Arkansas Workers Compensation and Objective Medical Findings.
In the year 1993, the Arkansas Legislatures passed Act 796. This Act, completely rewrote the Arkansas Workers Compensation System. (This Act has been called draconian by some, including the author)
One part of the law was to provide that the employer were not responsible for any injury that was not supported by an “objective medical finding”. This basically means something the medical provider can see.
Examples of objective medical findings are:
1. A broken bone on an x-ray
2. A herniate disc on an MRI
5. Muscle spasms,
6. An abnormal nerve study,
The Law went on to direct all Administrative law Judges, Full Commissioners and the Arkansas Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, not to consider complaints of pain or restricted motion in establishing any work related injury.
Originally this sounded good. Basically why should the employer and the insurance carrier have to pay benefits when all the doctors in the world can not find any thing wrong with the worker.
However, the Arkansas injured worker, will not see every doctor in the world, in fact they will only see the doctor selected by the employer or the insurance carrier and you can bet, they will not select doctors who give the worker the benefit of the doubt. Over the last several years in Arkansas a lot of good doctors who want to help patients, have learned not to accept a workers compensation case.
Also most medical problems are internal, how do you see those?
Ark. Code Ann. § 11-9-102(4)(A) defines “compensable injury”: (a)n accidental injury causing internal or external physical harm to the body or accidental injury to prosthetic appliances, including eyeglasses, contact lenses, or hearing aids, arising out of and in the course of employment and which requires medical services or results in disability or death. An injury is “accidental”only if it is caused by a specific incident and is identifiable by time and place of occurrence. A compensable injury must be established by medical evidence supported by objective findings. Ark. Code Ann. § 11-9-102(4)(D). Claimant’s burden of proof shall be a preponderance of the evidence. Ark. Code Ann. § 11-9-102(4)(E)(i). If claimant fails to establish by a preponderance of the evidence any of the requirements for establishing the compensability of the injury alleged, he fails to establish the compensability of the claim, and compensation must be denied.
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