What steps Home Depot employees should take to file for workers’ comp
There are approximately 2,200 Home Depot stores nationwide, and around 50 stores spread across the state of Arizona — from Flagstaff to Yuma to Tucson. Nationally, Home Depot employed roughly 415,000 employees in 2020, and there are approximately 9,000 Home Depot employees in Arizona alone.
Unfortunately, Home Depot is a relatively dangerous place to work, and the company committed 120 safety violations between 2009 and 2014, according to the OSHA. Here’s what employees should know about the workers’ compensation process.
Common injuries while working for Home Depot
Home Depot sells items that can be quite heavy, and these items are often stacked on tall shelves. Some employees suffer injuries due to falling items. Falling objects can cause traumatic head injuries. Some of the heaviest items can cause broken bones and muscle strain.
Workers are continuously lifting and carrying items. They may hurt their arms and shoulders. They may also suffer from repetitive stress injuries.
Workers can slip and fall anywhere in the store, especially in the garden area. Lot associates often slip and fall when they grab shopping carts.
When receiving orders to cut blinds or carpet, workers sometimes cut their hands while fulfilling orders.
Workers sometimes fall from ladders or high-up places while restocking. Trucks and forklifts sometimes hit workers. Falling can easily lead to a back, neck, herniated disc, or spinal cord injury. You may also require lumbar fusion surgery.
Even if you work as a cashier, you may risk suffering an injury. Cashiers sometimes suffer from hand injuries and carpal tunnel syndrome from spending so much time typing.
Your Arizona workers’ compensation rights
Arizona requires that most employers carry workers’ compensation insurance for all employees. Casual employees who do not work regularly for the company and independent contractors are exempt. Also, sole proprietors do not need to insure themselves.
Once you’ve reported your injury to your supervisor or manager, your Home Depot store must notify the insurance carrier of any work-related injuries. One benefit of living in Arizona is that you’re entitled to benefits for pre-existing conditions if they are made worse by your work.
All injuries that took place during the course of your employment are covered by workers’ compensation. However, if you are suffering from a heart condition, this is not covered. You will only be covered for mental illness if you suffered extraordinarily stress due to your job and this leads to post-traumatic stress disorder.
You must file a claim within 1 year of when your accident occurred by filing a Worker’s Report of Injury form (or your doctor could alternatively file a Worker’s and Physician’s Report of Injury) and report your injury immediately to a supervisor.
Arizona benefits for injured workers
The extent of your workers’ compensation benefits is based on the severity of your injuries and whether you can continue to work. If you are still working, you may still be eligible for benefits through temporary partial disability (TPD). If you are temporarily unable to work at all, you will receive temporary total disability (TTD).
Your doctor will determine when you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). You have reached MMI when your doctor does not expect your health to improve any further. If your injuries were catastrophic, but you are still able to work, you may be qualified for permanent partial disability (PPD). However, if you are not able to work at all, you will be qualified for permanent total disability (PTD).
Your benefits should also pay for lost wages. You will receive your first 7 days of wages, but only after you have been out of work for 14 days. However, as of 2019, the state caps your maximum monthly income at $4,741.57.
Your employer has the right to require that you see a doctor of their choice for a medical evaluation. After that, you have the right under Arizona law to see your preferred doctor.
What to do if you were hurt at Home Depot
If you were injured while working at Home Depot, first you will need to notify a manager, supervisor or HR and file an accident report. They will inform corporate Home Depot of your intent to file a claim. HR should help you fill out the paperwork and keep you informed about how the insurance provider is handling your claim.
Questions and answers about compensation for a job-related accident, injury or illness in Arizona
When to contact an Arizona workers’ compensation lawyer
Many Home Depot employees have their workers’ compensation benefits denied on the first try due to a failure to submit necessary medical documents. The good news is that you can have the decision appealed, but you should contact a workers’ compensation lawyer before doing so.
Even when the insurance carrier accepts your claim, they may not pay your benefits promptly. Your attorney can communicate with the insurance carrier and put pressure on them to pay you. Best of all, a workers’ compensation attorney usually costs nothing upfront. You will simply pay a percentage of your benefits.
An attorney will make sure that you receive the benefits you deserve so you can pay for medical bills and replace lost wages. Your employer may want to deny your benefits if you are unable to return to work or if your injuries limit what you can do. Your boss may even retaliate against you. These are circumstances where you need legal representation.
Workers’ compensation cases can be complex. At Home Depot, a third party may also be partially at fault for your injuries. For example, you may be able to file a workers’ compensation claim against the manufacturer of a forklift. The more complex your case, the more you will benefit from seeking professional legal counsel.