Types of Workers Compensation Accidents
When you are injured at work, you trust that your employer and their insurance company will provide you with the benefits you need to pay for your medical expenses and lost wages. Arkansas law requires that your employer carry workers’ compensation insurance for injury incidents like yours. Sadly, this is not always the case. Injured Arkansas employees are often surprised to learn that they are not eligible to collect workers’ compensation benefits or that their claim has been denied.
Unfortunately, while you are waiting for workers’ compensation benefits or appealing a claim denial, medical bills are often increasing. During this time, injured workers are typically unable to work and collect the money they need to support their families. This can put families in serious financial hardships, resulting in foreclosure or bankruptcy in extreme cases. Before this happens, you need an experienced Arkansas workers’ compensation lawyer on your side.
At Rainwater, Holt & Sexton, we know that workers’ compensation providers are selective when determining what type of workplace injuries to cover. They will look to delay or deny your claim in any way possible and may even claim that you were not injured at all. In many cases, they will point to pre-existing injuries or conditions as a way to deny legitimate workplace injury claims. They do this to protect their bottom line and reduce the amount they pay you. We can help you during this difficult time by fighting for your rights to workers’ compensation benefits after a workplace accident.
What Types of Employees are Covered by Workers’ Compensation?
In the state of Arkansas, all employers with three or more employees must purchase workers’ compensation insurance to protect themselves and their workers should a workplace accident occur. This includes anyone that is considered by law to be an employee, including day laborers, leased employees, borrowed employees, part-time employees, some unpaid volunteers, and some subcontractors.
Some workers are not eligible to collect workers’ compensation benefits because they’re not considered to be employees. Some of those include:
- Farm or agricultural laborers
- Real estate agents
- Independent contractors
- Seasonal workers
- Undocumented workers
- Domestic workers
Employers routinely misclassify employees as independent contractors in order to avoid having to pay their workers injury benefits after an accident. If your claim is denied based on the fact that you are not an “employee” of the company, there may still be ways to obtain benefits. Your attorney will need to review your job status, requirements and position to determine if you have been misclassified, and therefore, are eligible to collect benefits by law.
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What injuries are covered by workers comp?
Any type of injury that occurs while in the course of employment should be covered by workers’ compensation. Because workers’ compensation is a ‘no fault’ based system, injured workers do not have to establish or prove negligence before being able to collect the money they need. They are also still able to collect benefits even if their own negligence or actions led to their injury.
Some of the most common workplace injuries that are covered under workers’ compensation include back injuries, knee injuries, repetitive motion or overuse injuries, fractures, crushing injuries and shoulder injuries.
There are some injuries that are not covered by workers’ compensation in Arkansas. Any injury that resulted because an employee willfully caused themselves harm or was intoxicated at the time of the accident may not be covered.
Other types of injuries that would not be covered include heart disease and many mental injuries. Arkansas law is very specific when it comes to what types of mental injuries are covered. If you were the victim of a violent crime at work, you may be able to prove that your PTSD or panic attacks stemmed from this workplace incident. Routine panic attacks or anxiety, however, would not be covered.
There are many times when an employee re-injures themselves at work or causes a pre-existing injury to worsen. When this happens, you are still eligible for workers’ compensation but only for the portion of the injury that worsened. If you already had an injury, then that injury would not be covered by workers’ compensation.
For example, if you already had a broken arm and you injured your knee in a workplace accident, then you would not be able to collect workers’ compensation for your broken arm, only for your knee injury. If, however, you had a bad back already and a workplace accident caused your back injury to become more severe or debilitating, then you would be able to collect benefits.
What are Repetitive Motion and Overuse Injuries?
Repetitive stress injury or repetitive strain injury (RSI) is a broad term that is used to describe inflammation or pain in muscles, nerves, and tendons often caused by repetitive motion or overuse. These types of injuries most commonly affect the hands, wrists, elbows, neck and shoulders of workers that perform routine and repetitive activity on the job.
Examples of RSIs include:
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Diffuse RSI
- Rotator Cuff Syndrome
- Ulnar Tunnel Syndrome
- Trigger Finger
- Nerve Entrapment Disorders
- Tennis Elbow
Workers’ compensation providers are often skeptical of repetitive motion injuries. In Arkansas, an injury is only covered if it is related to a specific incident or if it is caused by rapid repetitive motion. Employees often have to meet a higher standard of proof before being able to collect the benefits they need to pay for treatment. Your attorney will need to demonstrate to your employer and to the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission that work conditions directly caused your RSI.
What are Occupational Illnesses and are they covered by workers comp?
Workers’ compensation also provides benefits for employees that develop an illness after being exposed to carcinogens, pathogens, or toxins in the workplace. Like RSIs, it can be difficult to clearly establish that the conditions at your employment led to the development of this occupational illness and not heredity, poor lifestyle choices, or an exposure outside of the job. In order to qualify for benefits, your attorney must clearly establish that the illness or disease was directly caused by their employment.
Some of the most common occupational illnesses that are covered by workers’ compensation include:
- Silicosis, asbestosis, or mesothelioma acquired by a construction worker
- Hepatitis acquired by a lab technician
- Tuberculosis acquired by a nurse
- Contact dermatitis acquired by a dishwasher
- Cancer acquired by an x-ray technician
- Hearing loss acquired by construction worker
When to get a lawyer?
Employers and workers’ compensation benefits providers often deny claims because they believe the injury doesn’t meet the work-related injury requirement. Perhaps they believe that your injury was a pre-existing injury. Or they classified you as an independent contractor. Perhaps they stated that your job requirements wouldn’t have caused your illness or your RSI. Unfortunately, a large portion of denied workers’ compensation claims aren’t denied for accurate or real reasons.
When your workers’ compensation claim has been unfairly denied, you need an experienced Arkansas lawyer on your side. Your attorney can help gather the necessary evidence needed to prove that your illness or injury was caused by your employment, your job requirements or an accident that occurred while you were on the job. Insurance companies can often use unfair tactics when trying to avoid paying valid workers’ compensation claims. That’s why injured workers need someone on their side.
We’re There When You Need Us
When you’ve been injured on the job, you may face difficulty trying to obtain the benefits you are entitled to. When an insurance company unfairly denies your claim or if you are being pressured into returning to work too soon, we can help. At Rainwater, Holt, & Sexton, our Arkansas workers’ compensation attorneys fight aggressively for your future and will handle the insurance companies so you can focus on your recovery. We know the tricks insurance companies and employers use to reduce the benefits they pay, and we use this knowledge to secure maximum benefits for our clients.
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Arkansas and Tennessee are our homes and we want to make sure our neighbors and friends are supported. With six offices locations – Little Rock, Fayetteville, Conway, Hot Springs, Bryant and Memphis —our personal injury lawyers are easily accessible when you need help.
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