When you are injured on the job, you have one year to file a claim with the Industrial Commission of Arizona (ICA), regarding your injuries. However, you should file your claim as soon as possible after your injury so injury documentation of what happened to you while on the job, begins. There are cases where you suffered what you thought were minor injuries, such as bruising, neck whiplash and soreness, sore ribcage, etc., but after a few days over a restful weekend, you feel much better.
You should not let yourself be deceived into thinking you are just fine, as injuries may stop hurting early on. But you may have hurt yourself worse than you thought. You could have received fractures on your ribcage, or that soreness from the whiplash has turned into dislocated neck vertebrae, or even a back spinal misalignment, which gets worse over the next few months.
If you do get injured at work, and even if you think your injuries are not serious, go to your doctor as soon as possible to have yourself checked out. Your doctor will suggest getting x-rays, especially if you already have a benchmark set of x-rays from the year(s) before. The x-rays will show if there are even a few changes in your spinal cord, either with your back or your neck.
If you do not file an injury claim right after your accident and you wait past the year limitation, it will be much harder to file a claim and win your case, than if you had filed just after your injury. If you keep medical records from your doctor visits, then they could help your case get accepted even after a year has passed. If you have questions about your situation, call an Arizona workers’ compensation attorney for a free consultation.
Employer insurance companies look down on late claim filings as room for fraudulent claims and will try every way they can to deny your case. That is why you need evidence to support any claim if you have to go to court. You will also need legal assistance to help fight for you in front of the judge. The sooner you start compiling that evidence, the better you can build a successful case. Your doctor is your first big step in getting an early medical review and subsequent treatment.
Even if you decide not to file your claim, maybe for fear of losing your job for one reason or another, you should get witness statements as soon as possible. The reason for this is that the longer you go without doing this, people will begin to forget details of your accident that could be crucial to your case.
Get those statements written down on paper and have your witnesses sign them. Do not spread around the workplace that you are doing this, as witnesses may also suffer retaliation, depending on the company’s leadership tone. Keep it to yourself for now.
When you make notes to yourself about what occurred when the accident happens, when it occurred, and who was present as a witness, also include who your direct-report manager or director was that day at that time. Even you will forget small details over time, so make notes about your accident right after it happens.
The reality is that, under most circumstances, you should just file your claim even if not much is needed, such as medical bills for treatment, even while still working. Employers are not allowed to fire you because you got injured. So, keep this in mind if you are fearful that your employer may try to do this. If you do get fired, contact a workers’ compensation attorney to find out what to do next.
If you did file your claim early but your workers’ compensation benefits have been denied, then you have 90 days to file a Request for Hearing in front of an ICA judge. When you receive your denial notice, turn around and speak with a certified workers’ compensation attorney. Then file your Request for Hearing immediately so you can get in line for an appointment sooner, rather than later. You have bills to pay – medical, utilities, and other living expenses. If you have a family, you certainly want to make sure they are taken care of quickly, especially if you are the sole financial provider.
If your claim is denied, you will not yet be receiving workers’ compensation benefits, including payments for medical bills, just yet. Your workers’ compensation attorney can help you with finding local organizations who are willing to front your expenses while you wait to fight your claim in court. Various doctors may be willing to put your bills in abeyance until your case is decided. When you are in this situation, your attorney can help with a number of resources in the local area, so feel free to ask for help.
In other situations, your employer’s insurance company may have folded recently or is currently insolvent until further notice. Your case could go to the Special Fund at the ICA, and your attorney will provide help with getting your case taken care of if you are eligible.
Arizona Injury Law Group offers experienced and Certified workers’ compensation lawyers and legal services for injured workers. Call for your free consultation! 602-346-9009.
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