Snow, Carpio, and Weekley have always been active at the legislature in helping protect the rights of injured workers from legislation that is unfavorable. One such statute that I intend to challenge when the time is right is A.R.S. 23-1044(D). The insurance industry slipped a change in this one by a couple of years ago. It provides that if an Employer offers an injured worker a modified job, and the worker subsequently loses that job for "reasons that are unrelated to the industrial injury", the carrier can take a credit for what the worker would have earned but for their fault in losing the job. The statute says that the Industrial Commission "may" use those wages to determine the injured worker's post-injury earning capacity. I have now litigated several of these cases - luckily not one judge has found that the injured worker was at fault in losing their job. Usually they were fired for some pretext so the Employer/Carrier could try and get out of paying permanent compensation. However, that hasn't stopped the carriers from trying.
Another statute provides that an Employee has to accept a bona fide job offer for modified work from their employer and if they don't, the carrier can use the wages they would have earned to determine their earning capacity. My problem with these statutes is that they force workers to work for companies that they may not want to work for, at the risk of losing their benefits. I don't mean to be melodramatic, but it's a form of slavery or indentured servitude. I believe we fought a civil war over that issue.
I'm looking for just the right case to take to the Court of Appeals to overturn these statutes. I can't wait to be the first attorney to make a 13th Amendment argument in an Arizona Work Comp claim...
Chad T. Snow is an attorney with the Arizona Workers Compensation firm of Snow, Carpio, and Weekley.