Have you sustained a herniated disk or compression fracture in your back or neck as a result of a fall at work? Did you tear the rotator cuff and ligaments in your shoulder while lifting at work? Has your work-related injury caused a brain injury or a permanent disability? Have you suffered an amputation from unsafe machinery in your workplace? Was your work comp claim denied for not being reported on time?
If you answer yes to any of these questions, you may be entitled to compensation and medical benefits for your work injury.
A work accident can be a traumatic experience, leaving you facing a long, painful recovery. Workers’ compensation is intended to pay for the medical treatment you need to heal, while providing disability payments during the time you are unable to work. Unfortunately, the work comp claim process can be confusing, and your employer’s insurance company may not advise you of all of your rights or, even worse, may improperly evaluate your condition and deny your claim.
If you find yourself in a situation where your employer or employer’s insurance company has miscalculated or denied the workers’ compensation benefits you are owed you should contact the Law Office of Jason M. Hatfield, P.A. for your free no obligation consultation. Over the past 20 years I have helped injured workers all over Arkansas get the benefits they deserve. Below is testimonial from one of my clients.
“When no one else would even talk to me about my workmans comp case, Jason was ready to help me. He knows his stuff and got me all I should have gotten and more. I recommend him to everyone.” — As submitted to yellowpages.com
Continue reading to better understand the work comp claim process, employer defenses, work comp benefits available to injured workers, lump sum settlements and no win-no fee.
Table of Contents
The Work Comp Claim Process
What is required to win Arkansas workers’ compensation claims?
In Arkansas the burden of proof is on the injured worker to prove all aspects of their claim. Initially, we must prove that you are an employee working in the course and scope of your employment. It has become common for employers and insurance carriers to claim you are an independent contractor and not covered by the workers’ compensation act. Once it is proved that you are an employee, we must prove that you were injured while in the process of doing your job or advancing your employer’s interest. Most common workplace injuries are proved through specific incidents, which may include:
- Spinal disc herniations that occur while lifting heavy items
- Rotator cuff tears in your shoulder as a result of trips, slips and falls
- Traumatic brain injuries sustained in falls from platforms or roofs
Much litigation occurs over the injury itself. Arkansas law requires that we prove injuries through objective medical evidence which is defined as beyond the injured worker’s control. Specifically, complaints of pain are not enough to prove your injury. Your injury must be proved by:
- CT Scan
- Nerve Conduction
- Or some other medical test
Additionally, muscle spasms documented by your physician are considered objective medical evidence. Many insurance carriers will deny your claim due to a pre-existing condition. However, an aggravation of a pre-existing condition is considered compensable when it occurs while you are performing your job.
It is important to report your injury to your supervisor as soon as it happens. Much litigation happens when an injury is not immediately reported as it gives the insurance carrier an opportunity to deny that the injury occurred at work.
If at any time you feel the work comp doctor has improperly evaluated your condition or your claim has been denied by your employer’s insurance company you should call my office for your free no obligation consultation. I will explain the process involved to litigate and appeal your case and answer your workers’ compensation questions.
Work Comp Reasons for Denial
Despite proving you were injured by a specific incident identifiable by time and place, and proving you were doing your job, and proving your injury through objective medical evidence, your employer and the work comp insurance carrier my continue to deny your claim based upon a wide array of defenses. These defenses include:
- Failure to provide employment services
- Idiopathic falls
- Independent contractor
What Benefits Are Available in Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Claims?
If your work-related injury or illness has forced you to miss a week or more of work then workers’ compensation should provide you with the expenses related to your claim and a percentage of your lost wages. You are required to cooperate with medical care recommended by your authorized treating physician, and the work comp insurance carrier is not required to reimburse you for medical treatment provided from unauthorized medical providers. Our office does assist with obtaining a change of physician when requested and we also submit your mileage and out of pocket expenses for reimbursement. We also work with some national pharmaceutical providers to assist with timely prescription refills when your work comp insurance carrier unreasonably delays authorization of those refills.
In Arkansas, there are many types of workers’ compensation benefits available to injured employees, such as:
- Medical Expenses
- Prescription Medications
- Temporary Total Disability (TTD) Benefits
- Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) Benefits
- Permanent Total Disability (PTD) Benefits
- Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) Benefits
- Wage Loss Disability Benefits
- Mileage Reimbursement
- Facial Disfigurement
- Vocational Rehabilitation
- Prosthetic Devices for Amputations
- Home Modifications
- Handicap Vans
- Death Benefits
The eligibility and calculation of work comp benefits can be complicated. For example, when calculating compensation benefits the employer or insurance carrier could leave out key components of your income such as overtime, shift differentials, commissions and mileage payments to truck drivers. Insurance adjusters and employers are trained to know the system. An injured worker is immediately placed at a disadvantage attempting to navigate through the system.
Workers’ Comp Lump Sum Settlements
Any work comp case can be settled for a lump sum, and cases can be settled at any point during the work comp process. We have settled cases without litigation, and we have settled cases at every point throughout the litigation and appeal process. I usually do not recommend settlement before you have received all of the medical treatment available to cure condition. Under work comp terms, this would be at the end of your healing period.
It is never a good idea to quit or voluntarily terminate your employment in the middle of your workers’ compensation claim. Further employment is best addressed at the end of the work comp claim and is a negotiating chip we can use to improve a lump sum settlement.
Springdale Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Experienced. Dedicated. Compassionate.
I have over 20 years of experience as a lawyer helping injured workers in Arkansas. It does not matter what type of injury you suffered on the job — you have worked long and hard to get where you are today. If you find yourself in a situation where your employer or employer’s insurance carrier has miscalculated or denied you the workers’ compensation benefits you are owed you should contact the Law Office of Jason M. Hatfield, P.A.
Let me handle the details of your claim while you concentrate on your recovery. I am dedicated to guiding you successfully through the Arkansas workers’ compensation process to ensure you receive all that you are entitled and will aggressively pursue all aspects of your case, which may include:
- Meeting with you and answering your questions
- Collecting medical records to confirm your work-related injury or impairment rating
- Obtaining wage records from your employer to validate compensation benefits
- Interviewing and deposing witnesses
- Making myself available for subsequent meetings to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your case
- Preparing you for your deposition
- Subpoenaing witnesses to trial
- Preparing you for trial
- Litigating and appealing claim denials with the before both the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission and the Social Security Administration
- Negotiating Lump Sum Settlements
Call my office today at 479-361-3575 or you may contact me online to initiate your free no obligation consultation. The sooner I can start working on your case, the faster you can start collecting your benefits. And as always if you don’t win your claim then you pay nothing
Furthermore, if a personal injury lawsuit is warranted in addition to your worker’s compensation claim, I will handle both cases for you.
You Pay Nothing If You Do Not Win Your Claim
Attorney fees in work comp cases are twenty-five percent (25%) of any money we collect for you. Oftentimes, the judge will order the employer to pay one-half (1/2) of our attorney fee, when we win your case. We do not receive an attorney fee if we do not win. We also do not receive an attorney fee on medical benefits we secure for you. My office will assist you to obtain a change of physician when needed. We have also tried countless cases securing additional medical benefits for clients. Below are just a few example cases we have litigated and won:
- In Mercy Hospital v. Hendley, 2015 Ark. App.527 (2015), we fought all the way to the Arkansas Court of Appeals to help secure physical therapy for a surgical nurse in Fort Smith that sustained a serious shoulder injury.
- In Maria Barron, Widow of Miguel Barron, v. West Ark Steel and AIG, WCC No. F800250 (2010), we helped a widow force the work comp insurance carrier pay over a quarter of a million dollars to a local hospital for ICU charges her deceased husband obtained after his fatal work comp injury.
- In Allen v. Rogers School Board District and Arkansas School Board Association, WCC No. G600617, we are willing to fight for injured workers for the simple right to return to their authorized treating work comp physician for a prescription refill. Recently the Arkansas School Board Association denied an injured bus driver of more than twenty years (20) employment with the school district a return visit to her work comp doctor. The bus driver had sustained a serious head injury and lost ability to smell as a result of a slip and fall in the school parking lot. The prescription medication was accepted as work related and was necessary for her chronic headaches that resulted from the severe head injury. We were successful in this litigation, and the Workers’ Compensation Commission granted her the ability to return to the doctor for a refill and additional medical treatment.
Frequently Asked Workers’ Compensation Questions
For answers to your workers’ comp questions call my office at 479-361-3575 or click the link below to see the most common workers’ comp questions and answers (Q&A) received by my office.
The Law Office of Jason M. Hatfield, P.A. represents injured workers from all over Northwest Arkansas including Springdale, Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Rogers, Bentonville, Berryville and Harrison. We also represent injured truck drivers from all over the U.S. with employers, such as; J.B. Hunt Transport, Tyson Foods Inc., Walmart Inc., PAM Transport Inc., USA Truck Inc., Maverick Trucking and others in Arkansas