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Jerome, Gibson, Stewart, Stevenson, Engle & Runbeck, P.C.
Helping Injured Workers In Arizona Since 1973

Workers' compensation issues in recent bus accident

A tragic bus accident in northwest Arizona, close to the border of the state, left six people seriously injured and the driver of the bus dead. While traveling, the bus suddenly went off the road, into a ditch, and then up an embankment. Thankfully, the rest of the bus's approximately 50 passengers either required no medical attention or were able to receive treatment at local hospitals.

While to Arizonans a bus might not seem like a "workplace" in the traditional sense, any Arizona employee who is hurt at work, in theory is eligible for worker's compensation benefits, even if work involves driving a bus from place to place.

In this case, the driver purportedly suffered from some sort of medical ailment before his bus ran off the road. Perhaps a lesson to companies who rely on drivers for their profits is that they need to routinely evaluate their drivers' physical condition to make sure that they (and, for that matter, their passengers) arrive at their destination safely.

However, one issue in this case may be whether and to what extent the driver really sustained a workplace injury as opposed to suffering the effects of an unrelated and pre-existing medical condition. Sometimes, a workers' compensation claim will not be paid if it appears that an employee's injuries have an explanation other than one related to work. In these cases, it may be important for an employee to understand his or her rights so as to ensure that he or she gets necessary compensation to cover his or her loss.

Source: WFLX, "1 dead, 6 seriously injured in Arizona bus crash," Julie Jacobson, Oct. 20, 2012

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