WINNING CUSTODY?
A: The Missouri Supreme Court mandate regarding the best interests of children involved in custody disputes ensures the Judge will be focused on one thing… the Best Interests of your child. You should too. If you stay focused on your child’s Best Interests there will be no loser.
Your child’s other parent was likely the love of your life at one point. Remember this: that person will be, along with you, the love of your child’s life forever! You would never want to see your child suffer. Believe me, your child will suffer if your aim is to see your “ex” suffer. Keep your focus on the Best Interests of the child.
Q: WHAT DOES THE JUDGE LOOK AT TO DETERMINE MY CHILD’S BEST INTERESTS?
A: Missouri Revised Statute Section 452.375 sets out eight factors that the Court must consider in its custody determination. They are not listed in any particular order of priority, and the weight given to any item is discretionary with the Judge:
1) The wishes of the child’s parents as to custody and the proposed parenting plan submitted by both parties;
2) The needs of the child for a frequent, continuing and meaningful relationship with both parents and the ability and willingness of parents to actively perform their functions as mother and father for the needs of the child;
3) The interaction and interrelationship of the child with the parents, siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interests;
4) Which parent is more likely to allow the child frequent, continuing and meaningful contact with the other parent;
5) The child’s adjustment to the child’s home, school, and community;
6) The mental and physical health of all individuals involved, including any history of abuse of any individuals involved;
7) The intention of either parent to relocate the principal residence of the child; and
8) The wishes of a child as to the child’s custodian. The fact that a parent sends his or her child or children to a home school shall not be the sole factor that a court considers in determining custody of such child or children.
Q: DOES THE JUDGE TAKE MY OWN LIVING EXPENSES INTO CONSIDERATION BEFORE DECIDING HOW MUCH CHILD SUPPORT TO ORDER?
A: In a word, no. Child Support in Missouri is based upon the gross income of both parties. If the party paying child support earns substantially more than the other, the child support will serve to enhance the child’s lifestyle, which may as a matter of reality also enhance the lifestyle of the parent receiving child support. On the other hand, if the party receiving child support earns substantially more than the other, the amount of child support they receive will be accordingly less. The object is to leave the children with as near as possible the lifestyle they would have enjoyed had their parents not divorced.
Q: WHAT CAN I DO WHEN THE AMOUNT OF CHILD SUPPORT I HAVE TO PAY DOES NOT LEAVE ME ENOUGH TO PAY MY OWN BILLS?
A: One of the ugly truths about divorce is that the parties’ combined marital income must suddenly support two separate households. Since the Court’s focus is on the Best Interests of any children involved, the goal is to disrupt their lives as little as possible.
The adults can make their own decisions and plan and build their own futures. The children sit as innocent witnesses to the separation of their parents, and their Best Interests require the Court to maintain as much stability in the children’s lives as possible. This includes economic stability. Therefore, the Missouri State Legislature has created a calculation to determine the Presumed Amount of Child Support.
The presumed amount is based upon the gross incomes of both parents. Gross income means before expenses are deducted, but think about it – if it were otherwise, you can probably imagine some parent complaining: “This does not leave me enough for my own rent and truck payment, etc.!”
The presumed amount is based upon the premise that the kids needs come first. After all, they are the ones who are entirely dependent upon the resources of their two parents for their very survival. The reality is that the parents must make do with what is left after child support. This may require driving a cheaper vehicle or sacrificing in other ways because in the eyes of the Court, a parent’s first bill to be paid is child support, not the last.
Q: MY EX HAS REMARRIED. DOES THE COURT FACTOR IN MY EX’S NEW SPOUSE’S INCOME WHEN CALCULATING CHILD SUPPORT?
A: No. Only the gross incomes of the biological parents are included in the calculation of child support. Also, neither party gets credit in the calculation for step-children living in their home.
Q: WHAT CAN I DO WHEN I KNOW MY EX IS NOT SPENDING THE CHILD SUPPORT ON THE KIDS?
A: Many people who pay child support wish they could control how the money is spent by their ex. Expenditures such as school lunches, food, clothing and extracurricular activities for the child are obvious direct benefits to the child. However, there are many more indirect ways that the children benefit from child support, and there is no requirement that it be spent specifically for items for the children. The money enhances their lifestyle in a multitude of ways. It may help with rent, house payments, car payments, car insurance, new carpeting, utilities, repairing the furnace, and on and on.
In the event the paying parent suspects their child support is not benefiting their children, or have evidence that the receiving parent is wasting the money on frivolous expenditures or substance abuse, the paying parent can demand an accounting by filing a Motion with the Court.
Attorney Paul E. Evans of BLUE SPRINGS LAW OFFICE LLC is available to answer your questions and guide you through the process in a professional and courteous manner and to help you obtain all of the benefits that you are entitled to from your job-related injury.
Paul E. Evans has practiced Personal Injury, Workers Compensation, Family and Domestic legal matters in private practice for twenty years.. He is presently Owner/Managing Attorney of BLUE SPRINGS LAW OFFICE, a Blue Springs, MO law firm (www.bluespringslawoffice.com). He holds his JD with University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law and his BA with the University of Missouri Kansas City.
The foregoing is not legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship.