Understanding how Medical Care is Provided through Arkansas Workers’ Compensation
It may seem self-evident, but the first step to any Workers’ Compensation claim in Arkansas is informing your employer that you have suffered an injury at work. This notice should be in written form and identify the time, place and manner of your accident. Once your employer receives this information they can inform their insurer, or if they are self-insured, they can make a decision regarding your Workers’ Compensation benefits. In most cases benefits are automatic and routine and you will not have to take any other action to receive them.
Let us take a moment to review the basic outlines of the type of medical coverage and benefits a covered worker can receive through the Arkansas’ Workers’ Compensation Program that is administered by the Arkansans Workers’ Compensation Commission (AWCC). And if you do have a problem with your claim, Ken Kieklak has helped injured Arkansans fight for compensation for more than 20 years.
How will my medical care be provided?
If your Workers’ Compensation claim is approved, your employer should provide you with a written copy of your medical care rights (WCC Form AR-N). Your rights require your employer to provide you with all reasonably necessary medical care for your workplace injury. However, in exchange for this right to medical care, the employer is given the right to select the initial provider of your medical care. However, an employer may authorize you to see your own family doctor or specialist. You should be sure to comply with all instruction regarding seeing a doctor – yours or the companies – because a perceived failure to cooperate can be used as grounds to delay or deny your claim.
Furthermore, while the employer is bound to pay for all approved care, they are not required to pay for medical care that was not first cleared with the employer or its insurer. Medical care can include things like hospital bills, medication, x-rays, and other medical items. But, if your employer denies your benefits claim, you may still qualify for compensation if:
- You request pre-approval for medical care.
- Approval for care is denied or you are not referred to a medical provider within 48 hours.
- The injury is found to be compensable by the AWCC.
- The employer has not made an offer for medical treatment.
Emergency situations where pre-approval cannot be sought can, however, place an injured worker in a difficult quandary: seek the treatment and risk the bill or forego treatment and suffer the health consequences or death. It is clear that the former is the superior choice here, but some people nevertheless delay due to cost concerns. In short, always seek medical attention for your conditions because you can appeal and challenge an employer’s decision to deny benefits. You cannot, however, appeal severe medical consequences or death.
What other types of benefits can I receive?
Aside for benefits for your medical care you can also receive benefits for your rehabilitation and certain lost wages. Qualifying rehabilitation expenses may include things like physical therapy to improve strength or range of motion. For those whose injury results in permanent disability, vocational training may also be covered.
Some individuals may also receive cash payments through Workers’ Compensation. The most common reason for cash payments are due to temporary total disability. Temporary total disability benefits are calculated at 66 and two-thirds percent of the workers’ average weekly wage. Despite being of a lesser amount, Workers’ Compensation benefits are tax-free so the actual disparity is less than one would think.
Put our Arkansas Workers’ Compensation to experience for you
Most claims are handled routinely due to compensation benefits being automatic and at amounts defined by the state legislature. If a misunderstanding or error causes your benefits to be delayed or denied you have options. Your attorney can attempt to work out a solution with your employer, may engage in alternative dispute resolution administered by the AWCC, oy may file a formal Claim for Benefits by filing WCC Form AR-C. If it appears that your have been unjustly denied benefits, the state may review your case. It’s important to have a Fayetteville AR Workers’ Compensation lawyer on your side.
For more than 20 years, the Law Practice of Ken Kieklak has worked with injured Arkansans in Bentonville, Rogers, and throughout the state. To schedule your free and confidential consultation, please contact us at (479) 316-0438.
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