Showing posts with label Compensation Payments. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Compensation Payments. Show all posts

Friday, April 28, 2017


By Dennis R. Kurth, Associate Attorney
Workers' Compensation Specialist

A workers’ compensation claimant in Arizona should know exactly how and when indemnity benefits are paid under the statute.  First, on any case where time lost benefits are indicated, the carrier must get wage/payroll information from the employer and set the average monthly wage.
The average monthly wage is the basis for the payment of all indemnity benefits.  The AMW is presumed to be the claimant’s gross earnings in the thirty days before the injury unless there is some good reason to use an expanded wage base.  The claimant should understand that the AMW is not the amount of compensation payable monthly but that the maximum payment is always just two-thirds of the AMW during the period of the total disability, temporary or permanent.

Compensation is not paid for the first seven days after the injury unless the claimant’s disability continues for one week beyond the first seven days.  Compensation payments must be in the form of “…a negotiable instrument, payable immediately upon demand.” (a check)  (A.R.S. §23-1062(D)).  Electronic direct deposits into claimants’ accounts and prepaid debit card accounts are allowed at the claimant’s election.

Compensation for total temporary disability, where the claimant is on a no-work status, is payable every fourteen days under the statute.  The amount of each payment is determined by breaking compensation down to a daily rate by multiplying the average monthly wage by the factor .021918.  That figure is multiplied by fourteen to arrive at the amount of each check. If there are dependents, the claimant receives an additional $25.00 per month or .8219 dollars per day.  Some carriers, like The Hartford, pay temporary total compensation weekly but that is not required.

Compensation for temporary partial disability, where the claimant has been released to light work and may have some earnings below the average monthly wage, is calculated much differently.  First, the average monthly wage is divided by 30.416 to get the daily rate.  Then the daily rate is multiplied by the number of days in the period, usually thirty.  Next, any actual earnings are subtracted and finally the net figure is multiplied by .667 to arrive at the amount owed to the claimant.  If the claimant has no earnings to report, compensation would be the same as the daily rate for temporary total compensation.

Permanent compensation benefits are always paid once a month and vary depending on whether the claimant has a scheduled or unscheduled award.  Scheduled benefits are those set forth in the statute for permanent injuries to the limbs including fingers, toes, etc. as well as the eyes and ears (hearing).  Benefits for scheduled injuries are paid for a certain and limited number of months set forth in the statute and based on the numerical disability rating.  The monthly scheduled payments are paid at the rate of 50% of the average monthly wage if the claimant can return to regular work and 75% of the average monthly wage if the claimant cannot.

Compensation for permanent unscheduled injuries (affecting the back, shoulders or trunk of the body) is set by the Industrial Commission based upon an analysis of the claimant’s earning capacity.  A claimant who cannot return to regular work but can do a lighter, lower-paying job, receives 55% of the difference between his/her post-injury earning capacity and average monthly wage.  A person who is totally disabled, however, receives 66.7% of his/her average monthly wage.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

How am I supposed to feed my family?


  How am I supposed to feed my family? 
by April Snow,
Business Manager
Snow, Carpio & Weekley

One of the hardest parts of running a law firm that helps injured workers and those with disabilities is hearing the heartbreaking stories of what our clients go through when they have no income for up to 2 years if applying for SSD or if they are only receiving a percentage of their income if they have been injured on the job.

The most common questions I get from upset clients when I speak with them as the Business Manager for the firm is "How am I supposed to feed my family" or "How am I going to pay my rent/house payment?" In fact, the only time I really have to speak with an upset client is because of money. They are desperate for it. They need it and every day is a struggle to wait for it. And even when it comes in; its not enough to take care of everything. And I'm not just talking about people who didn't have a "rainy day fund" or savings built up, I am talking about everybody from every economic walk of life!

Imagine for a moment your own household budget. You know what is due every month, what your income is and you probably have a schedule for which bills you pay out of each paycheck. Now imagine that you go to work one day and you are injured. Injured to the point where you are now thrust into the long process of filing a claim, receiving ongoing medical treatment and depending on somebody who views you as a file number to pay you .6667% of your normal salary/pay in a timely manner. And your first compensation check doesn't come on your normally scheduled payday like your paycheck would. You have to wait for the claim to be accepted, a work status to be established by the doctor and oh yeah, you have to be out of work 14 days before they consider you as having a time loss. So from day one your are behind the 8 ball financially. 

I believe that there are three parts to an injury. First, the physical injury. Second the financial injury. Third, the emotional injury.

Have you ever seen a grown man cry? I have. Multiple times actually in my  years here at the firm. They are the ones who take it all the hardest it seems. When a man cannot work, cannot provide for his family and cannot put food on the table, it's his worst nightmare. You can see them change from the beginning of their claim through the end. They are the ones who will call me daily too see if their checks came in, even if they know they aren't even due yet. They are the ones who are yelling one minute and then literally crying on the phone the next minute because they are trying to keep it all together. 

In the time it takes an average SSD application to get approval or for an injured worker who has sustained a severe injury that will keep him out of work for months to get back on their feet and released to full duty; it is not abnormal to hear that our clients have had to move because they can no longer afford their home, have had vehicles repossessed because of non-payment or have had to apply for financial assistance through DES or other State agencies. I once gave a client a list of all the food banks in the East Valley and helped him map out where they were all located so he could go to multiple food banks in one day so he could stock up on food for his family. I started to cry when he left because I felt his despair and knew that even if I was able to help him personally, there are so many more in the same position as he was.

So what do we do to help? Well, the first thing we do is to train our staff to work diligently on client files, stay on task with all their assigned cases and stay on top of adjusters to pay compensation timely. We also train our staff through various Customer Service Training's throughout the year to understand that the person yelling on the phone or in the office is trying to cope with one of the most trying processes they will experience in their lives and that this is most likely not the way the person normally reacts and handles things. We train them not to get frustrated and not to get upset but rather, to be patient and listen. And when we listen, we try to see what it is they need and we try and direct them to outside resources that they may find useful during this sometimes very long and trying ordeal. 

As the support staff here at the firm, we have to be more than the people who shuffle the papers and process the checks; we have to be human and relate to the problems of our clients. Its what right and its what makes us different from other firms. Our attorneys work in these communities, most of them grew up in these communities and I am pretty sure that every single one of us here at SCW has faced financial hardships at one time or another in either their youths or adult lives. 

So, if you or somebody you know is in a financial situation because of an injury, a disability, a job loss or an unexpected life event, below is a list of resources that may be helpful. Nothing is going to make everything perfect when dealing with these issues, but it may be a start to some very much needed help. 

For help applying for Food Stamps:

Various Programs (up to 40!) that you may qualify for:

For help with utilities:

To find a food bank near you:

Women, Infant and Children:

Summer Breakfast and Lunches for Children:

Market on the Move:

To speak with our firm regarding a work injury or applying for Social Security Disbaility, you can call toll-free at 855-325-4781 to schedule a free consultation in person or over the phone. We service the entire State of Arizona and have bilingual staff and attorneys. You can read more about Snow, Carpio & Weekley on our website at:

Monday, April 20, 2015

Temporary Compensation by Attorney Diana Robles

Temporary Compensation

by Attorney Diana Robles
Snow, Carpio

When you are injured on the job in Arizona, you may be entitled to receive temporary compensation benefits if your doctor indicates you can not work, or can work only in a limited capacity with certain restrictions.  The carrier will review each case to determine if temporary benefits are due.  Arizona law provides that you should be getting 66 2/3% of your average monthly wage.  Average monthly wage can include overtime and/or concurrent employment that you had at the time of your injury.

If your doctor indicates you can not work at all, you should be getting paid every 14 days.  This is called temporary total disability or TTD.  The doctor must address your work status at every visit, as the insurance carrier will want to know whether you are to remain off work.  In most cases, there is no time limit for the TTD benefits you can collect.  There are a few exceptions to this, for example in hernia injuries.

Once a doctor has released you to return to work with restrictions, Arizona law only requires them to pay 66 2/3% of the difference between the wages you are now able to earn and your established average monthly wage.  This compensation is paid every 30 days. This is called temporary partial disability or TPD.  

When your doctor releases you to work with restrictions, you should contact your employer to see if they accommodate those restrictions.  The best thing to do is to put your request to return to work with restrictions in writing.  If your employer can’t accommodate your restrictions, then it is your responsibility to make a good faith effort to find work within your restrictions.  You must apply for a job at other places even if you are still employed with your date of injury employer.  If you get a job you will receive the difference between the wage you earn and the 66 2/3% of the established monthly wage.  If you don’t get a job you would continue to collect the entire 66 2/3% of your average monthly wage from the carrier.

In most instances if you have returned to work your regular hours with restrictions, you will not receive payment from the employer for attending doctor or therapy appointments.  The carrier will review each case to determine if temporary benefits are due, however you would only receive compensation if your earnings were reduced by more than 33 1/3 of your set wage.  

If you or someone you know has been injured at work or has a medical condition that will prevent them from working for 12 months or more, call Snow, Carpio & Weekley toll-free at 855-325-4781 to schedule a free consultation in person at one of our offices around the State or over the phone. You can also find out more about our firm by visiting our website at

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Settlement of Workers Compensation Claim

Settlement of Workers Compensation Claim

Many times, it is in the interest of both the injured worker and the insurance carrier to settle either part or all of a claim.  All settlements must involve a bona fide dispute between the parties and must be approved by a Judge of the Industrial Commission of Arizona.  Settlement of a claim prior to the claim being accepted are called “compensability settlements” and are the only settlements that can include future active medical care.  Other issues that can be settled include entitlement to temporary compensation, supportive care, and Loss of Earning Capacity.  For accepted claims, future active medical care can never be settled.  Because there are numerous factors which determine what a claim is worth, and because insurance companies are for-profit businesses trying to pay as little as possible,  it is always a good idea to consult an attorney prior to settling a claim.  

Attorney Chad Snow is the Founding Partner of Snow, Carpio & Weekley, PLC. For a free consultation, please call our Phoenix office at 602-532-0700 or our Tucson office at 520-647-9000. For outlining areas, please call 855-325-4781 and speak with April to set up a telephonic consultation. For more information about Snow, Carpio & Weekley, please visit our website at

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Time Frames in Arizona Workers Comp Cases

Shortly after 9/11, I read a book by New York mayor Rudolph Guliani about his leadership style.  One of the most important things I learned from the book was the concept of “under-promise and over-deliver”.  I have tried, to some varying degrees of success, to incorporate that into how we practice at Snow, Carpio, & Weekley.  To that end, I want to write a brief post about time frames in Arizona Workers Compensation Claims. 

I often tell my clients that the word “days” does not exist in the vocabulary of most claim reps, judges, and Industrial Commission employees who are working on their claims.  As workers comp attorneys, we measure time in weeks and months!  For example, while the statute says that a carrier has 21 days to accept or deny a claim, the reality is that an injured worker will wait 4-8 WEEKS to see any compensation for time lost.  In the event of a dispute, a hearing is usually scheduled to take place 3 MONTHS after it is requested.  While the statute says that a decision should be rendered within 30 days of the final hearing, my experience is that a decision can usually be expected 2-3 MONTHS later.  In short, the best advice I can sometimes give my clients is “hurry up and wait”…

For a free Legal Consultation about your Workers' Compensation claim, Chad Snow, Partner at Snow, Carpio & Weekley can be reached at 602-532-0700. You can also visit our website at:

Friday, October 14, 2011

Workers' Comp. Tip of the Day

To anyone bringing in significant income from tips, commissions, or bonuses,
in the event that you are one day injured and have to pursue a workers' comp case!

You see, many times servers and bartenders and other workers who bring in significant income from tips end up experiencing improper wage calculations and mis-calculations of benefits owed when in pursuit of workers' comp cases. The same is true for workers who work off commissions or receive large bonuses.

This is another reason why it pays to have a workers' comp attorney helping you with your case – we see these situations often and can help you maximize your benefits. The insuracne carriers would love to pay your benefits at a lower rate but why not get what you are truly entitled to?

Chad T. Snow is a workers compensation attorney in Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona. He can be reached at his offices at (602) 532-0700, (520) 647-9000 or at Snow, Carpio, and Weekley.

In the absence of Chad Snow, blog posted by: April Lang-Snow, Business Manager @ Snow and Carpio, PLC

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

How Long Does Insurance Co. Have to Send Me My Check In AZ Work Comp Claim

As I've discussed in other posts, there are several types of compensation in an Arizona Work Injury claim. The most common is temporary total or temporary partial compensation, which is comp that is paid while the injured worker is receiving active medical care and is either on a no work status or light duty status respectively.

The general rule for how long an insurance company has to send the injured worker his or her check is 3 days after the due date of the check if the carrier is in the state of Arizona, and 5 days if they are outside the state. For example, if you are on an off work status and the last day of the 14 day pay period is July 27th, an in state carrier should have your check to you by July 30th and an out of state carrier by August 1st. If a carrier is persistently late in getting your check to you on time, you can file a complaint of bad faith and/or unfair claims processing with the Industrial Commission.

For more information about late compensation payments and bad faith complaints, contact our office at Snow, Carpio, and Weekley.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

New Average Monthly Wage for 2010 Arizona Work Injuries

The Industrial Commission of Arizona has come out with the new statutory maximum average monthly wage for all injuries occurring in 2012.  The new maximum wage will be $4,062.29.  This is the highest monthly earnings that can be considered in calculating any kind of compensation in an Arizona Workers comp case.  Temporary compensation is paid at 66 2/3 percent of the average monthly wage and permanent partial at 55% of the difference between the AMW and whatever the injured worker is able to earn thereafter. 

As recently as 2007, the max wage was only $2,400.00, meaning that the most an injured worker could receive in compensation per month was $1,600.00.  This severely penalized higher wage workers who were injured on the job.  The Arizona Association of Lawyers of Injured Workers, of whom Alex Carpio and I are members, fought hard at the legislature to get raises in the maximum wage, to $3,000 in 2008, $3,600 in 2009, and indexed for inflation every year thereafter.  This allows higher wage workers to receive more fair compensation for time lost from work for injuries sustained on the job in Arizona. 

Chad T. Snow is a workers compensation attorney who represents injured workers before the Industrial Commission and Social Security Administration.  He can be reached at Snow, Carpio, and Weekley, or through his Phoenix office at (602) 532-0700 or in Tucson at (520) 647-9000. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What Compensation Am I Entitled To?

Workers' compensation pays limited benefits. Generally, any medical expense related to the injury must be covered. You are also entitled to a percentage of your lost wages for time away from work.

There are three stages to an accepted workers' compensation claim: temporary total disability (TTD), temporary partial disability (TPD), and permanent partial disability (PPD).

Temporary total disability should pay two-thirds of lost wages, with checks coming in two-week intervals. The highest wage recognized by the Workers Compensation Act depends on the year you were injured.

Under temporary partial disability, the carrier continues to pay the total medical expenses from the approved physician, but now pays 2/3 of the difference between your established average monthly wage and the wages you are able to earn within your medical restrictions. Temporary partial disability is paid while you are still receiving active medical care, but have been released to work with restrictions, often referred to as "light duty" work. If your employer cannot accommodate your restrictions, you will receive full compensation of 2/3 of your regular wage, but paid every 30 days.

Permanent partial disability means that the case has closed from further active medical care, but the worker has suffered a permanent disability as a result of the injury. Depending on the type of injury you have sustained, you may be entitled to either a one time lump sum payment to compensate you for your injuries, or you may receive a permanent monthly pension if you are unable to return to your regular work and have a "loss of earning capacity" as a result of your injuries.

For more information or to schedule a free consultation with an attorney, contact Snow, Carpio, and Weekley at 602-532-0700.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Tiebreaker IME's in Arizona Workers Comp Cases

One issue that is frequently litigated in Arizona work injury claims is whether or not additional medical care is necessary or not and whether or not it is related to the industrial injury. Usually there is a treating doctor on the side of the applicant wanting to perform additional care and a defense medical expert on the side of the carrier saying either that no further care is needed, or that any additional treatment is not related to the work accident.

The problem with litigating these medical issues is that they can often take forever to litigate, often up to 10 or 12 months. Meanwhile, the injured worker is suffering and not receiving any compensation. One solution that I often recommend to my clients is proposing a "tiebreaker" IME to the carrier/employer's attorney. A tiebreaker is a truly "independent" medical exam where the physician is agreed to by the two parties and a joint letter sent explaining the tiebreaker agreement.

There are positives and negatives about these kinds of agreements. On the positive side, the injured worker gets a decision about their claim much sooner and it is made by a doctor, not a judge. On the negative side, if the doctor indicates that no further treatment is needed, the injured worker is bound by that opinion.

Tiebreaker IME's aren't always the best option, but in cases where I feel that the diagnostic testing is strong and my client is very credible, I'm comfortable recommending them as an alternative to the lengthy litigation process.

Chad T. Snow and his associates at Snow, Carpio, and Weekley are workers compensation attorneys in Phoenix and Tucson Arizona. Their office can be reached at (602) 532-0700 or (520) 647-9000.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

What can be included in my average monthly wage?

As we have discussed previously, any compensation that is paid to a worker injured on the job in Arizona is based on a percentage of that worker’s “average monthly wage” at the time of his or her industrial injury.  In previous blog posts, I have discussed how the average monthly wage is calculated.  This post will deal with what kinds of benefits, other than salary, can be included in the calculation of the average monthly wage. 

I had an interesting case today where a potential client was given a vehicle for his personal use, in addition to his salary.  The carrier calculated his average monthly wage using only his salary.  Because I consider the personal vehicle an additional item to which a monetary value can be attached, I am of the opinion that the value of that personal vehicle can be included in the calculation of this man’s average monthly wage.  Another very typical scenario is the example of where an apartment maintenance worker is given a free apartment in addition to his salary.  In those cases, it is very clear that the value of the rent of that apartment can be included in the calculation of the wage.  At the same time, however, if the employer continues to provide the additional benefit such as vehicle or housing after the industrial injury, the insurance carrier can take a credit for the cash value of that item as long as it continues to be provided by the employer. 

As I have also discussed previously, earnings from other jobs apart from the employer where the worker was injured, can also be included in the average monthly wage calculation.  These are called concurrent earnings.  In order to be considered concurrent earnings, those wages have to be earned for an employer who is covered under the worker’s compensation act. 

Because the average monthly wage dictates the amount of compensation that you will receive for the rest of your claim, it is very important that it be calculated correctly.  I always advise injured workers to seek the counsel of an experienced worker’s compensation attorney with any questions about their claims. Contact us at Snow, Carpio, and Weekley today.

How will working affect my permanent worker’s compensation benefits in Arizona?

When are permanent benefits not really permanent? When they are received as a result of an on-the-job injury in Arizona.  As I have discussed before, there are two different kinds of permanent injuries in Arizona workman’s compensation claims.  Scheduled injuries are those that involve a specific body part that is listed on the schedule of impairments found at A.R.S. Section 23-1044.  If an injured worker sustains a permanent injury only to that body part, once the condition is found to be medically stationary by the treating physician, a set number of payments are made by the insurance carrier to compensate the injured worker for the permanent damage to that body part.  Although this is called permanent compensation, that does not mean that the compensation will endure forever, but rather that it is to compensate the worker for the permanent effects of his or her injury.  While the worker is receiving these “scheduled” payments, he or she can work without limit and will still receive a check every month during this period set for in the statute. 

The other type of “permanent” benefits in Arizona worker’s compensation claims are known as unscheduled injuries.  As I have discussed in previous posts, this is compensation to compensate the injured worker for wages lost as a result of his or her industrial injury.  Once the worker’s condition is found to be medically stationary, the Industrial Commission makes a determination as to what work the injured worker can still perform in spite of his or her permanent restrictions.  If that amount is less than what he or she earned at the time of the injury, the insurance company begins to pay a monthly benefit.  The Commission’s Award specifically indicates that this benefit is to continue for such time as a loss of earning capacity exists or until the death of the worker. 

The question then becomes how does work activity affect this “permanent” benefit.  The answer is as long as your earnings are equal to or less than the amount that the Industrial Commission determined you are able to earn when your claim was closed, there will be no affect on the permanent benefits.  If your earnings begin to exceed the amount that was determined, the insurance carrier will likely request that the Commission reduce your permanent monthly benefit.  Carriers are entitled to send out an Annual Report of Income to an injured worker who is required to report his or her earnings during the previous 12 months.  If the carrier sees that you are earning a significantly higher amount, they will more than likely request that the Industrial Commission rearrange your benefits and pay less. 

Since there are many variations on these general rules, any questions regarding work after a claim is closed should be directed to an attorney who practices Arizona worker’s compensation law. Contact us today at Snow, Carpio, and Weekley.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

What Are the AMA Guides in Arizona Workers Comp?

Determination of permanent disability in Arizona work injury claims is governed by a book published by the American Medical Association called The Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment.  The Guides have a section for each of the major body parts which give uniform rules for doctors to "rate" permanent impairments in injuries.  Although the rules are supposed to be uniform, they are often interpreted very differently by different doctors.  I recently had a case where one doctor found my client had a 28% impairment, another found he had a 42% and a third found a 61% - all looking at the same table!

Some doctors think that the Guides are perfect, and won't deviate from them at all.  Others say that they are what they say they are - only a "guide" to help in reaching a determination of how an injury has really affected the overall function of the body part. 

In cases of "scheduled" injuries, the doctor's rating under the Guides is the most important factor in determining how much compensation the injured worker will receive for his or her injury.  In unscheduled injuries, the actual percentage rating is unimportant, as long as the injured worker has at least a 1% permanent impairment. 

Chad T. Snow is a workers compensation attorney who has represented thousands of injured workers in Arizona.  He has offices in both Phoenix and Tucson.  He can be reached at (602) 532-0700, (520) 647-9000, or on his website at Snow, Carpio, and Weekley.

Different Issues in Work Comp Claim in Arizona

There are several different issues that can arise in an Arizona workers compensation claim.  Being able to identify these issues is usually the expertise of a workers compensation attorney.  Knowing the difference is extremely important in deciding what evidence to submit, what witnesses to call, and what your burden of proof is.  The main issues that we encounter are as follows:

1.  Compensability - this refers to whether or not a claim is accepted as an industrial responsibility.  For example, if a carrier denies the claim and you request a hearing, the issue at the hearing is compensability.  Compensability cases usually have several sub-issues including forthwith reporting, pre-existing conditions, credibility of the witnesses, and many others.
2.  Continuing benefits - a case goes to hearing on continuing benefits when it is an accepted claim that is subsequently closed out by the insurance carrier.  If the injured worker disagrees with the closure, he or she requests a hearing arguing for continuing benefits.  This always requires medical expert witness testmony to prove the need for additional active medical care.
3.  Permanent impairment - when there is a dispute about either the existence of a permanent impairment or the extent of the permanent impairment in cases of scheduled injuries.  Medical expert testimony is necessary.
4.  Loss of Earning Capacity (LEC) - where an injured worker has sustained an unscheduled injury (see prior blog post about scheduled vs. unscheduled injuries) and there is a dispute about his post-injury earning capacity compared to what he earned prior to his injury.  If there is a loss of earnings as a result of the injury, he may be entitled to permanent compensation benefits.  Usually requires expert vocational testimony and sometime expert medical testimony if there is a dispute about restrictions.
5.  Supportive Care - if there is a dispute about the sufficiency of the supportive care awarded by the carrier vs. that recommended by the treating doctor.

These 5 issues encompass about 95% of all hearings at the ICA (in my experience).  There are, of course, other issues that rarely come up such as mileage reimbursement, choice of doctors, unpaid compensation, bad faith, and many others. 

Chad T. Snow is an attorney who handles exclusively workers compensation claims in Arizona.  He can be reached through his website at Snow, Carpio, and Weekley.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Employers Firing Injured Workers While on Light Duty

I've seen a very disturbing trend recently wherein unscrupulous employers and carriers take advantage of a recent change in the law to refuse temporary compensation to an injured worker.  The employer will offer "light duty" work to the injured worker, who accepts the accommodated employment.  The employer will then concoct a reason to fire the injured worker "for cause", and then the carrier will refuse to pay temporary partial compensation because they argue that the injured worker would have had work "but for" their own fault and for a reason unrelated to their work injury. 

The portion of the statute that is abused is 23-1044 which states that "If the employee is unable to return to work or continue working in any employment after the injury due to the employee's termination from employment for reasons that are unrelated to the industrial injury, the commission may consider the wages that the employee could have earned from that employment as representative of the employee's earning capacity." 

I almost always fight these cases tooth and nail as the reason the injured worker was fired is usually just a pretext to get the carrier out of liability for compensation.  The ALJ at the Industrial Commission can make a determination if the reason for the firing is legitimate or not.  The other reason I think this new tactic of carriers and employers is unconstitutional is that it injects an element of fault into what is supposed to be a no fault system.  I intend to take the first case I lose on this issue to the Court of Appeals or the Arizona Supreme Court to stop this insidious practice once and for all. 

Snow, Carpio, and Weekley are attorneys who practice exclusively in the area of workers (workmans) compensation in Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona.  They can be reached at (602) 532-0700 or (520) 647-9000 or on their website.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Maximum Average Monthly Wage In Arizona Work Comp Claim

Compensation in an Arizona work comp claim is based on the "average monthly wage" at the time of the injury.  Temporary total compensation is usually 66 2/3 percent of the AMW.  Therefore, the higher the AMW, the more compensation the injured worker receives. 

The legislature has set a maximum average monthly wage, meaning that no matter how much salary the injured worker makes above the max wage, his or her compensation will be based on the statutory maximum.  For injuries occurring in calendar year 2011, the max wage is $3,920.75.  In 2010, it was $3,763.44.  In 2009 it was $3,600.00, in 2008, $3,000.00.  For years 1999-2007, it was $2,400.00.  From 2010 forward, the wage is indexed to inflation, meaning that it will increase along with the Consumer Price Index every year.

Click here for a link to the ICA website describing the maximum AMW.

Snow, Carpio, and Weekley are Workers Compensation Attorneys with offices in Phoenix and Tucson. They can be reach at (602) 532-0700 or (520) 647-9000.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Unscheduled Injuries in Arizona Workers (Workmans) Comp

In the last post, we discussed "scheduled" injuries and how they are compensated.  This post deals with "unscheduled" injuries, which by definition are all of those injuries which do not fall cleanly within the Industrial Commission of Arizona's "Schedule of Impairments" found at ARS 23-1044.  These are usually for injuries to the back, shoulder, neck, head, or hip, or any combination of injuries to "scheduled" body parts.

If an on the job injury is determined to be unscheduled, the worker is only compensated after the condition is stationary if they have sustained a "Loss of Earning Capacity" (LEC).  This is determined by comparing the average monthly wage at the time of injury with what the worker is "able to earn thereafter".  If the injured worker is limited to earning a lower amount due at least in part to their work injury, the insurance carrier has to pay them a monthly benefit equal to 55% of the difference between the AMW and what they can earn with their restrictions.  If the disability is total, meaning that the injured worker cannot perform ANY work activity, then the permanent benefit is paid at 66 2/3 percent of the average monthly wage. 

Determining the amount of an injured worker's LEC is a very complex task, which often requires medical expert testimony and labor market expert testimony.  A worker who sustains an "unscheduled" permanent injury should definitely  consult with an Arizona Workers (Workmans) Compensation Attorney. 

Snow, Carpio, and Weekley are Arizona workers compensation attorneys with offices in Phoenix and Tucson, serving the needs of Arizona's injured workers throughout Central and Southern Arizona.  They can be reached at (602) 532-0700 in Phoenix and (520) 647-9000 in Tucson for any questions about a case you have.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Pain and Suffering for Arizona Work Injury?

Many of our clients ask us if they will get damages for their "pain and suffering" from their Arizona workers compensation claim.  The short answer is "no".  Damages in Arizona for work injuries are limited to the full cost of medical bills (everything - surgery, therapy, medications, walkers, crutchers - everything) and compensation for time off work.  In many cases, the injured worker qualifies for compensation for their permanent disability, if there is any.  But there is no provision in Arizona's Workers' Comp Statute for them to be compensated for "Pain and Suffering". 

Of course, if the injury was caused by someone other than your employer or someone working for your employer, you may have a Third Party Personal Injury claim.  Either way, you should contact Snow, Carpio, and Weekly to make sure your rights are protected.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

How do I Pay the Lawyer in Arizona Workers Compensation Case?

Many injured workers in Arizona are reluctant to hire an attorney because they think it will cost them a lot of money out of pocket.  However, this is almost never the case.  Most Arizona attorneys who specialize in workers compensation work on a contingency fee.  This means that the attorney only charges a fee if they win your case or obtain you additional benefits.  In most cases, the fee is 25% of any permanent benefits or settlement that is obtained at the end of your case.  In some cases that require litigation, the fee may be 25% of any benefits obtained for the injured worker. 

If an attorney tries to charge you an hourly rate in a workers compensation claim, or starts charging you 25% of your temporary compensation (compensation paid while your claim is open), you should start looking for a new lawyer. 

VERY IMPORTANT:  Most attorneys offer a free initial consultation.  Any worker injured on the job in Arizona should take advantage of this service and find out about his or her workers compensation rights immediately after sustaining an on-the-job injury. 

Snow, Carpio, and Weekley are attorneys who practice exclusively Arizona Workers' Compensation.  They are the only Arizona workers comp firm with offices in Phoenix and Tucson.  They can be reached at (602) 532-0700 or (520) 647-9000

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

How Is My Compensation Calculated in An Arizona Work Injury Claim?

Compensation benefits in an Arizona workers compensation claim are based on the injured worker's "average monthly wage at the time of injury"  (A.R.S., §23-1041(A)).  This means that every penny of compensation you will receive is based on the Industrial Commission's determination of your wage at the time you get hurt.  Just how to determine the "average monthly wage" is the subject of much debate and litigation in workers compensation claims.  Is it what the employee earned in the 30 days prior to the accident?  In the year prior?  What if they were injured in their first day on the job?  What if the month prior to the accident the injured worker took two weeks off for vacation - or if work was very slow because of bad weather?  What if you got a raise a month before your injury?  These are all issues that arise in determining average monthly wage. 

It is generally recognized that the "thirty days prior to the injury" is the presumptive time period to determine the average monthly wage.  However, if the employee's earnings in the thirty days preceeding his accident "fail to provide an accurate measure" of his pre-injury earning capacity, an "expanded wage base" can be used.  This can be done in several ways, including taking the year to date earnings, or an average of earnings over the previous year.  Expanded wage bases are used when the earnings during the 30 days prior aren't really reflective of the average earnings of the worker, for example in cases where work was inordinately busy or slow during the month before the accident.  If the employee worked for the company less than thirty days, the Commission can use the wages of other employees of the company doing the same job to determine what the employee would have earned during that period. 

There are many other variations in this complex area of Arizona Workers' Compensation Law, including seasonal employment, a recent wage increase, intermittent work, additional compensation for room and board or other benefits, and many more.  It is important to note that the Industrial Commission usually sets the Average Monthly Wage within a month or two of an on-the-job injury, and if the wage is not correct, the injured worker only has 90 days within which to appeal. If you have any questions about whether or not your wage is set correctly, you should contact the Arizona Work Injury Attorneys at Snow & Carpio.  The consultation is always free, and could mean the difference in tens of thousands of dollars in compensation in your claim. 

Snow, Carpio, and Weekley are attorneys with offices in Phoenix and Tucson.  They have represented thousands of injured workers before the Industrial Commission of Arizona.  They can be reached at (602) 532-0700, (520) 647-9000