Workers’ Compensation is known as an “exclusive remedy” for workplace injury in Arkansas. This means that any injuries you sustain at work from an accident should be covered by Workers’ Compensation. However, under some rare exceptions you can sue for injuries instead of taking your case to court. Workplace violence usually falls under one of these exceptions, and Fayetteville AR workers’ compensation lawyer Ken Kieklak explains how you can file a claim to seek compensation for workplace violence in Arkansas.
Does Workers’ Compensation Cover Workplace Violence in Arkansas?
The rules of Workers’ Compensation allow victims of injuries sustained in accidents at work to seek compensation for their injuries by filing a Workers’ Compensation claim instead of filing a lawsuit. Workers’ compensation benefits typically cover medical expenses and pay you 2/3 of your wages while you recover from injuries without requiring you to prove your claim in court. Workplace violence can cause injuries sustained at work and should be covered by Workers’ Compensation.
In some states and under some Workers’ Compensation insurance policies, intentional injuries will not be covered.
However, workplace violence is also one of the exceptions to typical Workers’ Compensation rules. With Workers’ Compensation as the “exclusive remedy” for workplace injuries, you must use Workers’ Compensation to file most workplace injury claims rather than suing in court. Intentional acts are one of those exceptions, meaning that you may take your case to court instead of filing a lawsuit if you were injured by intentional workplace violence from a coworker or your employer.
Should I Sue for Workplace Violence or File a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Because the law might give you a choice of filing a Workers’ Compensation claim or a lawsuit for workplace violence injuries, you may think you should choose whichever system will pay you higher damages. However, there are many circumstances where that instinct might be wrong, and you should talk to a lawyer about the totality of the circumstances and the facts of your case before making any decisions about how to claim damages for workplace violence injuries.
Although Workers’ Compensation can cover injuries, it only covers lost wages at 2/3 of your average weekly wage. It also covers medical expenses only if they are provided by an approved healthcare provider. The damages you receive in a Workers’ Compensation claim also typically exclude damages for pain and suffering. However, the tradeoff is that you do not need to prove anyone’s fault in causing your injuries – as long as the injury occurred at work, it should be covered.
With a lawsuit, you may be able to claim the full damages you face. Instead of claiming 2/3 of your lost wages, you may be able to claim 100% of these wages and you may be able to claim medical expenses to use a doctor of your choice. A lawsuit will also open damages for pain and suffering in your case. However, to get these damages, you must be able to prove that you were injured and prove that the defendant intentionally harmed you. Moreover, you can only receive compensation from the defendant if the defendant can afford to pay the damages.
While filing a lawsuit might open your case to additional damages, it is also harder to prove these cases. Especially with cases of intentional injury, it may be difficult to prove that the harm you suffered was intentional and not a mere accident – in which case you might lose your injury lawsuit. Since you can file through Workers’ Compensation without needing to prove fault, you may be better off filing your claim there to guarantee at least some damages.
If the defendant is a coworker or someone who works below you at work, odds are they will not have the funds to afford your damages. In this case, they may be “judgement proof,” and filing a lawsuit against them may mean receiving little to no damages in the end. In contrast, Workers’ Compensation always has the ability to pay. While the damages might be reduced a bit, it may be the only path to receive damages.
Talk to a lawyer before filing your claim. An experienced Arkansas Workers’ Compensation lawyer can help you understand the damages you might be entitled to in your case and your options for filing. Different factors in how the injury occurred or who assaulted you at work may change how the case is best filed. For instance, if the CEO hit you, a lawsuit against them might be able to recover higher damages. However, many other cases of injury or workplace violence may be better filed through Workers’ Compensation.
Fayetteville Workplace Violence and Injury Lawyer Offering Free Legal Consultations
If you were injured in an accident or were the victim of workplace violence in Arkansas, call Fayetteville Workers’ Compensation lawyer Ken Kieklak. Our lawyers offer free legal consultations to help you understand your options for filing a claim and how to best maximize your compensation. Call (479) 279-2115 to schedule your free consultation.