Foot Injury Claim?

We successfully resolved a couple foot injury claims recently, so I thought I’d write a short workers’ compensation foot injury blog.  I don’t think there’s much dispute over the fact that on-the-job foot injuries are particularly devastating to working folks.  Obviously, if it becomes difficult to simply stand and walk, it’s also very hard to perform a job while not being able to stand or walk very well.  Secondly, feet are made up of many, many different bones, joints, tendons, muscles and ligaments; all working together to allow folks to move.  When one part of this complex structure is injured and has to be fixed, it is often quite difficult for doctors to patch things back together like they were before.  It commonly takes months and months for an injured worker to heal following a foot injury; while they’re receiving a whole bunch of medical care and are usually quite depressed about their situation.

Insurance companies know that foot injuries can be quite expensive to pay for and, as a consequence, they sometimes try to manipulate the medical treatment in order to try to end the claim fast and just leave the injured worker hobbling around for the rest of his or her life.  Please do not let this happen in your foot injury claim.  With the right assistance, from an experienced and well-respected workers’ compensation team like Hart Law, there is light at the end of the tunnel.  We fight hard in these feet claims, and we’re with our clients every painful step of the way, in order to make sure they return to good health and get every benefit that our Workers’ Compensation Law offers in these types of cases.

Have questions about a foot injury claim?  Please feel free to give us a call, anytime.

Neal L. Hart, Attorney at Law

Idiopathic Injuries

In order for an insurance company to have to pay on a work injury claim in Arkansas, the injury must, among other things, arise out of and in the course of an injured worker’s employment.  In other words, the work injury must be a natural and probable consequence or incident of the employment and a natural result of one of its risks; for example, a machine operator’s hand becomes stuck in the machine she’s operating.  An idiopathic injury is one whose cause is personal in nature or peculiar to the worker; for example, an office worker is walking back to his desk when his knee suddenly gives out and he falls to the carpet.  The knee buckling could have occurred anywhere; the employee just happened to be at work when it did.  Because an idiopathic injury is not related to the employment, it is generally not compensable unless the conditions of employment contribute to the risk by placing the worker in a position which increases the dangerous effect of the injury; for example, an employee walking on a catwalk suddenly suffers a seizure, causing her to fall over the guard rail onto the concrete below.

Insurance companies love to try to defeat valid workers’ compensation claims by saying that they’re idiopathic and that the injury could have happened anywhere.  We often see these folks spouting the idiopathic injury case law to injured workers, in an attempt to intimidate and confuse them into believing that they have no claim.  If they’re saying that your work injury is idiopathic, give us a call to discuss your options, any time.  When insurance companies make these idiopathic injury arguments, they are sometimes very, very wrong.

Neal L. Hart, Attorney at Law

Knee Replacements in Workers’ Comp

knee-injury

A fairly common work injury scenario in Arkansas goes something like this:  A middle-aged employee, with a history of heavy manual labor jobs, twists his knee at work.  He’s never really had any knee problems to speak of before; or at least none that he knows about.  The treating physician does surgery to fix torn cartilage, or maybe a torn ligament.  The operation doesn’t work, and the doctor says that the claimant needs his knee replaced.  The claim seems to be going great, right up until the doctor recommends the knee replacement.  The insurance company then alleges that the surgery isn’t work-related.

Unfortunately, this happens to working Arkansans far too often.  Knee replacements are expensive, involve substantial residual permanent impairment, and can make it so all or at least portions of an injured worker’s claim will remain open for life.  Insurance companies know this, and routinely try to skirt paying a partial or total knee replacement claim by making the argument that the claimant had “chronic” or “degenerative” knee problems that were present before the work injury.  While it is true that many knee claims we handle involve claimants who have chronic, preexisting knee problems they don’t necessarily know about, the fact remains that if a work injury is found to be even the slightest cause of the need for a knee replacement, the insurance company is probably going to have to pay for it.  If you’re content, however, to blindly rely upon the insurance carrier’s kindness and good will in this regard, you may be out of luck.

Have knee injury questions?  Feel free to give us a call anytime.

Neal L. Hart, Attorney at Law

On-The-Job Burn Injuries in Arkansas

Many Arkansans suffer burn injuries at work each year, and some of them are quite severe.  The skin is our largest organ.  When it is badly burned, the result is severe pain, a lengthy healing process, and often a high degree of permanent physical impairment.  Because of this, work-related burn cases can be highly complex.  The insurance carrier usually fights hard to end medical care in the claim as quickly as possible.  Getting a proper permanent impairment rating from the treating physician (or from some other doctor), at the end of the case, is crucial to the monetary value of the claim.  Unfortunately, many physicians either don’t want to do this, or don’t know how.  At Hart Law we know how to handle burn injury cases to achieve maximum results.  Let us help you get the benefits you deserve.  Call today!

Neal L. Hart, Attorney at Law

How To Settle Your Workers’ Compensation Claim

Let’s face it, when you’re injured at work, the last thing you’re thinking about is how to navigate the Workers’ Compensation claims process. And who could blame you? All you know is that you’re hurting and you want to get better – so you can get bacWorkers' Comp Claim Formsk to work. After all, there are bills to pay and mouths to feed.

But, in all honesty, figuring out how your Workers’ Comp injury translates into future medical expenses and possible job limitations should be at the top of your list. Because the longer you wait, the more uninformed decisions will be made that could jeopardize your Workers’ Compensation claim, your health and your future.

Here are the major steps to consider as you work to settle your Workers’ Compensation claim:

  1. Reach the end of your healing period.
  2. Make sure your employer has provided you with sufficient medical care.
  3. Verify that you’ve been paid benefits at the correct compensation rate.
  4. Assess the seriousness of your injury, most importantly, if you have a permanent impairment and permanent work restrictions.
  5. Determine if you have lost the ability to make your pre-injury wage.
  6. Decide if your injury will require training to perform a different job.
  7. Understand how much medical care you will need in the future and the cost associated with these healthcare services.
  8. Figure out how much all of this is worth under the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Act and come up with a dollar figure reflecting that amount.
  9. Approach the insurance claims adjuster with a demand for settlement (this is often referred to as a “demand letter”).
  10. Convince the insurance claims adjuster – and likely their attorney – to agree to that settlement amount.
  11. Review and sign a lengthy set of settlement documents, prepared by the insurance company’s attorney(s).
  12. Go to court and ask an administrative law judge to agree to let you settle the case for the agreed upon amount.

If you have any questions about the Arkansas Worker’s Comp claims process, feel free to call us at 1-800-520-5874, or go hartlawfirmllp.com/#faqs. Helping injured workers is what we do. And even if we don’t represent you, we can help point you in the right direction.

Work Injuries and the Employment Services Doctrine

Claims are often denied by insurance companies under the defense that an injured employee wasn’t actually working at the time the job injury occurred.  Under our current law, however, injuries that may not seem particularly work-related at first glance may actually be viable workers’ compensation claims.  For example, an injury occurring while an employee is using the restroom, eating lunch, or even on break might very well be deemed to be a compensable claim under our Workers’ Compensation Act.  Our Employment Services Doctrine states that if an employee is performing services at the time of his accident that either directly or even indirectly benefit the employer in any way, that employee is technically “on the job” when the injury occurred.  Some of these cases have to be tried in court; and some go all the way up to our Supreme Court, like this one, handled and won by Hart Law in 2006: http://opinions.aoc.arkansas.gov/weblink8/0/doc/273068/Page6.aspx

By:  Neal L. Hart, Attorney at Law