Showing posts with label Do I need an Attorney?. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Do I need an Attorney?. Show all posts

Friday, September 29, 2017

Why Should You Choose a Law Firm that Specializes in Workers' Compensation Law

Why Should You Choose a Law Firm that Specializes in Workers' Compensation Law
By Partner/Attorney Brian Weekley
Snow, Carpio & Weekley

These days, there are many firms that advertise as handling Arizona Workers' Compensation claims. Any lawyer, or law firm, can make these claims. Many firms that specialize in Personal Injury advertise for and take workers' compensation cases. Why should you choose a specialty firm over one of the Personal injury firms?

First, workers' compensation law is a completely different animal than personal injury law. Workers' Comp is a no fault system where the injured worker is paid a percentage of his wage loss for temporary and permanent benefits. All of the medical expenses are covered, with no copays or deductibles.

Personal Injury law is structured as a system where medical bills are gathered, fault is assessed and debated, and demand is made for damages. Most cases are settled with a full release of liability.

Workers' Comp, on the other hand, is designed for long term care of the injured worker. Injured workers should be extremely careful before " settling. " (Actually, the exact term is Compromise and Settlement, and represents a temporary agreement as  to an injured workers' entitlement to benefits, said agreement subject to future modification by reopening, rearrangement and motions).
Settlement amounts act as a credit against future benefits.

Generally, a personal injury firm's model is to settle cases and move on. You don't want this model if you want to maximize the long term benefit of your workers' comp claim. What you do want is protection in the future. We can resolve claims and maintain medical care into the future. This is of benefit to many clients, and is part of our philosophy of " having our client's backs" for the duration of their claim.

Another factor is bookkeeping. When you retain an attorney, all documents , checks and communications are directed to the law firm. The checks must be placed in trust and disbursed to the injured worker. Our firm charges a minimal fee on ongoing benefits. Many PI firms and competitors charge as much as 25% of every single check received on behalf of the injured worker. This often results in overcharging. Beware.

The State Bar of Arizona certifies certain specialties, and workers compensation is one of those specialties. You pay no more for a firm with certified specialists, and in many cases ( see above) the injured worker pays less. Our firm has two specialists, including myself. Many PI firms have no specialists and saddle the client with a sometimes very inexperienced attorney. Experience matters, especially in a system where medical evidence is so vital.

An injured workers' unresolved legal issues ultimately go before a Judge at the Industrial Commission of Arizona. Having an attorney who has done hundreds and thousands of these hearings makes a difference.

I hope that this brief post is helpful to injured workers and their loved ones. Contact us any time for a free consultation. Thank you.

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 We serve the entire State of Arizona and have offices located in Phoenix, Tucson, Yuma and Lake Havasu City.

Monday, December 22, 2014


by Attorney Nick Wearne

Some work related injuries have special laws that govern whether they are compensable and how much benefit can be received.  One such law is Arizona Revised Statutes Section 23-143.  This section tells us what is required for a hernia to be covered under workers compensation.  A hernia is defined as a condition in which part of an abdominal organ protrudes through the abdominal muscles that are supposed to contain it.  Hernias are placed in two different categories according to the law: 1) Real Traumatic Hernias, and; 2) All other hernias.
A Real Traumatic hernia is an injury caused by a cut, puncture, or tear to the stomach or groin area that cuts through the skin and causes an exposure or protrusion of abdominal organs.  These types of hernia injuries can be life threatening and we do not see them very often.
Hernias more often occur when a person is lifting, twisting, or moving while handling something heavy.  There is no puncture of the skin but organs break through the abdominal wall causing a bulge beneath the skin.  These types of hernias, regardless of how they occur, are considered to have existed since birth or to have formed over many years and are not compensable under workers compensation, unless you can prove 4 things:

1)      The cause of the hernia was a sudden effort or severe strain related to your employment
One of the hardest things about hernia cases is that when our clients go to the doctor immediately after they will often tell the doctor about all the groin pain they have ever had in the past.  The doctor will usually make note of this in the medical record.  Even though such groin pain is almost always unrelated to the hernia and caused by sore muscles or gas, the insurance company uses the medical record to suggest that the hernia was of a gradual onset and not caused by a sudden event.  Such cases become much more difficult to win.

2)      The decent or popping out of the hernia occurs immediately
The hernia bulge has to have occurred at the same time or immediately after the sudden effort or strain.  The hernia bulge consists of organs protruding through your abdominal wall and occasionally can be pushed back into the abdomen or will go away when you lie down. Because they have pushed the bulge back in, sometimes clients will tell the doctor they have no hernia bulge or protrusion.  Before long these clients will strain and the hernia will protrude once again through their injured abdominal wall.  Such cases become more difficult to win because insurance companies suggest that the bulge did not occur till long after the original strain. 

3)      You experienced severe pain during the incident
a.       At the time of the strain or effort you must have experienced severe pain. When you go to the doctor following a hernia, it is not the time to try and prove you have a high pain tolerance.  Be truthful with your doctor regarding the pain you experienced at the time of the event.

4)      The pain and hernia bulge were of such severity that you reported them to your supervisor
a.       You must report you hernia to a supervisor immediately.  If you do not report it immediately your cases becomes difficult, if not impossible, to win.  Do not try and tough it out as this could be detrimental to both your health and your case.

If you have experienced a hernia at work, and feel you may be entitled to compensation, you need to hire an experienced workers compensation attorney to help you get the benefits you need. Contact our offices toll-free at 855-325-4781. You can also visit us online at to read more about our firm and attorneys.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Is Your Workers' Comp Lawyer Working for You?

Something happened in my practice this week that made me think about client relationships. A client of another Workers' Compensation lawyer contacted my firm. She was unhappy with her current attorney and wanted someone to take a second look at her case. I agreed to meet with her.

I met with she and her husband a few days later. She had suffered a severe injury a few months prior, and her friends and family told her that she needed to " lawyer up" as soon as possible. She then retained her first attorney. She had been paying him 12.5% of her benefits from the date she hired him.

I went through the details of the case. I took time to discuss her present status and what to expect in the future. This is not rocket science, just a matter of taking the time to listen , analyze and explain. She and her husband told me that this was the first time that they understood the process and knew what to expect in the future. They asked to hire me, and I gladly accepted the case. I am not charging them any fees on her current benefits. Rather we will charge a percentage of her permanent Award when she is declared stationary.

The first day of my representation, I handled two fairly simple issues that her prior attorney had ignored, and she was very happy.  Again, not rocket science....Just a matter of listening to the client and responding with action.

The prior attorney upset this client in the following ways:

  • He had been charging her attorney's fees but was doing no more than processing her checks.
  • He was not listening to her concerns; She explained that he acted like it was a bother when she called.
  • He had not taken the time to explain the process of Workers' Compensation, especially what happens in the future.
  • He did not act like he was working for her....She felt like she was working for him. Which is absurd.
When you employ a  lawyer, he or she is working for you. They have a professional obligation to handle your case to your satisfaction. If you are not satisfied, then you can do what I tell all of my clients; Fire your lawyer, even if it is me, and hire someone else that will  aggressively and assertively represent you in your case. Another option is to hire no one. I am always happy to discuss cases with anyone at no charge.

You have no obligation to be tethered to an attorney who is not a good match for your case. Usually, you owe the prior attorney nothing if you terminate him or her. There are some exceptions, but I find that one of the reasons that client's terminate prior attorneys is that they are " paying for nothing," as in the case I just detailed. However, I find that unhappy clients are often afraid to fire their lawyer. They feel somehow financially or legally obligated. This is simply not true. 

The client is the boss. Smart clients realize that and act accordingly.

BRIAN WEEKLEY is a Certified Specialist in Worker's Compensation Law with over 24 years of exclusive experience in Arizona Workers' Compensation law. He is listed in Best Lawyers and has an AVVO rating of 9.6/10. He has handled thousands of workers' compensation claims.
He can be reached at 602-532-0700 and

Sunday, April 28, 2013

How to Get the Most Out of Your Free Consultation With Workers Compensation Attorney

Not many professions offer free work.  When is the last time you saw a doctor for 30 minutes for free?  What about an auto mechanic?  An accountant?  So take advantage of the fact that most attorneys are available for free consultations on your case, usually up to about 30 minutes.  Here's a few tips to make the most of this great opportunity.

1.  Come prepared.  I've met with dozens of potential clients who show up at their consultation without any of the documents regarding their claim.  If I know nothing about your work injury or claim status, I can't really tell you what I can do for you.  Bring all documents, including letters from the insurance carrier and Industrial Commission.  Try to have them organized - throwing them all into a plastic grocery bag doesn't count!

2.  Don't bring your children.  Don't get me wrong, I love kids.  Have five of them myself.  But it is difficult to concentrate on this very important matter if we are both being constantly distracted by a child.  Plus, kids find law offices boring.

3.  Make sure and disclose EVERYTHING about your case to the lawyer.  I don't know how many times I've been told negative information about a client or their case the day of their hearing.  I usually respond with "It would have nice to know that SIX MONTHS AGO!!!"  Remember that your lawyer is on your side.  The sooner we know negative information, the quicker we can deal with it. 

4.  Remember that it's free.  Many potential clients unfortunately think that attorneys are social service agencies that are obligated to provide legal services to everyone.  That is not the case.  We are private businesses.  We don't have to take every case.  Be grateful.  Many times I have taken a case that I would not have otherwise taken simply because the person was pleasant and grateful for the free advice. 

5.  Come with questions prepared.  After the attorney has given you their assessment of your case, ask any questions that have not been answered. 

Chad T. Snow is a lawyer with the law firm of Snow, Carpio, & Weekley who limits his practice to representation of injured workers before the Industrial Commission of Arizona.  He can be reached at (602) 532-0700, (520) 647-9000, or through visiting the firm's website.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

When is the Best Time to Hire an Attorney in Arizona Work Comp Claim?

I've posted about this before, and I'll say it again - the best time to consult with an attorney if you've been seriously injured on the job in Arizona is AS SOON AS YOU CAN AFTER YOUR INJURY.  I have met with too many clients who wait until their claim is closed or even after the closure has gone final to contact an attorney and find out what their rights are.  I just met with a lady yesterday who came to us to see if we could reopen her claim and I didn't have the heart to tell her that she could be getting twice as much per month in permanent benefits if she had consulted an attorney. 

Remember that no matter how nice the claim representative from the insurance company is, they are in business to make money - which they do by paying you less.  Whether you contact Snow & Carpio or another workers compensation law firm, take advantage of the free consultation and find out your rights immediately after your injury. 

Chad T. Snow is an attorney in Phoenix, Arizona who limits his practice to representing workers who have been injured on the job.  He can be reached at (602) 532-0700, (520) 647-9000, or through the firm's website at Snow, Carpio, and Weekley.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Best Time to Get an Attorney In Arizona Work Comp Claim

Too many of our clients and prospective clients wait too long to get an attorney in their cases.  The best time to get an attorney is as soon as possible after your injury.  Most Arizona Workers Compensation attorneys offer a free consultation and it is always best to know your rights from the very beginning.  Clients who wait until their claim is closed or their compensation or medical treatment have been cut off are very difficult to help.  By that time, the file may be full of medical reports that are unfavorable to your claim.  Your average monthly wage is usually set shortly after your injury and is often set incorrectly by the carrier.  If you wait too long to hire an attorney, it may be too late to protest an incorrectly set wage - upon which all compensation paid is based. 

At Snow & Carpio, there are many things we can do early on in a case to insure that we obtain a more favorable result for our client when it comes time to settle their case.  These include selecting supportive doctors, ensuring compensation is paid correctly, keeping nurse case managers off the case, and making sure that all body parts injured are accepted.  Also, since we usually only charge a fee on the compensation that is paid at the end of your case, you are paying the same fee regardless of whether you hire us at the end or the beginning.  Hiring us earlier makes our job easier, and your case better. 

Chad T. Snow is a workers compensation attorney with the firm of Snow, Carpio, and Weekley, PLC.  With offices in Phoenix and Tucson, the firm handles exclusively workers compensation and Social Security Disability claims.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Most Common Safety Violations

I was trolling around the Industrial Commission Site and I cam across the 20 most common citations for safety. It's pretty interesting if you look at some of them because it is very easy to be in compliance and yet so expensive to have an accident.

Most cases that we see here in our office could have been prevented. Whether it's lack of fall protection that prevented the roofer from falling off a roof  or a simple Lock-Out/Tag-Out procedure that takes a few moments but can save somebody from being electrocuted or losing a finger.

Safety is so important. Both as an employer and an employee.

Here's the list for you to check out.
The 20 standards most frequently cited by ADOSH

Note: 1926 indicates a violation of a construction standard, 1910 a general industry standard.

Standard Description Citations

1910.1200 Hazard Communication 338

1910.305 Wiring methods, components 209

1910.157 Portable fire extinguishers 179

1910.134 Respiratory protection 138

1910.178 Powered industrial trucks 131

1910.303 Electrical, general requirements 131

1910.212 Machine guarding, general requirements 93

1910.215 Abrasive wheel machinery 86

1926.501 Duty to have fall protection 73

1910.179 Overhead and gantry cranes 72

1910.132 PPE, general requirements 63

1910.213 Woodworking machine guarding 62

1910.1030 Bloodborne pathogens 59

1904.01 Recordkeeping 52

1910.22 Housekeeping 49

1910.219 Power transmission guarding 47

1904.32 Annual summary, 300 log 46

1926.451 Scaffolding, general requirements 46

1910.23 Floor/wall opening guarding 44

1910.37 Exit route maintenance 39

Now, as a previous business owner and employer, I can tell you that there are a few items on this list that require little/no effort. For example; PPE (general requirements), that means Personal Protection Equipment and is referring to safety devices for your employees such as safety glasses to protect eyes, ear plugs to preserve hearing, gloves to protect hands from materials and/or equipment and also the red vests that should be worn if your employees are in an area where there is forklift activity so they will stand out and the forklift driver can easily identify and see them. These very inexpensive items all flow into the PPE area and there is no reason why an employee should not be providing these safety tools for their employees. The citation fine is probably 5x the amount they would have spent in the first place.

Another example would be the Annual Summary. There is no fee associated with this unless you employ a full time Safety Director, in which case this should be a simple task that he/she should be completing as part of their job. But on the norm, for small-mid size companies, the owners are probable handling this task and it doesn't cost you a penny to complete your OSHA 300 log. Yes, it takes a little bit of time but, if you are recording everything as it happens through the year, it's a very easy and simple task to complete.

Employers need to get out of the mindset that ADOSH and other safety entities are here to make their lives more difficult and instead understand they are around to ensure the safety of the employees. I remember having a sinking feeling every time they would walk through the door because I knew it would mean some sort of fine or write-up; but in retrospect, they weren't that difficult to deal with and most of the things we needed to bring up to par were very simple things that because we did not stay on task, it cost us in both time and money.

For employees; I know that the biggest complaint I used to get from my manufacturing employees was that it was too hot to wear the safety glasses in the summer and that the gloves made it hard to grip sometimes. But in the end, these Personal Protection Equipment and devices are put in place to ensure your safety.

I can tell you from my experience working here at the Snow and Carpio Law Firm over the last 2 years that most of our clients would love to go back to when their injury happened and rewind for just 2 second so they could have a do-over and not get injured. Whether it's a minor injury that does not result in loss of time at work or a major incident that leaves a person unable to return to their job and even their career; not one of them would give up the chance to go back and have that accident and injury go away.

So take a look around you and see if there are safety issues. whether you are an employer or an employee, point things out, make sure to talk about safety.

If you are injured or know of somebody who has been injured; the attorneys at Snow, Carpio, and Weekley PLC are glad to sit down and speak to you at no cost about your case. For more information regarding this topic or general questions regarding a Workers' Compensation Claim, you may reach Chad Snow and the firm of Snow and Carpio, PLC at 602-532-0700 or 520-647-9000.

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


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

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Industrial Commission Ombudsman for Injured Workers in Arizona

Many injured workers are not aware that the Industrial Commission of Arizona has an Ombudsman to answer general questions about work injuries in Arizona.  The Ombudsman can direct injured workers to forms, services, and procedures at the Industrial Commission, but cannot give legal advice.  The Ombudsman helps over 6,000 injured workers a year and can be reached at (602) 542-4538 or (800) 544-6488. 

While the Ombudsman can be very helpful with general information, they cannot give any legal advice or inform injured workers about their options with regard to medical treatment or settlement of their claims.  If you have questions about your work injury, you should contact an attorney who practices Workers Compensation.  At Snow & Carpio, we offer a free consultation, and are always glad to meet with injured workers even if they don't need our services to apprise them of their rights.  We can be reached at Snow, Carpio, and Weekley or (602) 532-0700 or (520) 647-9000 in Northern Arizona. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

To Settle or Not to Settle in AZ Work Comp Claim

One of the most important things we do as Arizona workers compensation attorneys is helping clients decide whether and when to settle their case.  Arizona work injury claims can be settled by a process called a Compromise and Settlement Agreement.  Usually, there is a requirement that a bona fide dispute exists between the parties to settle a case. 

Sometimes cases are settled at the compensability level, before the claim has been accepted by the insurance carrier.  If there is a decent chance that you will lose your claim, this may be a good option - as the saying goes, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. 

Other issues that settle include an injured workers' entitlement to permanent benefits.  This is essentially negotiating a lump sum payment from the insurance carrier in lieu of permanent monthly payments.  I call this the quick nickel over the slow dime.  Many times the insurance carrier wants to settle the injured workers' entitlement to supportive medical care at the same time. 

Some issues in a work comp claim can be handled without an attorney.  Settling a case is DEFINITELY NOT one of them.  You should consult with an Arizona Workers Compensation Attorney prior to talking to the insurance company about settlement.  Many factors go into determining how much your case is worth and what rights you are bargaining away. 

Chad T. Snow is an attorney in Tucson and Phoenix Arizona who handles workers compensation and Social Security disability cases.  He can be reached through his website at Snow, Carpio, and Weekley or by calling (602) 532-0700 OR (520) 647-9000. 

Friday, July 8, 2011

Can Workman's Comp Carrier Tell Me Where to Get My MRI?

An issue I've run into quite a bit recently is that of carrier's trying to direct injured workers to facilities of their choice for diagnostic tests such as MRI's and doctors of their choice for EMG studies.  As I've posted on here several times, one of the most important and fundamental rights of an injured worker in Arizona is the right to choose his or her own treating doctor.  While the Workers Compensation Act allows the carrier to have the injured worker examined "periodically" by a physician of their choosing, I don't think that extends to choosing where diagnostic procedures are done and by whom.  Especially in the case of a semi-invasive procedure such as an EMG study. 

I recently filed a Motion for a Protective Order in one of these cases and the Administrative Law Judge at the Industrial Commission agreed.  Her order relieved the applicant of any duty to attend the studies that had been scheduled by the carrier and instead indicated that the treating doctor has the right to decide where and by whom diagnostic studies are done. 

Chad T. Snow is a workers compensation attorney in Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona.  For more information on workers compensation claims in Arizona, you can reach Chad through his website at Snow, Carpio, and Weekley, or by calling the offices at (602) 532-0700 or (520) 647-9000. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Are You Confused About Filing a Workers' Compensation Claim in Arizona?

You should never be reluctant to report an injury that you suffered while on the job. In fact, Arizona's Workers' Compensation Law requires that workers who sustain an on-the-job injury "forthwith report" their injury to their employer. "Forthwith" means that as soon as you realize you have an injury that may be related to your work, you must report it to a supervisor or manager immediately.

Arizona's "no fault" system means that it does not matter how or why you were seriously injured. No one can be blamed for your accident. Even if you placed yourself in harm's way during a work day and were hurt because of it, this aspect of your case is irrelevant under state law.

Still, you should report your work injury to your employer as soon as possible. Failure to "forthwith report" an on-the-job injury can result in the insurance company denying liability for your injuries.

Inform Your Employer of Your Serious Injury — Then Inform Snow, Carpio, and Weekley.

Another reason it is important to report your injury and file an Arizona workers' compensation claim as soon as possible: It generally takes about 30 days to receive an initial determination of the insurance carrier's acceptance or denial of a claim. Your claim may be filed directly with the Industrial Commission of Arizona, or your attending physician or hospital will do so. They are required to report any industrial accidents to our state's Industrial Commission.Once your serious injury has been reported, we can start the hard work of investigating the details of your accident and strive for the results you need.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

What to Expect at My "Free Consultation"

Many attorneys offer what we call a "Free Consultation".  It sounds a little suspect but is really one of the great bargains in the law business.  Can you imagine a doctor meeting with you for 1/2 an hour, listening to your complaints, giving you a diagnosis, and telling you what treatment you need - FOR NOTHING?  It sounds ridiculous.  Even plumbers and mechanics charge a "diagnosis fee".  But us lawyers are better people! 

A free consultation is just that - a consultation with an attorney to get a brief review of your case at no charge.  In our office, it usually means a brief meeting with our intake paralegal Martha, to get basic information about the claim, followed by a 15-20 minute chat with one of the attorneys.  Martha has over 30 years experience in the Arizona workers comp field so she's a good person to talk to.  If we feel like you have a matter that requires an attorney, and if you want to hire us, you can retain us at that time.  Oftentimes, in cases that don't require attorney representation, we simply give you free legal advice about red flags to look out for in your case and other useful information.  These would be things like how much temporary compensation you're entitled to, if you will get a "settlement" of your claim, your right to choose your own treating doctor, and other benefits you may be entitled to. 

So don't be afraid - whether your legal problem is in the area of Arizona workers (workmans) compensation or another area, take advantage of the free consultation.  Heck, get two or three of them if you want!  They're free!!!

Chad T. Snow is a lawyer in Arizona practicing exclusively workers compensation.  He has offices in Phoenix and Tucson where he and his associates at Snow, Carpio, and Weekley can be reached.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Do I Need to Answer Interrogatories in AZ Work Comp Case?

Many clients who are litigating their work injury claims in Arizona call us after they receive a large packet of information from the attorney representing the insurance carrier. One of the most intimidating contents of this packet are the "interrogatories", which are a series of (usually 25) written questions about the injury, witnesses, medical treatment received, and legal defenses/arguments that will be presented at hearing.

I rarely answer interrogatories for two reasons: (1) the insurance company's attorney will be taking your deposition (under oath) soon anyways so they can get the information verbally at that time; (2) they're a huge waste of time.

However, if the carrier's attorney insists on getting answers to the Interrogatories, it is always advisable to answer them. Sometimes, the attorney will ask the judge presiding over your case to issue an Order compelling you to answer the interrogatories. If you receive such an order from the judge, answer the interrogatories IMMEDIATELY. Failure to do so can result in your request for hearing being dismissed or the judge entering some other sanction against you, including having the pay the attorney's fees of the carrier's attorney for the time spent forcing you to answer.

If you have questions about Interrogatories that you've received, the deposition, or the hearing process or your workman's comp claim in general, please contact Snow, Carpio, and Weekley at (602) 532-0700 or (520) 647-9000.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Work Related "Stress" Injuries In Arizona Work Comp

We get a lot of calls from potential clients who want to file a workers comp claim because they have a lot of stress at work or their boss is just a jerk and they can't handle it anymore. The short answer is, "get over it. We're all stressed!" The long, more legal and politically correct answer is, in order to be compensable, a mental injury must be precipitated by an event that is "unexpected, unusual, or extraordinary stress."

The proof required for mental injuries is more stringent than that required for physical injuries because of the difficulty in proving a causal connection between mental illness and work-related stress. As the Arizona workers Comp Handbook so eloquently states, "in today's society, emotional stress has multiple causes. Some are work-related, others are not.

There are two types of emotional stress cases: in the first, the mental injury is caused by a single incident. In the second, the injury producing event is gradual in nature. The former are usually easier to prove compensable. Examples would be where an employee sees a co-worker get shot or die or where the employee hits and kills a pedestrian while on the job. The latter (gradual) are less likely to be accepted because of the difficulty in proving a causal connection.

Summary: if you're stressed because your boss is a jerk, you're overworked, your hours got cut, or your co-worker makes annoying nose sounds, man up and get over it.
If you have a truly stressful event at work, call Snow, Carpio, and Weekley at (602) 532-0700 or (520) 647-9000.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

What to Expect at Your Workers Compensation Deposition

Few things cause more anxiety for a worker injured on the job in Arizona than attending a deposition prior to their hearing.  And there's really no reason for it.  With few exceptions, depositions in Arizona workers compensation claims are incredibly informal affairs.  However, they can be extremely important in winning or losing your case if you're not properly prepared. 

The deposition is the insurance carrier's attorney's opportunity to ask the injured worker questions under oath to find out information about the claim, and also to gauge how the injured worker will testify if the case goes to court.  The deposition is almost always held at the attorney's office.  If you are represented by counsel, your attorney should attend the deposition with you and prepare you for the questions to be asked beforehand.  A court reporter is always at the deposition making a written record of what is said. 

Most depositions last between 30-60 minutes, depending on the issue and the defense attorney.  The questions usually center around the applicant's work history, how the injury happened, medical treatment that has been received, prior medical history, the applicant's current symptoms, and other information depending on the issue that is pending before the Court. 

The two iron rules that I always tell my clients before depositions are: (1) give short answers; and (2) tell the truth.  Most questions can be answered with a simple "yes" or "no", and perhaps a very brief explanation.  Never volunteer information that hasn't been specifically asked.  And tell the truth always - you never know if the carrier has been having an investigator follow you and perform video surveillance.  If you say you haven't done something, and they have you on videotape doing it, the judge won't believe a word you say. 

If your case has gotten to the point where you have a deposition scheduled, you should probably consult with an Arizona Workers/Workmans Compensation Attorney.  Litigation is definitely not a do-it-yourself project.

Chad T. Snow is an attorney in Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona, who has handled thousands of Arizona workman's compensation claims.  He can be reached at his website, Snow, Carpio, and Weekley, or at (602) 532-0700 or (520) 647-9000. 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Injuries that Occur Outside the State of Arizona

Occasionally we'll have a client who lives in Arizona who is injured while working outside the state of Arizona.  These injured workers are still entitled to benefits under Arizona law in several circumstances.  First, if they were hired within the state, they are covered under Arizona law (A.R.S. 23-904(A)).  Employees injured outside the state are also entitled to compensation if they are "regularly employed" within the state.  "Regularly employed" depends on consideration of such factors as where the employee spends most of his or her work time, where the paychecks are issued, and where the job assigments originate. 

These types of injuries are frequent with over the road truck drivers, road construction crews, and other types of workers whose jobs may take them from time to time to other states.  For more detailed information, you should contact an attorney at Snow, Carpio, and Weekley.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

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.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Letting the Insurance Carrier Pick Your Doctor

I had a potential client call me yesterday and cancel our appointment to meet because he said "the insurance carrier told me they would help me find a specialist, so I don't need an attorney right now."  He didn't seem to understand that the insurance carrier might not have his best interest at heart.  He probably still believes in the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus as well.  I guarantee he'll be calling me sooner rather than later. 

I'm not one of those attorneys that spends all my time slamming insurance companies - they have a right to make money like any other business.  But make no mistake about it, they are for profit companies in the business of making money.  And they make money by keeping the cost of claims down, which means paying you as little as possible in compensation and keeping your medical costs to a minimum.  Their most effective tool at both of these is getting injured workers to treat with the carrier's preferred physicians. 

The treating physician controls everything in an Arizona workers compensation claim.  Every carrier has hand picked doctors in every specialty that they send a lot of business to and therefore are somewhat beholden to the carrier.  They provide a minimal amount of medical care and release the injured worker back to work oftentimes well before he or she is ready.  At the end of the case, they either give very low percentages of permanent disability or little or no work restrictions to minimize the amount of permanent compensation that the carrier has to pay the injured worker. 

THe only question now is whether that potential client will be calling me because the carrier's hand picked doctor closed his case out too soon, released him back to regular work even though he can't do it, won't provide him medications, or a host of other things that save the carrier money...

Chad T. Snow is an attorney and the founder of Snow, Carpio, Weekley in Phoenix and Tucson Arizona who specializes in workers compensation claims.  He has represented thousands of Arizona's injured workers.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Telephonic Pre-Hearing Conferences in Arizona Industrial Claims

I shouldn't tell this secret, because telephonic pre-hearing conferences are great for business.  Many injured workers who have decided to represent themselves in their Industrial Commision hearings, get the notice for the "telephonic pre-hearing conference" and freak out and break down and call a lawyer

Pre-hearing conferences are actually very brief informal discussions between the parties (or their lawyers), and the ALJ (Administrative Law Judge) who will be deciding the case.  It is usually done just to bring the ALJ up to speed on what issues will be decided, what witnesses will be called, and any defenses that the parties might raise, so there are no surprises at the hearing.  Pre-hearing conferences are held in almost every case where the applicant is not represented by an attorney.  The judge will inform the injured worker that he or she is still expected to abide by the Rules of Procedure and the deadlines with respect to filing of evidence and requests for witness subpoenas.  They usually only last a few minutes and are very informal. 

Snow, Carpio, and Weekley are Arizona attorneys with offices in Phoenix and Tucson.  They have represented thousands of Arizonans who have been injured in on the job accidents.  They offer a free consultation and are always glad to give out free advice on workers compensation matters.  They can be reached at (602) 532-0700 or (520) 647-9000.