Arkansas workers’ compensation provides valuable benefits to employees who are injured on the job or are diagnosed with an occupational illness. These benefits include medical treatment, cash payments, and vocational rehabilitation. However, you must meet certain requirements to be eligible for workers’ compensation—including specific rules about reporting your injury to your employer.
Arkansas has a no-fault workers’ compensation system, like all other states. You do not need to show that your employer acted carelessly in order to receive benefits. As long as your injury happened on the job or was caused by your work activities, you will typically be eligible for benefits. (For more information about specific benefits, see How Much in Workers' Compensation Benefits Will You Get?)
Under the law, most employers must have workers’ compensation insurance—either by purchasing a workers’ comp policy from a private insurance company or by becoming a self-insured employer. Employers must provide evidence of their financial ability to directly pay claims to receive self-insured status.
The Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission oversees all workers’ comp claims in the state. However, initial claims are investigated and processed by an employer’s insurance company or claims administrator. The Commission will become involved in your claim only if it is disputed.
Notifying your employer is the first step to starting a workers’ compensation claim. In Arkansas, you must immediately notify your employer of a work-related injury. You should provide written notice on an Employee’s Notice of Injury (Form N). If you do not notify your employer of the injury, you may not be able to collect benefits.
It is important that employees provide notice and get medical treatment as quickly as possible. Employers and insurance companies are skeptical of delayed claims and tend to deny them. Giving notice and getting treatment early on will reduce the likelihood of a claim denial.
When you notify your employer, provide as much detail as possible, including:
Once you report an injury, your employer should send you to an occupational doctor. It is important to provide the doctor with accurate information about the cause of your injuries and the severity of your symptoms. Insurance companies rely heavily on initial medical records when they evaluate claims. Your workers' compensation benefits may be denied if you downplay or exaggerate your symptoms.
Once you notify your employer, it must send a First Report of Injury or Illness (Form 1) to its insurance company and the Commission. This form must be submitted within ten days of receiving your notice. The insurance company will then investigate your claim and determine your eligibility for benefits. Its investigation may involve:
Under Arkansas law, the insurance company must either approve or deny your workers’ compensation benefits within 15 days of receiving notice. (The insurance company can request an extension if it needs additional time to get your medical records.) If your claim is approved, you will start receiving cash payments and other benefits. However, insurance companies deny many workers’ compensation claims.
If your claim is denied, you have the right to appeal to the Commission. To begin the process, you must file a Claim for Compensation (Form C). Appeals must be filed within two years of your injury (or the discovery of its relationship to your work) or within one year of your last benefit payment.
Unless your claim is very simple, you should consider hiring a workers’ compensation lawyer. The insurance company will have a lawyer and you may be at a disadvantage if you proceed without an attorney. (To learn more, see Should I Hire a Workers' Comp Attorney or Can I Handle My Own Case?) Arkansas also offers a Legal Advisor Program that assists injured workers with dispute resolution. You can contact the program at (800) 250-2511.