In Arizona, as in other states, workplace injuries (and other injuries sustained while performing one’s workplace duties, even off-site) can lead to quite a bit of confusion. Many workers may not realize that they not only have the right to receive workers’ compensation benefits, but that they may also have a legitimate right of action against one or more defendants.
If you were delivering pizzas, for example, and you were subsequently injured in a serious car accident, then you would not only be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, but you may also have other claims worth pursuing.
Workplace injuries can be particularly challenging from both an emotional and financial perspective. Still, if you’ve suffered serious injuries, it’s critical that you consult with an attorney who can evaluate the situation and determine whether you have actionable claims — workers’ compensation benefits alone may be insufficient to account for your losses.
Arizona “No Fault” Workers’ Compensation
Workers’ compensation in the state of Arizona is mandatory — employers are required to pay for workers’ compensation insurance that covers their employees. As such, if you are an employee and you are injured in a job-related incident (on-site or off-site), then you are almost certainly entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
Importantly, Arizona workers’ compensation is a “no-fault” system. In no-fault systems, it is irrelevant whether you contributed to your own injuries (so long as you did not intentionally cause your own injuries). Further, it is not necessary to prove that the employer acted negligently or wrongfully. Benefits will be paid out, regardless.
Workers’ compensation benefits cover a limited subset of damages: wage loss, medical expenses, and job retraining. They do not cover pain and suffering, emotional distress, or loss of quality of life. This can lead to a substantial damages gap, where your actual losses outstrip the compensation.
One way to ensure that your actual losses are accounted for is to bring an action against liable defendants. This can be quite challenging, however, as workers’ compensation serves as an exclusive remedy and precludes the employee from bringing a lawsuit against their employer on the basis of negligence.
Though workers’ compensation will generally preclude a lawsuit against the employer, in certain circumstances — where the employer engaged in intentional or willful misconduct — you may be entitled to bring an action. For example, suppose that you are injured in a truck accident while on-the-job. Your employer is upset with you, and in their anger, they cut the brakes on your vehicle, leading to an accident. Given the willful nature of such misconduct, you would have the right to sue your employer and recover comprehensive damages.
Suing a Third Party for Damages
In many workplace injury scenarios, even if the employer was not actually at-fault for your injuries, there may be third-parties whose negligence have substantially contributed to your injuries. In Arizona, you have the right to sue a liable third-party for damages, even if you will be receiving workers’ compensation benefits.
For example, suppose that the tires on the company vehicle explode, causing an accident in which you are severely injured. Further investigation reveals that the tires were defective. You may be entitled to sue the tire manufacturer pursuant to a product defect claim.
Get Connected to an Experienced Phoenix Injury Lawyer for a Free Consultation
If you are involved in a car accident or truck accident while on-the-job — whether you’re on-site or simply performing the duties of your position off-site — then you are very likely entitled to receive “no fault” workers’ compensation benefits to help compensate you for your various injuries. Unfortunately, workers’ compensation benefits are not particularly comprehensive. As such, you may find that the benefits are not sufficient to cover your losses. There are ways in which to secure more comprehensive damages, but those will require the assistance of an attorney who has experience navigating the complexities of work injury litigation.
Here at Hirsch & Lyon, our attorneys have decades of combined experience litigating motor vehicle accident claims on behalf of our injured clients. We have handled straightforward injury cases, as well as more complicated cases involving high-conflict issues relating to workers’ compensation benefits and potential third-party liability.
Call (602) 535-1900 or submit an online claim evaluation form to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Phoenix injury lawyer here at Hirsch & Lyon.