Truck drivers are often in a unique position compared to other Arkansas workers. Their “office” is essentially the open road. This may pose a challenge to a driver who wants to bring a Workers’ Compensation disability claim. In Arkansas, all employers are required to carry Workers’ Compensation insurance, and the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission (AWCC) handles all Workers’ Compensation claims. Typically the first step in the process is for the worker to inform their employer of the injury and to provide written notification of their injury to the employer. Your employer will then notify the AWCC and, if they are not self-insured, their insurer. Most Workers’ Compensation claims proceed through the system routinely without issue. However in some instances, the claim is challenged or otherwise litigated. In these situations, it is important to make sure that all evidence supporting your claim is presented in a timely manner. Having the proper supporting evidence can make the difference between you receiving benefits and having your Workers’ Compensation claim denied. Furthermore, if you make a mistake conforming to the technicalities of admitting evidence, it could result in the evidence being barred from being introduced at your hearing. This post is intended to provide some tips for truck drivers who may have suffered a serious personal injury while on the road.
Working with an experienced Fayetteville AR Workers’ Compensation lawyer in Arkansas can decrease the likelihood that your claim will be denied due to a mistake or technical error. The Kieklak Law Office has fought for injured hard working Arkansans for more than 20 years.
Beginning Your Workers’ Compensation Claim in Arkansas
Truck drivers often work independently and may not have access to an HR department or another company representative. However, a truck driver who is seeking Workers’ Compensation in Arkansas still has to comply with all of the reporting procedures set forth by their employer and important by state law. It is important to remember that if you have been injured at work, it is your responsibility to report your injury to your employer on the appropriate form, which will be discussed below. The following table will give you some information from starting a Workers’ Compensation claim through the expected waiting time before you will receive a hearing.
|Starting your Workers’ Compensation claim||The worker must report the injury to his or her employer. The employer will then typically complete and submit AWCC Form 1– Employer’s First Report of Injury or Illness.|
|Workers’ Compensation Statute of Limitations||Your claim must be filed within 2 years of the injury date.|
|Claims challengeable?||Your employer may challenge or controvert your claim. Your employer must file its reply within 15 days by filing AWCC Form 2 – Employer’s Intent to Accept or Controvert Claim.|
|Formal claims available?||If you need to open a formal claim with the AWCC, as per ACA § 11-9-702, you or your attorney should file AWCC Form C – Claim for Compensation.|
|Expected waiting period for a hearing||30 to 60 days for your hearing. An administrative law judge (ALJ) must issue a decision within 90 days of the hearing date.|
This table summarizes the process from reporting your injury to your employer through filing paperwork with the AWCC. Once you receive a hearing before an ALJ you should be aware of the nature of the hearing?
What Happens at the Hearing?
After a Workers’ Compensation claim has been properly filed and a hearing date is set both the employer and the employee will be given a chance to present their case before an Administrative Law Judge. At the hearing, you as the injured employee will have the burden of proving the above-mentioned elements by a preponderance of the evidence. The standard “preponderance of the evidence” means the evidence having greater weight or convincing force. Recently, The Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission denied an employee’s claim for a back injury she sustained at work because she failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that she suffered a compensable injury.
If you chose not to hire a lawyer, the Administrative Law Judge will define the issues that will be heard. As noted above, each side will be given the opportunity to present evidence. This evidence may include:
- Verified medical reports
- Testimony from physicians
- Depositions of witnesses
It is important that before your hearing you are well versed in all the requirements set required by the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission. If you fail to follow all of the regulations you may not be allowed to submit evidence that would support your claim for injury.
What if I Don’t Agree with the ALJ: Can I Appeal?
If you do not agree with the outcome of the ALJ hearing, you may request a review from the full Workers’ Compensation Commission within thirty (30) days from the date the you receive the order or award. It should be noted that, any other party to your Workers’ Compensation dispute may file a cross appeal within fifteen (15) days after the notice of appeal. The full Workers’ Compensation commission will then conduct a review and will award or order compensation. A compensation order or award from the Workers’ Compensation Commission will become final unless a party to the dispute files a notice of appeal to the Court of Appeals within thirty (30) days from receipt of the order or award.
Alternatively, the Workers’ Compensation Commission may review any compensation order, award, or decision on their own volition. The Workers’ Compensation Commission may review any compensation order, award, or decision at any time within six (6) months of termination of the compensation period fixed in the original compensation order or award. The Commission may even review an order upon their own motion or upon the application of any party in interest, on the grounds of a change in physical condition or upon proof of erroneous wage rate.
Truck Drivers Should Consult With an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Prior to Filing a Claim
The driver should not assume the company will file a Workers’ Compensation claim on his or her behalf. Rather than attempting to navigate the complex procedural rules and regulations, truckers should seek the experienced guidance of an Arkansas Workers’ Compensation attorney who can handle the entire process. To discuss how a workers comp lawyer can assist you call the Kieklak Law Offices at (479) 316-0438 or contact us online today.