In Arkansas, you can apply for compensation through Arkansas’ workers’ comp. program if you were injured in a workplace accident or if you suffer from a work-related condition. However, workers’ comp. is considered an “exclusive remedy.” This means that, by law, anyone eligible to file through workers’ comp. must file through workers’ compensation instead of pursuing other remedies. If you want to file a lawsuit for your work injuries, you may only do so if you fit into certain exceptions within the law. For help understanding your ability to sue, contact Fayetteville workers’ compensation lawyer Ken Kieklak today for a free consultation on your case.
Am I Allowed to Sue for a Workplace Injury in Arkansas?
In most cases, workers in Arkansas waive their right to file a lawsuit over workplace injuries. In many cases, this makes recovering compensation easier and simpler than having to go to court. Instead of going to court and proving your employer was somehow at fault for your injuries, you merely need to show that you are unable to work because of a medical condition or injury you received from your job.
Some workers may want to pursue their case in court rather than limit themselves to the remedies that workers’ compensation provides. In some cases, injured workers may feel that workers’ compensation does not cover their full needs, or that their employer deserves to pay for this case in a court of law. However, most Arkansas workers are unable to do so under the rules set by the State of Arkansas and the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission (AWCC).
However, there are exceptions. In any of the following cases, your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance may not cover the situation, and the law does not require you to file through workers’ compensation. These exceptions are as follows:
- Workers’ comp. covers employees, so if you are self-employed or work as a contractor, you are not an “employee.” This means you may be able to sue the company that hired your services on a contract basis, unless the court finds you are considered an employee for purposes of workers’ comp.
- The Arkansas State workers’ comp. system does not cover federal employees, such as postal workers or federal courthouse employees. They may file through the federal system instead.
- Intentional acts are not covered by most workers’ comp. insurance plans, and instead you can sue for your injuries if someone intentionally attacked or injured you at work.
- If your employer does not have workers’ comp. insurance. Most employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance to ensure that their employees can get coverage if they are seriously injured. However, if your employer violates these rules, you may take them straight to court instead.
- Certain railroad and dock workers, like federal employees, are not required to use Arkansas’ workers’ comp.
You may also be able to file a lawsuit if someone other than your employer caused the injuries. For instance, if you were injured by a coworker or because of a defective vehicle, piece of machinery, or other piece of equipment, you may be able to sue the coworker or the manufacturer of the defective equipment.
What’s the Difference Between Workers’ Comp. and a Lawsuit Against My Employer?
While exploring your options for compensation, you may wonder what the difference is between the process and damages for a workers’ compensation claim and a lawsuit for workplace injuries. These systems have similar goals, but they accomplish them in very different ways and have very different results.
First, workers’ compensation is designed to be simpler than going to trial. In practice, it rarely is, and hiring an attorney may still be necessary. You must file paperwork with your employer and perhaps with the AWCC to make your claim. You must also set up a doctor’s appointment with a physician your employer or their insurance company approves. Once you do so, a treatment plan will be created and you will receive ongoing workers’ comp. benefits. These benefits should cover up to 2/3 of your lost wages while you can’t return to work, and they should cover your medical expenses. You may also be able to settle for a lump-sum and receive all of these benefits at once.
With a lawsuit, you file in court, wait for the case to go to trial, and then carry the burden of proving your case. In a lawsuit, you must prove your employer did something wrong, while workers’ comp. can pay for accidental injuries. You will not receive any benefits or payments until your case is completed, but you may be able to use a doctor you choose and get your full lost wages compensated. You might also be eligible for pain and suffering damages. However, you may not be able to afford the care or be able to support yourself and your family in the meantime.
Fayetteville Workers’ Compensation Attorney Offering Free Consultations
If you are trying to decide whether you should sue or file for workers’ compensation after a workplace injury, talk to an Arkansas workers’ comp. attorney right away. In many cases, you may not be able to file a lawsuit for your accident, and you must file through workers’ comp. Our attorneys can explain the difference between these processes and help advise you on what is the best option for your case. For a free consultation, contact Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law today at (479) 439-1843.