Sometimes the worker’s compensation benefits are denied because the employer or the company’s insurance company will dispute your claim.
If this is your case, you can file an appeal with the Arkansas Worker’s Compensation Commission and hire a workers compensation lawyer at Jason M. Hatfield.
File an appeal
If you are not content with the decision about your case, you may submit a “Claim for Compensation” with the Commission, or you can send a letter to the Commission asking a formal hearing. If you send a letter, make sure you explain everything, add the date of your injury, the benefits you have previously received, what benefits you are seeking now, and what issues are in dispute.
The time limits are very strict when it comes to an employee filing a claim for compensation with the Commission:
- Accidental injuries – Two years from the date of your injury. If you have received any workers’ comp benefits, one year from the date of your received any compensation.
- Occupational diseases – One year from the last “injurious” exposure to the substance that ruined your health. Injurious exposure is an exposure that caused or added to your illness. Workers that work with a chemical that caused them to develop cancer, have one year from their last exposure to that chemical. There is a special time limit for certain diseases, like silicosis and asbestosis and for injuries caused by radioactive substances, ionizing radiation, or exposure to X-rays.
Usually, it takes a few days after you file your claim for the Administrative Law Judge to assign your claim and send both sides a notice that the claim is received.
Your employer and their insurance company have twenty days from the moment they receive the notice to respond to your claim.
Most companies have workers’ compensation insurance with third party companies, so it is probable that you will deal with the insurers through the appealing process.
The Commission offers mediation services that will give you and the insurance company a chance to settle your dispute before a hearing. Mediation is not mandatory for most claims, but it is mandatory if your claim is for less than $2,500. The Commission will hire a Legal Advisor to lead the mediation. It is an informal conference that lasts a couple of hours. The Legal Advisor will try to help both parties come to an agreement. If there is no agreement, your case will continue on to trial.
Another option is hearing (in case you do not want to participate in a mediation or if it does not end with an agreement).
Before the hearing, you may be asked to provide medical and accident reports or any other evidence with the insurers before the hearing (the process of “discovery”). You might have to attend a deposition (a session of questions and answers in which a witness will testify under oath).
At the deposition, the attorney for the insurance company will ask you questions about your injury or disease, former injuries or illnesses, hobbies or other off-duty activities, and about your educational and occupational background. Your doctors or any witnesses of the accidents may be asked to testify.
The Workers’ Compensation Commission has hearing locations in every state. So your hearing will take place in the state where your injury happened. The hearing is not as formal as a court trial.
During the hearing, both parties will present their cases.
After the hearing, the ALJ will release a written order with their decision on the dispute. If you disagree with their decision, you can file an appeal within thirty days with the full Workers’ Compensation Commission. Send a letter to the Commission, precisely stating the issues from ALJ’s order you want to appeal. After you file the appeal, you have thirty days to file a brief supporting your appear.
In case you again object the full Workers’ Compensation Commission’s decision, you may file an appeal with the Arkansas Court of Appeals within thirty days. If all of these seem too complex for you and you feel that you wouldn’t be able to do it by yourself, you should seek a worker’s compensation attorney.
They will answer your questions and guide you in the process. The whole thing may be lengthy and stressful, and you ought to recover from your injuries instead of worrying about things. Our team at Jason Hatfield has experience with the appealing process of workers’ compensation claims. Call our office today and schedule your first consultation.