Arkansas’ Workers’ Compensation system can be confusing, especially for first time filers. The entire system of Workers’ Compensation is meant to replace lawsuits against employers, to make claiming money against your employees for injury an easier process. So, instead of taking an employer to court, both sides hiring attorneys, going through a lengthy court battle, proving your employer was at fault, and dodging one of the many employer exemptions, an injured worker only needs to file for workers’ comp.
Needing only to file to get coverage is the ideal. In reality, filing may be much harder than it seems, or benefits may be denied when they should not be. That means going through process of fighting against workers’ comp and insurance companies to get your coverage. You do not have to go through these fights alone, though. Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, represents clients who are filing for or fighting for Workers’ Compensation in Crawford County.
Who is In Charge of Workers’ Comp in Arkansas?
Workers’ compensation is run by the state. That means that the state of Arkansas has a law that requires companies to hold Workers’ Compensation insurance, and the state handles claims for compensation. Ultimately, the employer chooses what insurance company to use, but claims are handled through the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission (AWCC). Their website has forms and information on how to file for Workers’ Compensation.
If you are a federal employee, such as a postal worker, federal courthouse worker, or even railroad worker, then your workers’ comp is handled by the federal government’s system instead of Arkansas’. The federal website contains more information for their system.
Because Workers’ Compensation insurance is paid for by your employer, they have control over what insurance provider they use. It also means that you should not pay anything or have anything deducted from your paycheck to cover workers’ comp.
What Does Workers’ Comp Pay For?
If you are suffering from a work-related injury, you are probably wondering what workers’ comp can cover. The main reasons that workers’ comp exist is to cover workers’ medical bills and continue to pay them a wage while they are out of work. It acts a lot like health insurance, covering medical care costs, and disability insurance, continuing to pay a wage while you are out of work. It can also act like life insurance, paying money to your loved ones, in case of death from a work-related injury or accident.
Unfortunately, these payments usually have their limitations. Often, the insurance companies that provide workers’ comp insurance will require you to use their doctors, not your doctor of choice. That might mean downplaying the severity of injuries or receiving inadequate treatment. Also, instead of a full wage, most workers’ comp only pays about 2/3 of your wages while you are unable to work. If workers’ comp ever tries to bully you into making choices you do not want to make, hiring a lawyer might be necessary to protect yourself.
In order for an injury or condition to be covered under workers’ comp, it must be a “work-related” injury or condition. This means that it was caused by your job, but does not necessarily mean it must have occurred while you were actually at work. Things like heavy metal poisoning, cancer, asbestos effects, and repetitive stress injuries should be covered if they were caused by conditions at your job. These prolonged injuries are unlikely to suddenly spring-up while at work, but that does not make them any less “work-related.”
There are some things, though, that are excluded from coverage under workers’ comp. Most of these include things you should not be doing at work, or injuries outside the workplace. The following are not covered under workers’ comp:
- Injuries sustained outside of work
- Injuries you cause to yourself, including injuries caused by starting a fight
- Injuries sustained while committing a crime
- Injuries due to using drugs or alcohol on the job
- Injuries sustained while violating company policy – which may include infractions like using improper safety techniques
With these rules in place, employers may try to classify your injury as one sustained under these circumstances. The company policy exemption is one that employers may use flexibly to deny benefits. If your Workers’ Compensation claim is denied, you may still have options an attorney can help you explore.
Let a Crawford County Workers’ Compensation Attorney Fight for You
If you have been injured at work or suffer from illness due to your work conditions, you are likely eligible for Workers’ Compensation. Especially when you are hurt, filing a claim can be a difficult process. If you are looking for a lawyer who can help you through the process, Ken Keiklak, Attorney at Law, represents clients in Crawford County in their workers’ comp claims. Whether you are filing or fighting for your claim, call Ken at (479) 316-0438 for a consultation.