Rainwater, Holt & Sexton | Injury Law Blog

WHAT IS AN IMPAIRMENT RATING?

by Laura Beth York | February 20th, 2017

In Arkansas Workers’ Compensation cases, when an injured party gets released by their doctor at maximum medical improvement (i.e. as good as you are going to get), often times the doctor will assign an impairment rating. An impairment rating is a measure of the level of impairment, so the worker, employer, and insurance company can all understand the severity of the injury. In Arkansas doctors must use a book entitled The AMA Guide to Permanent Edition, 4th Edition, to calculate that rating. This book covers every body part that could be injured, including the skin, the spine, the upper extremities, the lower extremities, etc. When the doctor assigns the rating, that rating is valued at a dollar figure. There are mathematical formulas to calculate how much your impairment rating is worth.

Once an impairment rating is assigned, it is important to seek help from an attorney, who can properly calculate the rating and make sure that all the benefits have been paid. Additionally, depending upon the type of injury that was sustained, it may qualify an injured worker for additional benefits. A Rainwater, Holt & Sexton attorney can help to ensure that an injured worker receives all the money and medical benefits that the law allows.

How Do I Apply for Social Security Disability?

by Mike Rainwater | February 17th, 2017

If you have recently suffered an illness or injury that makes it impossible for you to work, you are likely eligible for Social Security disability benefits – but how do you apply? The application process can be daunting without the right guidance. Consider hiring a disability attorney to assist with your application. Statistics show that Social Security is more likely to approve an applicant who is represented by legal counsel, plus you’ll avoid much of the stress of navigating the ins and outs of the process.

Who is Eligible for Social Security Disability?

Social Security Disability (SSD) is a program that gives monthly payments to people who have become disabled before retirement age and are not able to work. You are eligible if you cannot work because of a medical condition that is expected to last one year or more, or result in death.

What Do I Need to Apply?

There is a lot of information that Social Security will need to review as part of your application. You should have the following details ready before applying. A disability lawyer will help to organize these details and build the strongest case for your disability claim.

Basic Information

  • Birth and citizenship information
  • Marriage/divorce documentation
  • Names and birth dates of children
  • S. military service details
  • Employer details for current year and prior two years
  • Direct deposit information
  • Education and training history

Details Related to Health Condition

  • Detailed medical history of the condition including names, addresses, phone numbers and dates of examinations and treatments
  • Name of medications, who prescribed them and why
  • Names and dates of medical tests and who sent for them
  • Date and details about when your condition began affecting your ability to work

 

Contact Rainwater, Holt & Sexton in you’re located in Northwest Arkansas and would like to discuss your situation with a Fayetteville disability lawyer. You have nothing to lose by consulting a disability attorney, but could have a lot to gain.

DO I HAVE TO PARTICIPATE IN VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION ?

by Laura Beth York | February 15th, 2017

Often times, when a person is injured at work, they end up with permanent restrictions that prevent the employee from going back to the job that he or she had at the time of the injury. This can be a very scary time for the employee and their family, because at first glance it looks like that income has been taken away.

There are options though if you find yourself or a family member in this situation. The workers’ compensation insurance carrier will usually offer vocational rehabilitation to that employee. Vocational Rehabilitation can mean different things: either help finding a job or being retrained to find another job within his or her restrictions.

But what if you don’t want to participate in vocational rehabilitation? Arkansas Code Annotated. § 11-9-505 tells us that if vocational rehabilitation is offered by the workers’ compensation insurance company, and injured worker refuses….he won’t receive wage loss benefits or vocational rehabilitation. Basically, the insurance carrier get to keep money that you may have otherwise been entitled to. That might not seem fair, but a Rainwater, Holt & Sexton attorney can help you navigate the issue of vocational rehabilitation and what would work best for you to maximize your workers’ compensation benefits.

Wrongful Death Claim? Protect Your Family’s Future

by Mike Rainwater | February 13th, 2017

We’ve all lost someone we love. In the best circumstances, we were given the opportunity to say goodbye and tell them what they’ve meant to us. But when that opportunity is taken from us due to someone else’s carelessness, it can leave us feeling broken, confused, and angry. If you’ve lost a loved one in that way, you know firsthand the unique mixture of loss and uncertainty that accompanies a wrongful death. You may be feeling as if there’s nowhere to turn for help, but there is.

At Rainwater, Holt & Sexton, we help surviving families of wrongful death victims in Arkansas get the justice they deserve. It’s not about getting revenge; it’s about reconciling your loss and the potential your loved one brought to your family. That includes loss of future income, companionship, and much more. No amount of compensation can bring your loved one home to you, but it can protect you and your family from undue financial troubles down the road.

If you’ve lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, call our experienced Arkansas wrongful death attorneys today for a free consultation. We’re ready to hear your story and handle your case with the dignity and respect your loved one deserves. You’ve been through enough already. Let us help you take the first step in moving forward.

MONTHLY CHARITY GIVEAWAY WINNER – Easterseals

by Mike Rainwater | February 8th, 2017

january-2017-easter-seals

Since 1944 Easterseals Arkansas has been helping Arkansans with disabilities and special needs. Easterseals helps individuals and families with everything from child development, to physical therapy, to job training. Because of the work Easterseals is doing in the community many people with disability are able live fuller lives. Today Easterseals helps more than 20,000 people each year. To read more about Easterseals check out the article in the new Soiree Magazine about the upcoming Easterseals Arkansas Fashion Show fundraiser.

Our monthly charity giving is one of our favorite things to do. Each month employees nominate and vote on a charity in the community they would like to help. Throughout the month employees “donate” by buying snacks and drinks that the firm subsidizes. All the proceeds from the snacks are then matched by the firm. We are honored to have such great employees that not only pick out wonderful organizations, but also help by donating all month long.

WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH ALL THE WORKERS’ COMP FORMS?

by Laura Beth York | February 8th, 2017

There is no shortage of forms on file with the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission. In fact, there are forty-two (42) forms on file. Many times employers present injured workers with forms to sign. Do they have to sign it? Do they understand what they are signing? Have they been provided with all the pages that go along with the form? How does signing a form effect their claim?

For example, employers usually provide the employee with a Form-N, which gives the employer notice of an injury. Employees should always provide notice of any injury to their employer, but they should keep a copy of any forms that they sign for their records. Not only does the second page provide important information, but it is deemed so important that the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission requires that the workers’ compensation insurance company prove that they provided the injured worker with both pages of this document.

We understand that these forms can be confusing. Often times injured workers’ need assistance in determining if the forms that are being provided to them are necessary and if they might have a negative impact on their claim. A Rainwater, Holt & Sexton workers’ compensation attorney can help you to navigate these forms and make sure that all of your rights are protected.

Your Employer May Not Be Able to Help

by Mike Rainwater | February 7th, 2017

In Arkansas, we have a lot of family owned companies. Whether they’ve been around for generations or recently incorporated, these homegrown businesses are a big part of what makes our state one of the greatest in the south. Working for such a company often feels like working for yourself. You’re probably on a first name basis with the owners, know each other’s families, and invest in each other’s lives outside of work. So when a workplace accident occurs, the impact can be felt throughout the company.

Of course the owners want to do right by you and your family, but their arms may be tied. The insurance company that handles their workers’ compensation claims can dictate the level of benefits you and your family receive. If it’s not nearly enough for you to get by, there’s not much your employer can do to change it. That’s why it’s always important to consult with a workers’ compensation attorney before signing anything from the insurance company.

We understand that speaking with an attorney can feel like you’re betraying your employer, but you’re not. Your employer can’t demand that their insurance company do right by their employees, but a workers’ compensation attorney can.

If you’ve been injured on the job, contact our Arkansas workers’ compensation attorneys today for a free consultation. We’re ready to help you get the workers’ comp benefits your family needs so you can put this accident behind you.

Is an Independent Medical Examination Really … Independent?

by Mike Rainwater | February 6th, 2017

One of the first steps when filing a workers compensation claim is to visit the treating doctor for examination of your injury. However, your treating doctor is not the only one that will likely examine you – your employer’s insurers are allowed to contract an independent medical examiner (IME) to examine you, too. The purpose of independent exams are to act as a cross-reference, ensuring workers are not exaggerating their injury.

Although the word “independent” is in their title, IMEs are not completely sovereign from the insurance company. In 2009, the New York Times found in a review of case files, medical records and interviews that IME reports tend to benefit insurers.

Who Becomes an Independent Medical Examiner?

Independent medical examiners are often semiretired physicians who are older and no longer treating patients. The only requirements to become an IME are to have a state medical license and be authorized in a specialty.

Physicians can make appointments for independent exams on their own time, maintaining their own schedule and freedom. Very little equipment is needed and there is no physician-patient relationship, absolving the IME of potential liability. Overall, it can be lucrative part-time or full-time work for a physician looking for flexibility.

Independent Medical Examiner Bias

Some critics think that insurers hire IMEs who dispute worker’s doctors more frequently, giving them an incentive to side with the insurer. According to a 2009 New York Times article*, one doctor claimed that doctors have to give insurers what they want or else they’ll be out of work. In the same article, a New York Times review is cited as finding that exam reports are “routinely tilted to benefit insurers by minimizing or dismissing injures.”

Further, independent medical examiners could see up to 50 patients a day, leaving them very little time to examine a patient or record the examination. Some doctors don’t record a word of the exam – instead, they submit a checklist to a company that handles paperwork for independent medical exams, who in turn drafts a report that the doctor only has to sign to attest to the accuracy.

If you have questions about your workers compensation claim or feel that an unfair outcome was reached during your independent medical exam, discuss the situation with a Little Rock work injury lawyer.

*Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/01/nyregion/01comp.html

The Top 6 Warning Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

by Mike Rainwater | February 4th, 2017

Senior citizens are some of society’s most vulnerable and they can’t always fend for themselves, or defend themselves. For those living in nursing homes, abuse can take on many forms – from unsanitary living conditions to unresponsive managers. If you have a loved one living in a nursing home, it’s important to understand the signs of abuse to protect them. Look for these six signs of abuse:

1. Changes in personal hygiene or appearance efforts

Maintaining personal hygiene is the most basic type of care. A noticeable change in appearance or hygiene could signal that the patient is not getting the daily attention required and deserved.

2. Malnutrition, dehydration or sudden weight loss

This signals that the patient is not getting proper fluid and nutrition, which can lead to long-term health problems.

3. Unexplained injuries

If your loved one has injuries that he or she cannot explain or that the nursing home staff cannot explain to your satisfaction, it could signal that the patient is not being monitored – or something worse.

4. Withdrawn or unusual changes in behavior

Unexplained changes in behavior can be a sign that there is something unsatisfactory about the living environment or signal deeper signs of distress.

5. A change in interaction with nursing home staff

If your loved one suddenly changes the way they feel about nursing home staff, it could be a sign that an incident has occurred.

6. Environmental hazards in patient’s room

If there are dangers in the room that haven’t been addressed, it can be a sign that nursing home staff is not taking proper care of your loved one.

If someone in your life has been the victim of nursing home abuse, take action to protect them. Anything but a comfortable, safe and healthy living situation is unacceptable. If you’ve seen signs of abuse, contact Arkansas’s attorneys for nursing home neglect to discuss the situation.

Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death After an Auto Accident?

by Mike Rainwater | February 2nd, 2017

In 2015, there were 32,000 fatal motor vehicle crashes in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). After a car accident involving a death, a wrongful death claim can be made against the negligent party that caused the person’s death.

Wrongful Death Defined

Wrongful death occurs because of the negligence of others. When someone acts negligently, they fail to use reasonable care, resulting in damage or harm to others. A wrongful death in an auto accident can happen if, for example, a driver fails to stop at a red light and collides with another car or a driver drives the wrong way on a one-way street harming others. In these instances, the driver is not abiding by traffic laws, failing to use reasonable care while operating their vehicle.

Who Has the Right to File a Claim?

Not just any grieving party can file a wrongful death claim when a loved one dies – they must have a specific relationship to the deceased. Generally, those who can file a wrongful death claim in Arkansas include:

  • The survivng spouse,
  • The surviving children,
  • The surviving parents or siblings.

Be prepared to prove your relationship to the deceased with a wedding license, birth certificate or copy of the will, depending on your relationship.

Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim

In an Arkansas wrongful death claim, the grieving family can seek compensation for:

  • Funeral expenses
  • Lost wages and income
  • Emotional duress
  • Lost financial contributions
  • Loss of companionship

If you’ve lost a loved one in an auto accident due to the negligence of someone else, contact the Arkansas auto accident lawyers at Rainwater, Holt and Sexton for a free consultation.

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