If you were injured at work or suffer from a work-related condition, you might be entitled to compensation. This can come in one of two forms, in most cases: either you file for workers’ compensation, or you sue your employer. The Arkansas workers’ compensation program is run by the State of Arkansas that helps injured workers get compensation for work-related injuries without needing to prove their employer was negligent. This usually blocks your ability to sue for injuries in open court, but you can still sue an employer for some serious compliance or negligence issues.
Either way, you may receive some award or ongoing benefits from these programs. Workers’ compensation benefits may be paid in an ongoing plan, or could be awarded in one lump settlement. The choice of when to settle and how much to accept is something a lawyer should always help you with. Arkansas workers’ compensation attorney Ken Kieklak helps injured workers throughout the state get compensation for their injuries.
Calculating Workers’ Compensation Settlements in Arkansas
Workers’ compensation typically covers two main areas of compensation: medical expenses and lost wages. If you are injured, the cost of treating your injuries and getting your body in working order may be expensive. Workers’ comp. is designed to cover these expenses. Additionally, if you are too injured to work, workers’ comp. covers your paychecks while you’re recovering.
Workers’ compensation may be able to fully compensate any medical expenses. This can include the cost of treatments and procedures, such as:
- Mileage for transportation;
- EMT or emergency room visits;
- Imaging and diagnostic testing like MRIs, X-Rays, or laboratory services;
- Hospital visits;
- Rehabilitation, physical therapy, occupational therapy, etc.; and
- Other medical services.
Sometimes, your employer or their workers’ comp. insurance company may require you to use particular doctors. This may mean you cannot use a doctor of your choice, but this is not necessarily a problem for adequate medical care. Fortunately, as long as you follow requirements like which doctor to use, workers’ compensation should pay for all medical expenses. For a settlement, the estimated cost of all of these services may be paid up front instead of as they come up.
Arkansas’ workers’ compensation laws usually limit lost wages to 2/3 of their usual amount. This means that if you are out of work, you may only receive 66.6% of your typical paycheck from workers’ compensation. If you are receiving a settlement, this amount will often be estimated based on how many pay periods you will continue to miss at work. For instance, if you are expected to be able to return to work after one year of workers’ compensation, the settlement for your wages should be 2/3 of your normal paycheck, times the number of pay periods in a year (52 if you are paid weekly, 24 if you are paid twice a month, and 12 if you are paid monthly). Arkansas also puts limits on these payments, which cap your wages at $661 per week for 2017 – but they should also be tax free.
Average Workers’ Compensation Settlement in Arkansas
One way to understand what you might be entitled to for a workers’ comp. settlement is to look at the average settlement in your state. The Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission puts out annual reports of its total expenditures and number of cases, even breaking them down by industry and type of injury. This means we can calculate what the average payment was for 2016 (last year, as of writing this).
In 2016, Arkansas closed 6,206 workers’ comp cases. This doesn’t exactly tell us whether they were settlements or monthly payments, or whether they were leftovers from 2015. Since only 5,977 cases were opened in 2016, some of these must have been carryovers from 2015. Regardless, the total amount of money spent on workers’ comp for 2016 was $199,461,879.12.
This means that the average total payment per case was $32,140.16. This comes out to weekly payments of around $618.08, short of the weekly maximum of $661 (for 2017). However, this average also includes the costs of attorney’s fees, hospital and medical expenses, and even funeral costs for deceased workers. This helps us calculate the overall average settlement, not the average weekly benefits.
Note that an average value should not necessarily shape your expectations for your case. Every case, every injury, and everyone’s normal wages are different. If your injury is sufficient to keep you out of work, but will not last long, your settlement will be lower. Similarly, if your injury is not as severe but will keep you from returning to work for a long time, your payments may be higher.
Fayetteville Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, is an experienced Arkansas workers’ compensation attorney. Whether you want to accept a settlement or appeal your workers’ compensation case, Ken may be able to represent you on your work injury case and help you get the compensation you need to keep supporting your family and pay for medical expenses while you are unable to work. Call (479) 439-1843 today for a free consultation on your case.