·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary

News & Politics

How Does Workers’ Compensation Work in Arkansas?

— June 7, 2022

There are limits on how much compensation a person may collect. Your exact benefits calculations will be based on your unique injuries and how much money you were earning at your job before you were injured.

Workers’ Compensation in Arkansas is designed to help injured employees make ends meet while recovering from injuries sustained on the job. All workers need to understand the ins and outs of Workers’ Compensation because it is not optional. It is the only legal option available in most cases, as lawsuits against employers are categorically barred.

Most employees in Arkansas are eligible for Workers’ Compensation as long as they were injured at work and suffered compensable injuries. Most injuries are considered compensable if they result from a workplace accident or incident. The amount of money an injured worker may receive will vary from case to case, although there are caps on how much compensation may be paid each week. While Workers’ Compensation is legally required, there are certain exceptions where injured employees can sue their employers. Typically, this is possible when the employer fails to carry Workers’ Compensation insurance as the law requires.

The Workers’ Compensation system is meant to work for injured employees, but many people have trouble navigating the complex legal processes. Your best bet might be to contact an experienced Workers’ Compensation lawyer for advice.

What is Workers’ Compensation Used for in Arkansas?

Workers’ Compensation is designed to compensate injured workers involved in accidents on the job. Workplace accidents can happen in any field. People tend to associate accidents with inherently dangerous jobs like construction workers or people who work with heavy machinery. The truth is that even office workers who do their jobs at desks all day may be injured in a work-related accident.

Workers’ Compensation is the exclusive remedy for workplace accidents under Arkansas Code § 11-9-105. This means that when a worker is hurt on the job, their only legal option is to file a Workers’ Compensation claim. Lawsuits against employers for accidents are categorically barred unless very specific circumstances are present.

It is the responsibility of employers to maintain Workers’ Compensation insurance for the benefit of injured employees, according to Arkansas Code § 11-9-401. Workers’ Compensation is typically not something for employees to worry about until they have actually been hurt in an accident. The employer must ensure they have the proper insurance to pay injured workers.

Eligibility for Workers’ Compensation in Arkansas

An injury must be “compensable” for Workers’ Compensation to cover it. Compensable injuries are defined under Arkansas Code § 11-9-102(A). Generally, compensable injuries include accidental injuries causing internal or external damage to a person’s body. Damage to external prosthetics, like glasses, hearing aids, or prosthetic limbs, is also included.

An injury is accidental only if an identifiable and specific incident causes it. The injuries must also be work-related and happen in the course of employment. Injuries that occur outside the scope of your job duties might not be covered. For example, an employee who clocks out for lunch and is then injured in a car accident might not be covered by Workers’ Compensation because they were off duty and the accident happened outside the scope of their job.

Your injuries do not have to be sudden or caused by a single accident to be compensable. Injuries caused over time by repetitive motions may also be compensable. People who work in fields that involve intense physical labor often experience injuries that arise over time. For example, a farmhand or rancher might develop a bad back because of years of heavy lifting. If they can no longer do their job because of their bad back, the farmhand or rancher can file for Workers’ Compensation. Even mental illness or trauma may be compensable if connected to a physical injury.

Government Accuses Paksn of Kickback Scheme
Photo by Kampus Production from Pexels

Contributory negligence should not be a problem for injured workers filing for Workers’ Compensation. Even if the accident was caused by the injured worker themself, they should still be covered by Workers’ Compensation. However, if the injury was intentionally self-inflicted to collect compensation, the injuries are no longer considered compensable.

How Much Are Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Arkansas?

Injured workers may collect benefits through Workers’ Compensation in the form of weekly compensation. Much like you would collect a paycheck every week, you can collect Workers’ Compensation benefits weekly.

Different benefits are provided for workers based on whether their injuries are total or partial. For example, someone who cannot return to work at all may be eligible for total disability benefits. Meanwhile, someone who can still work but in a more limited capacity may receive permanent partial disability, which is usually a bit less than total disability benefits.

There are limits on how much compensation a person may collect. Your exact benefits calculations will be based on your unique injuries and how much money you were earning at your job before you were injured. According to Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission, there is a cap of $790 for total disability benefits and $593 for permanent partial disability benefits. This money is paid to eligible workers every week.

Exceptions to Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Requirements

Workers’ Compensation is the exclusive remedy for injured employees in Arkansas. However, there are circumstances where injured workers may step outside the Workers’ Compensation system and file a lawsuit against their employer. If you think your case might warrant a lawsuit, you should speak with an Arkansas Workers’ Compensation attorney about your legal options.

Perhaps the most common reason for exemptions from Workers’ Compensation is that the employer fails to carry the required insurance for Workers’ Compensation benefits. Injured employees cannot file for Workers’ Compensation if their employers do not carry the insurance needed to file. You should not have to go without compensation because of your employer’s mistakes.

When to Contact an Attorney About a Workers’ Compensation Case in Arkansas

If you were injured at work, you should speak to an Arkansas Workers’ Compensation lawyer immediately. People often try to handle these kinds of incidents on their own because they are afraid of hostility or retaliation from an employer. A Fayetteville personal injury lawyer can help you file for Workers’ Compensation as soon as possible while also protecting your rights.

Join the conversation!