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If I get hurt at work, what are my options?

Like other states, both Missouri and Kansas have workers' compensation programs. This means that if a worker in the Kansas City area gets hurt on the job, she in theory will have relatively easy access to workers' compensation benefits.

These benefits pay for expenses like medical bills related to the injury. They also will cover a part of the worker's lost wages, assuming he has to take time off to recover. However, these benefits do not pay for everything, and they certainly do not cover non-economic loss like emotional distress and pain and suffering.

Unfortunately, the tradeoff for having a workers' compensation program is that employers receive legal protection from lawsuits. In other words, when an employee gets hurt at work, the employer is obligated to provide workers' compensation benefits but does not have to provide any other compensation.

However, just because an injured worker cannot sue her employer, it does not mean she has no other legal options available to recover additional compensation that workers' compensation might not provide.

If some other person or business was responsible for her work-related injury, she may be able to file a personal injury claim against the responsible party. If she does so, she will be proceeding under a legal theory called third-party liability.

For example, if a worker gets hurt at work because of a defective piece of equipment or a malfunctioning tool or machine, the worker may still be able to sue the designer or manufacturer of that defective product, even if the worker also collects workers' compensation.

Third party liability claims can be complicated, which is why it is usually a good idea for an injured Kansas City worker to discuss the option with an experienced attorney.

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