Workers Compensation Bad Faith

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Article: Suing For Bad Faith in AZ Workers’ Comp Cases May Open Other Doors

Many states don’t allow employees to sue insurance companies for bad faith in workers’ compensation cases. Arizona does allow it, so why don’t more people sue for bad faith when they have the opportunity?

To find out, we asked Charles Surrano, an Arizona attorney with 30 years experience and member of the Advocate Law Group network who specializes in bad faith litigation, and disability claims against insurance companies. According to Surrano, “They don’t know any better and often times the attorneys who practice in the arena of workers’ compensation don’t understand bad faith or the Superior Court process. There are entirely different rules that apply to Superior Court versus the Industrial Commission. The attorneys who practice workers’ compensation for a living only know the rules that apply to the Industrial Commission.”

“They feel comfortable at the Industrial Commission and often don’t feel comfortable practicing out of their element. So, a lot of these cases that have merit in terms of bad faith claims against insurance companies, never really make it out of the Industrial Commission because people either don’t know any better or their attorneys are intimidated by the thought of practicing in a different venue.”

Do’s & Don’ts

What should an injured worker do if their insurance company wrongly denies a valid workers’ compensation claim? More importantly, what shouldn’t they do? Surrano provided the following answers:

Do’s:

  • File the claim in a timely manner or you’re going to lose your claim for any benefits. So, the first thing they need to do is get a workers’ compensation attorney who practices in that area to help them with the actual claim.
  • Think about whether you want your benefits to be derived from the workers’ compensation system, where they are severally limited by statute, or whether you want to explore the opportunity of a bad faith claim in Superior Court, where you have far more ample remedies and access to greater damages. You need to ask your workers’ compensation attorney, “Do you know somebody who does bad faith?” or “Can we have a bad faith attorney help us on this case because I want to take it beyond the Industrial Commission?

Don’ts:

  • What you shouldn’t do is nothing. That’s the easy answer. The worst thing you can do is nothing, especially in workers’ compensation cases because you’re under very short time deadlines to file certain pleadings at the Industrial Commission.

Articles & Information:

Arizona Workers’ Compensation Insurance: What Is It?

When Do Arizona Workers’ Compensation Issues Become Bad Faith Cases?

AZ Workers’ Compensation Bad Faith: What Damages Are You Entitled To?

Flex Your Arizona Workers’ Comp Muscles