A workplace injury can be devastating. After suffering one, you may wonder how you will pay your medical bills, who will take care of your home, and whether you will ever be able to do the things that you are accustomed to doing. While some of these questions can only be answered by the passage of time, those questions involving money may be answered by the existence of the workers’ compensation program in Arkansas. The workers’ compensation program in Arkansas is regulated by the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission (AWCC), and nearly every worker in Arkansas is covered, although exceptions exist. For instance, those employed by a company of 2 or fewer employees may not be covered, nor are agricultural farm laborers, those engaged in domestic help, or Arkansans employed by non-profit, religious, charitable, or relief organizations. While Arkansas’ workers’ compensation program does not cover railroad and maritime workers, they are covered by federal programs.
If you or a family member need assistance filing for workers’ compensation in Arkansas, contact an experienced Bentonville workers’ compensation attorney today. Workers’ compensation attorney Ken Kieklak recognizes the burdens an injured worker can face after a workplace accident, and he is here to help you pursue compensation and move forward with your life. You do not have to fight alone for the compensation you deserve, contact Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, at (479) 316-0438 for a free legal consultation. You can also contact the firm online.
Benefits Available to Bentonville Workers Under Workers’ Compensation
Benefits under the workers’ compensation program typically include those for medical expenses and lost wages. Benefits for medical costs can be rather broad and may include:
- Medical devices like crutches, a walker, a neck brace, or a wheelchair
- Surgery and pre-surgical care
- Hospital bills
- Prescription medication
- Physical therapy
- Other rehabilitative treatments
- Visits to a healthcare provider
However, before you seek treatment, you should first consult with your employer’s insurance carrier. If you have prior approval, you will not be responsible for the medical bills incurred while visiting a personal physician. However, if you seek medical treatment without authorization, you may be liable for these expenses.
As for benefits for lost wages, you become eligible for some cash benefits after the 7th calendar day and at the direction of your approved physician. The benefits for temporary total disability (TTD) is 66 and two-thirds percent of the worker’s average weekly wage. The payments are tax-free. While you can receive payment for the first seven days, you will only receive it if the total duration of your disability is more than fourteen days. However, those days do not have to be continuous.
To learn more about applying for workers’ compensation benefits in Arkansas, you should continue reading and speak with an experienced Bentonville workers’ compensation lawyer.
How to Get Benefits Under Arkansas’ Workers Compensation Program
The Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission is not an insurance company, but rather the government body that is in charge of investigating and enforcing workers’ compensation laws in Arkansas. This means that one does not start the claim process with the AWCC, but with one’s employer.
It is the worker’s responsibility to report their injury to their employer as soon as it is possible to do so. When reporting an accident to an employer, you should be as detailed as possible. Make sure to make a note of the following:
- The date and approximate time of the accident
- The cause of the accident
- Any circumstances that may have increased the risk of the accident
- Whether other employees were involved in the accident
- The injuries you sustained as a result of the accident
While it is essential to report the accident to your employer as soon as possible, your priority should be to seek medical attention first. If there is not sufficient medical aid on-site, you should visit a local hospital to have your injuries assessed. Be sure to inform the medical staff of the circumstances of your injuries so they can help you document your injuries.
It is also important to note that workers’ compensation is only available to employees that are injured in a work-related incident. For example, if you are injured while you are commuting to work, this will likely not be enough to be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Alternatively, if a worker is performing a task for their employer on their way to work, this is a scenario that may warrant workers’ compensation if an accident occurs. Attempting to pass an off-site injury as a work-related injury will not only lead to a denial of benefits when discovered, but the worker could also be charged with fraud.
Additionally, you should report the accident to your employer even if you believe that the accident was partially your fault. An injured employee may still be eligible for workers’ compensation, even if they were a contributing factor for the accident. However, there are other circumstances that will make an employee ineligible for workers’ compensation. For example, if a worker was intoxicated and was injured in an accident due to their own negligence, this may eliminate any claim for benefits.
Reporting your injury to your employer puts a chain of events into motion that will result in a determination on your claim. After receiving your injury report, your employer must notify their insurance carrier of the injury by filing a First Report of Injury or Illness.
After this document has been filed, you will be asked to see the doctor your company or your company’s insurance carrier has selected. The doctor chosen by your employer will evaluate the extent of your injuries. They will consider a number of factors:
- The severity of the worker’s injuries
- How long it will take the worker to recover enough to return to work
- Whether the worker will require surgery, rehabilitation, or any additional medical services
- Whether the worker is capable of performing in another position
Many injured employees that apply for workers’ compensation prefer to be seen by a physician they selected. The reason for this is the physicians selected by an employer’s insurance may attempt to downplay the severity of a worker’s injuries. As a result, the worker may not receive the benefits that they deserve. While you may ask to see a different physician, you should be sure to cooperate and comply with your insurance company at each and every step of the process. A visit with a different physician also may not be covered by your employer. If you fail to cooperate, such actions may be used against you later or delay the awarding of your benefits.
If you report your injury promptly and your claim is approved, you should receive your first compensation within 14 days. However, if a mistake, misunderstanding, or other unfavorable outcome occurs, you or your Bentonville workers’ comp attorney should first contact your employer and its insurance carrier.
If a phone call does not resolve your problem, the AWCC can arrange a preliminary conference to mediate and discuss issues with your claim. If the matter still cannot be resolved, you or your Bentonville workers’ compensation lawyer may need to file Claim for Compensation – Form C (AR- C) with the AWCC within two years of your injury date.
Common Reasons a Bentonville, AR Workers’ Compensation Claim Can be Denied
If your workman’s compensation claim was denied, there are a number of reasons that could explain why. As mentioned, a workman’s comp claim must be considered work-related to receive compensation. However, employers may vehemently argue which injuries should be considered work-related. For example, if a worker sustained an injury while they were on break, an employer may argue happened as a result of the worker’s negligence.
Pre-existing conditions are another common reason why workers’ comp benefits are denied. For example, if a worker had a pre-existing condition that was aggravated by the work they perform, an employer may argue that there were other circumstances that caused the condition to be aggravated.
Additionally, if a worker does not strictly adhere to the conditions set out by the employer’s insurance company when applying for benefits, this could also result in a denial of benefits. For example, if an injured worker veers away from the treatment plan set out by a physician, this could negatively impact their claim for benefits.
Fortunately, a denial of benefits does not mean that a worker will be unable to receive injury benefits. Arkansas permits workers to submit an appeal for workers’ compensation benefits that are denied. However, the appeal process can be intricate and could take a significant amount of time. The injured worker will have to meet tight deadlines and gather evidence that can be helped to prove their claim.
The appeals process can be daunting for a worker that recently suffered a severe injury, and that needs time to recuperate. Our firm understands the hurdles of filing for a worker’s compensation appeal, and we are here to fight for you. If you are unsure about what to do after your workers’ compensation claim was denied, our firm can help guide you through the process. Do not wait too long to speak to an experienced Bentonville workers’ compensation attorney about your case, as it could potentially affect your eligibility to receive benefits. Our firm is ready to fight for the benefits you deserve.
Our Bentonville, Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Attorneys Can Help
If you or a family member was injured at the workplace, contact an experienced Bentonville workers’ compensation lawyer today. 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.