- Provides cash benefits and medical care to employees who suffer work-related injury or illness; and
- Precludes an employee from filing a lawsuit against an employer for damages due to a work-related injury or illness.
While this sounds good in theory, an Arizona employment lawyer will explain from experience that the insurance carriers who provide the coverage often make it very difficult for the injured worker to collect the benefits to which they are entitled.
Arizona Employment Lawyer Discusses Work-Related Injury
Some injuries are undisputedly work-related. For instance, a firefighter who sustains burns while putting out a blaze or a policeman who is shot while apprehending a felon are obvious examples of getting hurt on the job. However, an Arizona employment lawyer explains that many workers’ comp insurance carriers have red flags when it comes to assessing claims. If a claimant’s circumstances involve one or more of the following, the carrier may delay or deny the claim:
- There was a delay in reporting the injury;
- There were no witnesses to the injury;
- The claimant was recently hired;
- The claimant has previously reported injuries that caused time off from work;
- The claimant has been recently disciplined or is imminently facing disciplinary acts; and
- The claimed injury is related to some pre-existing injury or other health problem.
Most of these issues are immaterial to the claim and should not be a basis for denial but often are.
Delay in Reporting the Injury
It is suggested to report any injury immediately to the employer and this makes sense for both parties. The injured employee can begin to receive medical care quickly, and the employer can investigate the facts surrounding the claim while the situation is current. However, an Arizona employment lawyer reports that many injuries are not the result of a single incident; instead, they develop over time. Carpal tunnel syndrome is one such affliction as are respiratory diseases that are the result of inhalation of toxins over time. Consequently, Arizona law permits the filing of a claim within one year of the date when the injury occurred or when the worker reasonably discovered the injury.
Choice of Physician
The employer has the right to choose the doctor the injured worker sees for the first visit after the injury. Most workers do not know that after that first visit, they may see any doctor of their choosing. Further, as an Arizona employment lawyer explains, if the worker visits the employer’s designated doctor a second time, that doctor then becomes the treating physician in the case. This is important because many doctors who align with workers’ comp carriers seem to reach conclusions that limit the injured worker’s benefits.
Appealing a Denial of Benefits
If a claim is denied or benefits are suddenly terminated, the individual has a right to a hearing before the Industrial Commission of Arizona. The hearing is very much like a trial but less formal. Evidence can be presented, and witnesses may testify. The insurance company will be at the hearing represented by their lawyers, and it is the worker’s right to be represented by an Arizona employment lawyer.
Contact an Arizona Employment Lawyer for Legal Advice
Workers’ compensation laws are intricate and often confusing, and the system unfairly favors the employer. Level the playing field. Call the Schiffman Law Office, P.C., an Arizona employment law group, at (602) 235-0539.