Like every state in the US, on-the-job accidents, injuries, and work-related medical conditions are a problem in Arizona that adversely affect thousands of workers every year.
If you live in Arizona and have suffered an injury or medical condition on the job that has caused you to miss work, incur medical costs, or which prevents you from going back to your old job, our experienced Phoenix workers’ compensation lawyers at Stone Rose Law can help you receive benefits.
Whether it is dealing with your employer and its workers’ compensation insurance company to reach a full and final lump sum settlement, or if you need to overcome a claim denial, call us at (480) 498-8998 to schedule a free consultation with one an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.
Receiving benefits through workers’ compensation is an insurance alternative to having to sue your employer if you are hurt or fall ill at work because of a work-related accident or a dangerous or unhealthy workplace environment.
The main reason why employers carry workers’ compensation insurance is because it precludes many if not most employee lawsuits based on workplace accidents and injuries. This is a substantial cost savings to Arizona employers compared to defending against employee lawsuits.
Both full-time and part-time employees have the right to workers’ compensation benefits in Arizona. For all injured workers, the benefits of workers’ compensation are twofold: first, filing a workers’ comp insurance claim is faster, less expensive, and more certain in outcome than filing a lawsuit for personal injury. Second, unlike with a court claim, you do not have to prove fault on the part of your employer to recover benefits in a workers’ compensation case. All you need to do is show that the injury or illness was something that happened to you while you were at work.
Under Arizona’s workers compensation law, the ICA considers and decides on workers’ compensation cases. We can break the ICA down into two parts: the Claims Division and the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Division.
As their names suggest, the Claims Division considers Arizona workers compensation claims, while the ALJ Division becomes involved if you have to appeal a Claims Division denial of your claim or your settlement agreement with the insurance company.
To begin, we assume that as you read this you have already sought medical care for the on-the-job injury, illness, or condition that has affected you. If you have not done so, then we urge you to seek medical treatment. This is not just an expression of concern for your well-being; you need to show evidence that something happened to you at work. Your medical records are the best evidence you can show to back up your workers compensation claim.
There is no point in “toughing out” an injury from work, especially if it affects your ability to do your job, or even follows you home and affects what you can or can’t do there.
If you have not yet seen your own doctor about your work related injury, then your employer has a right to have a medical professional it chooses examine you. This does not prevent you from seeing your own doctor about the injury.
Be aware, though, that if you continue to see the doctor that your employer chose, then under Arizona workers compensation law this doctor becomes what is known as your attending physician.
If you want to change this attending physician relationship to a doctor you choose, then usually you will either have to make a written request to the ICA, or in some cases your employer-selected attending physician can refer you to a different doctor.
So, assuming you have sought any treatment you need, here are the steps to start a workers compensation claim in Phoenix and elsewhere throughout Arizona:
Another reason not to tough out a workplace injury is that you only have a limited time to claim workers comp benefits because of it.
Arizona law requires you to notify your employer in writing of your injury using a Worker’s and Physician’s Report of Injury form. At a minimum, you must provide your employer the place, date, and time that your injury or illness happened, what caused it, and the symptoms you are experiencing.
Your treating physician will usually have the Worker’s and Physician’s Report of Injury form handy. If not, then you can download the same form from the ICA’s website.
You complete the first part of the Worker’s and Physician’s Report of Injury form. Then your doctor fills out the rest and must send the completed form to the ICA no more than eight days after examining you.
Remember: if you do not provide this written notice, you cannot make a workers comp claim.
Arizona workers compensation allows a workers compensation insurance carrier in Phoenix to have you periodically examined by a doctor of its choice. If it does so, then the insurer must pay your travel expenses, including mileage and living expenses if applicable, to attend these examinations.
Generally, you must attend these insurer-requested examinations. If, though, you think that the workers compensation insurance company is being abusive or unfair in making an exam request, you can apply through the ICA for a protective order. An administrative law judge will then decide whether to require you to attend the insurer medical examination.
If after the examination the insurer’s doctor decides that your condition is improving, or that you can return to work or be released from light duty restrictions, these kinds of diagnoses can open the door to the insurance company trying to downgrade or even deny your claim.
The ways you can experience a work related injury, illness, or medical condition at work are limited mainly by your imagination. Some of the more frequent work related injuries our Phoenix workers comp lawyers have experience handling for clients include:
What you can receive through workers compensation will depend on the kind of injury, illness, or condition you have, and how severe and long-lasting it is. What follows are some of the kinds of benefits that we at Stone Rose Law help our clients receive for their workplace injuries.
Under workers compensation “scheduled” benefits are ones for which workers compensation sets how much you can recover in benefits and for how long.
Scheduled benefits are paid to you based on how severe your injury is, and on what your pre-injury average wages were. Here are some examples of scheduled injuries:
An unscheduled injury is not one for which Arizona workers comp establishes payment amounts. An unscheduled injury can come from a single impairment, or multiple impairments to different body parts, or from a history of other permanent impairments.
Permanent unscheduled total disabilities can qualify you to receive workers’ compensation benefits for life. Examples of these kinds of catastrophic injuries include:
How much your unscheduled permanent impairment compensation will be depends on factors like your age, work experience, education, how much earning capacity you have lost, and how much income you may make in the future.
Permanent unscheduled partial disability benefits are commonly associated with disabilities affecting the trunk of your body, like your head, back, shoulders, and hips. Permanent unscheduled partial disabilities can come from multiple scheduled impairments or from mental health conditions.
Permanent unscheduled partial disability benefits require that you show that your injury-related work restrictions make it impossible for you to earn an income than you made before your injury. Permanent partial disability benefits can also be available if you cannot go back to work.
Temporary total disability (TTD) benefits are for when you cannot work while recovering from your injury. TTD benefits are two-thirds of your average monthly pre-injury wage and are capped at a maximum amount that changes annually.
If you have a work-related injury that does not keep you from performing some of your job duties, then you might qualify for temporary partial disability benefits. Temporary partial benefits are two-thirds of the difference between your pre-injury monthly wages and the earnings you are earning while recovering. Your doctor must state the restrictions that keep you from doing the work you did before the injury.
Our legal team has seen some Arizona employers and their insurance carriers deny, unjustly delay, and reduce workers’ compensation claims. A skilled Phoenix workers’ comp lawyer, like one you’ll find in our offices, can protect you when you face opposition in attempting to obtain the workers’ compensation benefits you need to cover the cost of your losses and pay for your recovery.
A workplace accident attorney can also help you determine if a third party can be held responsible for your injuries at work. Proving a third-party claim can be complex, as you must demonstrate that person’s fault. For example, workers compensation claims are often filed against manufacturers of defective tools, careless subcontractors or general contractors, negligent property owners, and at-fault drivers who crash into company vehicles.
A Stone Rose workers comp attorney can help you to gather all the necessary evidence to prove third party liability if it exists.
We cannot guarantee outcomes in Arizona workers compensation claim outcomes. Nor can we guarantee how much you might receive if the ICA approves your workers compensation claim or settlement agreement.
What we can guarantee you is this:
Seeking compensation after a workplace injury can seem overwhelming, especially with denied claims, but you do not have to go it alone. The Phoenix workers’ compensation attorneys at Stone Rose Law are ready to fight for you. Contact our law firm today at (480) 498-8998 or schedule a free consultation online with an Arizona workers compensation lawyer.