This page provides answers to the following questions:
- I had an accident at work. How do I file a workers compensation claim in my state?
- Should my employer have workers compensation insurance? How do I know I am covered?
- What are the conditions that enable me or prevent me from claiming benefits under my state's law?
- What benefits might I be eligible to receive?
- How much time do I have to file my claim? What are the stages of the claim process? What should I expect?
- If I'm not happy with the determination, how do I appeal?
1. I had an accident at work. How do I file a workers compensation claim in my state?
If you are injured at work, immediately notify your employer about the details of your injury. It is preferable to do this in writing. Be as prompt as possible and report injuries regardless of the severity. Sometimes minor injuries can lead to life-threatening infections or can develop into more severe conditions.
2. Should my employer have workers compensation insurance? How do I know if I am covered?
Workers' Compensation in Arkansas is a no-fault compensation system that works to guarantee and benefit workers injured on the job. If you are unable to work because of a work-related injury, your employer's workers compensation coverage policy takes care of your medical expenses and lost-wages until you can go back to work. Workers' Compensation Law, with the exception of the following, protects almost all Arkansans: businesses where there are two (2) or fewer employees; railroad and maritime employees; agricultural-farm labor employees; domestic help; non-profit employment; religious/charitable/ or relief organization; and individuals covered by federal law.
To learn whether your employer has workers' compensation coverage, look for a notice or poster displayed at your place of work. If you do not find any sort of posting, ask your employer or contact the Arkansas Workers' Compensation Commission.
Workers' compensation covers accidental injuries and occupational diseases that arise out of the course of employment. They are subject to specific incident, time, and place requirements. The injury must be identifiable based on the latter three factors attributable to the course of your employment. There are three exceptions to these requirements: 1) rapid, repetitive motion injuries; 2) gradual on-set back injuries; 3) hearing loss. These three exceptions are only coverable when they are found to be the major cause of the condition (major cause is defined as more than fifty percent (50%) of the cause).
3. What are the conditions that enable me or prevent me from claiming benefits under my state's law?
To receive benefits, you must report your injury to your employer and/or supervisor immediately. You should provide the employer with written notice of your injury describing the time, place, and nature of the injury. Benefits are automatic, but contingent upon your promptness in reporting.
4. What benefits might I be eligible to receive?
Arkansas Workers' Compensation law provides three kinds of benefits:
- Medical Care Benefits: This is coverage for all reasonably necessary services and treatment including doctor bills, medication, hospital costs, lab tests, X-rays, and crutches. Your employer's insurance provider pays these costs directly.
- Rehabilitation Services: These are benefits paying the expense of vocational rehabilitation and certain kinds of physical therapy.
- Cash Payment: Typically, cash payments are made in the form of temporary total disability benefits. These payments compensate you for wages lost while you are recovering from your injury. Depending on your recovery progress, you may be entitled to permanent partial disability benefits (if your injury results in permanent impairment) or wage loss (if your injury affects your pre-injury wages). If your injury results in death, these payments may be paid to your surviving dependents.
Temporary total disability cash payments are calculated at 66.66% of your average weekly wage and are paid every two weeks. This is capped at a maximum amount set by state law.
If you are totally or permanently disabled as a result of your work-related injury, you are entitled to benefits for life.
5. How much time do I have to file my claim? What are the stages of the claims process? What should I expect?
Workers compensation is an automatic process in Arkansas. If discrepancies occur or you feel unsettled with the benefits you are receiving, you may contact the Workers Compensation Commission Office and speak with a staff member who is trained to discuss your rights and benefits under the law. They can organize preliminary conferences where you and your employer may discuss any of the issues arising from your compensation scheme. Legal Advisors can help to facilitate some of the mediation services at the preliminary conference.
If you remained unsettled with advice of staff representatives at the Workers' Compensation Commission Office or with the result of a preliminary conference, you may decide to file a Form C which initiates a Claim for Compensation.
You must file a Claim for Compensation within two years of your injury or within one year of your last compensation payment. The claim is assigned to an Administrative Law Judge of the Commission who will determine whether further proceedings are required in the matter.
6. If I am not happy with the determination, how do I appeal?
You may file a Full Commission appeal by requesting an appeal in writing. You must include your name and the claim number issued with your Claim of Compensation. You have thirty days to file an appeal from the time you receive a final order from the Administrative Law Judge of the Commission.
If you remain unsatisfied with the determination after appeal, you may file another appeal with the Arkansas Court of Appeals. This appeal will be subject to the Court of Appeals rules and court fees.