Fort Smith, AR Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Workers’ compensation is a program that many injured workers in Arkansas can apply to for help getting themselves compensation for lost wages and medical expenses after suffering a workplace injury. Family members of seriously injured workers or workers who died in an accident may also be able to apply for benefits. Call our experienced Fayetteville workers’ compensation attorneys today for help filing your case.
Work-related injuries are serious. Depending on the severity of the injury, a hurt worker could be facing substantial medical expenses and lost time at work. While workers’ comp was designed to allow injured workers the means to obtain necessary compensation, it is still helpful to have competent legal representation. Some insurance providers will attempt to deny or limit valid claims. Additionally, in some situations, a negligent third party could also be held financially liable. Our team of attorneys will work to obtain the just compensation you deserve.
If you or a loved one was injured in a workplace accident, our Fort Smith workers’ compensation lawyer could help you file your claim and get the payments you need to help support you and your family after the accident. For help filing your case, appealing a denial, or getting a settlement for your benefits, contact our law offices today at (479) 316-0438.
How Workers’ Compensation Works in Fort Smith, Arkansas
Nearly every employer in Arkansas is required to carry Workers’ Compensation insurance for their workers. These benefits are a standard part of any job and are not something that you should ever be billed for or have any pay deducted to cover. When you are injured in an accident at work or begin suffering from a repetitive stress injury or illness brought on by workplace conditions, you can file for workers’ comp to get the benefits you need for missed wages and medical expenses.
Instead of suing for work-related injuries or conditions, Workers’ Compensation allows you to file and get the benefits you need without having to prove your case. If you were to sue for injuries instead, you would need to take your employer to court and prove that they somehow caused your injuries through negligence before the court will award you damages. With workers’ comp, you merely need to prove that you sustained an injury or contracted a serious condition at work or because of workplace conditions, and you do not need to prove your employer’s fault.
If you were injured by your employer’s intentional actions or you were injured by a third party, you may still be able to sue. There are also certain other exceptions that may allow you to sue, including when your employer does not carry the required workers’ comp. insurance. Otherwise, your right to sue your employer for workplace injuries is typically blocked, and you are required to file through Workers’ Compensation instead of the courts.
Available Workers’ Compensation Benefits and Payments in Fort Smith, Arkansas
The benefits that you receive from workers’ compensation typically depend on what injury or condition you suffer from and what your wages were at the time of your injury. Workers’ comp works to pay both wage-loss benefits and medical benefits to cover your injury.
Wage-loss payments from workers’ comp work to replace your paycheck and allow you to continue to support your family while you are recovering from your injury or your injury prevents you from working. These wage-loss payments usually cover 2/3 of your wages while you cannot work.
Medical benefits cover any necessary or helpful medical costs you face because of the injury or condition. When you are injured at work or suffer a work-related condition, you must use an approved healthcare provider who will be the central person responsible for your ongoing care. Any care they suggest or recommend should be covered, including work with specialists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and other healthcare providers. As long as you keep up with the healthcare plan, any costs you face for medical care should be covered.
Serious injuries receive payments for a longer period of time, while less-severe injuries may have a limited time for recovery. If you need additional time to recover or your injury is more severe than you originally thought, talk to an attorney about extending your benefits. Permanent injuries and disabilities may allow you to receive benefits for the rest of your life. If you lost a loved one in a workplace accident, you should also be entitled to ongoing payments and death benefits.
In many cases, workers’ comp insurance companies and your employer may want to pay all of the costs up front instead of paying over the years. In many cases, you may be able to settle your Workers’ Compensation claim for a lump-sum settlement. This can help you structure your settlement so that you can also receive other benefits, such as disability benefits. Talk to a lawyer about whether a lump-sum settlement is right for your case.
Why Are Fort Smith, AR Workers’ Compensation Claims Denied?
Work injuries could often result in substantial medical expenses and lost wages. Because of the cost of some claims, it is not uncommon for an insurance carrier to look for ways to deny a claim or limit the benefits paid. If your claim was denied, you have a limited time to file an appeal. To do so, it is important to know why your claim was denied in the first place. One of the best ways to protect yourself is to hire our experienced Arkansas workers’ compensation lawyers.
Insufficient Evidence the Accident Occurred
When you file a worker’s compensation claim, you are not required to prove that your employer was at fault. However, you must demonstrate that the injury was work-related. Therefore, you must prove that the accident or injury happened while you were performing duties related to your job. Depending on the incident, there might be surveillance video or creditable eye-witnesses. If you fail to report an accident or injury timely, you could hurt your ability to prove it occurred while you were working.
Failing to Report the Injury
You have a deadline to file a workers’ compensation claim. Additionally, most insurers have reporting requirements. If you do not report an accident, your coverage could be denied. It is in your best interest to report an injury or accident as soon as it occurs – even if you believe you were not seriously injured at the time. For instance, if you hurt your back lifting a heavy object on Friday and fail to report it because you feel OK, your benefits claim could be denied if you wait until Monday to report the accident because your back started to hurt over the weekend.
Discrepancies in Your Claim
An insurance company will carefully review a claim before agreeing to provide benefits. If there are discrepancies between your accident report and your medical records, your claim could be denied. When filling out an accident report, it is important to be as detailed as possible. You should not be vague or exaggerate the incident or your injuries.
Some people mistakenly believe that they are not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if the accident aggravated a pre-existing medical condition. This is not true, though some insurers will use it as a basis to deny a claim. If a work-related accident made a pre-existing condition worse, you are entitled to workers’ comp benefits.
An Unapproved Doctor Treated You
Under Arkansas law, your employer or their insurance provider has the right to pick your doctor. Therefore, if you receive treatment from a doctor who was not approved by either your employer or their workers’ comp insurance carrier, your medical expenses might not be recoverable. The one exception to this is if you require immediate emergency care following an accident.
Failure to Follow Medical Treatment
Workers’ compensation is meant to provide benefits while you are recovering from your injury. If you are not following your doctor’s orders or are refusing certain medical treatment, your benefits could be terminated. If you do not believe that the doctor chosen by the insurance company is making decisions that are in your best interests, contact our Fort Smith workers’ comp lawyers as soon as possible. There are official steps you to take to change physicians. However, if you do so without authorization, you will jeopardize your benefits.
Third-Party Lawsuits for Work-Related Injuries in Fort Smith
As discussed above, the benefits of workers’ compensation come at a cost – an injured worker is generally prohibited from filing a personal injury lawsuit against their employer. The idea behind this is sound. Workers’ comp provides benefits quicker than a lawsuit and an employer does not have to go through the lengthy and costly process of proving another person was to blame for their injuries. However, workers’ compensation benefits are limited. While an injured worker will be reimbursed for their medical expenses, the amount of compensation available for lost wages is limited. Furthermore, an injured worker is not entitled to pain and suffering damages.
Despite the restrictions in place under Arkansas’s workers’ comp laws, there are occasions where an injured employee will have a valid claim against a third party. Typically, these cases involve a work-related automotive vehicle accident or a defective piece of equipment.
A third-party claim could arise if you believe that your injury resulted from another’s negligence – other than your employer’s conduct. In many cases, an injured worker could file a workers’ comp claim and a personal injury lawsuit against a negligent third party. For example, a computer programmer is required to travel to various offices. On the way to a client’s office, their car is struck by a drunk driver. Because the accident occurred while they were driving for their job, the injured programmer is entitled to file a workers’ compensation claim. Additionally, because the negligence of a third party caused their injury, they are also permitted to file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court against the at-fault driver and their insurance provider. Our Fort Smith workers’ compensation lawyers will carefully review your accident to determine if a third party could be held liable.
Proving Negligence in a Third-Party Lawsuit
Unlike being awarded benefits through a workers’ compensation claim, an injured worker must prove that a third party was negligent in a personal injury lawsuit. This requires establishing four elements: a duty of care, a breach of duty, causation, and actual damages.
Call Our Fort Smith, AR Workers’ Compensation Lawyers to Review Your Case
If you suffer from work-related injury or condition in Arkansas, call Fort Smith Workers’ Compensation lawyers today. Our office offers free legal consultations to help injured workers and their families understand the benefits they can claim, discuss whether a lump-sum settlement is right for their case, and learn more about the workers’ comp benefits they might be entitled to. For help applying or handling a denial, contact our law offices today to schedule a free consultation. Our number is (479) 316-0438.