Basically speaking, any job-related injury suffered while an employee is performing his or her normal work duties is covered under workers compensation law. In most cases, this includes injuries that occur away from the job site, as long as the employee was performing their job. Injuries include anything from a minor wound to death.
Workers’ compensation benefits vary from one state to the next. In Arkansas, an injured employee would be entitled to payment of all medical expense. This would include physical rehabilitation, medications, home healthcare, and physical therapy. If your injuries prevent you from working you may be entitled to weekly temporary disability benefits, which are calculated based on two-thirds of your average weekly wage, subject to certain maximum benefits. Temporary disability benefits are discontinued once you return to work. If you suffered some form of permanent injury and receive an impairment rating, that rating is used as a basis for determining the amount of permanent disability benefits to which you are entitled. The amount paid for permanent disability depends on numerous factors, including the impairment rating, the age and education of the employee, and whether the employee will be able to return to the same or similar employment or will suffer any loss of ability to earn in the future.
In Arkansas, as in most states, workers’ compensation is considered an “exclusive remedy.” That means the injured employee is limited to filing a claim with the Workers’ Compensation Commission and will not be permitted to file a lawsuit against the employer in civil court. It also means that the employee is not entitled to a jury trial. Instead, the claim is presented to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). You can, however, appeal the ALJ’s decision. Certain forms of damages may be limited or unavailable. For example, damages for pain and suffering and for mental and emotional anguish are not permitted.
It is true that an injured employee might be entitled to recovery from more than one source. For example, an employee who is injured while working in a factory and operating a piece of machinery, would not only be entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits, but may also have a claim against the company who designed, sold and/or installed the machinery. The case would be even more solid if that equipment lacked adequate warnings or safeguards which could have prevented the injury. Consider an employee injured in a car accident while traveling on company business. That employee would be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, but could also file a claim against the driver of the other vehicle if that person was at fault.
At the outset, the employer has the right to choose your doctor and, if you change physicians without going through the proper procedures, your medical expenses may not be paid. However, you can change doctors either by agreement with your employer, approval of the Workers’ Compensation Commission or if your employer’s doctor refers you to another doctor. In Arkansas, you are also entitled to be paid mileage, round-trip, to and from any medical provider or pharmacy.
Under Workers’ Compensation laws, your employer is not required to keep your job open. Yet, if you are physically unable to return to your original position, you may be entitled to be retrained for another position at your employer’s expense.