Workers’ compensation eligibility requirements in Arizona
If you’re injured while at work, you might think that you’re covered by workers’ compensation. While it’s true that most injured workers in Arizona are eligible for these benefits, there are a few instances where you might not be covered.
For example, most volunteers and independent contractors aren’t covered, as well as business owners and those who work for railroads. (In the case of injured railroad workers, they are typically covered under a federal program called FELA.)
If you or a loved one were hurt at work and aren’t sure whether or not you are covered by workers’ compensation, feel free to contact our experienced Arizona work injury lawyers for answers and next steps.
In the meantime, the following are several categories of workers and workplace incidents that may not be covered under Arizona’s workers’ compensation system.
Arizona workers’ compensation eligibility typically prevents business owners from filing a claim. In some instances, you could decide to become an employee of the company so that you can obtain workers’ compensation, as long as the company has the proper insurance.
Unpaid workers and volunteers
If you’re a volunteer for a business, then you likely won’t be covered by workers’ comp if you’re injured while volunteering. This is because you’re not on the company’s payroll and are simply volunteering your services instead of actually being an employee.
However, a business could make the executive decision to obtain insurance for volunteers so that they are covered, which could then make them eligible to be covered while they perform work for the company.
For example, firefighters and police officers who work on a volunteer basis are often covered by workers’ compensation. If someone is asked by an officer or a firefighter to offer assistance in an emergency, then that person is usually covered as well.
Government employees, railroad workers and longshoremen
There are a few different systems in place that can cover employees who work for railroads, docks and the federal government.
If you’re a federal worker, you’re not entitled to workers’ compensation in Arizona. You must instead file a claim with the United States Department of Labor.
The Federal Employee’s Compensation Act (FECA) typically covers those who hold a government position, such as mail carriers.
The Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) generally covers employees who work for railroads. Employees can sue the railroad if they aren’t covered by the benefits offered by the system that’s in place by the state.
A similar act—called the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA)—covers longshoremen if they work on piers or if they work on navigable waters.
An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can offer assistance in filing a claim and answering questions about whether or not you’re covered while working in these unique situations.
Independent contractors and freelancers
As an independent contractor in Arizona, you likely won’t be able to file a workers’ compensation claim and obtain benefits from the person who is paying for your services. If you choose to classify yourself as an employee, then you could be able to file a claim under Arizona law.
However, some businesses list employees as independent contractors so that they don’t have to pay out any workers’ comp benefits. An attorney can review the details of your employment history to determine if you’re an independent contractor or if you should be considered an employee of the company.
Domestic workers and gardeners
A maid or a nanny usually isn’t covered by workers’ compensation, nor are gardeners or landscapers. Those who work an intermittent schedule typically aren’t covered in the state because of the schedule that they work and since they might not work for the same employer all the time.
Work break injuries
Aside from different types of employees, there are various scenarios when workers’ compensation is not provided in Arizona.
In most situations, benefits can be obtained whether an injury occurs due to the fault of the employer or the employee—as long as the injury occurred while performing typical work duties. For example, if you slipped and fell while washing dishes, you could file a claim. You could also file a claim if performing repetitive actions at work results in an injury, such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
However, if you are injured while you’re on a break at work, you might be able to file a workers’ compensation claim, depending on where you’re at during your break and what happens. You should try to stay inside the building while you’re on your break as leaving could decrease your chances of the claim being approved.
If you leave and perform tasks for your employer while on your break and are injured, then you could be eligible for benefits.
Injuries after work hours
Once you clock out, you might think that you won’t be covered by workers’ compensation. However, in many situations, you are still covered as long as you’re on the property, such as the business’ parking lot. If you’re on property that’s not covered (i.e. if the business doesn’t own that property), then you likely won’t be able to receive benefits.
If you leave the property and are performing work for your employer and are injured, then you will usually be covered. These situations include working from home for the employer, taking classes as instructed by the employer, or traveling to another city or state at the request of the employer.
Keep in mind that you need to be able to show that you’re still working while away from the business in order to be approved for the claim.