In recent months, the inequalities the American middle-class face have been a focal point for the media. COVID-19 has only made these disparities that much more noticeable.
Sadly, the Arizona middle class is becoming increasingly disenfranchised from the fundamental workers’ compensation benefits that many of them desperately need. What’s worse, neither the press nor Arizona’s elected officials have spoken up about their plight.
AZCentral, an Arizona division of the USA TODAY network, recently ran an opinion piece written by attorneys Bob Wisniewski and Javier Grajeda from the Law Offices of Robert E. Wisniewski discussed how Arizona workers have been seeing a gradual and systematic reduction in workers’ compensation benefits.
The article discusses the beginnings of the practice of workers’ compensation in Arizona and how, rather than facing the possibility of waiting years to settle an injury dispute, workers gave up their right to bring a civil suit against their employer.
Moreover, as workers’ compensation was proposed, it was a no-fault system.
In short, it was a compromise. A worker would receive less money in the long run; however, they would be guaranteed medical care.
Wisniewski and Grajeda point out that through the early part of the 1900s, up until the Industrial Commission of Arizona (ICA) released a poster in 1937 proclaiming, “Arizona compensation law brings justice to all,” they did just that: provided compensation for those who were injured.
Since then, though, workers’ comp laws have changed—and not to the benefit of Arizona workers.
As Wisniewski and Grajeda write in the article, workers’ compensation has changed in the 108 years since “The Grand Bargain.” For instance, it’s striking how many workers face claims denials and litigation today compared to the medical care and wage replacement promised so long ago. Additionally, even when workers are provided with much smaller benefit checks, the system strikes again when the checks arriving late and unfair claims adjusters heckle injured workers.
In the end, workers are injured a second time by having to find other ways of receiving medical compensation, while their employers are, essentially, off the hook. Private insurance and/or state Medicaid (and in turn, the taxpayers) end up footing the bill.
Workers’ compensation is a right for most workers in Arizona. If you or a loved one have been injured while on the job (or developed an occupational disease) and need help getting the compensation you deserve, contact the Law Offices of Robert E. Wisniewski today.