A workplace injury can seemingly throw your best-laid plans into disarray and threaten all that you have worked for. After suffering a serious injury or developing an occupational disease you may wonder how you will pay your mortgage, rent, or other bills. You may also wonder about your recovery and whether you will be able to resume doing the things you once enjoyed. While some of these questions can only be answered by the healing process and the passage of time, others can be addressed by understanding the Arkansas workers’ compensation system.
If your workers’ compensation claim has been denied or you need assistance with the handling of your claim, Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law can help. Ken Kieklak has worked with honest, hard-working Arkansans for more than 20 years.
Who is Covered by Workers’ Compensation?
The workers’ compensation program in Arkansas is overseen by the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission (AWCC). According to information provided by the AWCC, nearly every worker in Arkansas is covered because individuals employed by a business or for-profit organization consisting of 3 or more employees are covered. However there are exceptions as those employed in domestic help, agricultural farm laborers, and Arkansans employed by non-profit, religious, charitable or relief organizations are not covered. Those employed a railroad or engaged in maritime work are not covered by Arkansas’ workers’ compensation program because they are covered by federal programs.
What Types of Benefits are Available Under Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation benefits programs can cover medical expenses, rehabilitative expenses, and lost wages. Medical benefits covers items like hospital bills, prescription medications, and medical devices like a brace, crutches, or a wheel chair. Compensation for rehabilitative care may include payments for physical therapy, electrical muscular stimulation (EMS), and other treatment intended to improve that person’s functioning and quality of life.
Prior to accepting medical treatment, however, you should first ensure that your employer’s insurance carrier has approved the treatment. You will not be responsible for the bills if you have prior approval, but if you fail to secure authorization the insurance company may refuse to pay and hold you liable for the expenses.
An injured worker does not become eligible for cash benefits for lost wages until after the 7th calendar day and at the direction of your approved physician. While an injured person can receive payments for the first 7 days, they will only be awarded benefits for that period if the total duration of the disability is more than fourteen days. However, those days do not have to be continuous on a calendar.
How Do You Get Benefits Under Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Program?
The claims process does not begin with the AWCC, but with one’s employer. Following an injury at the workplace, the injury must be reported as soon as it is possible to do so. Once your employer has received notification of your injury, they must notify their insurance carrier. They typically put the carrier on notice by completing and filing a First Report of Injury or Illness with the company.
The insurance company is then likely to request that you undergo a physical exam with the doctor your company or your company’s insurance carrier has chosen. You should be sure to keep all of your appointments and cooperate fully in the process. If you miss an appointment or fail to cooperate, it may be used as a grounds to delay or deny your benefits.
While each and every situation and claims process is different, many benefits claims are approved without dispute or litigation. But sometimes claims cannot be processed routinely because of a mistake or some misunderstanding. In situations like these, you or your attorney can attempt to negotiate with the insurance company. If a phone call is ineffective, the AWCC can also schedule a preliminary conference. This conference can be sued to mediate the concerns with your claim. If the matter still cannot be resolved, you or your lawyer may need to file Claim for Compensation – Form C (AR- C) with the AWCC within 2 years of your injury date.
Contact a Bella Vista, Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Attorney
For more than 20 years, Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law has fought for hard-working Arkansans who are injured at work. To schedule your free and confidential initial consultation, call (479) 316-0438 or contact us online today.