How Long Do I Have to Be Employed Before I Can Receive Workers Comp?
When you first start a job you want to impress the boss. However, even if you are an experienced worker who is moving to a new company, you are always at risk of workplace injury. But how long do you have to work until your new employer’s Workers’ Compensation insurance covers you? Let the experienced Arkansas Workers’ Compensation lawyers at the Law Offices of Ken Kieklak help you.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) reports that nearly nine million Americans qualify for more than $10 billion in disability benefits. Plus, the average monthly payment exceeds $1,000. While these benefits are a huge help to those in need, qualifying to receive them can be difficult. While figures vary, the average approval rate for claims in Arkansas is as high as 42% — and as low as 28%. Either way, you have a better chance of predicting a coin toss than getting covered. During later stages of the process, those rates drop even lower.
As the statistics show, getting coverage is a challenge. You can increase your chances of approval by working with an experienced and knowledgeable attorney. To schedule a private legal consultation, call a Fayetteville AR Workers’ Compensation lawyer. Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, helps clients in the Fayetteville area get coverage.
When Does Workers’ Compensation Coverage Begin?
You could find yourself injured as early as the first day on the job. Will those injuries be covered? How long do you have to be at a job before workers’ comp. coverage “kicks-in”?
The good news is that Workers’ Compensation starts immediately. From the first minute you walk in the door on your first day, to the last minute of your last day, workers’ comp. covers you. Under the current law, there is no required work time or salary to get coverage under Arkansas’ Workers’ Compensation laws.
For Workers’ Compensation to cover an injury or condition, it must be work-related. It does not have to be an injury you sustained in one event, at one time. Instead, work-related injuries can include conditions and injuries you develop after a long period of working. This could be a problem if you just started a job.
Proving a specific, concrete injury like a broken arm from a fall, a herniated disc from lifting something, or a head injury from not wearing a hard-hat is simpler. These kinds of injuries could happen to anyone – and you might even be more likely to receive an injury like these on your first day.
Injuries that take a long time to develop may be hard to prove early in your term with a specific employer. If your injury was partially caused by your work with a previous employer, your new employer may be unwilling to pay for the injuries. Still, since Workers’ Compensation covers work-related conditions, you may still be able to get compensation early in your new job. In any case, make sure to speak with an Arkansas workers’ comp. attorney to get the maximum coverage you may be entitled to.
What Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Benefits are Available?
Arkansas Workers’ Compensation pays benefits to a worker suffers injury from a workplace accident, occupational illness, or death. In the case of death, the worker’s family gets the payments.
Under the Arkansas Workers’ Comp. Code §11-9-508(a), employers must promptly provide medical services which are reasonably necessary for treatment of compensable injuries. However, if you are injured on the job you first have to prove you have injuries. Furthermore, you have to prove the medical services are reasonably necessary. Failing to prove these elements may deny you coverage.
The following are all types of workers’ comp. available in Arkansas:
Medical Coverage: Your employer’s insurance company should pay for any necessary medical care. The money you receive can cover hospital bills, doctor appointments, surgery, rehabilitation, and any other required medical treatment.
Mileage and Wage Reimbursement: If you had to drive a long distance to doctor’s appointments to treat your injury, your employer’s workers’ comp. insurance must reimburse you. Any travel to the doctors’ office or hospital can be covered. This even covers the cost of hiring a driver if you cannot drive yourself.
Death Benefits: If a worker dies from work-related illness or injury, the surviving relatives may receive coverage. Workers’ comp. insurance pays the family for the lost wages the deceased will no longer receive. Also, up to $6,000 may be available for funeral costs.
Replacement Income: Replacement income benefits fall into one of four categories:
Temporary Total Disability Benefits (TTD): Weekly, the employee is paid 2/3 his normal wages if cannot work in any capacity. This leaves the employee time to recover.
Temporary Partial Disability Benefits (TPD): If the worker can still do some work, workers’ comp. pays supplemental income. This pays 2/3 of the difference between his normal wage and his injured wage.
Permanent Partial Disability Benefits (PPD): PPD applies when the employee’s injury is permanent. This means some loss of a body part of function of a body part. Compensation may continue for 450 weeks, but depends on the injury.
Permanent Total Disability Benefits (PTD): PTD may be paid when serious injuries may prevent you from ever returning to work. These payments cover 2/3 your normal, pre-injury wages.
Depending on the facts of your case and the events that lead to your injury or illness, you may be entitled to these benefits. However, many claims are denied. Having an experienced attorney by your side can greatly increase your chance to receive the payments you need.
Can I Appeal a Workers’ Comp. Denial?
If your employer denies your claim or require more coverage, you can appeal the denial to the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission (AWCC). To start an appeal, you file a Claim For Compensation form. You may also choose to write a letter to the AWCC to request a formal hearing. However, you should be cautious taking too much time to file any claim.
Taking too long on your case may put you beyond the deadlines to get coverage. Plues, your medical condition may go untreated during this time if you cannot afford medical care without the coverage. In any case, the process could take a long time. Hiring an attorney the first time can prevent you from facing the delay of filing an appeal.
After you have filed your appeal, you may be scheduled for mediation. Mediation is an informal meeting where you and your employer (and their insurance company) try to come to some agreement on how much compensation you need. A neutral “mediator” helps both sides come to an agreement, and your attorney can represent you in mediation.
However, if you cannot resolve your disputes, you may request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. A layer can represent you at the hearing and help prove you need the coverage. If the judge rules against you, you can request a larger hearing with the full Workers’ Compensation Commission. That decision can be appealed to the Arkansas Court of Appeals in the same way that a trial would be appealed.
The road to workers’ comp coverage may be long, but it has many chances to prove you need coverage. However, the more you appeal the decision the more complicated and technical the case can become.
You should consider taking your case to an experienced workers’ comp. attorney. Their experience with the system can help describe your injuries in the right way to get you coverage the first time. If you have already been denied after filing without an attorney, it is not too late to hire an attorney to help with your appeal.
File Your Claims with an Arkansas Workers’ Comp Attorney
For more than 20 years, Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law has fought for hard-working Arkansans who are injured at work. To schedule your free and confidential initial consultation, call our Fayetteville personal injury attorneys today at (479) 316-0438, or contact us online today.
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