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Arizona court to injured worker: no right to travel for care

Arizona employees who are injured on the job are entitled to compensation for many things - but blanket travel expenses for medical care is not one of them.

A Flagstaff city employee learned this lesson the hard way. After injuring his neck in a workplace accident, he initially sought medical treatment in his hometown. Doctors there, however, were unable to relieve his pain. So, the man travelled to Phoenix to see another medical provider. His employer refused to pay for his travel costs, so the man brought a workers' compensation suit in state court.

Although the Arizona Court of Appeals said the claimant could seek treatment from the doctor of his choice, it ruled that he is not entitled to reimbursement for travel expenses unless the required care is unavailable locally. So the worker was left to pay for his travel expenses out of his own pocket.

On the job accidents such as his happen all the time. Although some of the most dramatic accidents occur in factories, mines, or on farms, equally painful and life-altering injuries often occur in places like nursing homes, schools and offices. No worker - whether blue or white collar - is immune from on the job injuries.

When workplace accidents do occur, an employee should immediately notify his or her supervisor. He or she should also seek medical care, if necessary. Not only is timely medical care important from a therapeutic standpoint, it also helps document any injuries the employee may have suffered. Later, if the employer refuses to reimburse him or her for these injuries, these medical records will be essential in establishing a workers' compensation claim.

An attorney experienced in workers' compensation law can help evaluate the employee's claim, find appropriate medical care and seek compensation for hospitalization, surgery, doctors' visits, medication, therapy, rehabilitation and other medical expenses the employee incurred.

On the job accidents can be a real pain in the neck - as at least one Arizona worker learned - but they do not have to be endured alone.

Source: Insurance Journal, "Arizona Court Says No Blanket Right To Travel for Injured Worker Care," March 2, 2015.

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Jerome, Gibson, Stewart, Stevenson, Engle & Runbeck, P.C., provides experienced representation for workers' compensation 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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