Under Arkansas law, most employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage to protect their employees if they are injured on the job. Many injured workers rely on these benefits to pay their medical expenses and provide income if they cannot work because of their injury. While workers’ compensation was designed to afford an injured worker a streamlined process in obtaining benefits, it does have some limitations. What happens if you are still suffering from an injury and your benefits stop? Fortunately, that should not occur. However, there are some crucial facts you should understand about workers’ comp benefits. Ken Kieklak, a Fayetteville, AR workers’ compensation attorney, discusses the answer to this question and other important information in the following article.
How Long Does Workers’ Compensation Last in Arkansas?
Workers’ compensation does not technically “run out.” However, the duration of a case depends on many different factors, including the severity, extent, and permanency of the injury. If your injury is minor, then workers’ compensation benefits could last a few weeks. For a severe injury, a worker could receive benefits for several years. When an Arkansas employee suffers a devastating and permanent injury, they could be entitled to total disability benefits for life.
More specifically, the exact amount of medical and other benefits an injured worker could expect to receive is based on the degree of disability they experience because of the injury.
Temporary Disability Benefits
Under Arkansas law, temporary disability is broken down into two types: total temporary disability and temporary partial disability.
If you are injured but expected to recover, you would fall under total temporary disability benefits. You would receive two-thirds of your salary, limited by statutory caps, until your doctor clears you to go back to work.
Temporary partial disability benefits are available to employees who are able to return to work for modified duties and limited hours while recovering from their injury. The duration of these limited benefits is not specified and will vary depending on your injury, available work, and your doctor’s recommendations.
Permanent Disability Benefits
If your injury resulted in a permanent disability, for example, a herniated disc that results in a permanent injury, you could be prevented from working without limitations or restrictions for the rest of your life. Your injury’s severity will be assessed and given a medical impairment rating by a certified professional. The length and amount of benefits will be based on this assessment.
Other Reasons Why Workers Compensation Benefits End in Arkansas
Workers’ compensation benefits do not “run out.” However, they do end. Hopefully, this is when you are ready to return to work. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. There are many reasons why your benefits could cease before you are healthy enough to rejoin the workforce. When this occurs, an experienced Arkansas workers’ compensation attorney could help you.
Failure to Comply with Medical Treatment
The purpose of workers’ compensation is to provide injured employees compensation while they recover from an injury. If you are injured but do not follow through with your doctor’s prescribed treatment, you could forfeit your benefits.
Refusing a Job or Taking a Different Job
If you are physically limited because of your injury, your employer could offer you a different job with less-tasking duties. Refusing this position could cost you your benefits. On the other hand, if you take another job elsewhere and your employer finds out, your benefits will likely be terminated.
Agree to a Lump Sum Payment
A tactic insurance companies use to limit their liability is to offer a lump sum payment to an injured worker. Often, the temptation of a significant one-time payment is difficult to refuse. However, if the settlement offer fails to cover your medical bills or lost income, you are not permitted to dip another bucket in the well. Before accepting any settlement offer, you should speak with our experienced Harris, AR workers’ compensation lawyer.
An Independent Medical Examinator Declares You Fit to Return to Work
Your employer or insurance company could request an independent medical examination to determine if you could return to work. However, the independent doctor is usually selected by your employer or their insurance company. If you disagree with the results of an examination that declares you ready to return to work, contact our office.
The above is just a small list of why your workers’ compensation benefits could be suspended before you are ready to return to work. Injured employees depend on their benefits to pay their medical bills and supplement their lost income. When these benefits artificially end, you need a knowledgeable Huntsville, AR workers’ compensation attorney.
Third-Party Personal Injury Lawsuits to Supplement Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Workers’ compensation benefits were designed to provide injured workers in Arkansas an easy way to receive compensation for medical expenses and lost income. However, these benefits are limited and might end before an individual is prepared to return to work. One way to supplement workers’ compensation benefits is to file a third-party personal injury lawsuit. While Arkansas law prohibits most claims against your employer, there could be other potentially liable parties depending on how you were injured.
One of the significant advantages of a personal injury lawsuit is that your potential compensation is not capped. Therefore, unlike workers’ compensation benefits that are limited to necessary medical costs and two-thirds of your salary, you could recover your medical expenses, full salary, future earnings, and additional damages, including pain and suffering. These awards could prove invaluable if and when your workers’ compensation benefits run out.
Contact Our Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Lawyer to Review Your Claim
Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, has been assisting injured workers in Arkansas for over twenty years. Our office and staff understand the complicated nuances and hurdles a claimant must overcome to receive the benefits they deserve. Sometimes these benefits end before an injured worker has fully recovered. Our Crawford County, AR workers’ compensation attorney is available to help you appeal an early termination, file an initial claim, or review your case to determine if a third-party personal injury lawsuit is advisable. Contact our office at (479) 316-0438 to schedule a free consultation.