Getting involved in an accident while working and not being able to work is scary. You
may be worried about where your next paycheck will come from, but fret not. Your
employer has a workers’ compensation plan in place. But this is a complex system,
and before you take actions that can impact you for the rest of your life you need information.
You should not settle your claim without knowing the implications of your actions. The
information provided here relates to Arizona workers’ compensation claims.
Most Employees Want to Settle
While some employees might want to just walk away from their claims because of the frustrations in
dealing with the workers’ compensation system, many want to know their rights before agreeing to
a settlement that may be proposed by the employer or its carrier. If you have been injured at work,
you need to know your rights before agreeing to a settlement. You need to also understand that a
workers’ compensation claim is very different than a civil personal injury claim, such as one filed
for a car accident. This is because under a workers comp claim the employer does not pay for pain
and suffering or many other damages that the injured party may suffer. Workers’ compensation
benefits are only for a percentage of lost wages and permanent impairments (either by a limited
award that pays benefits for a few months or for a percentage of lost earning capacity that can pay
benefits for life) and authorized medical expenses. And, unless the employer intentionally injured
the worker, there is no civil claim against the employer except under very limited circumstances.
So, before settling, you should review your claim with an experienced workers’ compensation
lawyer who can explain what the issues are so that an intelligent decision can be made. Don’t give
up the future protections of the workers’ compensation system without understanding precisely
what you are doing. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you make the right
decision to protect your future.
Filing a Claim
The employee needs to file the initial injury claim. While the employer is also supposed to file
a notice of the claim, the claim is not filed until the employee files the necessary paperwork with
the Industrial Commission of Arizona. If the claim is found to be compensable, the employer
will provide proof of your wages at the time of the injury to the workers’ compensation insurance
carrier and it will then provide this information to the Industrial Commission of Arizona.
Hopefully, your employer does this quickly. If not, assistance from experienced attorneys will
ensure the required info is obtained and provided. You shouldn’t have your benefits delayed by
delays by your employer. Eventually, you’ll receive a notice from the company’s insurance provider, or
if it was uninsured, the Industrial Commission Special Fund – No Insurance Section either
approving or denying the claim. If you are denied, you should promptly seek legal representation to
help. We are experienced in these matters and would be glad to review your situation with you.
While filing the claim, you must seek prompt medical attention. The employer and its insurance carrier
may also require you to be examined by a physician of its choosing. Should they say you are fine to work
when you really are not, you should review your options with an experienced workers’ compensation
attorney. The carrier is not required to pay for a second opinion by a doctor of your choosing.
Accepting the Offer
When your employer’s insurance company provides an offer, it is best to review the proposal with an
experienced attorney. You need to know precisely what you are giving up and if the amount is fair.
This is especially important since Arizona now permits (since August 2018) full and final settlements
by which an injured worker can give up any future rights to compensation and medical coverage.
Insurance carriers are extremely eager to settle claims early for as little as possible. Injured
workers may give up a lot for very little in return, only to regret the decision very soon. These are
complex matters. Make sure you know what you are doing before agreeing to a settlement that can
have negative consequences for the rest of your life. Bring in legal assistance to ensure you receive a
fair settlement. With the help of the lawyers at Schiffman Law, you’ll have experienced and respected
representation on your side.