When you are injured on the job and have filed your claim to receive workers’ compensation benefits, including medical payments, you might face problems with receiving those benefits for any number of reasons. Maybe a clerk misplaced or incorrectly filed your documents and they have not been processed yet. Yet, your bills are stacking up on the dining room table and you are being harassed by collectors. At a time when you have experienced stressful pain and injury from a workplace accident, being harassed by bill collectors is never fun as it adds to your stress and worries about your future.
If you are in a situation where you do not know where your claim is and it appears to not have been processed, then immediately contact an Arizona workers’ compensation attorney to get help. Certified attorneys know how to bypass the gatekeepers, find the problem, and get the claim into proper status. You may now have been due one to two months’ worth of payments, maybe more, so you should get those paid to you promptly.
But what if it has been longer than that and you could not pay your mortgage which now has added interest penalties? Even if you did get caught up on what you should have been paid, you are now woefully behind on mortgage payments and could lose your home. You could, with your attorney’s advice and support, ask for a lump sum payment, covered by A.R.S. § 23-1067A, which would allow you to get your mortgage fees and monthly payments back to normal again. At least you know you have a roof over your head, and you will not have to move out anytime soon.
In another scenario, your medical group has kindly carried your bills with the promise that you will pay them at a later date. However, there is a medical procedure that could really help fix your injury and the previous patient’s medical group cannot front the cost of it without some money upfront. The problem is you need that medical procedure now rather than later, which might be too late for getting a satisfactory outcome for your injury. So, you request a lump sum commutation to pull enough money together to get that medical procedure. So, what is the maximum amount you could be awarded in a lump sum commutation payment?
There are two types of permanent impairments called scheduled and unscheduled. A.R.S. § 23-1067A covers the lump sum commutation payment amount for permanent partial scheduled awards which cannot exceed $25,000. The Industrial Commission of Arizona (ICA) can award up to that amount with, or without, approval from the insurance carrier. This section covers those injured body parts (knee, foot, ankle, leg, elbow, hand, fingers, eyes, etc.) which have a specific monetary value calculated over prescribed months of payments. The injured worker is also presumed to eventually return to work after recovery.
Unscheduled injuries, as covered by A.R.S. § 23-1067B, refer to the lower back, head, neck, and shoulder, as well as loss of earnings. The maximum amount received is up to $150,000 and this payment must receive the approval of the insurance company. Understand that your payment amount may be far less than both examples above, but it might be enough to get you out of financial hot water and relieve your stress.
Aside from having all your claim papers and that evidence pulled together, you must show evidence of why you need this lump sum commutation. For example, in the first scenario above where you might lose your home, you gather any documentation the mortgage company has sent you, especially if there is an eviction notice. Know every piece of evidence you have available and be prepared to talk about your need for this request in an efficient manner.
Organize any notes you have or even write up your argument into a story worthy of a positive outcome. If you are called up to speak about your situation, you will know what you want to say. Be direct, and respectful, and avoid fluff words while speaking. Be sure to point out what will happen to you if you do not get your lump sum commutation payment and have the evidence to back it up. At all times, your attorney should be right by your side to give you advice or to speak up for you.
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