What injured grocery store employees need to know about workers’ comp
Nobody plans to get hurt on the job. However, accidents happen. Fortunately, Arizona has provided a system to help injured or ill workers through workers’ compensation. Understanding more about the process helps workers better prepare themselves when they become injured, especially if you were injured as a grocery store employee.
Kroger, which employs over 16,000 workers in Arizona and operates Fry’s Food and Drug Marketplace, is one of the largest grocery store chains in Arizona. There are over 50 locations located throughout the state, including several in the Greater Phoenix area. With such a large pool of employees, Kroger workers’ compensation cases in Arizona are quite common.
Common accidents and injuries among grocery store workers
Kroger and other grocery store employees are susceptible to all kinds of injuries that may occur during the course of routine job duties. Some of the tasks that supermarket associates regularly perform include replenishing refrigerated case and shelf products, using step stools or ladders to reach inventory and lifting heavy boxes.
Additional tasks include regular cleaning duties in the store and performing carry-outs or helping customers to their cars. Even working at the register can result in shoulder injuries and muscle strain.
Some of the more common accidents include:
- Slipping on slick surfaces or falling from ladders
- Exposure to corrosive chemicals causing eye, skin or respiratory irritation
- Broken pallets that cause injury due to tripping or impact with a jagged edge
- Unstable pallet loads that cause injuries
- Cluttered storage areas difficult to navigate
- Burn injuries
- Broken or fractured bones from slips and falls
- Forklift injuries
Injuries from slips and falls, as well as tripping over obstacles, can be particularly debilitating. Fractures, strains or sprains can make it hard for workers to continue working full-time, or even at all.
Corrosive or otherwise hazardous chemicals can cause burns or breathing difficulties. These conditions can make it very difficult for employees to work. If left untreated, employees may find their condition worsening.
Injured worker rights in Arizona
The Industrial Commission of Arizona (ICA) is responsible for regulating and enforcing Arizona workers’ compensation law. One important thing that all Arizona workers should be aware of is that the state uses a “no-fault” system, which means that compensation and medical care are available regardless of who caused the accident or illness.
The benefits that workers might receive include temporary compensation and medical assistance. Job training for a different type of position, as well as permanent compensation, are also possibilities, depending on the severity of the injury or illness.
Injured workers are generally not permitted to sue their employers in Arizona, except under a limited set of circumstances. The workers’ compensation process is the standard means of ensuring that injured workers receive the help that they need.
Workers pursuing a claim do have the right to:
- Receive medical care following their injury or illness
- Request a hearing if their compensation claim is denied
- Have medical expenses related to the injury or illness paid by the employer’s insurance company
- Protest the accuracy of any compensation received within 90 days
- Reopen a closed claim upon discovery of a worsened condition
- Retain an attorney to help handle their case
Injured workers need to understand their rights, so they are better prepared as they go through the compensation process. Overlooking even one of these essential rights can have a major impact on the outcome of a case.
Questions and answers about compensation for a job-related accident, injury or illness in Arizona
How Kroger handles workers’ comp claims
In Arizona, Kroger is a self-insuring employer that is authorized to direct care, which means that an injured employee will need to see a company doctor. However, sick or injured Kroger employees still have all the same rights as other injured workers.
Anyone who has become hurt on the job should notify the company to initiate a claim. Anything from a fall while stocking shelves to sudden shoulder pain might be worthy of compensation.
Prompt treatment is essential for ensuring the best results after an accident or sickness related to work. Don’t try to finish your shift before seeking treatment because Kroger can try to deny the claim as evidence that the incident did not interfere with your ability to work.
Also, be sure to follow the doctor’s treatment plan very carefully. Otherwise, Kroger may have grounds to deny your claim. Workers should document as much evidence about the incident as possible because any supporting evidence can help make a stronger case.
In most cases, workers seeking compensation can expect an initial hearing within about 3 months from the time of the claim’s filing. Usually, the employee will learn of the decision 3 to 4 months after the hearing. The decision can be appealed, if denied, within 30 days of the decision.
If you were hurt on the job, contact a knowledgeable and experienced attorney who specializes in workers’ compensation cases in Arizona.