Arizona law is clear that any employer with at least one employee must carry workers’ compensation insurance. The state has also passed detailed regulations which instruct employers and their insurers of their obligations when a worker is injured on the job. When people get hurt while working, there is a standardized process for receiving benefits, and there should be few questions. Even so, some employers minimize workers’ compensation claims.
Unfortunately, many employers use underhanded tactics to reduce their number of workers’ compensation claims. They are motivated to keep their insurance premiums as low as possible. Instead of making the workplace safer, they instead threaten employees or never forward information to their insurer. These tactics deny injured workers benefits. Please contact Snow, Carpio & Weekley, PLC, to talk with an Arizona workers’ compensation attorney about your case. We can fight to get you the medical care and lost income benefits you deserve.
Strategy #1. Tell You Nothing is Wrong
Believe it or not, many badly injured workers have been told that they are “fine” and should get back to work. Some workers don’t know what to do, so they suck it up and return to their jobs—even though they feel intense pain.
Many employers have doctors on staff who go along with this charade. If your employer is self-insured, they can dictate which doctor provides treatment. Even if not self-insured, they can direct you to a specific doctor for your first visit. These doctors might try to minimize your injury. The good news is that employees can pick a different doctor after the first visit (unless their employer is self insured).
Strategy #2. Threaten to Retaliate for Filing a Claim
If a worker insists on filing a claim, an employer might even threaten the employee. Retaliation can take many forms, such as demotion, cut in pay, loss of training or work opportunities, or outright termination. Obviously, many workers are terrified of losing their jobs or suffering a drop in income, so they are bullied into not filing.
The good news is that it is illegal to retaliate against a worker for filing a workers’ compensation claim. You have a right to file and seek benefits if you suffer an on the job injury, and you might even seek remedies for the retaliation. Of course, this doesn’t mean that your employer must leave a job open indefinitely for you. But they certainly cannot threaten reprisals if you request benefits or follow through on threats.
Strategy #3. Fail to Notify Their Insurer
After you tell your employer about your injury, they have 10 days to file a form with their insurer. Some employers will delay this process for no good reason. They might claim they lost the paperwork, or their insurer has failed to respond.
You might find that medical bills are piling up in your mailbox and that you need your claim approved promptly. You should reach out to our law firm to discuss what to do.
Strategy #4. Blame You for Your Injuries
Workers’ compensation benefits in Arizona are generally no fault. Essentially, your own carelessness shouldn’t matter when it comes to receiving benefits for medical care or to replace lost wages. As an example, a construction worker might fall because he tried to scale a ladder too quickly, or a delivery driver could have crashed their truck because they were fiddling with the dials and not paying attention to the road. That is the type of negligence which shouldn’t prevent a worker from receiving benefits.
There are some exceptions to the no-fault rule, such as injuries caused by willful misconduct or intoxication. Your employer might try to exploit these exceptions. For example, they might allege you showed up to work drunk or were horsing around when you were injured. They then use this as a pretext for denying you benefits.
Strategy #5. Deny, Deny, Deny
Insurers deny claims for many reasons. They might claim you injured yourself outside of work or that your injury doesn’t qualify for benefits. They might even claim you are an independent contractor, so you aren’t covered by the workers’ compensation system in Arizona.
You should never automatically accept a denial. Instead, meet with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in Arizona to review the particular facts of your claim. We have seen many people designated “independent contractors” actually qualify as employees and receive benefits. And whether you were injured outside of work is a fact-intensive investigation. Some claims are rashly rejected for no credible reason.
Strategy #6. Litigate All the Way to Federal Court
Our firm has had great success obtaining benefits for workers’ comp injuries. Typically, we can convince an insurer to pay you benefits by presenting a logical case supported by evidence. Still, every now and then we come up against an employer or insurer who wants to fight. They will even fight you all the way to federal court—just to deny you benefits. Thankfully, you can fight back by hiring an experienced Arizona workers’ compensation attorney who’s got your back.
What Ethical Employers Should Do
Instead of denying injured workers benefits, employers should make their workplaces safer. They should remove hazards, provide necessary training, and purchase safe personal protective equipment. Those are sensible steps instead of bullying people into not filing a claim.
Employers should also provide sufficient rest to employees. Some injuries develop slowly over time, like carpal tunnel. In a sense, these repetitive motion injuries are often preventable, but only if workers are given regular breaks to stand and stretch. Unfortunately, some employers drive their workers too hard, all to save a few pennies.
Call Snow, Carpio & Weekley Today
You have a right to workers’ compensation benefits for an injury suffered while working. Never let an employer threaten or lie to you. Meet with a lawyer at our firm to go over everything that you know. We can listen to you explain your story and review medical records. Based on what we hear, we might advise appealing a denial—and we can represent clients in those hearings.
Contact our law firm to get started. We provide an individualized case assessment and discuss other ways to maximize your compensation.