Getting hurt on the job can be a physically and emotionally stressful time. And, unfortunately, workplace injuries are incredibly common. In 2013, over 3 million occupational injuries and illnesses were reported.
Accidents at work can take a serious toll on your finances and quality of life, too. About 22% of slip and fall injuries result in 31 days away from work (or more). After a work-related accident occurs, employees should know their rights and the best way to proceed with claiming workers compensation. Of course, there’s a world of difference between “should know” and “do know.”
If you’ve been hurt on the job, here are some common questions to ask before filing a workers compensation claim:
Am I Covered?
Luckily, most businesses have workers’ compensation insurance (in fact, 74% of states in our country legally require all businesses to have it). Laws vary from state to state, and exceptions do occur; for example, businesses with only a few employees are sometimes exempt from the rule, and certain charities can occasionally opt out of the system. However, the majority of businesses are covered, and if your employer claims otherwise, it’s recommended you check with a workers compensation attorney. In order to file a claim, you must be an employee (i.e., not an independent contractor), and the injury or illness must be work-related.
How Soon Should I File?
After receiving any emergency medical attention you might require, you should notify your employer of your intention to file a claim as soon as possible. Even when you’re afforded years to file a claim, it’s best not to wait. Your employer will report the injury to their insurance provider and will typically provide you with forms to complete, which will be submitted by your employer.
What Kinds of Benefits Can I Expect to Receive?
Medical Care: Workers compensation insurance will pay for medical care deemed reasonably necessary and related to your workplace injury. These can include visits to a doctor (approved by your employer’s insurance company), hospital care, surgery, physical therapy, prescription medications, and medical supplies (including braces and crutches).
Missed Wages: If you miss work due to your work-related illness or injury, you may be entitled to payment for lost wages. Since 75% of Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck, this can be incredibly helpful (especially for the 27% of Americans who have no savings at all). Typically, you will be paid for missed wages after the eighth day you are disabled. You will be paid for the first seven days missed only if you are unable to work for more than 14 days.
In general, you should not expect anything, but instead do everything you can to file your claim. Remember that workers compensation isn’t meant to be like winning the lottery. The average compensation for an employee with a work-related arm injury in the U.S. amounted to just under $170,000 in 2015, but that may just barely cover medical expenses and lost wages.
Should I Hire a Workers Compensation Attorney?
Some of the finer points of compensation claims can be tricky, and finding out whether you qualify isn’t always black and white. Even if you’re sure you’re covered, it’s recommended you consult with a workers compensation attorney to ensure the process runs as smoothly as possible. A lawyer will navigate you through this tough time by helping you understand your rights and will be on your side to make sure you receive any and all compensation to which you are entitled.
If you’ve been the victim of a work-related injury or illness in Arkansas, call one of our offices today to get started on your claim.