It is difficult to say what a fair workers compensation settlement would be in Arkansas because there are several factors to consider.
To begin the process, you need to be aware of the benefits provided under the Arkansas Workers Compensation. Generally, if you have a claim in Arkansas you are entitled to medical treatment for your compensable injury. In addition to medical treatment, you are entitled to mileage to and from your doctor’s appointments. Also, the Arkansas Workers Compensation rules provide a fee schedule for treatment. So, much like any other health insurance company, workers compensation carriers and self-insured employers get the benefit of a reduced rate for medical treatment. So, the first step would be to determine what medical treatment you will likely need in the future. We advise our clients that if you will need a surgery, then it may not be in your best interest to settle your workers compensation claim.
Temporary Total Disability Benefits (TTD)
In addition to medical treatment, you may be owed temporary total disability (TTD) benefits for the time that you are still treating and unable to work. TTD benefits are usually paid weekly or bi-weekly and are 2/3 your average weekly wage before your accident. However, there is a cap on how much you can receive in TTD benefits. Generally, we do not look at settling claims if you are still treating and drawing TTD benefits.
Permanent Partial Disability Benefits (PPD)
Next, if you have a permanent injury, you will likely be entitled to permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits as well. Depending on your injury, your physician should be able to assess your PPD rating, once you have completed treatment. The impairment rating should be provided as a percentage. If your injury is to your head, neck, shoulders, mid or lower back (body as a whole), you will take your impairment rating and multiply it by 450 (ie. 10% of 450 = 45 weeks of benefits). Your PPD benefits will generally be 75% of your TTD rate. You will then of course multiply your number of weeks by your PPD rate to determine how much you are owed in total for your PPD benefits.
If your injury is to your extremities and not to your body as a whole, then the benefits you receive for your rating is all that you are entitled to; even if you can no longer do the type of work you’ve done in the past. If your injury is to your “body as a whole,” then you can be entitled to additional PPD benefits in the form of wage loss.
How much are you entitled to for wage loss? Wage loss benefits are not simply the money you lost or will lose because of your injury. Your wage loss is normally either agreed to by the parties or decided by a Judge. The factors in determining your wage loss include your age, education, work history, injuries and permanent restrictions as well as motivation to return to work. Therefore, it is difficult to say what a standard award for wage loss benefits would be in any case, due to the multiple factors involved.
Permanent and Total Disability Benefits (PTD)
Next, if you can prove that you are unable to perform any work whatsoever, then you will be entitled to permanent and total disability benefits. These benefits are paid at your TTD rate (2/3 of your average weekly wage) for life.
Lump Sum Discount
You can receive a lump sum payment for your PPD benefits and leave your claim open. However, those benefits would be subject to a significant reduction at ten percent (10%), compounded annually.
If a separate insurance company paid for any of your medical or indemnity benefits, they could have a claim against your settlement. Depending on the type of policy, they may be entitled to recover all, partial or none of the benefits paid. If you are a Medicare beneficiary or have a “reasonable expectation” that you will be a Medicare beneficiary, then any settlements must be reviewed and approved by Medicare. Failure to comply with the Medicare provisions in a worker’s compensation settlement can have serious consequences for everyone involved.
Unfortunately, there are several factors to consider in whether you are receiving a fair workers compensation settlement in Arkansas. However, if you can account for your future medical treatment and current or future TTD/PPD benefits you can hopefully get a general idea of what your claim is worth.
All workers compensation claim settlements in Arkansas must be reviewed and approved by a Judge. However, we of course recommend you contact an attorney to review your case and at the least give you legal advice before you accept a settlement. Attorney fees in Arkansas are set by state statue and are 25% of your total benefits (excluding medical treatment). We generally negotiate our fee separate from your total settlement, but at the end of the day, if you don’t agree to the settlement terms, then you of course do not have to settle.
Feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or give me a call anytime at 479-442-2244 if you have any questions.