Workers’ compensation is a “no fault” kind of insurance, but there are still a number of “affirmative defenses” which have been put in place by Arizona law that employers or insurance companies can raise to prevent injured workers from getting their benefits. Knowing them might help guide your conduct at work or if you are involved in an accident. Even if you feel that one of them might be valid in your case, an experienced workers’ compensation attorney may still be able to get you some benefits to aid your recovery.
Workers have a period of one year from the date of an injury’s occurrence or when they noticed a medical condition to file a written claim with the Industrial Commission of Arizona. Not doing so within that period will bar you from receiving any workers’ compensation benefits. That is why attorneys always act promptly to get your claim in as soon as you get in touch and they conclude all preliminary processes.
The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA) states that workers who suffer an injury or who develop a medical condition in the course of their work must report it to their employer “forthwith”, which means immediately or as soon as possible. If you do not do that, it could lead to a claim that was otherwise solid being denied.
When applying for jobs, you are usually asked to state any medical problems you have had in the past. If you lie and claim that you have never had back problems, for instance, your application will be problematic when trying to claim benefits for a new back injury. Nevertheless, such misrepresentation cannot solely prevent you from getting benefits, but you should make sure you consult an attorney before taking any steps, to preempt any attempts by the insurance company to deprive you of your benefits on that basis.
OSHA mandates all employers to follow certain safety rules and they might in turn, put in place safety regulations for their workers to follow. Generally, simple negligence and failure to follow the rules will not negate a worker’s right to claim benefits, but there are certain rare instances where this would be a valid defense.
According to Arizona law, if the use of drugs or alcohol was a “substantial contributing cause” to the injury suffered by an employee, they would be barred from receiving benefits. This extends to fatal cases even, in which case the family would be barred from receiving benefits too. Workers are often required to submit to a drug or alcohol test soon after an accident occurs to ascertain that they were clear of mind at the time the accident occurred.
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