Arizona’s worker’s compensation law mandates that employers must continue to pay workers’ comp benefits until the worker is able to return to work or until Arizona’s automated return to work protocol is completed.
Arizona’s automated return to work protocols are rules that they must follow once it has been determined that the worker has become medically normal. Medical Treatment Utilization Schedule (MTUS) to determine if the worker is able to return to work. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, transportation-related injuries were the leading cause of workplace injuries in 2020, with 1,778 fatalities, accounting for 37 percent of total workplace deaths.
Can an Injured Arizona Worker Be Forced to Return to Work?
In Arizona, injured workers cannot legally be forced to go back to work. Arizona state law requires employers to provide a safe workplace and give workers the tools, training, and time necessary to do their jobs.
Who Decides When You Should Return to Work After a Personal Injury at Work?
Suppose you are an Arizona worker who has successfully undergone medical treatment for your workplace injuries. In that case, the Arizona worker’s compensation insurance company responsible for your workers’ compensation benefits is required to authorize your return to work as soon as you are medically able to perform your job at full capacity physically. This is true regardless of what limitations you may have from the effects of your personal injuries.
Arizona worker’s compensation law also states that the insurer’s authorization for your return to work is not an approval of your physical or mental limitations. This means you can’t be refused authorization to return to work because you have a physical or mental limitation.
The Arizona workers’ compensation insurer wants you back at work as soon as possible, but only a doctor has the authority to decide when it’s okay for you to go back.
Every time you visit the doctor for your work-related injury, there will be a note made in their chart about your condition. The physician can determine if they deem you fit to return to the job or not or are allowed to work with some restrictions. Some workers are not allowed to get back to work until they get completely medically fit.
Even if you’re still being treated for your injury, you could be released for light-duty work.
Typical Arizona’s Worker’s Compensation Return to Work Timeline:
When you’re injured on the job or diagnosed with an occupational illness, your Arizona workers’ compensation experience begins. The length of time and exact order will vary based on individual factors such as what type it is, how long they’ve been working for their company, etc.
But commonly, most work injuries follow a similar sequence of events:
- Workplace Injury Occurs: This can be an accident at the workplace which causes the injury.
- Initial Treatment of the Injury: This is emergency injury care. It can be medical tests and imaging.
- Notifying the Employer About the Injury: As you get injured, you notify your employer about the injury and how you were injured.
- Filing a Workers’ Comp Complaint: You then submit the claim within the state-mandated claim filing deadline, or otherwise your claim can be rejected.
- Follow-up Medical Treatment: This includes a medical evaluation of the worker’s ability to return to work. Workers categorized with a permanent disability will not be allowed to return to work.
- To Work with Restriction: If the worker is partially injured, they can be allowed light-duty work.
- Maximum Medical Improvement: It is when the injured worker has fully recovered and is ready to return to work
When a worker reaches MMI, depending on their level of recovery, they can be released back into work without restrictions. However, if the injury left them with some formative limitations, doctors would determine what rating applies for injured parts of body functions to decide whether it is safe enough yet.
Watch Out for Your Return to Work Date:
Pay close attention to any paperwork you’re given after a medical visit. Carefully read through it all, and see when your doctor has asked you to go back to work. Once you go back, immediately inform your employer that you have resumed your duties.
The Arizona worker’s compensation insurance company will review all the medical records of your injury. While your treating physician has the authority to keep you off work, the insurance company will put a lot of pressure on your return.
Reach Out To Our Workers’ Compensation Lawyers:
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