Following a serious workplace injury or the development of an occupational disease, your actions play a large role in determining the anxiety and consequences you may experience. While certain questions, like the extent of your recovery, can only be answered through the passage of time, others can be addressed and answered by understanding the basics of Arkansas’ Workers’ Compensation system. Understanding Workers’ Compensation in Arkansas can answer questions like, “Who will pay for my medical bills?” or “How can I support my family when I cannot work?”
Working with an experienced Workers’ Compensation attorney can help you answer questions like these. When you work with Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, you can rest assured that he is dedicated to fighting for you. If you were injured on the job, call our office at (479) 316-0438 to schedule a free appointment to review a workers’ compensation claim or filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Who is Covered by Workers’ Compensation in Sebastian County, AR?
Most workers in the state would be covered by the program because employers with 3 or more employees are required to carry Workers’ Compensation coverage or obtain a self-insurance waiver. However, those who work for a non-profit, religious, charitable, or other relief organization may not be covered by Arkansas’ program. Furthermore, certain workers like federal employees, maritime workers and railroad workers are not covered by the Arkansas program because they receive coverage through the federal government.
Types of Benefits Available in Sebastian County Through Workers’ Compensation Coverage
Workers’ compensation programs, like the one in Arkansas, typically provides benefits for medical expenses, rehabilitation expenses, and lost wages. Compensation for medical services may include:
- Doctor’s visits
- Hospital bills
- Prescription medications
- Many other approved medical expenses.
Many rehabilitative expenses can also be covered by the program. These expenses may include reconstructive surgery, medical devices like a medical brace, physical therapy, and many other forms of rehabilitation. However, for both medical expenses and rehabilitative expenses, you should always seek approval from your employer or its insurance company. Failure to do so may result in your expenses being not covered or delay your compensation.
In terms of lost wages, an injured worker does not become eligible for compensation until the 8th calendar day after the date of your injury. While payments for the first 7 days can be made, they are only made if the duration of the disability is for more than 14 days. While these requirements must be met, the 14 days do not have to fall contiguously on the calendar.
How Can I Apply for Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Sebastian County, AR?
Most claims are handled routinely and there is no dispute. While the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission administers the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation program, one begins the process of applying for benefits by informing their employer that an injury has occurred. You will likely be asked to identify the time, place and mode of injury. Once you have provided this information to your employer, they will inform the insurance company of your injury.
Once the Workers’ Compensation insurance company is aware of your accident and injury, they are likely to require you to see a company doctor for a physical examination. You should comply with all instructions given by your employer or its insurance company or noncompliance may be used as grounds to justify the delay or denial of your benefits.
Filing a Third-Party Lawsuit if You are Hurt While Working in Sebastian County
There are situations when a Sebastian County worker who is injured on the job is entitled to file a workers’ compensation claim and a third-party personal injury lawsuit against an alleged negligent party.
While Arkansas’ workers’ compensation law prohibits lawsuits against employers except under very limited circumstances, it does permit an injured worker to file claims against third-parties. A third-party is just about any other person or entity that is involved in a work-related injury.
If you were hurt on the job and believe it was because of the negligence of someone other than your employer, contact our Sebastian County workers’ compensation attorney. You could have the grounds to file a personal injury in civil court. A third-party lawsuit does not replace your workers’ compensation claim. An injured employee could file both simultaneously.
The most significant benefit of a personal injury lawsuit is the available compensation. Worker’s compensation claims are designed to streamline the process of receiving benefits. However, an injured worker’s potential compensation is limited to medical expenses and lost wages. These benefits are also further restricted. Any medical treatment you receive will have to be approved by an approved doctor and your lost wages are statutorily capped. In a third-party lawsuit, there is no cap for lost income and you are also entitled to seek compensation for your non-economic damage, such as pain and suffering.
The challenge in a third-party lawsuit is an injured employee must prove that the other party was negligent. Proving negligence requires demonstrating that the defendant owed the employee a duty of care, they breached the duty, caused the injury, and the employee suffered quantifiable damages. On the other hand, an employee only needs to demonstrate that an injury occurred while they were on the job to file a workers’ compensation claim.
Examples of Third-Party Workers’ Injury Lawsuits in Sebastian County, AR
There are a few common types of third-party lawsuits that arise from injures on the job.
Automotive Vehicle Accidents
Car accidents are a common reason people file personal injury lawsuits. This is also true for workers on the job. If you drive a truck or have to go from one job site to another, you run the risk of being involved in a motor vehicle accident. If you were injured because of the carelessness or recklessness of another driver, even while on the clock, you are entitled to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
Construction Site Accidents
Construction sites are one of the most dangerous workplaces and many construction workers are injured on the job. These worksites also feature independent contractors working on the site, including subcontractors and architectural firms. If you are injured because of another entity’s negligence other than your employer, you are permitted to file a lawsuit to hold them responsible for your damages. For example, an outside firm could have been hired to erect scaffolding at the construction site. If the scaffolding was not installed properly, the company that erected it could be held accountable if an injury occurred.
Defective Machinery, Equipment, or Tools
Employees in all occupations use various tools, equipment, and machinery. Whether it is a copier in an office or a crane at a construction site, an employee has a reasonable expectation that the equipment will function as intended. Injuries could occur if a product is defective, either a manufacturing flaw, design problem, or has inadequate warnings or instructions.
Toxic torts is a special category of litigation based on the exposure to toxins or harmful chemicals. Unfortunately, workers come into contact with harmful substances, including lead paint, mold, asbestos, and other dangerous chemicals. If you suffer an injury due to the exposure to a toxin, it might be possible to hold a third-party liable in addition to your workers’ compensation claim.
Property Owner Negligence
Your job may take you to another location. For example, electricians, painters, computer technicians, and other professions are often required to work at another’s property. If an injury is caused by a hazard on property owned by someone other than your employer, you could have grounds to file a lawsuit against the property owner or manager. For example, if you went to an office to update a company’s computer operating systems and tripped on a torn carpet, you could have a potential claim against the office manager or building owner.
You have the right to sue someone if they intentionally injured you. This could be a member of the general public or another employee. In many cases, criminal charges could also be filed.
Workplace injuries happen for more than the reasons listed above. If you are injured while at work, it is important that you immediately report the accident and seek medical treatment. It is best to treat the injury as a potential third-party case, so you should also begin gathering evidence, including collecting witness contact information and taking pictures of the accident site. You should also contact our experienced Sebastian County workers’ compensation attorney, whether you are just filing a benefits claim or wish to pursue a civil lawsuit.
Put a Sebastian County Workers’ Compensation Attorney to Work for You
For more than 20 years, Ken Kieklak has fought for hard-working Arkansans who are injured at work. By having the representation of an experienced Sebastian County workers’ compensation attorney, you could avoid some of the problems associated with filing a benefits claim. The last thing you need if you are recovering from an injury is dealing with red-tape or having a claim denied due to a mistake or omission. Our office is also available to help you appeal a denied claim. Additionally, our office will review the circumstances surrounding your injury to determine if a third-party could also be held liable. To schedule your free and confidential initial consultation, call (479) 316-0438 or contact us online today.