Workers’ Compensation Insurance, commonly known as “work comp,” provides medical expenses, lost wages, and rehabilitation costs to employees injured or who become ill “in the course and scope” of their job.
Employees do not have to prove that the employer was at fault to receive workers’ compensation, and an employee may not sue their employer for work-related injuries and illnesses. Workers’ compensation systems also incentivize employers to reduce work-related injuries and illnesses. These systems are complex and governed by state laws. Because the various states manage it, there may be variances in what is required for your business. For this blog, we will reference Arkansas primarily. If you have state-specific questions, don’t hesitate to contact one of our team members for assistance at LearnMore@myHRpros.com.
Arkansas Workers’ Compensation
The Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission states that most employers in Arkansas are required by law to have workers’ compensation insurance coverage if they have three or more employees. There are exceptions to the three-or-more requirement; employers with fewer than three employees can contact our team at My HR Pros before assuming they do not fall under state workers’ compensation laws.
Who is covered?
Virtually all employers in Arkansas must provide workers’ compensation insurance coverage for their employees. Employers are covered if they have at least three employees, except in building-repair work, where coverage extends to employers of two or more, and in the case of subcontractors, who are covered even if they employ only one person. Most public employees are covered. Volunteer firefighters are covered as employees of the county or municipality they serve. Subcontractors are responsible for providing their own coverage, but the principal contractor is liable if the subcontractor fails to provide coverage.
A few categories of exempt employees from coverage:
• Domestic servants
• Employees of public charities
• Vendors of newspapers, magazines, and other periodicals
• Farm laborers
• Maintenance, gardening, or repair employees working in or about the employer’s private home
• Casual labor employed outside the usual course of the employer’s business
• Qualified real estate agents as defined by the Internal Revenue Code
• Individuals performing services while incarcerated or pursuant to a conviction (although their spouses or minor children may petition for their benefits)
• Certain “direct sellers” of consumer products
Employers not obligated to provide coverage may elect to be covered under the Workers’ Compensation Act, thereby gaining immunity from other legal actions. Sole proprietors or partners may file for exclusion from coverage.
What is covered?
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. Employees receive compensation without proving that the employer was at fault for the injury. They need only show that the injury arose “out of and during employment.” This no-fault aspect distinguishes workers’ compensation from ordinary “tort” law, which provides for the compensation of injured people in most other circumstances. Under tort law, a person receives compensation only if someone else’s carelessness caused the injury. The operative legal term is “negligence,” simply failing to use due care. In most cases, an injured party is only compensated if they can prove that another party’s negligence caused the injury.
Workers’ compensation makes it easier for employees to collect because they don’t have to show that the employer was negligent. All they have to show is that they were injured at work. It doesn’t matter that they (or a coworker) were partly at fault or that they knew the job was risky. Even injuries sustained due to “personal” behavior on the job, such as horseplay, are compensable if the behavior could reasonably be expected to occur. “Contributory negligence,” “assumption of risk,” and other defenses commonly used by defendants in an accident case do not apply to on-the-job injuries.
However, there are a few limited circumstances in which compensation is unavailable:
Injuries “substantially caused” by the employee’s use of alcohol, illegal drugs, or unauthorized use of prescription drugs are not compensable.
Injuries sustained as a result of a willful intent on the part of the injured employee to harm him or herself or another are not covered.
No benefits are available for injuries suffered in a fight that arises for personal reasons.
Injuries suffered during the employee’s voluntary participation in recreational or social activities are not compensable.
Injuries suffered on the way to and from work are not compensable unless the employer required the travel or mode of transportation.
If the injury was due to the employer failing to comply with health or safety laws, the employer must participate in the state’s Extra-Hazardous Employer Program.
Workers’ Compensation Claims
An injured employee must give the employer written notice of the injury (other than a hernia injury) within 60 days, but this deadline may be excused for good cause. A hernia injury must be reported within 48 hours, and unique proof of a connection to the employment is required. No benefits are payable without notice unless the employer was otherwise aware of the circumstances of the injury. A claim for benefits must be made within two years of the injury.
An employee must notify their employer in writing of an occupational disease within 90 days of the first distinct manifestation of the disease. A claim for benefits must be made within two years of the last exposure to the agent that caused the disease, except in the case of silicosis or asbestosis, for which the claims deadline is one year after the last exposure. Disablement must be at most three years from the date of exposure. The claims deadline for radiation disease is two years from the date the employee receives a diagnosis from a medical doctor.
The employer must report to the AWCC every injury sustained by an employee within ten days after the employer receives notice of it. The report must include the employee’s name, address, and occupation, the employer’s name and business address, and the date, time, location, nature, and cause of the injury.
We’re here to help.
Whether you need assistance with administrating your current policy or looking elsewhere for insurance coverage, My HR Pros is here to help.
We partner with our clients to remove administrative and regulatory burdens of workers’ compensation, allowing them to focus on their core business opportunities.
My HR Pros can offer competitive rates and administrative support for all premium and claim processing. We provide workers’ compensation insurance as a pay-as-you-go model compared to receiving the traditional, up-front estimate of premiums.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact one of our team members at LearnMore@myHRpros.com.
Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
For questions or additional information contact us! | (800) 940- 8706 | LearnMore@myHRpros.com |