Daniel A. Webb in downtown Little Rock.
If you are hurt at work report the injury and how it occurred to your employer immediately. If your employer does not act after being notified you must be persistent. Generally, injuries should be reported in writing so that your employer cannot deny the fact that you gave them notice of the injury. The Arkansas Workers Compensation Commission publishes a Form N which may be downloaded from the AWCC website. Download the form, fill it out and provide it to your employer. Always keep your own copy.
Workers compensation claims are made on your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance policy; your employer does not pay the benefits directly. Just like all other insurance claims, the claim will be denied if the insurance company is not notified promptly.
Generally, your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company will select a doctor for you. You must use the doctor selected for you if you want workers’ compensation to pay for your medical care. If you do not notify your employer promptly and begin treatment with the doctor you are sent to, you will probably not be able to receive benefits. I call this “getting the train on the tracks.” You have to get your train on the tracks at the onset. You can change doctors later if you need to, but in the beginning of your case you must use the doctor chosen by your employer’s insurance company.
Once your case is on the right track you will receive medical care. If you are taken off work by the doctor, you should receive 66% of your regular pay subject to the current maximum comp rate. It is very important to keep written copies of all written work restrictions from the doctor. Often times, the doctor sends the written work restrictions to the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier and does not provide the patient a copy. If you are not given a work restriction slip you must demand one for your own records. You should also make arrangements to receive your medical records. Your medical records are your property; do not let the doctor’s office staff ignore your request for your records. A lawyer will need to review your medical records before agreeing to take your case. The sooner you have your records, the sooner you can hire an attorney to help you. Never be rude or ugly to the doctor or the doctor’s staff, but be persistent to make sure you receive your medical records. You are legally entitled to copies of your medical records.
If your claim is accepted you should receive 66% of your pay as long as the doctor restricts you from working. In most cases, the injured worker will eventually heal and the doctor will indicate that the injured worker has reached maximum medical improvement or MMI. Once you have reached MMI, you may be entitled to a permanent impairment rating. Often times, the doctor will not provide a permanent impairment rating unless a rating is requested. This is a crucial point in a workers’ compensation claim, and an injured worker should have an attorney to make sure that a rating is received and that the rating is accurate. In Arkansas, permanent impairment ratings are based on the American Medical Association Guidelines for Permanent Impairment 4th edition. Compensation for a permanent injury is based on a mathematical formula that combines your permanent impairment rating and your average income prior to being injured. When it comes to a permanent impairment rating, do not count on your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier to be fair with you or protect your best interest. Hire a lawyer if you have a permanent injury.
Some injured workers are entitled to additional benefits for an estimated loss of future income. These claims are referred to as diminished income benefits or wage loss benefits. The amount of diminished income benefits an injured worker should receive is subjective, and you need a lawyer to help you determine the correct amount. Hire a lawyer if you are unable to earn the same money after a work related injury. Do not count on anyone other than your lawyer to help you with a wage loss claim.
Daniel A. Webb at the construction site.
If you are hurt at work, hire a lawyer and hire one as soon as you can. Hire a lawyer you have met with and visited personally. Do not hire a lawyer who will not speak with you in person about your case, and do not hire a lawyer who does not want you to come to his or her office for a face to face meeting. You should be able to speak with a licensed attorney; do not be satisfied with anyone other than a licensed experienced attorney.