Workers’ compensation is a state-based system in the United States, which means that each state has its own rules, regulations and requirements. In Arizona, as in most states, workers’ compensation is a “no-fault” system. This means that if you’re injured while on the job, you’ll likely be compensated for your medical care and lost wages regardless of the cause of the injury.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule.
For instance, if your injury is found to be “purposely self-inflicted” or you were found to be under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, you can generally expect your benefits claim to be denied.
That said, although most employers in Arizona are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance for their employees, it is YOUR responsibility as the injured worker to notify your employer after an injury.
Here are other workers’ compensation rights Arizona workers should know:
What agency is responsible for regulating workers’ compensation in Arizona?
In Arizona, workers’ compensation is handled by the Industrial Commission of Arizona (ICA). With a mission to protect the “ life, health, safety, and welfare of Arizona’s workforce”, the ICA is the state’s governing body in charge of regulating the rights between employers and employees.
These rights include:
- Child labor
- Occupational safety
- Payment of wages
- Workers’ compensation
Additionally, the ICA is in charge of enforcing the laws and regulations surrounding Arizona employees that are not delegated to any other specific department.
How much time do I have to file a workers’ compensation claim?
The ICA requires that all workers’ comp claims are filed no later than 1 year from the date of the accident.
If you miss this 1-year deadline, your case will be denied. It’s worth noting that this statute of limitations is shorter than for personal injury lawsuits, which is 2 years from the date of the accident.
Can I choose my own workers’ compensation doctor?
After being injured on the job in Arizona, in most cases, you will have to go see a doctor chosen by your employer at least once. It’s crucial to understand that if you return to that employer-selected doctor for a second visit, that physician becomes your attending physician for the duration of your workers’ compensation claim.
If your employer isn’t directing your medical care and you’re free to choose your own doctor, know that if you see the same doctor twice for your work-related injury then they become the doctor in charge of your treatment.
For example, let’s say you’re injured at work and go to urgent care for your initial treatment. If you have to return to urgent care for further treatment, this doctor is now the doctor you see for the duration of your treatment.
If you are allowed to choose your own workers’ compensation doctor, you should find a physician who is experienced in dealing with workers’ compensation cases. This will help streamline the process.
Furthermore, if you do choose a new doctor for further treatment (before your second visit), it is important to notify your employer or their workers’ compensation insurance company. If you fail to do this, you might have to pay for the visit out of your own pocket.
In cases where your employer is self-insured and directs medical care, you’re limited in your options if you want to see a doctor other than the one your employer requires. Your only course of action is to complete and submit a Request to Change Doctors form with the ICA. This form will allow you to ask permission to see a doctor other than the one your employer chooses.
If your employer’s insurance company denies your request to change doctors, it’s in your best interest to speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible.
Do I have a right to consult with a workers’ compensation attorney?
Although hiring a workers’ compensation attorney isn’t required under Arizona law, the workers’ compensation law system is very complex—particularly when it comes to meeting deadlines, choosing a doctor and submitting the correct forms. It is easy to misinterpret the laws and get overwhelmed.
What’s more, your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company will be consulting with their legal team to look for loopholes they can use to deny or diminish your claim, so you too should have an attorney who’s looking out for your best interest.