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Phoenix Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Protecting the rights of Arizona workers

A workplace accident can happen out of nowhere. An Arizona resident may be going about his or her normal routine, completing the daily tasks that are required, when all of a sudden an accident occurs. While the accident may only take a second to happen, the results can be long lasting. A worker may require years of medical care and lost wages in order to recover. These years of recovery can have a hefty financial toll, and victims may not know where to turn.

Thankfully, the attorneys at Jerome, Gibson, Stewart, Stevenson, Engle & Runbeck, P.C. have years of experience protecting the rights of Arizona workers. Our firm, which has been around for nearly 40 years, has been earning a strong reputation as we have handled many workers' compensation claims. It is one of the Phoenix Valley's distinguished workers' compensation law firms.

Workers' compensation claims versus civil lawsuits

Arizona residents are likely aware of the fact that work environments can be dangerous. Even with the many Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) regulations and safety requirements that employers are expected to abide by, work environments still often contain many hazards and dangers. Sometimes, the danger of a work environment inevitably results in an injury. Such a workplace accident can have devastating results. When a worker or a loved one is involved in such an accident, victims and their families have rights.

Workers who are injured on the job may not be aware of the workers' compensation laws that protect them. Many may not know the difference between a civil lawsuit and a workers' compensation claim. In fact, workers' compensation exists so that an employee does not always need to sue his or her employer in the case of a workplace accident. Before the system was created, victims had to undergo a lengthy court procedure and file a civil lawsuit. Since the implementation of workers' compensation, this is no longer always required.

Exposure to smoking and workers' compensation

There are many ways in which an Arizona resident can become exposed to a safety hazard at work. Some jobs require the handling of toxic materials, while other workplace environments may contain hazardous materials that may be unknown to workers until they fall ill. Sometimes, too, the presence of some type of health risk may worsen a preexisting condition, making it challenging for the victim to identify the cause of their worsening condition. If it can be proven that the presence of a health hazard resulted in medical problems or the worsening of a health condition, victims may be eligible for workers' compensation.

One health risk that workers may be exposed to is secondhand tobacco smoke, also known as environmental tobacco smoke. Environmental tobacco smoke is associated with a number of health problems as it contains carcinogens and toxins that are dangerous to humans. In some work environments, it is impossible to avoid environmental tobacco smoke, making it possible for a worker to fall ill as a result of exposure.

Are workers' compensation and disability benefits different?

When an Arizona resident is injured at work, many questions may arise. Knowing just what to do following a workplace accident can prove challenging. Some may be vaguely aware of the options open to them, but may not know exactly what avenue to pursue. For instance, an injured worker may know about workers' compensation and disability benefits, but may not be aware of the differences between the two.

Determining whether workers' compensation or disability benefits apply to a certain situation can be challenging. There are many difference between the two options. Workers' compensation exists primarily for those who are injured on the job so that they do not pursue litigation against the company they worked for at the time of the injury. Employers are required by state law to carry workers' compensation. Disability benefits differ in that they are available for those who are injured away from work but cannot return to work as a result of these injuries.

Steps to take when injured in a workplace accident

Workplace accidents and injuries can occur in a number of different workplace settings, including construction settings, warehouse settings or office settings. It is important to understand resources and options available and know what to do in the circumstances of a workplace accident or injury. Injured workers and their families may oftentimes rely on workers' compensation benefits which is why injured workers should always be familiar with their rights.

The first step is for the worker to report the injury to the worker's supervisor or employer. The worker should be as detailed as possible concerning the accident, the nature of the injury and the extent of the injury. Employers are required to file an injury report within 10 days of the injury.

Can workers' compensation affect Social Security disability?

Workers in Arizona who suffer an on-the-job injury and receive workers' compensation need to be aware that the workers' compensation payments might affect Social Security disability payments, if they also receive those payments. If a person is receiving payments from private insurers or pension funds, then the payments from Social Security will not be affected. Workers' compensation is a different matter. Since workers' compensation payments are made to a worker who suffered an injury at work and might be paid by the state or federal institutions, SSD payments can be reduced.

Those who are receiving workers' compensation and SSD benefits cannot receive an amount that surpasses 80 percent of the average earnings the worker made before the disabling incident. This includes benefits paid to family members. In the event the amount that is received through both payments goes beyond 80 percent, whatever the excess amount is will be deducted from what is received from Social Security disability.

How are time lost claims handled by workers' compensation?

There are various issues that will factor in when receiving workers' compensation benefits in Arizona after an on-the-job injury. Having a grasp on these issues and following the required protocol can ease the process when trying to receive the applicable benefits after an injury. One important point that must be understood is time lost claims.

A person who has been declared unable to work or is only able to do light work after an injury will have temporary compensation paid if there have been lost earnings for more than seven straight calendar days. This is due to the loss of earnings being linked to the injury that was suffered. The right of the worker to receive compensation will be based on calendar days. This is in opposition to work days. Therefore, weekends and holidays will be factored in.

Important points about filing a workplace injury claim in Arizona

Workers in Arizona who suffer an on-the-job injury need to know how to file an injury claim with the state. This is very important when receiving repayment for medical expenses and other compensatory benefits. The worker is required to file the claim within one year of the date that the injury occurred. As soon as a workplace injury has happened, it is also the responsibility of the worker to let the employer know immediately. This will be done by filling out and signing a form at the doctor's office or by getting a Worker's Report of Injury from the Industrial Commission of Arizona. Either one of these will be sufficient to be considered a claim form when seeking benefits.

These forms should not be sent over the internet because personal identity and information can be compromised. They should be sent via conventional mail. For the employer, an Employer's Report of Injury must be filed. This is nothing more than a report of the injury having occurred. After the claim form has been sent and received by the ICA, notification will subsequently be sent to the insurer who provides coverage for workers' compensation.

What are employers' responsibilities for workers' compensation?

Many Arizona residents are familiar with workers' compensation. Just about anyone who has worked in any type of work environment has likely been exposed to the concept. Sometimes an employer notifies an employee directly of what their rights are regarding workers' compensation, sometimes there is a sign outlying their rights. However, many might not decide to learn the ins and outs of workers' compensation until they themselves are injured in a workplace accident. When this happens, they may turn to an attorney to help discover what their rights are.

It is important to note that employers have certain responsibilities when it comes to workers' compensation. In Arizona, just about every worker is covered under workers' compensation laws. Employees not covered include those who are considered casual employees, those not in the usual course of a trade, and independent contractors. Every other employee should be protected under workers' compensation laws. Employers are required to post notice of compliance with workers' compensation laws, immediate medical attention when an injury is suffered on the job, and provide a complete report regarding the accident.

Types of injuries covered by workers' compensation

Arizona residents may find themselves out of work for a variety of reasons. Some reasons may not qualify one for any type of benefits, while others, such as those that result from a workplace accident, may allow a person to receive workers' compensation benefits. A workplace accident can have life-altering effects. For example, it can lead to an individual becoming dependent on long-term care. Long-term care can prove to be expensive and when a person is unable to work, these bills can break the bank account. Thankfully, workers' compensation can help injured workers cover these costs.

Before applying for workers' compensation, it can be helpful to be aware of what types of injuries qualify a person for workers' compensation. Though an exhaustive list will not be provided here, there are some basics we can discuss that can help clarify who may qualify for workers' compensation benefits. For one, those who suffer injuries during breaks, lunch hours, work-sponsored activities, or at work in general may make a person eligible for compensation. A pre-existing condition, such as a back injury, that a workplace exacerbates, may also render a worker eligible for benefits.

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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Jerome, Gibson, Stewart, Stevenson, Engle & Runbeck, P.C.
1001 North Central Avenue, Suite 701
Phoenix, AZ 85004

Phone: 602-635-6561
Toll Free: 800-762-9081
Fax: 602-340-8825
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