Although Arizonians may be grateful for what they see as an efficient workers' comp system that can get employees compensation for medical expenses and lost wages, everyone in this state needs to remember that not all workers' compensation claims get processed without a time-consuming and stressful legal battle.
A man in another state recently found this out after being hurt at work. A relatively new county employee, the man was doing well in life until he seriously injured his hand while on the job. A bungee hook impaled the man's hand, requiring him to take time off and seek medical treatment.
To make matters worse for the worker and his family, he developed what doctors call "conversion disorder." Conversion disorder is a condition in which a person shows symptoms of a neurological problem, such as significant pain, but which doctors cannot explain via any other diagnosis.
The worker's now-former employer may have doubted some parts of his story. Although the worker claims that his doctors had not cleared him to do so, the county ordered him to return to work. Eventually, the county fired the man, accusing him of abandoning his duties. The man maintains that he was off work for medical reasons, reasons which the county would not accommodate.
The man and his family have suffered considerable economic hardship since the man lost his job. They are now looking at having to leave their rental property, but they have no family income with which to secure another home. Since the man's wife has to spend much of her day helping her husband with his condition, the family has been scraping money together by selling things off and applying for government assistance. The man claims that he has worked since he was 15 and now simply needs support from his employer so that he can provide for his family.
The man's current battle with his former employer revolves around his eligibility for a disability pension that he may be able to receive because he was a public employee. However, the ultimate issue is the same as with many workers' compensation cases, in that the county appears unwilling to acknowledge that the man's current conditions relate back to his injury on the job. Workers in Arizona dealing with scenarios like this should consider working with a legal professional in order to ensure their rights are protected.
Source: Berkeley Patch, "Injured on job, ex-county employee wants officials to do the right thing," Patricia A. Miller, Feb. 1, 2013