The internet might help people stay connected, but it unfortunately has fueled the spread of misinformation, including false information regarding workers’ compensation. Injured workers can hurt their ability to obtain compensation if they rely on much of this information.
In this article, our Arizona workers’ compensation attorney reviews some of the most widespread myths regarding workers’ comp and sets the record straight with basic information about the system in Arizona. Please call Snow, Carpio & Weekley, PLC, if you have questions or want more information about what to do.
Myth #1: You’ll Be Fired if You File an Arizona Workers’ Compensation Claim
Fact: You can’t be fired.
Arizona law prohibits retaliation against a worker for filing a workers’ compensation claim. You have a right to file a claim for any on-the-job injury, and any negative employment action (including termination) is against the law. In fact, you could seek job reinstatement and/or compensatory damages against your employer.
Myth #2: Only Injuries at Work Are Covered
Fact: Any injury arising out of your employment is covered.
We usually talk about “workplace injuries” because the fact is that most people have a designated jobsite and are injured there. Think of secretaries who go to the same office every day or factory workers who show up every day to the same factory.
However, some people don’t have a regular workplace. Examples include a delivery driver, who literally is on the road all day. That’s their job. Other people might travel for work, to meet with current or future clients. In fact, some people need to make deliveries at the start or end of their shift.
Legally, the test is whether your injury arose out of employment. Put in everyday English: were you injured while working? If so, you are likely covered.
Myth #3: You Will Receive All Lost Wages if You Are Injured
Fact: Totally disabled workers receive a portion of their average monthly wage.
We wish workers’ compensation paid 100% of what you lost when you can’t work. However, the law is to pay basically two-thirds of your average monthly wage. There are state minimums and maximums that come into play for some workers, also.
Myth #4: You’ll Lose Benefits if You Return to Work
Fact: You can still receive benefits in many cases, even after returning to work.
Some injured workers can still go to work but need medical care. Workers’ compensation insurance should pay for that medical treatment.
Other workers can return to light duty. For example, you might only work four hours a day instead of eight after your injury. Or you might do a work with different duties that is less taxing. It’s possible for someone who returns to light duty to continue to receive medical benefits to treat their injuries.
You can also receive compensation for lost wages. If you work part-time, for example, you would be eligible to receive a portion of the difference between your pre-injury average monthly wages and your current wage on light duty.
Myth #5: There’s No Rush to Report a Job-Related Injury
Fact: The law requires that you tell your employer promptly.
You should tell your employer of your injury suffered in an accident as soon as possible. If you suffer a workplace illness, then you should report it as soon as you become aware of the condition.
Myth #6: Injured Workers Can Sue Their Employers for an Accident
Fact: Workers’ compensation in Arizona prevents lawsuits against an employer in most cases.
Like most states, Arizona prevents an injured worker from suing their employer, even for a workplace accident. Employers know their legal exposure will be limited, which was important for getting them to go along with the workers’ compensation system in the first place. In exchange, workers get access to no-fault benefits, such as medical care and replacement for lost wages.
However, an injured worker might sue a non-employer, depending on the facts. For example, if you travel as part of your job, you might sue a distracted driver who rear-ended you at an intersection.
Myth #7: You Can’t Receive Workers’ Comp for Pre-existing Injuries
Fact: You can receive benefits if your job makes a pre-existing condition worse.
Many workers have suffered an injury at some point in their lives. Maybe you broke a leg falling off your roof, or you sprained your back while skiing in California on vacation. These lingering injuries might get aggravated at work. If so, you can request workers’ compensation for the aggravation or degradation of a pre-existing injury. That’s great news, because many workers need medical care and might be unable to work.
Myth #8: An Arizona Workers’ Compensation Lawyer is an Unnecessary Expenses
Fact: Your lawyer is your greatest asset when fighting for benefits.
Technically, you can represent yourself in the workers’ compensation claims process—and hundreds of people do. Unfortunately, they quickly learn they are in over their heads. We highly recommend hiring an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in Arizona if:
- Your claim is denied. An attorney can help find evidence to use on appeal.
- Your doctor has cleared you to return to work even though you are in great pain. This might be an attempt to cut your benefits off too soon. You should consult a lawyer, who can fight to keep benefits flowing.
- You suffer serious, life-altering injuries. You could be too disabled to handle your own claim.
- You lost a loved one in a workplace accident. Arizona offers a death benefit to certain family members. An attorney can review and help with a claim.
Call us to find more about how affordable we are.
Myth #9: Your Employer Pays Your Benefits
Fact: The vast majority of employers purchase workers’ compensation insurance.
The insurance company pays benefits. They also take the lead in many cases fighting off claims, because any claim will cut into their profits.
Myth #10: There’s No Rush to Speak with an Attorney
Fact: It’s never too soon to reach out to our law firm.
Call Snow Carpio & Weekley today. One of our lawyers will meet to discuss your injuries and whether you can seek workers’ compensation benefits.