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The Duty to “Forthwith Report” An Arizona Work Injury

One of the biggest reasons that Arizona workers compensation claims are denied is that the injured worker fails to report the injury within a timely manner.  Arizona Revised Statutes §23-908(D) states that an employee who suffers an accident “shall forthwith report the accident and the injury resulting therefrom to the employer.”  This allows employers to ensure that the injured worker receives prompt medical attention and also allows them to conduct an investigation of the accident. 

The big question then becomes, “what does ‘forthwith’ mean?”  One minute?  One hour?  The next day?  A year later?  Most Arizona court decisions on the matter indicate that an employee should report an injury within a reasonable time of the employee knowing that he or she has actually sustained an injury.  The most common case where this becomes an issue is where a worker has done some strenuous activity and feels sore or tired after completing the activity.  They usually say something like “I thought it would go away”.  However, two or three days later, when the pain hasn’t gone away, they realize they have sustained an injury. 

Sometimes, late reporting of an injury is excused until after the injured worker has actually received a diagnosis or if they did not recognize that they were injured or that the injury was industrial.  Late reporting can also be excused by an Industrial Commission Judge if the injured worker can show that (1) the injury “was not aggravated by reason of the Employer’s inability to provide early diagnosis and treatment; and (2) the employer was not hampered in making his investigation and preparing his case.”

Snow, Carpio, and Weekley are work injury attorneys with offices in Phoenix and Tucson.  They have represented thousands of injured workers before the Industrial Commission of Arizona.