Many times, potential clients call and tell me that they have not been told why their claim was denied. The insurance carrier will simply tell them they don’t have a “compensable claim.” This would be frustrating to anyone. When hired, my firm immediately files what is called a Form-C. A Form-C is a complaint filed with the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission. Insurance companies are required to respond to the Form-C filing with a definitive reason why they are denying your claim.
There are times that insurance companies change their position and accept your claim, after our firm files the Form-C. If the employer continues to deny your claim, then we request a hearing be set before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).
Workers’ Compensation Appeals Process
There are several stages within the appeal process prior to any case going before the ALJ as outlined below.
Initially, a phone conference is held between the attorneys and the judge wherein the issues to be tried are discussed. At that phone hearing the ALJ sets a trial date.
During this period, the discovery process begins wherein the attorneys exchange written interrogatories and requests for documents that you and the employer must answer.
After the written discovery process concludes, depositions are sometimes taken. A deposition is a statement taken under oath, and my clients provide deposition testimony in my office with me being present during the deposition. Obviously, I explain this process in detail before I allow my client’s deposition to be taken.
Hearing before the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
Hearings occur at the Workers’ Compensation Commission, and the Northwest Arkansas hearing office is located in Springdale, Arkansas. The attorneys are required to exchange all evidence and witnesses at least seven days before the hearing. All testimony is given under oath and live before an ALJ; however, a decision is not provided on the day of the hearing.
Decision of Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
The court reporter is permitted thirty (30) days to type the testimony, and the ALJ is permitted sixty (60) days after receipt of the transcript to issue his or her Opinion.
Appealing the Administrative Law Judges (ALJ) Decision
After receipt of the ALJ Opinion/Decision, the losing party is allowed thirty (30) days to appeal the Decision to the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission. The Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission is made up of three Commissioners. After the Decision is appealed, the Commission will send out a Scheduling Order which sets dates that the attorneys are supposed to submit written briefs outlining the facts presented at the hearing and the law. After the briefs are submitted, the Commission will issue a new Opinion/Decision based upon those briefs and the evidence submitted to the ALJ.
Appealing the Decision to the Arkansas Court of Appeals
Most cases are not appealed after the Workers’ Compensation Commission issues its Opinion/Decision. However, if the losing party believes the Commission has made a legal error or has abused its discretion, then the losing party can appeal the Decision to the Arkansas Court of Appeals. The Arkansas Court of Appeals rarely disturbs or overrules Opinions from the Workers’ Compensation Commission. However, our firm has had good success on these appeals when we’ve decided to move forward with them.
Petitioning the Arkansas Supreme Court
The losing party at the Arkansas Court of Appeals can petition the Arkansas Supreme Court to hear the case, but the Arkansas Supreme Court rarely accepts Work Comp issues for review. Appeals to the Arkansas Court of Appeals and the Arkansas Supreme Court can be very expensive.
Experienced Workers’ Comp Appeals Attorney in Springdale, AR
The Law Office of Jason M. Hatfield, P.A. has successfully appealed and won many workers’ compensation claims for benefits. We have the experience required in litigating issues and developing a solid record before the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), the Arkansas Court of Appeals and even the Arkansas Supreme Court. Below is an example of a successful award obtained by our office.
- In Yousey v. Multi-Craft Contractors we recently litigated a case wherein the Opinion/Decision regarding a brain injury was overruled at every stage of the litigation process. We lost in front of the ALJ, we won before the Workers’ Compensation Commission, we lost before the Arkansas Court of Appeals, and we ultimately won at the Arkansas Supreme Court. It was an absolute roller coaster ride and lasted almost three years from the time the Form-C was filed until the Arkansas Supreme Court made the final Decision. The case can be found at Yousey v. Multi-Craft Contractors, 2018 Ark. 107, 542 S.W.3d 155 (2018).
For help with your workers’ compensation appeal for benefits and other workers’ comp issues, contact Jason Hatfield today at 479-361-3575 to speak directly to him about your work comp case. The sooner he can start working on your case, the sooner you can start collecting your benefits.
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.