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How has COVID-19 Affected Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Arizona?

Posted on behalf of Phillips Law Group on Aug 05, 2020 in Workers' Compensation

checking patient for coronavirusThe coronavirus pandemic is an unprecedented crisis that has affected almost everything in society. This has raised many questions about a wide variety of issues, such as workplace injuries and filing workers’ compensation claims.

If you have any questions about workers’ compensation benefits in Arizona, or if you have already filed a claim, we encourage you to seek legal assistance from our Phoenix workers’ compensation lawyers at Phillips Law Group. We have helped many injured employees recover benefits, and we have extensive knowledge of how to appeal denied claims.

The consultation is free and comes with no obligation to take legal action. That means no risk to you in contacting us.

Do I Still Need to Seek In-Person Treatment?

As always, you should report the injury right away and get medical treatment. You may be concerned about the risk of contracting COVID-19 if you go to the hospital or a doctor’s office, which is understandable.

Fortunately, health care providers have responded to this crisis by treating more patients remotely through video options, like Zoom or Facetime, or by speaking on the phone.

Governor’s Executive Order

On March 25, 2020, Governor Doug Ducey issued an executive order to expand telemedicine. Health insurance plans regulated by the Arizona Department of Insurance, as well as plans that are part of Arizona Medicaid, are included under this order.

The governor issued another order stating that workers’ compensation insurance plans, self-insurance plans and the Special Fund can set reasonable requirements and parameters for telehealth services. However, these requirements and parameters may not be more, or less, favorable to health care providers or injured workers than the parameters or requirements for in-person health care services.

The governor’s order also defines an injured victim’s home as an approved location to receive telemedicine services under his or her workers’ compensation insurance plan.

The order says telehealth services may be administered by any health care providers licensed in Arizona, such as:

  • Physicians
  • Physician assistants
  • Advanced practice nurses
  • Occupational therapists
  • Physical therapists
  • Pharmacists
  • Dentists
  • Psychologists

Unless approval is granted by the Industrial Commission of Arizona in a case of suspected fraud, workers’ compensation carriers cannot require injured workers to submit to in-person medical examinations or in-person medical treatment. 

Can I File a Claim for Contracting COVID-19?

Some people may contract the virus while at work, particularly if they are health care providers who treat infected patients. If this happens, you may be able to obtain workers’ compensation benefits. However, it may be difficult to establish where you contracted the COVID-19 virus, as it is so widespread and easily transmissible.

On May 14, 2020, the Industrial Commission of Arizona made an announcement about adjusting COVID-19 workers’ compensation claims. The announcement says COVID-19 workers’ compensation claims cannot be categorically denied. State law requires claim denials to be based on the facts of the claim and warranted under existing law.

Workers’ compensation insurers should consider various factors, including but not limited to:

  • Nature of your employment and the risk of contracting the virus
  • Whether an identifiable exposure happened at work
  • Whether an identifiable exposure occurred outside of work
  • Amount of time between exposure and developing symptoms
  • Reliability of medical or other evidence that your work-related exposure caused you to develop the disease

It may be easier to prove workplace exposure if you work in a high-risk job, such as if you are a first responder, doctor, nurse or other health care provider. Other high-risk jobs include retail jobs or jobs where you regularly interact with customers.

If you have reason to believe your exposure to the virus happened at work, you should notify your employer. Meeting with a qualified lawyer is also an important step to take.

Could the Process be Delayed?

You may experience delays with your claim. For example, you may need to seek in-person treatment and it may take longer than usual to get an appointment. However, you should still be proactive with your claim. Keep your employer informed about delays and get in touch with a lawyer as soon as possible.

Call Today to Find Out How We May Be Able to Help

Workers’ compensation benefits are often a financial lifeline for employees who get hurt on the job. However, pursuing benefits on your own can be difficult, particularly if your claim is initially denied.

We recommend that you consider working with a licensed attorney with a history of results. Phillips Law Group has obtained more than $750 million in compensation on behalf of injured victims in Arizona.

Read what some of our satisfied clients said about the services we provided.

Phillips Law Group: 1-800-706-3000. No upfront fees.

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