If you were injured in a workplace accident or suffer from a work-related condition, you need to act quickly to secure compensation for your medical bills and lost wages. The Arkansas’ Workers’ Compensation Commission (AWCC) sets time limits and other rules that dictate how and when you must apply to get the compensation and benefits you need. For help filing your workers’ comp. case on time, contact Fayetteville AR workers’ compensation lawyer Ken Kieklak today to schedule a free consultation.
What is the Time Limit for Filing a Workers’ Comp. Claim in AR?
Filing for workers’ compensation benefits is something you should never delay. When filing a personal injury lawsuit in court for your injuries, you may have three years to file your case. One of the benefits of using workers’ comp. instead of filing a lawsuit is getting the coverage quickly. Most workers’ comp. claims are filed very quickly because of the unique way these cases are reported.
When you are injured at work, the injury reporting process usually begins immediately. If you need emergency medical treatment, your employer or supervisor often fills out an accident report, and you may be questioned about the accident at that time. There may be additional work to file your claim, but this is the beginning of the process.
Once it becomes clear that your injury will keep you from work, you should contact your employer and report your claim immediately. This should be done in writing, and you should use any forms or processes your employer requests to tell them about the injury or illness.
Depending on where you work, your claim may not be particularly formal, and it may be unclear when your claim is completed. If you have any doubts about the process or whether your claim has been filed properly, talk to an attorney. After your claim is filed, you usually must see a doctor that your employer chooses to continue to have your care covered.
If your employer accepts your claim, your payments should begin being paid after the 7th day of disability. If the injury ends up lasting longer than 14 days, which is common in serious cases, your benefits will be paid retroactively, covering you back through the first day after your injury. If your claim is not filed by this 7th day, it may be more difficult to get the benefits you need.
Any delay in filing your claim may ultimately lead your employer to deny your workers’ compensation claim. If this happens, you will need to file an appeal with the AWCC. These appeals must be filed within 2 years of the date of injury. If your employer begins paying you, but then terminates your workers’ comp. benefits, you have 1 year from the last date your benefits were paid to file your appeal with the AWCC.
What Happens if I Wait to File a Work Injury Claim?
If you do not file your workers’ compensation claim as soon as you know your injury will keep you from working, you could face complications. Work injury cases that are not filed through workers’ compensation may have additional time for you to file – but any workers’ compensation claim filed after a delay of even a few weeks may be rejected and require lengthy appeals.
Workers’ compensation is the mandatory method for seeking compensation for most Arkansas workers. Unless you are self-employed, work for the federal government (e.g., as a postal worker), or you work in certain railway jobs, you are likely unable to file a lawsuit for your injuries. If you are an independent contractor, one of the individuals listed above, or another worker not covered by workers’ comp., you may be able to file a lawsuit for a work injury instead of seeking workers’ compensation. In that case, you have up to 3 years to file your claim – but you should always consult with an attorney earlier to make sure you have time to work on your claim.
If you are filing through workers’ compensation for an accidental injury or work-related condition, your employer may use any delays against you. You are allowed a reasonable time to recover until you are well enough to start your claim or speak to an attorney – but your employer may consider any delays beyond that as a problem with your application.
Your employer and their workers’ compensation insurance company are the first ones to accept or deny your claim. They base this decision primarily on whether they believe that your injury is work-related and truly makes it impossible to work. If you wait too long to file your claim, your employer may presume that you did not need the benefits and that your claim being filed much later proves that your injuries are not real or that your condition was not actually related to your work.
If your employer or their insurance company denies your claim because of a delay or lack of information, contact an attorney immediately to appeal your case and get the benefits you need.
Fayetteville Work Injury Lawyer Offering Free Consultations
If you or a loved one was injured at work and needs benefits to cover medical expenses and lost wages, talk to a Fayetteville workers’ comp. attorney today about filing your claim. You should file your claim as soon as you are able to help ensure proper coverage. For help with your claim, contact Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, today by calling (479) 316-0438.
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