Fort Smith, Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Attorney
A workplace injury can have terrible consequences for your family’s finances and financial security. Or, at least it can if you fail to avail yourself of the benefits of Arkansas’ Workers Compensation program and other state and federal benefits programs designed to help hard-working, but disabled Arkansans. Following an injury, many people worry about how they will pay their bills or provide for their family. Many questions of this type can be answered by looking into the benefits offered by the workers’ compensation system in Arkansas. Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law can help you navigate the rules and procedures of the workers’ compensation system. His representation is both strategic and aggressive. He is dedicated to fighting for you when a dispute arises.
What Workers Receive Coverage in Arkansas?
As per the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission (AWCC), most workers in the State of Arkansas are covered by the workers’ compensation insurance regime. Under Arkansas state law, absent an exception or federal preemption, all workers who work for a company that employs 3 or more people are covered by the workers’ compensation program. Railroad and maritime employees are not covered under Arkansas’ system because they receive workers’ compensation insurance through federal programs.
It is also important to note that workers should not have to purchase their own insurance nor should they be required to contribute to the plan’s premium. In fact, a worker should not have to worry about workers’ compensation whatsoever unless he or she suffers a work related injury or develops an occupational disease like asbestosis.
What Types of Benefits are Available Under Workers’ Compensation?
The Arkansas workers’ compensation programs can provide compensation for medical bills and, after a waiting period, lost wages. The types of allowable medical expenses can be rather broad, but you should always seek approval through your employer’s insurance carrier first. Medical expenses that are likely to be covered include:
- Visit to a primary care doctor
- Prescription medications
- Hospital bills
- Surgical care
- Pre-operative care
- Physical therapy
- Medical braces
- Wheel chair
- Other approved medical devices
An injured worker becomes eligible for disability benefits for lost wages with a doctor’s approval and following the 7th full day after the date of your injury. Temporary total disability (TTD) benefits are a tax-free 66 and two-thirds percent of the worker’s average weekly wage. While by default one does not receive compensation for lost wages during the first 7 days, it can be granted if the total duration of your disability is greater than fourteen days. Those fourteen days are not required to be continuous.
How Do You Get Benefits Under Arkansas’ Workers’ Compensation Program?
It is essential for Arkansans to understand that the AWCC is not an insurance company, but rather the state government agency that is in charge of investigating and enforcing Arkansas workers’ compensation laws. Therefore an injured Arkansan should not start the claim process with the AWCC, but with their employer.
The first step of any workers’ compensation matter is the worker’s responsibility to report their injury to their employer. The injury should be reported as soon as it is possible to do so. Reporting your injury to your employer puts your employer and its insurance company on notice regarding your injury. Your employer must notify their insurance carrier of the injury upon receipt of the report by filing a First Report of Injury or Illness with the carrier.
After a First Report of Injury or Illness is received by the insurance carrier, they are likely to order a physical exam with the doctor your company or your company’s insurance carrier has selected. While you may ask to see a different physician, you should always be cooperative and follow all instructions at each and every step of the process. If you fail to cooperate, such as missing appointments or failing to provide accurate information, such actions may be used against you to delay or prohibit a benefit award.
While the circumstances for each and every claim are unique, barring unusual circumstances or non-compliance, you should receive your first benefit payment in around 14 days. The vast majority of benefits claims proceed in this manner and are awarded as a matter of course. In some instances however, your employer or its insurance company may oppose your applications. A preliminary mediation conference can be arranged by the AWCC, but if efforts to mediate are unsuccessful a formal claim may need to be opened. You or your experienced workers’ compensation lawyer must then complete and file a Claim for Compensation – Form C (AR- C) with the AWCC within 2 years of your injury date.
Put Fort Smith, Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Attorney Ken Kieklak to Work For You
For more than 20 years, Ken Kieklak has fought for hard-working Arkansans who are injured at work. To schedule your free and confidential initial consultation, call 479-439-1843 or contact us online today.