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Phoenix Workers' Compensation Law Blog

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.

Am I an 'independent contractor' or an employee?

For those who work in Arizona's factories and other businesses, whether a person is an "independent contractor" or an employee can make all the difference in the world with respect to how a person gets compensation for any workplace injuries.

With respect to its employees, an Arizona company must provide workers' compensation benefits on a no-fault basis that will cover the employee's medical expenses and lost income. However, not everyone a company pays for work is by that mere fact an employee. With respect to these other people, usually called independent contractors, an employer does not have to provide workers' compensation.

Arizona safety agency investigating state prison system

When residents of the Phoenix metropolitan area think of workplace hazards, the first thing that may come to mind are things like dangerous or defective machines, holes, sharp objects, unsteady piles of items or other inanimate dangers.

However, Arizona workers and employers need to remember that sometimes a safety hazard can arise on account of another human being who chooses to behave dangerously or even aggressively. Violent and aggressive behavior can lead to an employee suffering a serious personal injury.

How our office can help injured construction workers

Construction workers in Maricopa County, Arizona, put themselves at risk each workday in order to provide for their families. An Arizona construction site is usually a very busy place, and it is also a place full of dangerous conditions. A construction worker is particularly prone to a fall. Moreover, a worker can also injure himself or herself while lifting, or while being around heavy machinery or a power tool.

Furthermore, workers may not experience a one-time "serious" injury, but they may instead gradually have to wear their bodies down doing the same task over and over. While they do not occur in an instant, these repetitive injuries can also be debilitating.

Employer who ignore Arizona law face consequences

Workplace accidents can be devastating to Arizona workers and their families. Aside from medical bills and related costs, a worker may have no source of income for a long time while he or she recuperates. In the most severe work accidents, an employee may never be able to work again.

Knowing the serious consequences of these types of accidents, Arizonans created this state's workers' compensation system. This system requires most employers to have some sort of insurance or other protection so that when their employees get hurt or sick on the job, the employers can ensure that their workers will have their medical and other needs met.

What does Arizona workers' compensation cover?

The readers of this blog probably realize that in Arizona, workers' compensation offer certain types of benefits to injured or ill employees when an employee's injury or illness is work-related. With some exceptions, these benefits are afforded employees even when the employee is partially or even completely at fault for the injury.

The system places the responsibility of ensuring a safe and healthy workplace squarely on the shoulders of the employer. While this might seem like a burden to an employer, the employer also gets an important benefit in that employees can only get certain types of compensation and does not have access to other benefits that the employee may get were he or she able to file a lawsuit against the employer.

Worker dies on the job at tuna processing plant

Few people appreciate the sacrifices of factory workers until an industrial accident occurs. Take the gruesome case of a tuna processing plant worker who lost his life due to a factory accident.

While the worker was servicing a 35-foot pressure cooker, his colleagues mistakenly thought he was in the restroom. They filled the oven with six tons of canned tuna and turned it on. When the man was reported missing, his colleagues searched for him in the factory. Not until two hours later did they realize he was still in the pressure cooker, dead from exposure to the extreme heat that routinely reaches 270 degrees.

Workplace safety: If you see something, say something

These days, many people are concerned about the source of the salmon they eat, the conditions in factories where their t-shirts are made, and the level of radon in their homes. When it comes to their own workplace, however, some people are less vigilant.

Most Arizona workplaces are perfectly safe and healthy. In recent years, workers' compensation claims are down in the state. Employers usually take worker safety seriously. The danger for workers, however, is assuming that their employers have it all under control, or that they are aware of every issue and hazard.

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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