Phoenix Workers’ Comp Lawyer For Complex Work Related Accidents
¡Los Abogados de Compensación Laboral hablan Español!
A Phoenix workers’ comp lawyer, at one of our Phoenix law firms, can handle the most complex work accident compensation cases. Our work comp lawyers thoroughly understand Arizona workers’ comp law, and because they are so familiar with the Arizona workers’ compensation law, they can get you the best settlement for your work-related job injury.
Hundreds of workers are injured on the job every year, both in the state of Arizona and throughout the United States as a whole. While many of these workplace injuries are caused as a result of safety violations (often on the behalf of the employer), each state has implemented workers’ compensation laws that bar injured workers from filing lawsuits against their employers. Instead, workers’ compensation systems, such as AZ workers’ compensation law, allow for an injured worker to seek compensation for his or her injuries through Arizona workers’ compensation insurance regardless of the injured worker’s fault. This trade off protects injured workers who are harmed on the job, as well as employers from liability.
Unfortunately, the workers’ compensation system is not perfect. Too often, a worker is denied benefits that he or she really deserves, is retaliated against for filing a claim, is released back to work well before he or she is really ready to return, or may not be covered under workers’ compensation at all. This is where a workers’ comp lawyer can be helpful. When any or all of these problems result, the best thing that you can do is to seek the counsel of a Phoenix workers’ comp lawyer. A workers’ comp lawyer will not only save you time, inconvenience, and intimidation (from dealing with your employer and the insurance company), they will help you win the settlement you deserve. The best workmans comp attorneys will have experience and a track record of winning the tough cases.
A workers’ comp lawyer Can Help With Common Workplace Injuries and Accidents
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that in the year 2015, there were 4,769 workers killed while on the job across the country. On average, there were nearly 90 worker deaths per week, and more than 13 worker deaths every single day. 17 percent of worker deaths that occurred were deaths amongst construction contractors.
In addition to deaths, there were thousands of workplace injuries reported to OSHA that same year. While some worker injuries were more minor than others and will certainly heal with time, other injury types are tragic, permanently rendering an employee disabled, impaired, and unable to return to work. Some of the most common workplace injuries and accidents include:
- Slips, trips, and falls;
- Falls from heights;
- Electrocution injuries;
- Car accidents;
- Being struck by an object/machinery;
- Being caught in or in-between machinery;
- Repetitive motion injuries;
- Ligament and tendon sprains and strains;
- Broken bone injuries; and
- Overexertion injuries.
The above list is by no means inclusive; there are dozens of accident and injury types that a worker in Phoenix may fall victim to and where the services of a workers’ comp lawyer will prove beneficial.
A Phoenix Workers’ Comp Lawyer Should Be Contacted If You Think You Are Not Covered Under Workers’ Compensation in Phoenix?
If you are a worker in Phoenix, it is important that you know whether or not you are covered by workers’ compensation insurance. According to Workers’ Compensation Insurance Frequently Asked Questions provided by The Industrial Commission of Arizona, all employers who regularly hire workers in their businesses are required “to carry workers’ compensation insurance regardless of the number of workers they have, whether those workers are part-time, full-time, minors, aliens, or family members.” However, employers do not have to carry workers’ compensation insurance for independent contractors or for domestic servants. In regards to the former, employers may misclassify employees as independent contractors in order to avoid the costs associated with workers’ compensation insurance.
Therefore, if you are a regular employee in Phoenix, then your employer is required by law to carry workers’ compensation insurance.
What Do I Do If My Employer Is Required to Carry Workers’ Compensation, but Does Not?
If your employer does not carry workers’ compensation and you believe that he or she is obligated to do so, it is important that you act quickly. You should contact our law firm for the best Phoenix worker comp lawyer in Arizona to learn more about how to report an employer who is acting outside of the law. Or, you can report your employer to The Industrial Commission of Arizona. Your employer will be required to offer you workers’ compensation, and may also face a financial penalty as a result of his or her failure to carry workers’ compensation in the first place. Failing to carry required workers’ compensation insurance is a felony offense.
Can I File a Lawsuit When Injured at Work?
As touched upon briefly above, workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. This means that you do not have to prove fault in order to recover benefits for your injuries, but it also means that you are not legally allowed to file a lawsuit against your employer, even if you believe that your employer’s negligence was the direct cause of your injuries. You are also not legally allowed to file a lawsuit against any of your co-workers that may have contributed to your injuries. The only exception to this is in the event that an employer’s or employee’s willful misconduct was the cause of your injuries. If an employer or employee caused you wanton harm, then you can bring forth a civil suit against the willfully malicious party.
You also have the right to file a third party liability claim in the event that your injuries would not have occurred but for the negligence of a third party. In a third party liability claim, you will have to prove fault.
Am I Entitled to Compensation for an Occupational Disease?
You should know that workers in Phoenix are not only entitled to compensation for injuries that they sustain while working, but also for all occupational disease and illnesses as well. In order to be compensated for your disease and/or illness, you must report the disease within as soon as your learn of its development. According to Arizona workers’ compensation laws section 23-901.01 of Arizona Revised Statutes, an occupational disease shall be deemed to arise out of the course of employment only if the following six criteria are satisfied:
- There is a direct causal connection between the work environment and the disease;
- The disease was incurred as a natural result of exposure brought about by the nature of the job;
- The disease can trace the employment to the proximate cause of the disease;
- The disease did not result due to exposure to a hazard that is found outside of the place of employment;
- The disease is incidental to the business type; and
- The origin of the disease appears to be the employment.
If you can prove the following, then you will be eligible to recover workers’ compensation insurance for your occupational disease.
Common Occupational Diseases
Occupational diseases are surprising common. While fewer workers per year contract occupational illness or develop occupational disease than do those workers who are involved in accidents resulting in immediate injuries, occupational disease are no less serious than are physical injuries. Some of the most common occupational disease include:
- Musculoskeletal disorders;
- Asbestos-related disease (asbestosis, mesothelioma);
- Respiratory diseases;
- Skin diseases; and
- Vibration-related diseases.
The risk factors for disease development dependent upon job and industry type, exposure to certain factors, age, gender, race, and hereditary factors. However, a person can recover benefits for a job-induced occupational disease even if he or she was predisposed to the condition, assuming that the disease was primarily contracted as a result of an exposure to risk factors arising from work activity.
What Benefits Are Offered By Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
There are three types of benefits that an injured worker may recover in Arizona when injured on the job. These are: medical benefits, temporary benefits, and permanent benefits. The first benefit type, medical benefits, are benefits that are designed to pay all medical bills for approved and necessary medical treatment that is related to your workplace injury. In some cases, you may also be eligible to recover benefits for transportation expenses that are related to seeking medical care.
Temporary benefits, on the other hand, are benefits that help to cover the value of your lost wages when you are unable to return to work for an amount of time due to a workplace injury. Lost wages benefits begin after you are out of work for more than seven days, although can be recovered from the first day of missed work onward in the event that you are unable to return to work for more than two weeks’ time. Temporary work benefits are paid at a rate of 66 percent, or two-thirds, of your average weekly wage.
The last type of benefits that you can recover under Arizona workers’ compensation insurance are permanent benefits. Permanent benefits are paid when a doctor believes that your condition will either worsen or fail to improve with time, you have sustained a permanent disability, and as such you are unable to return to work for the foreseeable future. The amount of money that you will be able to recover under permanent compensation benefits will vary depending upon a number of factors, including type of injuries, your average weekly wage, your earning capacity, and your age.
How Employee Classification Affects Your Right to Workers’ Compensation
It is important to know that the way in which you are classified will significantly affect your rights to workers’ compensation insurance. And, too often, employers will intentionally misclassify employees as independent contractors in order to avoid paying for employee benefits, like workers’ compensation insurance.
How Do I Know if I Am an Employee or an Independent Contractor?
Knowing whether or not you are an employee or an independent contractor can be confusing. However, if your job, positions, or duties meet any of the criteria listed below, you are likely an employee, not an independent contractor.
- The company for which you work controls your activities;
- The company for which you work controls the amount of hours you work, as well as when you work;
- You are paid an hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly wage;
- The company for which you work controls the financial aspects of your employment; and
- You receive other types of employee benefits or have signed an employee contract.
If any of the above sound like your job, you are probably an employee, and are therefore entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. If you feel as though you have been denied benefits based on your employment status, do not hesitate to contact a workers’ comp lawyer immediately.
The Workers’ Compensation Hearing Process
When you disagree with a decision that is issued by the Industrial Commission of Arizona, you have the right to request a hearing. You must request your hearing in writing. After you request a hearing, a time and a date of your hearing will be issued. It is very important that you show up on your scheduled hearing date.
Every hearing is different, and the majority of cases will require more than one hearing to fully complete. During your first hearing, you will give testimony, as will any other witnesses who are not experts. The amount of time that your initial hearing takes to complete can vary greatly from as little as 30 minutes to as much as multiple hours. A secondary hearing may be required to hear testimony from experts.
It is important that you are present for all of the hearing that are related to your workers’ compensation claim. If you need to change the date of your hearing, you can request to do so, in writing, by submitting your request to the Administrative Law Judge Division. You hearing will likely be held in Phoenix, although hearings are often held in Tucson as well.
It is also important that you understand that you may need to go an independent medical examination. An independent medical examination, or IME, is a medical examination that that is requested by the defendants in your case, and conducted by a physician of their choosing. If you receive a request to attend an IME, you are obligated to attend it. If you do not attend it, your hearing may be cancelled and your right to benefits may be forfeited.
After your hearing has been completed, the Administrative Law Judge over you case will issue his or her decision. After the decision has been issued, you have 30 days to appeal the determination if you do not agree with it.
An Overview of Workers’ Compensation Issues Covered in This Guide
In this guide, a thorough discussion of the following topic areas will ensue. If you have questions about workers’ compensation that are not answered below, please feel free to contact a Phoenix workers’ comp lawyer for a free case consultation. The following provides a synopsis of all of the topic areas covered through the guide.
- Can I be fired for filing workers’ compensation? Retaliation against an employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim is strictly prohibited under federal law. You have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim for benefits; while your employer may not like it, he or she has no legal right to retaliate against you for doing so. If your employer retaliates against you, you have the right to legal protection; the law is on your side.
- Workers’ compensation statute of limitations. All workers’ compensation claims must be reported to an employer within a timely manner and filed within a specific amount of time. The specific deadlines for reporting an injury and filing a workers’ compensation claim for benefits are discussed in more detail below.
- Workers’ Compensation FAQs. When you have been injured on the job, you likely have dozens of questions about what your rights are to compensation moving forward. We will answer all of your most pressing questions below, including how to report an injury, what benefits you are entitled to, and what to do if your claim for workers’ compensation benefits is denied.
- Can I file for workers’ compensation if i’m only part time? Yes – you have the right to file for workers’ compensation benefits if you are a part-time worker, as long as you are both an employee and a regular employee at that.
- How long do I have to be employed to qualify for workers’ compensation? Many workers fear that if they have not been at their job for a significant amount of time, they will not be covered under workers’ compensation benefits. The truth, however, is that you are covered under workers’ compensation benefits the minute that you are hired for your job.
- How to file for workers’ compensation in Arizona. It is very important that when you fill out the Arizona workers’ compensation forms and are filing a workers’ compensation claim for benefits, you follow the rules and regulations related to filing. If you do not, your claim may be denied, or your right to benefits may be forfeited. A workers’ comp lawyer in our Phoenix workers’ compensation law firm can guide you through every step of the filing process. And we have workers’ compensation solicitors that are paid based on their success of their settlement.
- What if I had a pre-existing injury? If you had a pre-existing injury at the time that your workplace accident occurred, then you are only allowed to recover compensation for the injury if it was worsen by the accident; however, you cannot recover workers’ compensation for pre-existing injuries that were not aggravated by the workplace accident. You will further have to prove that aggravation of your injury occurred.
- Do I have to take time off for work injury? No, you do not have to take time off of work if you incurred a workplace injury. However, doing so may be within your best interest. We will discuss the advantages and disadvantages to taking work off after a work injury occurs in more detail below.
- Workers’ compensation claim vs. third-party liability claims. As mentioned above, workers’ compensation claims and third-party liability claims are very different. In the former, you do not need to prove fault; in the latter, proving fault is essential. In addition to fault, other differences include against whom you can file an action, as well as the benefits that are recoverable.
- What if my employer/boss will not report my injury to workers’ compensation? If your employer or boss with not report your workplace injury to the appropriate party so that your workers’ compensation claim can proceed, you have the right to legal recourse. Call us to speak to a Phoenix workers’ comp lawyer. He can teach how you to take action, and can show you how you can fill out the Arizona workers’ comp insurance forms to file your workers’ compensation claim yourself.