Definitely. States have different workers compensation laws which means that where you were hurt and which state’s law applies your case is extremely important. As our firm’s offices are located across the Mississippi River in different states, we often see the stark difference between how employees are treated depending on whether Missouri or Illinois law applies.
One of the great differences between the states is medical treatment. It is key to any injury that prompt medical treatment be provided to mitigate the effects of the injury. In Illinois, an injured employee may generally select up to two doctors to provide their medical care. Missouri allows Employers to select each treating physician creating a network of physicians whose practice is substantially subsidized by workers’ compensation insurance companies. An employee in Missouri may select not to use the Employer provided physician but it will be at their own cost.
The second difference is timing. While the Employer in Missouri has certain responsibilities to the Employee, there is very little control over when those things including the authorization of medical treatment take place. Generally, treatment is provided timely but if it is not, the procedure for requesting judicial action is long and cumbersome. By the time a hardship hearing has taken place in a Missouri case it can be a year or two into litigation. Conversely, Illinois takes the position that a 19b or Hardship setting can take place as early as 30 days from the date of filing a claim and no depositions of the treating physicians are required and medical records support causation.
Finally, the largest most noticeable difference has to do with claim resolution. Missouri caps benefits for high paid workers where Illinois provides a minimum wage rate for lower paid employees. The result is that settlements are generally higher in Illinois simply because of the differences in applicable wage rates. Illinois also recognizes that an injury can affect future earnings. If an employee made $20.00/hr before an injury and only minimum wage after because of injury residuals, Illinois provides compensation for the loss of future earnings. Missouri does not.
The take away? Be sure that if you live, work or are injured in another state ask questions. The answer might substantially affect the course of your medical treatment and claim outcome. Remember that regardless of which state law applies, injuries must be reported to your Employer as soon as you know you were injured. Let them know where, when and how you were injured and if you need medical treatment. Don’t wait to see if an injury just goes away on its own. Employers need to be given the information and opportunity to do the right thing when it comes to treatment, it’s your right.