Get Our E- Newsletter

Fresh News, Hot Topics, CompTalk! Radio and Video and More.

Sign Up!


Missouri Workers' Compensation Legal Library

Missouri Home Page   >   Missouri Regulations

287.020. Definitions - intent to abrogate earlier case law. -

1. The word "employee" as used in this chapter shall be construed to mean every person in the service of any employer, as defined in this chapter, under any contract of hire, express or implied, oral or written, or under any appointment or election, including executive officers of corporations. Except as otherwise provided in section 287.200, any reference to any employee who has been injured shall, when the employee is dead, also include his or her dependents, and other persons to whom compensation may be payable. The word "employee" shall also include all minors who work for an employer, whether or not such minors are employed in violation of law, and all such minors are hereby made of full age for all purposes under, in connection with, or arising out of this chapter. The word "employee" shall not include an individual who is the owner, as defined in section 301.010, and operator of a motor vehicle which is leased or contracted with a driver to a for-hire motor carrier operating within a commercial zone as defined in section 390.020 or 390.041, or operating under a certificate issued by the Missouri department of transportation or by the United States Department of Transportation, or any of its subagencies. The word "employee" also shall not include any person performing services for board, lodging, aid, or sustenance received from any religious, charitable, or relief organization.

2. The word "accident" as used in this chapter shall mean an unexpected traumatic event or unusual strain identifiable by time and place of occurrence and producing at the time objective symptoms of an injury caused by a specific event during a single work shift. An injury is not compensable because work was a triggering or precipitating factor.

3. (1) In this chapter the term "injury" is hereby defined to be an injury which has arisen out of and in the course of employment. An injury by accident is compensable only if the accident was the prevailing factor in causing both the resulting medical condition and disability. "The prevailing factor" is defined to be the primary factor, in relation to any other factor, causing both the resulting medical condition and disability.

(2) An injury shall be deemed to arise out of and in the course of the employment only if:

(a) It is reasonably apparent, upon consideration of all the circumstances, that the accident is the prevailing factor in causing the injury; and

(b) It does not come from a hazard or risk unrelated to the employment to which workers would have been equally exposed outside of and unrelated to the employment in normal nonemployment life.

(3) An injury resulting directly or indirectly from idiopathic causes is not compensable.

(4) A cardiovascular, pulmonary, respiratory, or other disease, or cerebrovascular accident or myocardial infarction suffered by a worker is an injury only if the accident is the prevailing factor in causing the resulting medical condition.

(5) The terms "injury" and "personal injuries" shall mean violence to the physical structure of the body and to the personal property which is used to make up the physical structure of the body, such as artificial dentures, artificial limbs, glass eyes, eyeglasses, and other prostheses which are placed in or on the body to replace the physical structure and such disease or infection as naturally results therefrom. These terms shall in no case except as specifically provided in this chapter be construed to include occupational disease in any form, nor shall they be construed to include any contagious or infectious disease contracted during the course of the employment, nor shall they include death due to natural causes occurring while the worker is at work.

4. "Death" when mentioned as a basis for the right to compensation means only death resulting from such violence and its resultant effects occurring within three hundred weeks after the accident; except that in cases of occupational disease, the limitation of three hundred weeks shall not be applicable.

5. Injuries sustained in company-owned or subsidized automobiles in accidents that occur while traveling from the employee’s home to the employer's principal place of business or from the employer's principal place of business to the employee's home are not compensable. The extension of premises doctrine is abrogated to the extent it extends liability for accidents that occur on property not owned or controlled by the employer even if the accident occurs on customary, approved, permitted, usual or accepted routes used by the employee to get to and from their place of employment.

6. The term "total disability" as used in this chapter shall mean inability to return to any employment and not merely mean inability to return to the employment in which the employee was engaged at the time of the accident.

7. As used in this chapter and all acts amendatory thereof, the term "commission" shall hereafter be construed as meaning and referring exclusively to the labor and industrial relations commission of Missouri, and the term "director" shall hereafter be construed as meaning the director of the department of insurance, financial institutions and professional registration of the state of Missouri or such agency of government as shall exercise the powers and duties now conferred and imposed upon the department of insurance, financial institutions and professional registration of the state of Missouri.

8. The term "division" as used in this chapter means the division of workers' compensation of the department of labor and industrial relations of the state of Missouri.

9. For the purposes of this chapter, the term "minor" means a person who has not attained the age of eighteen years; except that, for the purpose of computing the compensation provided for in this chapter, the provisions of section 287.250 shall control.

10. In applying the provisions of this chapter, it is the intent of the legislature to reject and abrogate earlier case law interpretations on the meaning of or definition of "accident", "occupational disease", "arising out of", and "in the course of the employment" to include, but not be limited to, holdings in: Bennett v. Columbia Health Care and Rehabilitation, 80 S.W.3d 524 (Mo.App. W.D. 2002); Kasl v. Bristol Care, Inc., 984 S.W.2d 852 (Mo.banc 1999); and Drewes v. TWA, 984 S.W.2d 512 (Mo.banc 1999) and all cases citing, interpreting, applying, or following those cases.

11. For the purposes of this chapter, "occupational diseases due to toxic exposure" shall only include the following: mesothelioma, asbestosis, berylliosis, coal worker's pneumoconiosis, brochiolitis obliterans, silicosis, silicotuberculosis, manganism, acute myelogenous leukemia, and myelodysplastic syndrome.

12. For the purposes of this chapter, "maximum medical improvement" shall mean the point at which the injured employee's medical condition has stabilized and can no longer reasonably improve with additional medical care, as determined within a reasonable degree of medical certainty.

(RSMo 1939 § 3695, A.L. 1947 V. II p. 438; RSMo 1939 § 3744; A.L. 1945 p. 1996, A.L. 1959 S.B. 167, A.L. 1963 p. 408, A.L. 1967 p. 384, A.L. 1974 S.B. 417, A.L. 1977 S.B. 49, A.L. 1978 H.B. 1260, A.L. 1980 H.B. 1396, A.L. 1981 H.B. 324, A.L. 1993 S.B. 251, A.L. 2005 S.B. 1 & 130, A.L. 2008 H.B. 1883, A.L. 2013 S.B. 1, A.L. 2017 S.B. 8 merged with S.B. 66 merged with S.B. 222 merged with S.B. 225)

Prior revision: 1929 §Â§ 3305, 3354


Division of motor carrier and railroad safety abolished, duties and functions transferred to highways and transportation commission and department of transportation, 226.008


(1967) The definition of the word "accident" is broad enough to include an unusual or abnormal strain, but a back injury suffered in course of usual work where no abnormal or unusual strain contributed to injury was not an accident. Mason v. F.W. Strecker Transfer Company (A.), 409 S.W.2d 267.

(1971) Inhalation of paint dust and paint fumes for a period of over three years by person employed as sander and spray painter of dispensing machines, and resulting effect on his body and lungs, including aggravation of preexisting condition of tuberculosis held not an "accident" under this section. Bess v. Coca-Cola Bottling Company of St. Louis (A.), 469 S.W.2d 40.

(1973) Held that unusual abnormal and continuous physical and mental strain sustained by over-the-road truck driver constituted an "accident" within the meaning of the workmen's compensation statute. Snugges v. Steel Haulers, Inc. (Mo.) 501 S.W.2d 481.

(1974) Held that where workman was found dying after he had unloaded cargo in his normal job there was no presumption of accident. A heart attack is not "accidental" unless it results from unusual exertion and strain. It is incumbent on plaintiffs to produce affirmative evidence of accident. Russell v. Southwest Grease and Oil Co. (A.), 509 S.W.2d 776.

Course of Employment

(1965) Words "arising out of" refer to the origin or cause of the accident and are descriptive of its character, while words "in the course of" refer to the time, place and circumstances under which the accident takes place. Kammeyer v. Board of Education (A.), 393 S.W.2d 122.

(1969) Volunteer working at hospital without pay was an employee within meaning of employee "under any appointment or election" in this section. Orphant v. St. Louis State Hospital, Division of Mental Diseases (Mo.), 441 S.W.2d 355.

(1977) Sole proprietor of unincorporated business is not an "employee" and is not eligible for benefits for injury received while performing duties normally performed by an employee. Bethel v. Sunlight Janitor Service (Mo.), 551 S.W.2d 616.

Occupational Disease

(1983) Liberally construing the term "accident" as used in the Workers' Compensation Act, so long as an injury is clearly job related, it is compensable. Wolfgeher v. Wagner Cartage Service, Inc. (Mo. banc), 646 S.W.2d 781.

Save Time & Effort! Our Premium Members Get:
Searchable Rules & Statutes, Compliance Information,
Benefits Calculators, Case Law, & Reference

Missouri Compliance Information
Missouri Case Law Summaries And Court Opinions
Missouri Type And Save Forms
State Comparison Tables
Benefits Calculators
Reference Desk
Email Notification Services