Every employee deserves safety and fair working conditions. Unfortunately, accidents in the workplace remain a serious problem. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that around 2.7 million work-related injuries and illnesses are reported nationwide each year. This raises an important question: Can you claim workers’ comp without a specific accident? In Arizona, the answer is “yes”—but doing so can be challenging, you must prove that you were harmed in the course and scope of your employment. In this article, our Phoenix workers’ comp lawyer discusses the key things to understand about claiming work injury benefits without an accident in Arizona.
Employees are Entitled to No-Fault Workers’ Comp Coverage in Arizona
To start, it is important to emphasize that all workers in Arizona should be covered by workers’ compensation insurance. As explained clearly by the Industrial Commission of Arizona, “it is mandatory for employers to secure workers’ compensation insurance for their employees.” Notably, workers’ comp insurance in Arizona is no-fault coverage. This means that a person who was hurt or made ill on the job can generally claim benefits through workers’ compensation regardless of whether or not their employer bears any fault for the harm.
Understanding Two Broad Categories of Workers’ Comp Claims in Arizona
Workers’ compensation insurance coverage provides financial protection to people who were injured on the job. To qualify for no-fault workers’ comp benefits, an applicant must assert that they were injured or made ill without the “course and scope” of their employment. Broadly speaking, workers’ comp claims can be split into two main categories:
- Accidental Injuries: An accident injury is one that has a clear and specific cause. It is a workplace injury that was sustained in a single event. As an example, imagine an office worker suffered a concussion in a slip and fall accident while on the job in Phoenix. He or she could file for workers’ comp for this accident.
- Occupational Diseases: Workers’ comp insurance also covers occupational diseases. An occupational disease includes things such as contagious illnesses and toxic exposures. The term also includes repetitive stress injuries. A repetitive stress injury is not caused by any specific accident. Instead, it is an injury that develops gradually over a period of time.
To summarize, you can file for workers’ compensation benefits in Arizona without an accident. If you sustained a repetitive stress injury, you have the right to seek medical coverage and wage replacement (temporary disability) benefits through a workers’ comp claim. A Phoenix, AZ workers’ comp lawyer can help you navigate the claims process.
An Overview of Common Examples of Repetitive Stress Injuries (Gradual Injuries)
A repetitive stress injury (repetitive strain injury, cumulative trauma injury, etc) is a broad term used to describe a range of gradual-onset injuries that occur slowly over time due to repeated movements. Some of the most notable examples of repetitive stress injuries include:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome;
- Rotator cuff injuries;
- Tennis elbow;
- Shin splints;
- Knee injuries; and
- Back injuries.
Repetitive stress injuries require proper medical attention. In many cases, an employee who has developed a gradual injury due to repeated motions will require some form of ongoing physical therapy as part of his or her recovery and treatment plan.
Four Key Things to Know About Repetitive Stress Injury Workers’ Comp Claims in Arizona
Did you or your family member suffer a repetitive stress injury due to your job in Arizona? If so, it is crucial that you understand the steps to take to protect yourself. Here are four important things to know about repetitive stress injuries workers’ comp claims in Arizona:
- You Can File for Workers’ Comp Without an “Accident”: You can claim workers’ comp benefits for a “gradual” injury in Arizona. Put another way, this means that you can still file for workers’ comp benefits without a specific accident. An accident is not a required element of a workers’ comp claim in Arizona.
- You Must Prove Your Injury Occurred in the Course and Scope of Employment: Arizona workers’ comp coverage only covers injuries/illnesses that occurred within the course and scope of a worker’s employment. This is the key challenge in repetitive stress injury cases: An injured worker must be able to prove that the gradual injury was caused by or substantially exacerbated by their job.
- Medical Evidence is Key in Non-Accident Workers’ Comp Claims: To claim workers’ comp benefits without an accident in Arizona, an injured employee must be prepared to present strong and comprehensive medical evidence. Medical records are the key to establishing that a gradual injury, illness, or impairment is work-related.
- There is a One-Year Statute of Limitations to File for Benefits: Another challenge associated with repetitive stress work injury claims is the statute of limitations. In Arizona, a workers’ comp claim must be filed within one year of the onset of the injury. Gradual injuries do not always have a clearly defined onset date. The onset date from a repetitive stress injury is generally defined as the first date that the worker knew or should have known that their medical condition was related to their employment. Be proactive: File for benefits as soon as you believe that your repetitive stress injury is work-related.
Applying for workers’ comp benefits can be stressful and confusing. It is even more difficult for injured workers to learn that their claim was denied. In Arizona, you have the right to appeal a workers’ comp denial. An experienced Phoenix, AZ work injury lawyer can help.
Contact Our Phoenix, Arizona Workers’ Compensation Attorney Today
At The Law Office of Paul J. Dombeck, PLLC, our Phoenix workers’ comp lawyer has the professional expertise you can trust. If you have any specific questions or concerns about claiming workers’ comp benefits without an accident, we are here to help. Reach out to us by phone at (602) 805-0577 or send us a direct message to set up your free, no-commitment case review. We represent injured workers throughout the state, including in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Flagstaff, Sierra Vista, and Bullhead City.