REFERENCE TITLE: workers' compensation; work search requirements
State of Arizona
First Regular Session
amending section 23‑1044, Arizona Revised Statutes; relating to workers' compensation.
(TEXT OF BILL BEGINS ON NEXT PAGE)
Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Arizona:
Section 1. Section 23-1044, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended to read:
23-1044. Compensation for partial disability; computation; loss of earning capacity burden of proof
A. For temporary partial disability there shall be paid during the period thereof sixty‑six and two‑thirds percent of the difference between the wages earned before the injury and the wages that the injured person is able to earn thereafter. Unemployment benefits received during the period of temporary partial disability shall be considered wages able to be earned.
B. Disability shall be deemed permanent partial disability if caused by any of the following specified injuries, and compensation of fifty‑five percent of the average monthly wage of the injured employee, in addition to the compensation for temporary total disability, shall be paid for the period given in the following schedule:
1. For the loss of a thumb, fifteen months.
2. For the loss of a first finger, commonly called the index finger, nine months.
3. For the loss of a second finger, seven months.
4. For the loss of a third finger, five months.
5. For the loss of the fourth finger, commonly called the little finger, four months.
6. The loss of a distal or second phalange of the thumb or the distal or third phalange of the first, second, third or fourth finger, shall be considered equal to the loss of one‑half of the thumb or finger, and compensation shall be one‑half of the amount specified for the loss of the entire thumb or finger.
7. The loss of more than one phalange of the thumb or finger shall be considered as the loss of the entire finger or thumb, but in no event shall the amount received for more than one finger exceed the amount provided for the loss of a hand.
8. For the loss of a great toe, seven months.
9. For the loss of a toe other than the great toe, two and one‑half months.
10. The loss of the first phalange of any toe shall be considered equal to the loss of one‑half of the toe and compensation shall be one‑half of the amount for one toe.
11. The loss of more than one phalange shall be considered as the loss of the entire toe.
12. For the loss of a major hand, fifty months, or of a minor hand, forty months.
13. For the loss of a major arm, sixty months, or of a minor arm, fifty months.
14. For the loss of a foot, forty months.
15. For the loss of a leg, fifty months.
16. For the loss of an eye by enucleation, thirty months.
17. For the permanent and complete loss of sight in one eye without enucleation, twenty‑five months.
18. For permanent and complete loss of hearing in one ear, twenty months.
19. For permanent and complete loss of hearing in both ears, sixty months.
20. The permanent and complete loss of the use of a finger, toe, arm, hand, foot or leg may be deemed the same as the loss of any such member by separation.
21. For the partial loss of use of a finger, toe, arm, hand, foot or leg, or partial loss of sight or hearing, fifty percent of the average monthly wage during that proportion of the number of months in the foregoing schedule provided for the complete loss of use of such member, or complete loss of sight or hearing, which the partial loss of use thereof bears to the total loss of use of such member or total loss of sight or hearing. For the purposes of this paragraph, "loss of use" means a loss of physical function of the affected member, sight or hearing. The effect on an employee's ability to return to the employee's occupation at the time of the injury shall not be considered in establishing the percentage of loss under this section, except that if the employee is unable to return to the work the employee was performing at the time the employee was injured due to the total or partial loss of use, compensation pursuant to this section shall be calculated based on seventy‑five percent of the average monthly wage.
22. For permanent disfigurement about the head or face, including injury to or loss of teeth, the commission pursuant to section 23‑1047, may allow such sum for compensation thereof as it deems just, in accordance with the proof submitted, for a period of not more than eighteen months.
C. In cases not enumerated in subsection B of this section, if the injury causes permanent partial disability for work, the employee shall receive during such disability compensation equal to fifty‑five percent of the difference between the employee's average monthly wages before the accident and the amount that represents the employee's reduced monthly earning capacity resulting from the disability, but the payment shall not continue after the disability ends, or the death of the injured employee, and in case the partial disability begins after a period of total disability, the period of total disability shall be deducted from the total period of compensation.
D. In determining the amount that represents the reduced monthly earning capacity for the purposes of subsections A and C of this section, consideration shall be given, among other things, to any previous disability, the occupational history of the injured employee, the nature and extent of the physical disability, the type of work the injured employee is able to perform after the injury, any wages received for work performed after the injury and the age of the employee at the time of injury. 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. A determination of earning capacity that is based on wages that could have been earned from previously terminated employment is subject to change under subsection F of this section and an employee retains the right to later establish that the employee's reduced earning capacity is related in whole or in part to the industrial injury.
E. In case there is a previous disability, as the loss of one eye, one hand, one foot or otherwise, the percentage of disability for a subsequent injury shall be determined by computing the percentage of the entire disability and deducting therefrom the percentage of the previous disability as it existed at the time of the subsequent injury.
F. For the purposes of subsection C of this section, the commission, in accordance with the provisions of section 23‑1047 when the physical condition of the injured employee becomes stationary, shall determine the amount that represents the reduced monthly earning capacity and on such determination make an award of compensation that is subject to change in any of the following events:
1. On a showing of a change in the physical condition of the employee after such findings and award arising out of the injury resulting in the reduction or increase of the employee's earning capacity.
2. On a showing of a reduction in the earning capacity of the employee arising out of such injury where there is no change in the employee's physical condition, after the findings and award.
3. On a showing that the employee's earning capacity has increased after such findings and award.
G. The commission may adopt a schedule for rating loss of earning capacity and reasonable and proper rules to carry out this section. In all cases involving this section, except for cases under subsection B of this section, or in cases involving a request pursuant to section 23‑1061, subsection J for disability compensation, if any issue is raised regarding whether the injured employee has suffered a loss of earning capacity because of an inability to obtain or retain suitable work, the following apply:
1. The employer or carrier may present evidence showing that the inability to obtain suitable work is due, in whole or in part, to economic or business conditions, or other factors unrelated to the industrial injury. The injured employee may present evidence showing that the inability to obtain suitable work is due, in whole or in part, to the industrial injury or limitations resulting from the injury. The administrative law judge shall consider all such evidence in determining whether and to what extent the injured employee has sustained any loss of earning capacity.
2. In cases involving loss of employment, the employer or carrier may present evidence showing that the injured employee was terminated from employment or has not obtained suitable work, or both, due, in whole or in part, to economic or business conditions, or other factors unrelated to the injury. The injured employee may present evidence showing that such termination or inability to obtain suitable work is due, in whole or in part, to the industrial injury or limitations resulting from the injury. The administrative law judge shall consider all such evidence in determining whether and to what extent the injured employee has sustained any loss or additional loss of earning capacity.
H. At a hearing to determine loss of earning capacity, the injured employee has the burden of proof by a preponderance of the evidence to demonstrate that the injured employee made a good faith effort to obtain suitable work. On satisfying the burden of proof, the burden shifts to the employer or carrier to prove that suitable work is reasonably available. To demonstrate a good faith effort to obtain suitable work, the injured employee shall provide written documentation that the injured employee has met at least one of the following work search requirements during the qualifying period:
1. Active participation in a vocational rehabilitation program that is conducted by the department of economic security or a private vocational provider.
2. Active search efforts for suitable work, including at least one job contact per day on four different days of each week. Documentation of search efforts for suitable work includes copies or electronic verification of applications submitted or other written verification from the prospective employer.
H. I. Any single injury or disability that is listed in subsection B of this section and that is not converted into an injury or disability compensated under subsection C of this section by operation of this section shall be treated as scheduled under subsection B of this section regardless of its actual effect on the injured employee's earning capacity.