A work injury can cause major disruptions to your life—not only your health, but also to your career, finances, and overall well-being. The Arkansas workers’ compensation system is designed to compensate you for some of those losses and get you back to work as soon as possible. However, worker’s comp also limits the amount of money you can receive from your employer.
This article explains the types and amounts of benefits that are available through workers’ comp. (To get these benefits, you will need to file an Arkansas workers’ compensation claim.)
In Arkansas, temporary total disability benefits are paid when an employee needs time off work while being treated for a work injury. The first seven days of missed work are not paid unless you need more than two weeks off work.
Benefits for temporary total disability are two-thirds of your average weekly wage. However, you cannot receive more than a maximum amount set by law each year. For 2019, the maximum weekly benefit is $695 per week for total disability and $521 for permanent partial disability.
If you’re able to work during this time, but you are earning less due to your injury, you can receive temporary partial disability benefits. These benefits are two-thirds of the difference between your wages before your injury and what you’re able to earn now, subject to the same weekly maximum mentioned above.
When your condition is no longer expected to improve significantly, your doctor will evaluate you for a permanent disability. If you are found to be permanently and totally disabled, you will continue to receive weekly payments at your temporary total rate for as long as you are disabled. The permanent and total disability category is reserved for workers with serious injuries that leave them unable to hold any type of gainful employment. This includes the loss of both hands, arms, legs, or eyes—or any two of those combined—as well as other disabilities on a case-by-case basis. Permanent total disability benefits are capped at $225,875 (for 2019).
If you have a permanent impairment but are not totally disabled, you may be eligible for a permanent partial disability award. Arkansas has two types of permanent partial awards: scheduled awards and unscheduled awards.
Arkansas workers’ comp pays for amputation or a permanent loss of use of certain body parts—such as the arms, legs, hands, feet, fingers, toes, eyes, and ears. If your temporary total rate is $205.35 or more, you will receive 75% of your temporary total rate—up to a maximum of $521 (for 2019). If your temporary total rate is less than $205.35, you will receive two-thirds of your average weekly wage, up to $154 per week. If you have an amputation or a total loss of use of a scheduled body part, you will receive your temporary total rate.
You will receive benefits for a number of weeks determined by a state schedule. For example, the schedule lists a total loss of hearing in one ear at 42 weeks. If you have a partial loss of use of that body part, you will receive a proportionate number of weeks. For example, a 50% loss of hearing in one ear is worth 21 weeks of payment (50% of 42 weeks).
If you have a permanent impairment of a body part not mentioned on the schedule—such as the back or neck—you will be eligible for a body as a whole award. These awards are paid at the same rate as scheduled awards. You will receive benefits for a portion of 450 weeks, according to your percentage of disability.
The Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission can also make a one-time award of up to $3,500 for serious disfigurement to the head or face.
Arkansas workers’ compensation also provides additional benefits, including:
As you can see, workers’ compensation only pays of a portion of your lost wages. Workers’ comp also does not pay anything for the pain and suffering caused by your injury. While this may seem unfair, it is part of the trade-off that is the workers’ comp system. The advantage of workers’ comp is that you can get benefits relatively quickly without needing to file a lawsuit or prove that your employer was at fault for causing your injury. The downside is that you can’t get the full value of your losses. (However, in some cases, you may be able to file a lawsuit to recover pain and suffering and other losses. To learn more, see our article on suing outside of the workers’ comp system.)