Accidents and injuries in the workplace are a leading cause of workers missing days from work. Depending upon the nature and extent of your work injury, you may be entitled to receive, among other things, medical expenses; benefits to compensate you for time lost at work; benefits to compensate you for permanent impairment; benefits to compensate you for a loss of earning capacity; and or vocational rehabilitation.
If you have been injured in your workplace, then you may be entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits regardless of who was at fault for the injury. Our Benton County workplace injury attorneys have decades of experience working with both employers and their insurance companies to negotiate Workers’ Compensation claims.
In addition to a workers’ compensation claim, you could have grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit. While Arkansas Workers’ Compensation law prohibits claims against your employer, third parties could still be held liable for their negligent conduct. Depending on the cause and severity of your injury, you could be entitled to seek significant financial compensation. Contact our law offices at (479) 316-0438 to determine your legal options.
Workplace Accidents By the Numbers
The Arkansas Department of Labor has contracted with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics to conduct annual surveys of workplace fatalities, injuries, and illnesses. As part of their findings, they tracked the number of fatal injuries over the past several years.
Findings on the number of fatalities in Arkansas for each subsequent year are as follows:
- 1992 – 82
- 1993 – 71
- 1994 – 85
- 1995 – 91
- 1996 – 88
- 1997 – 102
- 1998 – 86
- 1999 – 76
- 2000 – 106
- 2001 – 68
- 2002 – 80
- 2003 – 87
- 2004 – 70
- 2005 – 80
- 2006 – 78
- 2007 – 89
- 2008 – 85
- 2008 – 75
- 2010 – 87
- 2011 – 93
- 2012 – 63
- 2013 – 63
- 2014 – 67
- 2015 – 74
- 2016 – 68
- 2017 – 76
- 2018 – 76
- 2019 – 62
According to the most recently released date, in 2019, there were a total of 4,490 nonfatal occupational injuries that required workers to miss days from work. While there are many reasons for workers being injured on the job, the following is a list of the most common accidents.
On the job violent acts – Employers have an obligation to try and provide a safe environment for their employees. This can entail providing security and install surveillance and barriers. However, workplace violence does not always come from outside threats, but can come from inside the company itself.
Repetitive motion injuries – rapid repetitive motion injuries including carpal tunnel, gradual onset back injuries, and even hearing loss can potentially lead to an injury claim in the workplace.
Machine entanglement – Machine entanglement injuries are often the result of employers failing to conduct adequate and sufficient maintenance or implementing proper safety measures and training. Despite the risks of working with heavy machinery, many industries and companies rely on heavy machines to do much of the labor. However, when an employee is working and part of their body because entangled in a machine they may find themselves facing serious injuries.
Vehicle crashes – Many workers throughout Arkansas are required to drive as part of their business. However, as you are aware, auto accidents can happen at almost anytime and often result in serious injuries.
Falling object injuries – Objects that fall from shelves, scaffolding, or other pieces of equipment can cause significant injuries to workers. While these injuries have been a continued source of legislation and workplace safety training, they still are a major concern for many workers.
Injuries from these accidents can range from minor sprains and strains to fractures and even death. However, many of these accidents and injuries can be prevented by employers implementing adequate training and safety measures.
What is the Process to Receive Benefits?
Arkansas employees who have been injured in the workplace may be entitled to workers’ compensation. However, before a worker can begin to receive benefits for a workplace injury, there are several steps and procedures that a worker must go through. To begin, any worker who has been injured in the workplace must report their injury to their employer and subsequently to the Workers’ Compensation insurance carrier. After the injury has been reported to the employer’s Workers’ Compensation insurance carrier, an injured worker will be required to go to the doctor chose by the employer or their Workers’ Compensation insurance carrier. In addition to reporting an injury and then going to the prescribed doctor, workers who have been injured at work will be required to fill out all of the appropriate forms in an accurate and timely manner.
Unfortunately, injured workers often find that there are too many forms and appointments to keep up with and keep track of. The stress of dealing with an injury and illness while trying to navigate the complicated Workers’ Compensation system often leads to employees failing to properly fill out key pieces of paperwork or missing crucial deadlines.
What Benefits Might I Be Eligible to Receive in Benton County?
Often workers who have been injured while they are at work are concerned with what types of benefits and payments they can receive for their injury. Under the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation system there are generally three types of benefits that an injured worker is entitled to receive.
Medical Care Benefits: Medical care benefits are payments needed to provide coverage for all reasonably necessary services and treatment related to an injury or illness. Common forms of medical care benefits include doctor bills, medication, hospital costs, lab tests, X-rays, and crutches. Your employer’s insurance provider pays these costs directly.
Rehabilitation Services: Rehabilitation services are another type of benefit that a worker is entitled to receive for their injuries. Often rehabilitation services will include vocation rehabilitation so that a worker can return to their former position. However, in certain accidents and injuries, a worker may have to undergo different types of physical therapy which can also be covered by rehabilitation services.
Cash Payment: Workers who are severely injured during the course of their employment often miss extended periods of time away from work. Typically, cash payments are made in the form of temporary total disability benefits. These payments compensate you for wages lost while you are recovering from your injury. If your injury results in permanent impairment then you may be entitled to permanent partial disability benefits, or if your injury has affected your ability to perform your job, then you may be entitled to wage loss benefits.
Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim or Personal Injury Lawsuit in Benton County, AR?
A workers’ compensation claim permits an injured employee to seek financial benefits by only demonstrating that they were hurt while working. This is significantly different from a personal injury lawsuit. To prevail in a personal injury claim, an injured employee must prove that another person or party’s negligence caused their injury. The process is also substantially longer. A successful personal injury case could take months or even years to settle. On the other hand, an injured worker could obtain workers’ compensation benefits in a matter of weeks. Furthermore, Arkansas law prohibits filing a personal injury lawsuit against your employer except under very limited and rare circumstances.
If a workers’ compensation claim is shorter and you are not allowed to file a personal injury claim against your employer, why should you consider filing a personal injury claim? One of the main reasons is the type of damages you are permitted to recover.
An injured worker could seek financial compensation for their medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering through a personal injury lawsuit. While these damages are similar to a workers’ compensation claim, there are some significant differences. Another important distinction is that your employer’s insurance company will dictate your medical care through a workers’ compensation claim.
The amount of lost income you could recover through a workers’ compensation claim is capped under the law. People who are injured while on the job are only entitled to collect a portion of their salary through a workers’ comp claim. However, lost income is not capped in a personal injury case, including the income you would have earned if you suffered a permanent disability.
Workers’ compensation claims are limited to medical costs and lost income. However, in addition to your financial losses, you are entitled to seek compensation for your non-economic damages through a personal injury claim. Non-economic damages are those intangible losses and intangible harm related to an injury. For example, you are permitted to seek monetary compensation for mental anguish, physical pain, depression, anxiety, and insomnia through a personal injury claim. Depending on the severity of your injury, your non-economic damages could be significant. Our experienced Benton County personal injury lawyers will thoroughly evaluate your damages claim.
Punitive damages are also available in a personal injury lawsuit. Punitive damages are unlike compensatory damages. A court will sometimes award punitive damages to punish a defendant if their behavior was malicious or grossly negligent. These damages are rarely awarded and are not directly related to the severity of your injury or financial losses. The compensation is intended to discourage future conduct.
Potential Defendants in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
As stated above, you are typically not permitted to file a personal injury lawsuit against your employer. However, they are other potential defendants that could be held liable depending on how your accident occurred.
General or Independent Contractor
At some worksites, there are general or independent contractors hired to carry out specific parts of the project. A general contractor is not necessarily your employer. For example, at a construction site, a contractor could have been hired to install scaffolding. If the scaffolding was improperly secured and caused an injury, the contractor tasked with its assembly could be held accountable. Contractors are not limited to construction sites. You could hold an IT company liable for your injuries if you tripped over an unsecured chord that one of their employees left unattended.
Property Owner or Manager
Some accidents are caused because a property owner or manager failed to adhere to their duty to maintain a reasonably safe space. For example, you might be able to hold the property owner liable if you fell down a darkened staircase while on a sales call.
Car accidents are an unfortunate part of driving. Many people are required to drive for work, such as truck drivers or technicians that perform services at the other companies’ locations. If you are in an accident while traveling to or from a required location, you could hold the negligent driver liable in addition to filing a workers’ compensation claim.
Equipment or Product Manufacturer
If your equipment malfunctions or is defective, you could also have a claim against the manufacturer if it caused an injury. For instance, the scaffolding mentioned above could have been designed without adequate safety railings, making it unreasonably dangerous. In this situation, an injured worker might have a claim against the company that manufactured the scaffolding, the contractor hired to install it, and a workers’ compensation claim. Our Benton County personal injury lawyers will thoroughly review the circumstances surrounding your accident to ensure all liable parties are included.
Contact Our Experienced Benton County, AR Workplace Injury Attorneys for a Free Consultation
For more than 20 years, our Benton County, AR workplace injury attorneys have fought for hard-working Arkansans who are injured at work. We have the lawyers, staff, and resources to thoroughly investigate your accident to assist you with your workers’ compensation claim or file a personal injury lawsuit. To schedule your free and confidential initial consultation, call (479) 316-0438 or contact us online today.