When a worker is injured in a workplace accident (including on the road), there may be a situation where the employee cannot file a claim for Arizona’s workers’ compensation right away. The worker may be unconscious in the hospital, due to the injury or may have mental incapacities, leading to someone else taking over the financial and medical affairs of the injured employee. In extreme circumstances, an employee passes away due to a workplace accident and the deceased employee’s survivors, understandably, do not know what to do next. In either situation, a person representing the injured employee should immediately contact an Arizona workers’ compensation attorney to get help.
Under new Arizona legislation, Senate Bill 1403, now added to Arizona Revised Statutes Title 23. Labor § 23-1061, called part (N), which took effect on September 24, 2022, a worker (or representative) can send a letter, an email, or text message to the employer stating that the employee intends to file for workers’ compensation. This can be directly from the employee or someone who is handling the employee’s affairs, who must also state their relationship to the employee, such as a family member or an attorney.
Once received by the employer, the employer sends a copy of the notification by mail (registered or certified) to the Industrial Commission of Arizona (ICA) within seven business days. The ICA, in turn, notifies the employee that they must file a claim in order to process medical payments and supporting benefits. A paper claim form or website link to download the form should also be provided within this communication, whether by link or by QR Code.
The addition to the legislation governing the filing of claims within one year of the injury, protects the injured employee, in case the employer and/or insurance company fail to send to the ICA their receipt of the employee’s Intent to File notification. In several cases, employees had relied on either their employer or the insurance company that they intended to file the claim so they could receive benefits.
Employees also assumed that getting benefits would be automatically done and never filed the claim. The new legislation ensures that there is a communication chain that recognizes there was an injury when it happened, that all parties were notified, and that when the claim is submitted, it is already recognized in the system.
In the early days of Senate Bill 1403, not everything had been hashed out to its final form. The ICA, however, has put up a video for employers (and everyone else) to review so they would understand the process and how to complete their side of the communication chain. The A.R.S. § 23-1061(N) Presentation video can be viewed here on YouTube.
Here is A.R.S. § 23-1061(N) stated in full, as presented in the video:
“If an insurance carrier or self-insured employer receives written notification of an injury from an employee who was injured and intends to file a claim for compensation, the insurance carrier or self-insured employer must forward the written notification of the injury and intended claim for compensation to the commission within seven business days and inform the employee of the employee’s requirement to file a claim with the commission. The one-year period as prescribed in subsection A of this section is suspended from the date the insurance carrier or self-insured employer received written notification of the injury and intended claim for compensation until the date that the insurance carrier or self-insured employer forwards the written notification to the commission. When the commission receives such notification, the commission must notify the employee of the employee’s responsibility to file a claim with the commission pursuant to this section.”
For injured employees who sustain what appear to be minor injuries, as time goes by, the injury may resolve itself, or it could become a larger problem and the employee recognizes that they will need treatment after all. However, the claim must still be filed at that time. Accordingly, it must meet the one-year rule and under, in order to qualify for the workers’ compensation insurance benefits.
Employees who hold off on filing claims for their injuries, however minor, must carefully weigh the nature of those injuries and whether lack of treatment in the early stage of injury could create a worse situation further on down the road. Workers may worry that employers will fire them because they cannot come to work while being treated.
It is true that employers can fire injured employees unless it is proven that employers did it in retaliation for something. But, in most cases, workers’ compensation continues until the employee is fully recovered or has reached maximum recovery levels and still cannot work. If you have questions about your injury claim and your situation with workers’ compensation, contact a workers’ compensation attorney at once to find out where you stand.
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