How to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Arkansas
Under Arkansas law, any business or company with at least three employees is required to offer workers’ compensation insurance coverage for their workers. This insurance protects both the employee and the employer in case of an on-the-job injury. When a worker is injured, they can automatically collect compensation for their injuries, without having to prove fault or establish negligence. The employer is then safe from a lawsuit when a worker is injured on their property. This process should, in theory, go smoothly after an injury at work. Unfortunately, collecting workers’ compensation benefits can be difficult.
Understanding the workers’ compensation filing process in Arkansas can help you obtain the benefits you are entitled to and protect your rights after an injury. Failing to file a claim quickly can have an adverse effect on your ability to collect the benefits you need. An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer can help ensure that you do not miss any critical deadlines for filing claims and see that your claim is processed fairly by the insurance company.
The first step you should take after an on-the-job injury is to notify your employer of your injury and the incident that led to your injury. You should then fill out Form-N also known as an Employee’s Notice of Injury. A Form-N provides your employer with: Not only should employees always provide notice of any injury to their employer, but they should also keep a copy of any forms that they sign for their records. The second page of these forms provides important information. Workers’ compensation insurance companies are required to prove that they provided the injured worker with both pages of this document by the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission. Your employer will then fill out a “First Report of Injury” and submit this form to the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission, as well as the insurance company. If you fail to notify your employer within 30 days, your claim could be ignored or denied altogether.
Step 1: Notify Your Employer
The first step you should take after an on-the-job injury is to notify your employer of your injury and the incident that led to your injury. You should then fill out Form-N also known as an Employee’s Notice of Injury.
A Form-N provides your employer with:
Not only should employees always provide notice of any injury to their employer, but they should also keep a copy of any forms that they sign for their records. The second page of these forms provides important information. Workers’ compensation insurance companies are required to prove that they provided the injured worker with both pages of this document by the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission.
Your employer will then fill out a “First Report of Injury” and submit this form to the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission, as well as the insurance company. If you fail to notify your employer within 30 days, your claim could be ignored or denied altogether.
Step 2: Try Resolving the Dispute Prior to Filing Forms
After your employer has filed a “First Report of Injury” form to the insurance company, you may be asked to submit to a physical exam by the company doctor. You may also be asked to undergo testing or medical exams to determine the extent of your injury. Be sure to follow all doctor’s orders precisely— failure to comply with requests from the insurance company could result in your benefits being denied.
If there is a dispute with the medical examination or the doctor’s findings, you should try to resolve the dispute amicably with your employer or with the insurance company. You can seek a second opinion from another physician or have your medical results reviewed by a third party.
Step 3: Find the Correct Forms & Fill Them Out
There are forty-two (42) forms that must be filed with the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission. Filling out these forms can be tedious and confusing, which is why an experienced Arkansas workers’ compensation lawyer can be invaluable. Your attorney will know which forms you need to fill out and ensure that you do not miss any critical deadlines for filing these forms.
When filing a workers’ compensation claim in Arkansas, you may need to fill out numerous forms, such as:
- Form N – Notice to Employer
- Form C – Claim for Compensation
- Form D – Death or Permanent Total Disability Case
- Form L – Lump Sum Payment
Knowing which forms to fill out is half the battle, filling them out correctly is the other half. These forms will supply your employer, their insurer, and the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission with the information they need to approve or deny your claim. It will also determine which benefits you are entitled to and how you could receive those benefits. In many cases, you may be eligible for multiple benefits, so review these forms with your attorney before filing them.
Step 4: File and Serve Forms
Do not assume that your employer will file a claim on your behalf. Unfortunately, many injured workers submit a “Notice of injury” to their employer and then erroneously believe that their employer is handling things from their end. Instead, make sure you’re filing the appropriate claim for compensation yourself.
Once you’ve filled out the appropriate forms, file them with the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission. While you do have two years from the date of injury to file a claim with the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission, injured employees should not delay. Once you miss this deadline, you will be barred from asserting a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.
Step 5: Attend All Mediation, Settlement Discussions, and Hearings
Throughout your case, you may have the opportunity to settle your case. Settling your case can be beneficial for many reasons, but you should discuss this option with your attorney before reaching a settlement.
During this process, you may need to enter into mediation between you and the insurance company. Arkansas requires the parties to attend mediation before the case can proceed to a workers’ compensation hearing. Attend all mediation meetings, settlement discussions, and hearings in order to achieve the best outcome.
Answer all questions honestly and accurately during mediation. Both sides will have the option to present their cases and then you will be able to meet with the mediator directly. The mediator may discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your case and help you arrive at an initial settlement offer. This offer will be presented to the insurance company and the settlement negotiations will begin.
If you and the insurance company can reach a settlement at mediation, your lawyer will draft an agreement and outline the terms of the settlement. This often involves more forms and filings, especially if you are being paid in a lump sum payment. All workers’ compensation settlements must be approved by the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission.
Step 6: Filing an Appeal
You have the right to appeal the denial if your workers’ compensation claim is denied. While you may be frustrated that your initial claim was rejected, the good news is that your chances of receiving a settlement are higher when you challenge the denial. Contact the insurance company and ask for a more detailed description of why your claim was rejected.
Once you’ve determined why your claim was denied, you can begin compiling evidence and building an argument against that denial. If you have additional documents or facts that were not submitted with your original claim, you may be able to submit them during this time. Perhaps the form wasn’t filed properly or perhaps they didn’t’ have all of your medical records. Oftentimes, injured workers can get the insurance company to reverse their decision during this time without having to file a formal appeal.
You will need to file a formal claim if you can’t get your claim approved. Talk to an experienced attorney to begin the process. Your attorney will be able to build your case and fill out the necessary forms to have your workers’ compensation claim approved and settled.
We’ll Help You Weather the Storm®
With five offices in Arkansas—Little Rock, Fayetteville, Conway, Bryant, and Hot Springs—our Arkansas workers’ compensation lawyers are right where you need us from the moment you are injured. Contact Rainwater, Holt & Sexton Workers’ Compensation Lawyers today. Fill out a free contact request form, which only takes a minute, or simply dial (800) 767-4815 and we can get to work for you.