You may be wondering when you should hire a workers compensation lawyer. If there are any complex issues in your case, the wisest decision is to consult with an attorney. For instance, if your employer denies your claim or you do not receive your benefits as you should, then an attorney should get involved. Nearly 80% of employees who are injured at work do not appeal the denial of their claim. Consulting an attorney provides you with the best chance of receiving a fair settlement for your injuries when you file for workers comp in Arkansas.
Report your injury within the time required
One mistake you can make when it comes to Worker’s Comp claims is confusing the need to report your injury with actually filing a worker’s comp claim. If you fail to report your injury or delay in reporting your injury, you may be abandoning your claim. Under Arkansas workers compensation law, you are required to report your on-the-job injury within 30 days of its occurrence. This is important to know if you need to file for workers comp in Arkansas.
How to provide notice of your injury
Your notice should be in writing and should include the date, time and place of your injury. The notice typically needs to be delivered to your supervisor or another appropriate officer of your employer. Your notice should also describe the nature and severity of the injury. Keep in mind that failure to report your work-related injury within that 30-day period could result in losing your rights to workers’ compensation benefits.
You must timely file for workers comp in Arkansas
Once again, reporting your injury to your employer is not the same as filing a workers’ compensation claim. Generally speaking, a workers’ compensation claim must be filed within 2 years of the date of the injury. There are a few exceptions where that deadline can be extended. However, it is never wise to delay filing your claim because you risk waiving your right to benefits. Regardless, if you were treated for a work-related injury within the last three years and you have not yet received a lump sum settlement, then you should seek the advice of an attorney as soon as possible in order to protect your rights.
What is the purpose of filing a workers’ compensation claim?
The purpose of a Workers’ Compensation claim is to ensure that employees who become injured on the job can be reimbursed for those injuries, without having to resort to the courts. The way the system works is that the injured employee receives compensation for the work-related injuries and agrees not to file a legal action against the employer. The employee is not required to prove negligence or liability in order to be compensated for his injuries; making it essentially a no-fault system. But, what happens if you file a lawsuit anyway?
Workers’ Compensation is the exclusive remedy available
Before this system was put into place, an employee’s only remedy was to file a lawsuit, which required proof of damages. Almost every employee is automatically entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Likewise, the employer is automatically protected from lawsuits based on the employee’s injury. Basically, Worker’s Compensation benefits are meant to be a substitute for filing a lawsuit against the employer. In other words, if you accept workers’ compensation benefits, you waive your right to file a lawsuit.
Can I sue my employer anyway?
If you are not covered by workers’ compensation laws, meaning you are not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, you can bring a civil claim against your employer for your injuries. Also, if the injuries you sustained at work were the result of someone’s intentional conduct, you may be able to bring an action. Depending on the circumstances of your injury, you may also have claims against someone other than your employer.
Deciding whether to settle your workers’ comp claim
In some cases, an employer will offer to settle a workers’ comp claim for an amount that does not actually cover your lost wages and your medical bills. If you are concerned that the settlement offer your employer made is not sufficient, it is a good idea to consult with an attorney. It is not always good to simply allow the Workers’ Comp judge to determine whether the settlement is fair because they typically approve the agreement as long as it isn’t unfair.
Potential third-party claims
Despite the fact that Workers’ Comp law prevents an employee from filing a lawsuit against the employer for work-related injuries, it does not prevent legal claims against a third-party, when that person’s negligence contributed to the employee’s injuries. For instance, if you are a delivery truck driver and you are injured in an auto accident caused by someone else, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. You can do this in addition to receiving your Workers’ Comp benefits. In these cases, you should also seek the advice of an attorney if you file for workers comp in Arkansas.
If you have questions regarding workers comp claims or any other personal injury matters in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us toll-free at (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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