Fort Smith, Springdale, Fayetteville Lawyers Who Assist with Workers’ Compensation Claims
Work injuries are more common than we may realize. While no one goes to work thinking they may be injured or killed, it does happen. There are many unsafe working conditions and personal risks faced by Arkansas workers daily. Thankfully, there is workers’ compensation in the event of an injury or death. This was not always the case before workers’ compensation existed.
Before Arkansas enacted the no-fault compensation law to provide automatic benefits to injured workers, hurt workers had to file a lawsuit against their employer to recover lost wages and medical costs. Enter Arkansas’s workers’ compensation in 1939. Since then, the system has evolved and become what it is today.
Costs relating to injuries and deaths in the workplace increase with unsafe work environments and defective equipment. Costs include wage and productivity losses, damages to company property, administrative and medical expenses, and workers’ compensation.
Who Experiences Higher Incidents of Fatal Work Injuries?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) statistics, there were 64 fatal work injuries in Arkansas in 2020, up from 62 deaths in 2019. Arkansas reported 25,100 non-fatal injuries/illnesses in 2020, up from 19,100 in 2019.
According to America’s Health Rankings, people who experience higher workplace deaths are older adults over the age of 65 and men. Nationally, 4.764 workers died in the U.S. in 2020. A fatal work injury happened every 111 minutes in 2020.
Fatal work injuries are mostly preventable. Increasing safety precautions, adhering to the standards in regulatory oversight, ensuring workers report dangerous conditions immediately, wearing high-visibility clothing, using the required personal protective equipment, and participating in all required training when offered.
2020 Arkansas Fatal Work Injury Statistics
The 2020 Arkansas fatal work injury statistics indicate white workers accounted for 68.8 percent of deaths on the job, or 44 deaths. Workers of color (non-Hispanic) saw thirteen workers die on the job, or 20.3 percent. Latino/Hispanic workers represented 10.9 percent of the fatalities or seven deaths. Of these deaths, seven workers, or 10.9 percent, were killed in 2020 due to contact with equipment or objects.
The Workers’ Compensation Act covers most Arkansas workers. However, there are some exceptions. The Act may not cover a business with two or fewer workers. There are exceptions. Employers with fewer than three should check before assuming they do not fall under the Workers’ Compensation laws.
In addition, those doing farm or domestic labor are not covered, and neither are workers for a charity, religious organization, or a non-profit entity. Railroad and maritime workers are covered federally.
Common Accidents That Can Result in Fatal Work Injuries
Accidents in the workplace are common. Many of them may seem minor, but the outcome may be fatal.
- Slips, trips, and falls – A serious fall to the head or another part of the body can be debilitating and sometimes, fatal. Grocery workers, retail workers, and food workers can easily slip-on oil, icy flooring, a spillage, or cords. Workers can also trip due to unclean walkways, bad lighting, cracks in flooring, or other items on the ground. Falls can also occur by falling off of scaffolding, roofs, or other raised construction areas.
- Being struck by falling objects or equipment –If a worker is interrupted during the course of their work by a falling object or piece or equipment, the bodily injuries can vary. A worker can be hit on the head and suffer traumatic brain injuries, neck injuries, or eye injuries. They may also suffer from severed limbs, severe hand and wrist injuries, severe burns, and crush injuries from machine entanglement.
- Collisions or crashes – Onsite workers may drive different equipment around the work area. Common onsite construction vehicles include cranes, dump trucks, forklifts, bobcats, cement mixers, and other machinery. A fatal work injury may result from falling from a vehicle, being stuck under a vehicle, being hit by objects falling off a vehicle, or coming in contact with a tanker, semi, and tractor-trailer.
- Explosions and fires – These types of incidents have the highest death rate for workers, depending on their proximity to a blast. There are four types of blasts: Primary, Secondary, Tertiary, and Quaternary. Primary causes blast wave injuries. Secondary injuries are due to flying objects. Tertiary causes death or injuries from displacement through the air or a structure collapsing. Quaternary can include burns, radiation, crush injuries, and death.
Medical Treatment Tips in Arkansas to Access Workers’ Compensation
From the first day you are employed, you will be given a copy of your right to medical treatment in case of an accident. By law, an employer must provide all reasonable and necessary care if a worker sustains injuries during the course of their work.
Your employer must also contract with a managed care organization and designate your primary medical provider. If you are injured during a work shift, you must see the designated doctor or risk paying your medical expenses out of your pocket. You cannot seek medical care on your own. However, depending on the circumstances of your accident, each situation can be managed differently, such as needing immediate emergency medical care.
Having a skilled fatal work injury lawyer on your team from the Law Office of Jason M. Hatfield can make a huge difference in how fast a workers’ compensation death claim can be filed. The workers’ compensation system in Arkansas is complex and confusing. We can help you navigate the system and to file a death claim.
Filing A Workers’ Compensation Claim for a Fatal Work Injury
It is a given that an injured employee would have notified the employer of a fatal work injury before a family representative takes further steps to claim workers’ compensation. If there is any confusion in this area, speak to the skilled catastrophic work injuries attorneys at the Law Office of Jason M. Hatfield.
- AWCC Form-1: Assuming the employer is aware of a fatal work injury, they must file this form as it is required for an employer to note the First Report of Injury or Illness.
- AWCC Form C – Claim for Compensation: You will likely need to file this formal claim with the AWCC, which a fatal work injury attorney at the Law Office of Jason M. Hatfield can help with.
- A Death Claim: Must be filed within two years of the date of the accident.
- AWCC Form-C, Employer’s Intent to Accept or Controvert Claim: Be aware that depending on the circumstances of work-related death, an employer may choose to challenge the claim. If they decide to challenge the claim, they have fifteen days to complete this form.
The waiting time for a hearing is typically thirty to sixty days, depending on the nature of the claim. An Administrative Law Judge will issue a decision within ninety days of the hearing. It is essential to know that most fatal work injury claims are processed as quickly as they can be, but delays, errors and mistakes do happen from time to time. In some cases, benefits can be less than expected or are denied. At the Law Office of Jason M. Hatfield, we know exactly what to do to deal with situations like that. We are here to help you.
Coverage Offered by the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission
The AWCC offers various benefits, including a death benefit for fatal work injuries. Those benefits include:
- Death – Up to $6,000 may be paid for funeral expenses. Death benefits are calculated per AR Code §11-9-527. A dependent spouse is entitled to receive 35% of the average weekly wage of their deceased spouse until remarriage.
- PTD – Permanent total disability is when disability is complete, and improvement is not expected.
- TTD – Temporary total disability is when an injury causes a total disability but is not expected to be permanent.
- TPD – Temporary partial disability is when an injury results in a total disability, but it is not expected to be permanent.
- PPD – Permanent partial disability is when an injury results in a partial disability and is not expected to improve.
Any payments made to an injured worker or a deceased worker’s family under the Workers’ Compensation Law are tax-free.
Contact the Law Office of Jason M. Hatfield for a Free Consultation
We represent injured workers and those who have sustained a fatal work injury across Northwest Arkansas, including Springdale, Rogers, Berryville, Bentonville, and Harrison. To learn more about our services and schedule a free consultation, call us today at (479) 361-3575. You may also connect with us through our online contact form.