Workers’ Compensation

Workplace Accident? You Have a Right to Seek Damages

by Mike Rainwater | March 6th, 2017

On-the-job accidents are some of the most emotionally charged types of cases we handle. Why? Because you know the opposing party. After all, your employer and the employer’s insurance company is responsible for your workplace injuries. It’s their obligation to take care of you and your family after a workplace accident results in injuries. When they fail to do so, it is necessary to hold them accountable, even if it is emotionally difficult for you.

That’s where we come in. The workers’ compensation attorneys at Rainwater, Holt & Sexton understand that bringing a claim against your employer can be difficult, but we also know that not doing so can put your family at serious financial risk. If you can’t work, you won’t get paid. It’s that simple. It’s completely within your rights as a worker to seek compensation for the injuries you’ve sustained. You will not get rich from workers compensation benefits. You will be doing all you can do to provide for your family until you can get back on your feet again. That’s the right thing to do.

Workers compensation is not a perfect system, but it what the law provides and requires in the event of a workplace injury. Workers compensation is a system developed to help workers, but it also helps employers. It helps workers by providing a system for paying injured workers without regard to fault.  On the other hand, it helps employers by limiting claims against employers and co-workers to a workers compensation claim.  An employee cannot sue his or her employer for negligently causing the employee’s on-the-job injury.  The employee can still sue a third party (someone other than the employer or a co-worker) for negligence that caused an on-the-job injury. Filing a workers compensation claim for an on-the-job injury is what the law requires, all the law permits, and the right thing to do for you, your family, and … your employer. 

If you’ve been injured on the job, call our experienced Arkansas workers’ compensation attorneys for a free consultation. We can help you through the process. We’ll review your case at no cost or obligation. We will work to get your family the compensation you’ll need to fully recover. You don’t want to go through this alone, and you don’t have to. Contact us today.

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.

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.

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

How Insurance Companies Try to Rip Off Injured Workers

by Mike Rainwater | January 18th, 2017

An insurance company is a business looking to make a profit. An insurance company look for ways to help a worker’s compensation claim end up so the insurance company spends less money to help you recover. An insurance company may put its interests ahead of yours. There are certain events that can affect the outcome of your workers’ compensation claim. Here are a few ways an insurer may try to rip you off.

Insurance Companies Send You To Their Doctors

Worker’s compensation law allows the employer to choose the initial physician. The “company” doctor is likely a doctor chosen by the worker’s compensation insurance company, or a doctor on a list of preferred doctors that handle their claims. Doctors who agree to have a relationship with insurance companies receive income from the insurance company referrals. This places the doctor in the position where the doctors could feel obligated to make a diagnosis or recommendation that is not objectionable to the worker’s compensation adjuster. A doctor who disagrees too frequently with the insurance adjuster’s recommendation could end up off the approved list.

Insurance Companies Delay Approval of Medical Treatment

Even if your doctor or multiple doctors suggest that you need treatment for your injuries or need other medical care, an insurer can delay the decision by requesting opinions from several different doctors, waiting for a doctor to give an opinion that matches the insurer’s view of the claim. A delay in approval for surgery or medication can lead to longer recovery or permanent consequences.

Insurance Companies Blame Injuries on Existing Conditions

An insurance companies can blame your injury on an existing condition like aging, prior injuries, or the structure of your body to avoid compensating you for lost wages and treatment. If they can make an argument that your injury was caused by something other than workplace conditions, they can save themselves from paying for your recovery.

If you feel your employer’s worker’s compensation insurer is taking advantage of you or your claim is not reaching a fair outcome, discuss your situation with a Fayetteville workers comp lawyer like Rainwater, Holt & Sexton.

Protect Your Family after a Workplace Injury

by Mike Rainwater | January 13th, 2017

People greatly treasure the desire and ability to provide for the people they love. Whether you’re a man, woman, husband, wife, father, son, or daughter, being able to work and provide for our family is very important. The effort we put into caring for our family members says a lot about who we are as people. It is a big part of our sense of self-esteem. Most of us provide for our families through hard work in exchange for a well-earned paycheck every week. That paycheck is more than just the money needed to put food on the table and clothes on our backs. Our paycheck is a symbol of our confidence in our own ability to care for our own.  The paycheck is a very important symbol of appropriate pride in fulfilling our duty and pleasure to love and care for those we love. 

If you can’t work, you don’t get paid. It’s that simple. That’s why an on-the-job injury can be so catastrophic for an Arkansas family like your own. The inability to work due to injury is not only the loss of money you need to care for your family, it is the loss of a large measure of your self-esteem and rightful pride in being able to take care of your family . You might think that because your employer has workers’ comp insurance that you’ll be taken care of, but that’s not necessarily the case. The insurance company required to pay your workers’ compensation benefits sees you as a liability, and treats you like a business expense to be minimized. The insurance company is motivated to pay you as little as possible, regardless of how much it places your family in financial trouble. The insurance company is not motivated to love or care for your family members.

So how do you protect your family after a workplace injury? The smart thing to do is call an attorney. Even if you’ve already started the workers’ compensation claim process, our experienced Arkansas workers’ comp attorneys will review your case for free. Our goal is to make sure you get the maximum amount of compensation possible for your claim. If the insurance company is already offering that amount, then we’ll tell you to take the moneyand we won’t charge you a thing.

If we feel we can get your family more, we’ll gladly take on your case and fight for every dollar you deserve. Your workers’ compensation claim is far too important for you to go it alone. Contact us today for your free consultation.

When the Whistle Blows Without You

by Cary Graham | December 5th, 2016

As an Arkansas worker, your number one priority is providing for your family. That requires you to be on the job and healthy every time that whistle blows, but it only takes a moment for all that to change. A workplace injury does more than sideline you for a given amount of time; it jeopardizes your financial security and that of your family as well. And workers’ compensation may not be enough.

Workers’ comp claims are paid by insurance companies. It’s similar to other types of insurance in the fact that your employer pays the insurance company premiums in order to provide their injured employees with benefits in the event of an accident. However, the insurance company has every motivation to pay you as little as possible for that workers’ comp claim, which could leave you with a massive debt if the money doesn’t cover all your medical bills.

But your injury isn’t only going to cost you medically. You also need compensation for lost wages and other expenses you’re bound to incur. Getting that money on your own can be difficult, which is why you should call an experienced Arkansas workers’ compensation attorney immediately. Our workers’ compensation team will work to maximize your workers’ comp claim. Don’t try to go it alone. Contact us today.

WHAT BENEFITS CAN AN INJURED WORKER RECEIVE WHILE OFF WORK?

by Richard Atkinson | November 23rd, 2016

One of the biggest misconceptions in a workers’ compensation claim is that the claimant is entitled to 100% lost wages while he or she is off work for a work related injury. In reality, there is nothing in the Arkansas laws that tells the claimant that they are entitled to recover 100% of their wages while they are off work for an injury. On the other hand the claimant does have other remedies available.

Temporary Total Disability (TTD)

Temporary total disability (TTD) is that period within the healing period in which claimant suffers a total incapacity to earn wages. Ark. State Highway & Transportation Dept. v. Breshears, 272 Ark. 244, 613 S.W.2d 392 (1981). Basically, if a doctor takes a claimant completely off work, then the claimant is entitled to TTD benefits. The claimant can get paid 66 2/3 % of his Average Weekly Wage, but only up to a maximum value determined by the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission. It is important to have an attorney to review these amounts, because often times the workers’ compensation insurance company undervalues the claimant’s wages, and thus underpays his weekly benefits. It is important to make sure that you are receiving every benefit that you are legally entitled to.

Additionally, if a doctor has not taken a claimant completely off of work, but has given temporary work restrictions, you need to seek advice from an attorney as to what your options may be. Under the current laws, if your employer offers a claimant work within his or her restrictions, and the claimant does not accept, then the claimant may not receive either a TTD benefit check or a paycheck.

Temporary Partial Disability (TPD)

Temporary partial disability (TPD) is a benefit payable to injured workers who are back to work, but earning less than their TTD benefit check. When a claimant is under a doctors care for the work related injury, but has been released to perform some restricted work for the employer, often times the employer cannot accommodate those restrictions for forty (40) hours per week. However, if the claimant performs some work for the employer, they are entitled to get paid for the work that they have performed. But what if that doesn’t add up to much money? The workers’ compensation insurance carrier must pay the difference between what the employer has paid and up to 66 2/3% of his or her average weekly wage. Thus, the claimant will earn at least his or her TTD rate during this time.

In order to receive all the benefits you are entitled to it is important to have a Rainwater, Holt & Sexton workers’ compensation attorney helping you.

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