Here we are in 2016. From a global perspective, American industry has come a long way; yet the reality is that our job market and economy are not in the best shape. It is in no way news that jobs are hard to come by; and it is a struggle familiar to many, as the cost of living continues to rise, not only to find, but more importantly, to maintain steady work. Perhaps one of the biggest threats to maintaining steady work comes from something that is often out of an employee’s immediate control – becoming injured in the workplace. For no class of workers is this more true than for truck drivers, for whom serious injuries – such as neck and/or back injuries – can happen simply as a result of being on the road.
As a truck driver, a physical injury can make it impossible to meet the physical demands of your job including driving for long stretches of time and loading and unloading shipments. Unlike some more sedentary jobs where reasonable accommodation(s) may allow an injured employee to continue working in either the same or a different capacity while healing, you are likely to be off the road and therefore out of work until you are sufficiently healed. As more serious injuries take considerable time to heal, you are exposed to more severe long-term consequences such as having to take unpaid time off from work while simultaneously incurring medical expenses. These hardships can create short- and long-term debt problems that may persist long after the physical injury itself has healed. For this reason, being able to quickly obtain worker’s compensation benefits is especially important to you.
Arkansas, like a majority of states, recognizes the importance of providing assistance in the event of injury that can pay for treatment and close the gap caused by lost wages. Arkansas has enacted a mandatory worker’s compensation program that requires most employers to obtain coverage or to become self-insured.
What type of claim can I make, and what benefits are available to me?
As an injured truck driver, you can file one of two types of disability claims; the type of claim you file will determine not only what benefits you receive, but also how quickly you can receive them.
A medical-only claim can be made where a disability persisted for seven or less days, and only medical benefits are necessary (medical benefits include hospital bills, doctor’s appointments, etc.). Compensable medical expenses are typically reimbursable within 30 days of receipt.
If you have suffered a neck or back injury, however, it is more likely that you will want to file a lost-time claim. A lost-time claim can be made where a disability results in eight or more days of missed work. Through this type of claim you may receive compensation not only for medical expenses, but also for lost wages, which can fall into one of four categories – temporary total disability, temporary partial disability, permanent partial disability, and permanent total disability – depending on the extent to which you are able to work, if at all.
Replacement income compensation is payable on the ninth day of disability (although where a disability persists for two weeks or more, benefits may be retroactively extended to the first day), and payments are made bi-weekly at a rate of 66 and two-thirds of the average weekly wage, subject to a cap according to the state maximum.
As a general rule, you may continue to receive benefits as long as you are still healing and are either partially or totally disabled. Benefits will end when a physician determines that the either that the condition has been fully healed, or that there is no treatment that will further improvement. One exception to this general rule is that benefits may still be received for medication and/or medical devices necessary to either maintain a healed condition or improve your ability to function.
When a disability condition becomes stable and a physician determines that no further treatment can improve the condition, the disability is deemed to be permanent. At that point, a court may determine whether you may be entitled to continue receiving wage loss disability benefits.
Do I Qualify To Receive Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Now that you’ve read a brief overview of the types of claims and benefits available to injured workers, you need to find out whether you are eligible to receive benefits. Once you’ve done that, you can figure out how to make sure you receive all of the benefits to which you are entitled. You need someone familiar with the law to answer your questions – but you’ll also want someone dedicated and experienced to help you claim your benefits. The Law Office of Ken Kieklak is dedicated solely to helping injured workers successfully claim compensation benefits. We are not only familiar and experienced with the law and ready to answer all of your questions with confidence, we are also zealous advocates, ready to fight for you every step of the way.
Call us at 439-479-1843 today to set up a consultation. Fayetteville AR Workers’ Compensation lawyer Ken Kieklak has more than 20 years of experience handling Workers’ Compensation claims. We will work while you heal so that you receive the support you need to heal or to cover your permanent injuries.