Can COVID-19 Lead to a Workers’ Comp Claim in Arizona?
With the number of COVID-19 cases constantly on the rise, more employees are wondering about their rights if they contract the virus while at work. Normally, workers’ compensation in Arizona covers all occupational injuries and illnesses. During the novel coronavirus pandemic, however, some insurance companies are making it difficult for workers to receive compensation.
Purpose of Workers’ Compensation
Workers’ compensation is a program that protects workers from having to pay for their own medical bills, as well as lost income, after work-related accidents and injuries. It is a no-fault system, meaning injured or ill workers do not have to prove someone else’s fault to be eligible to recover damages. The worker must, however, prove the injury occurred while performing job-related tasks. Workers’ compensation benefits are only available to those employees whose employers have workers’ compensation insurance.
A successful workers’ compensation claim in Arizona could repay an injured employee for 100% of the past and future medical expenses connected to the injury or illness. This includes any surgeries, rehabilitation, therapies, prescriptions, medical devices, hospital stays and doctor’s appointments. A worker could also receive benefits for partial lost wages (typically two-thirds the average weekly wage), up to the state’s current maximum. If the worker has a permanent injury, the settlement may also include money to cover disability costs.
Workers’ Comp & COVID-19
Many employees are putting their safety and health at risk when they go to work every day. The number of COVID-19 cases has steadily increased throughout the US since the beginning of the year. As of mid-July 2020, Arizona has had over 124,000 cases of the coronavirus, with about 2,300 deaths. This is a rate of 1,722.4 cases per 100,000 people. If you have been working steadily throughout the pandemic, you may have come in contact with the virus while in the office or performing job-related tasks outside of the office.
On May 15, 2020, the Industrial Commission of Arizona announced that workers’ compensation insurance carriers and other authorized claims representatives cannot automatically deny COVID-19 claims. They must review and investigate each COVID-19 claim in good faith, as they would other types of workers’ comp claims. If you filed a claim seeking benefits for your virus-related damages, therefore, your boss’s workers’ comp insurer must process it as it would any other workers’ compensation claim.
An insurance provider can only deny a COVID-19 claim if it has a reason well-grounded in fact and warranted by the law to do so. Delaying benefits or denying claims without good reason is insurance bad faith. To have a valid claim, you must establish through evidence that you contracted the virus while at work. This may require eyewitness statements, doctors’ letters, medical documentation, information from your employer and other types of proof. You may have a better chance of receiving workers’ comp benefits for COVID-19 if you work in a high-risk field, such as health care.
Ensuring Your Claim Is Investigated in Good Faith
Hundreds of employees in Arizona are currently seeking workers’ compensation benefits to help them make up for medical bills and lost wages. If you are one of them, do not handle your claim alone. With so many claims to process and payouts to make, insurance carriers will try to deny, delay and deflect claims as much as possible to save money. Hire a Phoenix workers’ compensation attorney to ensure an insurance company investigates your COVID-19 claim in good faith.
A lawyer can help you file your initial claim, obtain evidence, negotiate a fair settlement and protect your rights as a worker in Arizona. If an insurer fails to handle your claim correctly, a lawyer can help you file an additional claim against the company for bad faith. Obtain fair compensation for your COVID-19 related losses of income, ongoing medical expenses, pain and suffering, and more. Work with an attorney to obtain the best possible results.