Friday, December 29, 2017

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PERSONAL INJURY AND WORK INJURY?

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PERSONAL INJURY AND WORK INJURY?  
By Founding Attorney/Partner Chad Snow
Snow, Carpio & Weekley


Many people do not realize that there is a huge difference between personal injury law and work injury law.

Personal Injury is a tort claim filed against a third party who has caused damage or injury to you due to their negligence.

Work Injury law covers workers who are injured in the course and scope of their employment regardless of who is at fault.

In personal injury cases, the injured party must prove their losses due to the negligent injury, and can receive different types of damages, including pain and suffering, loss of consortium, lost wages, and loss of enjoyment.

Workers injured on the job are limited to compensation for time lost from work and 100% of their medical bills.  There is no compensation for pain and suffering in a work injury case.

Personal injury claims are filed against the insurance company and, if not settled, a lawsuit is filed in justice court or in superior court.  Work injury claims are filed at the industrial commission of Arizona and all disputes are heard in special courts at the ICA.

For more information on Workers' Compensation or Social Security Disability, please contact Snow, Carpio & Weekley toll-free at 855-325-4781 or visit our website at www.workinjuryaz.com. We serve the entire State of Arizona and have offices located in Phoenix, Tucson, Yuma and Lake Havasu City.

Friday, December 22, 2017

DO I HAVE TO SETTLE MY CLAIM OR DOES THE INSURANCE COMPANY HAVE TO SETTLE?

DO I HAVE TO SETTLE MY CLAIM OR DOES THE INSURANCE COMPANY HAVE TO SETTLE? 
By Founding Partner/Attorney Chad Snow
Snow, Carpio & Weekley 


Many clients simply want to put the matter of their work injury behind them and get on with their life.  However, we cannot force an insurance company to settle a claim.

Insurance companies only settle a claim if they think they will pay less in the long run by giving the injured worker a lump sum of money now.  Likewise, an insurance company can’t force an injured worker to accept a settlement that the worker doesn’t feel is in his or her long term best interest.

All settlements of any issue in a work injury claim in Arizona must be reduced to writing in what is called a “compromise and settlement agreement”, must contain specific language, and must be approved by an administrative law judge from the industrial commission of Arizona.

If you have questions about settling a claim or seeing if an offer made to you is fair, you should definitely consult with an experienced Arizona work injury lawyer like those at Snow, Carpio, & Weekley.  In my experience, engaging an attorney usually results in a settlement at least double what the carrier would be willing to pay an unrepresented applicant.


For more information on Workers' Compensation or Social Security Disability, please contact Snow, Carpio & Weekley toll-free at 855-325-4781 or visit our website at www.workinjuryaz.com. We serve the entire State of Arizona and have offices located in Phoenix, Tucson, Yuma and Lake Havasu City.

Friday, December 15, 2017

WHAT IF MY EMPLOYER DOESN’T HAVE WORKERS COMPENSATION INSURANCE WHEN I GET INJURED?

WHAT IF MY EMPLOYER DOESN’T HAVE WORKERS COMPENSATION INSURANCE WHEN I GET INJURED? 
By Founding Partner/Attorney Chad Snow
Snow, Carpio & Weekley


Arizona law requires all employers to carry a policy of workers compensation insurance to cover any employees who are injured on the job.  In some instances, employers fail to comply with this law and their workers’ pay the price.

Luckily, the framers of the Arizona workers compensation act foresaw this unfortunate circumstance and created the special fund division – no insurance section at the industrial commission.  The Special Fund division is funded by surtax on all work comp premiums paid in the state and is a division of the ICA.

When a worker is injured while in the employ of an employer who fails to carry work comp coverage, the no insurance section acts as if they were the insurance company, pays the claim if appropriate (compensation and medical benefits), and then pursues the employer for reimbursement of the costs of the claim, plus a penalty for not having carried insurance.

Unfortunately, the special fund division is not subject to many of the same claims processing requirements that private insurance companies are, so injured workers receiving benefits through them often have to wait much longer to get paid or get medical treatment authorized and don’t have some of the same remedies available as those covered by a private carrier.

If your employer didn’t carry work comp coverage at the time of your injury, call the workers compensation attorneys at Snow, Carpio, & Weekley, and we can help you file a claim through the special fund division – no insurance section.

For more information on Workers' Compensation or Social Security Disability, please contact Snow, Carpio & Weekley toll-free at 855-325-4781 or visit our website at www.workinjuryaz.com. We serve the entire State of Arizona and have offices located in Phoenix, Tucson, Yuma and Lake Havasu City.

Friday, December 8, 2017

WHAT IF I HAVE A PRE-EXISTING CONDITION THAT IS RE-INJURED IN MY WORK INJURY?

WHAT IF I HAVE A PRE-EXISTING CONDITION THAT IS RE-INJURED IN MY WORK INJURY?  
By Founding Partner/Attorney Chad Snow
Snow, Carpio & Weekley


As we all get older, our bodies break down and suffer degenerative changes.  Many people get regular treatment for chronic conditions, especially of the spine and joints, for years before their work injury. Then an unfortunate injury occurs to that same body part, turning that occasional chronic pain into a disabling, acute injury.  Insurance carriers always try to prove that all of the injured worker’s problems are due to the pre-existing condition.

However, many times we are successful in proving that the work injury caused either a temporary or a permanent aggravation of the pre-existing condition.  a temporary aggravation is one that eventually returns back to the baseline condition as it was before the injury.

A permanent aggravation is an injury that causes the pre-existing condition to be permanently worsened and causes a permanent reduction in function to the injured body part.  This is proven through medical testimony of a treating or examining physician who reviews your prior medical records and other testing done after the injury, and gives an opinion as to the extent to which your pre-existing condition was aggravated by your work injury.


For more information on Workers' Compensation or Social Security Disability, please contact Snow, Carpio & Weekley toll-free at 855-325-4781 or visit our website at www.workinjuryaz.com. We serve the entire State of Arizona and have offices located in Phoenix, Tucson, Yuma and Lake Havasu City.

Friday, December 1, 2017

THE ATTORNEYS AT SNOW, CARPIO, & WEEKLEY; WHAT MAKES US SO DAMN SPECIAL?

THE ATTORNEYS AT SNOW, CARPIO, & WEEKLEY 
WHAT MAKES US SO DAMN SPECIAL?  
By Founding Partner/Attorney Chad Snow
Snow, Carpio & Weekley


What sets the attorneys at Snow, Carpio, & Weekley apart from the dozens of other attorneys who represent injured workers in Arizona?  First, it is our backgrounds.  All of the attorneys in our firm come from working class backgrounds and understand and appreciate hard working people who just want to be treated fairly.  Two of us were roofers before becoming attorneys, two worked in other areas of construction, two were school teachers, and one lived in other countries while his father worked for an international mining company. 

Another special thing about our attorneys is that we fight for people’s rights outside of the courtroom as well as inside.  two of our attorneys were the chairman and general counsel of the historic 2011 recall of then Senate President Russell Pearce – the first time in us history that a sitting legislative leader was removed from office by recall.  Our firm stood up to then Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio when he was abusing immigrants and jailing his political opponents.  We were vocal opponents of now disbarred County Attorney Andrew Thomas when he was similarly abusing his power.  We continue to lobby at the legislature and have been instrumental at changing many laws favorable to those injured on the job. 

One of our attorneys is the past chairperson of Chicanos Por La Causa, one of the nation’s largest advocacy groups for Latinos and immigrants.  Another of our attorneys sits on the board of the catholic diocese of Tucson.  Another wrote the legal specialization test for many years for the state bar of Arizona for attorneys who wanted to become certified specialists in Arizona workers compensation law.  Five of our attorneys speak fluent Spanish.  Two are the children of immigrants.  All of us have lived in Arizona almost our entire lives.  Two of us served as church missionaries in other countries, dedicating two years of our lives to serving others.  Two were partners at our largest competitor and left to join our firm because they saw how we fought for and treated our clients.  All of us have families and understand the impact a work injury can have on someone who is taken out of work for a long period of time. 

If you are shopping for an attorney for your Arizona work injury, you can’t do any better than the lawyers at Snow, Carpio, & Weekley!!!

For more information on Workers' Compensation or Social Security Disability, please contact Snow, Carpio & Weekley toll-free at 855-325-4781 or visit our website at www.workinjuryaz.com We serve the entire State of Arizona and have offices located in Phoenix, Tucson, Yuma and Lake Havasu City.


Friday, November 24, 2017

TRACKING INDUSTRY ABUSES INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR STATUS

TRACKING INDUSTRY ABUSES
 INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR STATUS
By Attorney Dennis Kurth
Snow, Carpio & Weekley


The distinction between “employee” and “independent contractor” is crucial in workers’ compensation law.  Employees are covered by state-mandated, employer-provided workers’ compensation insurance but independent contractors are not.

There has long been tension between employers and workers’ compensation claimants over who is an independent contractor and who is an employee when workers are injured and need medical treatment and compensation for time lost from work.

The IRS has well-established rules for determining who is an independent contractor for tax purposes and, while those rules form a starting point for analyzing workers’ compensation issues regarding independent contractor status, most states’ workers’ compensation laws go further.  Workers’ compensation statutes are, of course, remedial in nature and designed to make industry shoulder the burden of caring for injured workers so that taxpayers do not.

Under common law rules of statutory construction of remedial legislation, state boards and appellate courts must liberally construe the term “employee” in order to find coverage for injured workers.  In Arizona, case law has focused on the question of whether the injured claimant was doing work that is an integral part of the employer’s business in determining whether the employer has the “right to control” the worker which is the main feature of employee rather than independent contractor status.  If a worker is doing such work rather than simply providing a service ancillary to the employer’s business, he/she is most likely an employee, not an independent contractor.

For many years, the trucking industry has been fertile loam for employer abuse of independent contractor status.  In order to avoid federal tax liability for FICA contributions as well as workers’ compensation insurance for drivers, the industry has devised all manner of subterfuge to make it appear that truckdrivers, almost all of whom are providing a service integral to the trucking companies’ business, are independent contractors rather than employees.

Recently, a USA Today investigation report blew the lid off a major independent contractor scam in the ports of Los Angeles where truckers haul freight from the ports to warehouses and rail lines for distribution to all of the major retailers around the country.  Reporters found that port trucking companies have engaged in the practice of forcing truckers, many of whom are immigrants who don’t speak or read English, to sign contracts to lease their trucks and pay all expenses related to their purchase, maintenance and operation often leaving the driver with no net earnings despite working far more than forty hours a week. Reporters also discovered that grossly overworking the drivers was leading to driving accidents and serious injuries not covered by workers’ compensation.

Drivers complained that if they refused to work continuous shifts without rest, they would be let go, leases terminated and the truck re-leased to a new driver with all their equity in the truck gone.  Consequently, they felt they had no choice but to accept the leases and work the long hours.

Fortunately, according to the USA Today report, drivers are winning practically all of these cases that go before the California Department of Industrial Relations.  The “labor commission” is ruling consistently that the drivers are employees not independent contractors.  Judging from employer responses to the reporters, however, they are not remorseful and it appears that this systemic abuse of independent contractor status might take much longer to stamp out.


For more information on Workers' Compensation or Social Security Disability, please contact Snow, Carpio & Weekley toll-free at 855-325-4781 or visit our website at www.workinjuryaz.com. We serve the entire State of Arizona and have offices located in Phoenix, Tucson, Yuma and Lake Havasu City.

Friday, November 17, 2017

NEW WALMART EMPLOYEE DELIVERY PROGRAM EXPANDS WORKERS’ COMPENSATION LIABILITY

NEW WALMART EMPLOYEE DELIVERY PROGRAM
EXPANDS WORKERS’ COMPENSATION LIABILITY
By Attorney Dennis Kurth
Snow, Carpio & Weekley


According to the Washington Post, Walmart is thinking of using its fixed-site employees to deliver packages to customers on their way home after work.  The program, being tested in a couple of states presently, is a new tactic in its battle with Amazon for retail dominance.

The program is voluntary but Walmart intends to pay such employees extra, even overtime pay if necessary. Walmart sees the program as a way to cut costs as local delivery is the most expensive part of the fulfillment process.

Walmart needs to reassess this program with their risk management people.  Although it reflects the rise of the “Uber-style gig economy”, according to the Post, it also creates additional workers’ compensation liability for the company if the delivery results in an accident and injury to the employee making the delivery and especially if it causes an injury to an innocent third-party.

Workers’ compensation-covered injuries must “arise out of” and “in the course and scope of” employment under any states’ statute.  The workers’ compensation law was never intended to cover injuries going to or coming from work.  Until an employee arrives at work or home, his/her risk of injury while traveling to or from work is the same as the general publics’.

There are some well-known exceptions to the “going and coming” rule.  One statutory exception in Arizona is for police officers and firefighters.  They are covered for workers’ compensation if injured or killed while traveling directly to or from work as long as they are not engaged in criminal activity.
Other exceptions to the going and coming rule have been made by case law and provide workers’ compensation coverage for travel-related injuries where the employer pays for the employee’s transportation or provides a company vehicle.  An injury to an employee driving an employer-provided conveyance would clearly be covered even if incurred on the way to or from work. Also, injuries to local traveling employees using their own vehicles would be covered except when they deviate from the scope of employment by making a personal side trip.

 Another category of exceptions to the going and coming rule is for employees hurt on “dual purpose” trips or “special errands” for the employer while on their way to or from work. Coverage for such injures would pertain if the “special errand” was necessary for the employer as opposed to simply elective or convenient.  In other words, the delivery employee would be covered by workers’ compensation insurance only if the delivery/errand was important enough to the employer to require some other employee to do it had the volunteer not.

Walmart’s plan would seem to fit the “special errand” requirements since such deliveries by the “volunteers” would seem to be necessary one way or the other.  By paying the volunteer employee for making these after hour deliveries, however, Walmart is adding another going and coming rule exception to the mix which surely makes them liable for workers’ compensation coverage for any delivery-related injury to the employee.

Before Walmart’s executives get credit for devising a new way to save costs on their deliveries, there should be some serious consideration of the significant increase in workers’ compensation liability that this delivery program may entail.  Unless they plan to give extra driver training and screening to their participating employees, it might be a good idea to put this program on hold.  Not only could the employee be injured seriously in an accident on the road but a negligent delivery could cause an accident to another party that would subject the company to significant civil liability not circumscribed by workers’ compensation limits.

For more information on Workers' Compensation or Social Security Disability, please contact Snow, Carpio & Weekley toll-free at 855-325-4781 or visit our website at www.workinjuryaz.com. We serve the entire State of Arizona and have offices located in Phoenix, Tucson, Yuma and Lake Havasu City.