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Phoenix Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Important points to remember to avoid a scaffolding accident

For an Arizona construction worker, the need to work on a scaffold is unavoidable. While this is a common part of the workday and many have experience with it, a scaffolding accident can occur even to the most conscientious and knowledgeable worker. There are certain procedures that must be in place for the safety of workers when they are on a scaffold. If a construction accident occurs on a jobsite, it is key to know whether the company and supervisors were following safety rules for their employees.

The scaffold must be built according to the proper specifications for both safety and functionality. When it is moved from one place to another, there are other procedures that must be followed to ensure that it is safe. A person with experience and knowledge in scaffolds must oversee it. If there is a danger, then the work must be stopped. The specifications according to the manufacturer must be adhered to. With a scaffold, the ground conditions, integrity of the building that is providing support, distance from power lines and overhead are all key factors for safety.

Mine collapses and other risks miners face

Working in a mine is a job that many in Arizona proudly perform. While those involved in it want nothing more than there to be full safety for employees, it is unavoidable that accidents will happen. Yet when an accident occurs it is imperative to determine whether it was due to an unsafe working environment or a mistake made by the employer. There are numerous dangers that mine employees face every single day. If an incident happens and it results in injury or even fatality, it is crucial that the injured party and his or her family know what to do in its aftermath.

When working in a mine, it is possible that there will be a mine collapse. In these instances, the walls and ceilings might not have been adequately secured for safety, and cracks can be in the walls and floor, thereby weakening the entire structure. If blasting and drilling is not planned properly, it can result in a cave-in. Gas explosions might also happen if methane gas has accumulated. This can occur if there is inadequate ventilation. There must be a monitoring of gas levels and evacuation must commence if it exceeds that legal amount.

Investigation finds beehive after worker stung numerous times

When workplace accidents in Arizona happen, they are usually associated with a fall, a falling object, employer negligence, and other common occurrences. Construction accidents often result from the physical nature of the work, the heavy equipment that is used, and the inherently risky activities that workers must perform as they go about their business. But workplace accidents can happen for a multitude of other reasons. Many are unexpected and completely unforeseen, but can nonetheless cause serious harm to the victims, as can be seen in one recent incident.

Construction workers who were operating on a site were recently attacked by a swarm of bees at their work location. Firefighters received a call in the morning informing them of the problem. When they arrived, they found one worker had received more than 100 bee stings as a result of the attack. Firefighters administered treatment and the man was hospitalized. Another worker was also stung and received treatment at the scene. A bee hive was discovered at the work site and a beekeeper was called in to remove it.

Arizona court awards interest following workplace accident

One often overlooked issue in workers' compensation cases is the amount of interest that an insurance company should pay on benefits awarded following a serious workplace accident. In this respect, the Arizona Supreme Court recently held that an insurance company is on the hook for interest from the moment that an insurance company knows about the workplace accident and the subsequent workers' compensation claim.

The Arizona Supreme Court's holding applies to death benefits, which the Court described as a "liquidated claim," that is, a claim with a readily discernable value. In this case, a man died four years after an on-the-job injury, but his widow alleged that his death was nonetheless at least partially attributable to that injury. The insurance carrier denied the claim in 2009 but, after years of litigation, was told by a court that it had to pay the claim in 2013.

Helping Arizona workers get the correct amount of lost wages

Last week's post on this blog discussed the maximum amount of benefits for lost wages an employee in Arizona can receive for a work-related injury. Perhaps even more importantly, the post also mentioned that sometimes, employers and employees can get in to a dispute about how much an employee was earning in wages prior to his or her injuries.

Although figuring wages for traditional full-time employee is usually easy enough, for people who are paid as contractors or by-the-job, the task can be a little bit more difficult. Because it is in dispute, an employer may want to push the envelope and deny certain benefits for lost wages in an effort to save money.

Is there a maximum amount I can receive for lost wages?

Arizonans who get injured while on the job are, generally speaking, entitled to two benefits under the state's workers' compensation laws. First, they are entitled to have their medical bills compensated in full. Second, they are entitled to receive compensation for lost income if they wind up missing work for more than seven days because of an on-the-job injury.

However, the replacement income benefit has an important catch. Under Arizona law, no matter how much one actually makes, he or she can only bring home workers' compensation equal to two-thirds of his or her overall wages. Moreover, the law presumes that a person makes no more than $4,337.88. Again, this is without regard to how much an individual actually makes.

How employers can protect construction workers

Arizona construction workers who repair and build this state's roads face a great deal of danger every day that they go to work. In addition to the usual hazards of a construction zone, workers also have to contend with traffic passing very close their workspace.

Particularly when motorists get impatient and travel through a work zone too quickly, the proximity of the flow of traffic to a construction site can lead to severe construction accidents. Although it is true that those driving by the site have an obligation to be careful, employers also bear accountability for the safety of their employees.

Arizona Forestry Division settles ADOSH fine

In the aftermath of a deadly fire that took the lives of 19 firefighters almost exactly two years ago, the Arizona Forestry Division has settled a complaint filed against Arizona's administrative agency for workplace safety, ADOSH.

ADOSH originally assessed $530,000 in fines against the Forestry Division, claiming that the Division showed more concern for protecting land than for preserving lives when they did not evacuate the firefighters. Judging by reports, it appears that the Forestry Division agreed to make internal changes that would improve firefighter training and otherwise better ensure the safety of the Division's firefighters. The Division will also pay $10,000 to seven of the victims' families.

Helping people get the correct workers' compensation award

Last week's post discussed how in Arizona, workers' compensation is the exclusive remedy for a Phoenix-area employee who gets hurt on the job. This means that, in exchange for being virtually guaranteed compensation to cover medical expenses and lost wages, a worker gives up his or her right to sue the employer for "non-economic" items like pain and suffering.

While some might wonder why there would be a dispute about medical bills and wages, both of which are relatively easy to quantify, in fact disputes over workers' compensation are rather common. Employers and insurance companies naturally want to keep their costs down, and for this reason many will litigate workers' compensation claims.

The 'exclusive remedy' doctrine and its exceptions

As this blog has mentioned before, in Arizona, a worker's "exclusive remedy" against his or her employer for injuries that he or she incurred while on the job is workers' compensation. While this will pay for medical expenses and a portion of a person's lost income, workers' compensation will not pay for other non-economic items like emotional distress or pain and suffering.

Nevertheless, under the exclusive remedy rule, a worker will have to be satisfied with his or her workers' compensation benefits, because Arizona law prohibits him or her from suing his or her employer in court following a workplace accident. In effect, the worker trades off his or her right to sue for some guaranteed compensation that he or she should get through the workers' compensation system.

Serving the Following Areas

Jerome, Gibson, Stewart, Stevenson, Engle & Runbeck, P.C., provides experienced representation for workers' compensation and Social Security Disability cases in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Mesa, Gilbert, Glendale, Peoria, Avondale, Casa Grande, Flagstaff, Prescott, Tucson and Yuma, and throughout Maricopa County, Pima County, Pinal County and Yavapai County, and all of Arizona.

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