The Arkansas Workers' Compensation Commission is not an insurance company. Rather, it enforces the Workers' Compensation Law to ensure that all covered employers secure insurance coverage from commercial carriers or through self-insurance programs. The Arkansas Workers' Compensation Commission also regulates workers' compensation awards to insure that benefit providers make correct and timely payments to eligible claimants. Work related injuries or illnesses that commonly trigger a workers' compensation or a "work comp" claim include:
My office is located in Little Rock, Arkansas, and I represent injured workers and families in the State of Arkansas. My clients receive the kind of hands-on, personal attention that is rarely available from larger firms that stress the quantity of cases, and not the quality of care and commitment that every injury victim and his or her family deserves. I listen to my clients, return phone calls, and talk in plain English. When clients call my office, they get me-not a first year associate attorney or somebody else who needs permission to give advice. My goal is to help injury victims and families design a successful strategy for physical, emotional, and financial recovery. If you have further questions or concerns about workers compensation law or a "work comp" claim in Arkansas please contact me today to set up an appointment. For immediate assistance call me in Little Rock at 501-375-7575 or toll-free at 1-888-995-7554.
Workers' Compensation - An Overview
The term "workers' compensation" refers to a system of laws outlining specific benefits to which injured employees are entitled, and the procedures for obtaining such benefits. Every state has its own workers' compensation laws, which are contained in statutes, and vary somewhat from state to state. In addition, there are special, federal workers' compensation laws for employees of the federal government and other, specific types of industries.
Under the law in most states, every business must have some form of workers' compensation insurance to cover injured employees. While there are exceptions, most employers in the State of Arkansas, who have three or more employees, are required to provide workers' compensation coverage. Filing a workers' compensation claim is similar to filing an insurance claim; it isn't a lawsuit against an employer, but rather a request for benefits. If you have been injured at work, attorneys experienced in workers' compensation law can explain the complexities of workers' compensation and help you secure the maximum benefits to which you are entitled.
The Purpose and Effect of Workers' Compensation Laws
Workers' compensation laws are designed to ensure that employees who are injured on the job receive fixed monetary awards, without having to litigate their claims against their employers. In this way, workers' compensation is an important safety net for employees when they are injured on the job or as a result of their job.
Most workers' compensation laws also provide employers and co-workers with a certain level of protection, by limiting the amount employees can recover from their employers, and prohibiting, in most cases, injured employees from suing their co-workers. In essence, workers' compensation is a no-fault system, where an injured worker's own negligence, or the negligence of his or her employer or co-workers, is not put at issue; rather, the injured employee is simply covered for his or her work-related injuries.
Thus, workers' compensation
is an injured worker's "exclusive
remedy" with respect to a work-related injury, unless he or she can
point to a third party who contributed to his or her injuries. For
example, because workers are often injured by products or machinery
they use at work, they may, and often do, seek compensation from the
manufacturers of such products. Employers are generally not directly
involved in the third-party claims of their employees, but may
intervene in a third-party claim if litigation is required in
order to protect their workers' compensation subrogation rights. If,
however, an injured employee cannot be "made whole" by the settlement
or recovery from their third-party claim, then the workers'
compensation carrier is not entitled to any recovery for its
subrogation in Arkansas.
The Scope of Workers' Compensation Coverage
Workers' compensation coverage varies by state, and by occupation. For example, Arkansas exempts certain categories of workers, such as agricultural employees, domestic employees and independent contractors, from its workers' compensation system. Other states require coverage only if an employer employs a minimum number of employees. In Arkansas, most employers having three or more employees are required to provide workers' compensation coverage. To determine whether you are entitled to Arkansas workers' compensation benefits, you should contact an experienced workers' compensation attorney, such as myself.
Workers' Compensation Benefit Claims vs. Civil Lawsuits
Workers' compensation is usually considered a substitute for a lawsuit against your employer. In exchange for not suing your employer in court, you are entitled to workers' compensation benefits, regardless of who was at fault for your injuries. Prior to the creation of the workers' compensation system, employees had no choice but to go to court to recover compensation for their work-related injuries. Now, most employees are automatically entitled to workers' compensation, but at the same time, the employer is automatically protected from most employee lawsuits.
Keep in mind, however, that even if you file a workers' compensation claim, you still may be able bring a lawsuit if your injury was caused by someone other than your employer, or by a defective product you used on the job, such as a piece of equipment that malfunctioned.
Protecting Your Rights
If you have been injured at
work, contacting a lawyer who excels in workers' compensation or
personal injury law is the best
way to ensure that your rights will be protected. A lawyer can protect
your rights in many ways. Besides making sure you are receiving all the
workers' compensation benefits to which you are legally entitled, an
experienced workers' compensation attorney may also be instrumental in
obtaining a fair settlement for your injuries.
Additionally, if someone other than your employer or co-worker was partly at fault for your injury, you may be able to file a liability insurance claim against that person or business. Moreover, if your accident is not covered by workers' compensation (for example, if you are an independent contractor or because the company does not have workers' compensation insurance), you may be entitled to bring legal action against someone for whom you were working, just as you could file a claim against any other person who caused you personal injury. In such a case, you may be able to recover compensation that you couldn't recover in a workers' compensation claim, including attorney fees, compensation for pain and suffering, and punitive damages (damages to punish the party who injured you).
Types of Injuries Covered by Workers' Compensation
For a work-related injury, you may be eligible for compensation for any of the injuries listed below:
There are some injuries, however, that may not be covered by workers' compensation. In Arkansas, an employee cannot recover for an injury sustained during horseplay at work. Many states, including Arkansas, will not award benefits to a person who is injured while intoxicated or who deliberately inflicts injury on himself. Furthermore, an employee who is injured while traveling to or from work is not generally entitled to benefits unless the employer has agreed to provide the worker with the means of transportation, pay the employee's cost of commuting, or if travel is required while performing his/her duties.
If a worker leaves the
employer's premises to do a personal errand
and is injured, he or she will not be entitled to workers'
compensation benefits. However, if an employee is injured while
returning from company-sponsored education classes, or goes to the
restroom, visits the cafeteria, has a coffee break, or steps out of a
nonsmoking office to smoke a cigarette, and is injured, workers'
compensation boards and courts typically recognize that employers
benefit from these "nonbusiness" employee conveniences, and often award
Workers' Compensation DO's