State of Arizona Requires “Temporary Workers” To File Workers’ Compensation Claims in Arizona

On April 3, 2013, the Governor of Arizona, Jan Brewer, approved Senate Bill 1448 drastically limiting the ability of workers who “temporarily” work outside of Arizona to file claims in other jurisdictions.

In relevant part, SB 1148 provides that workers employed in Arizona who “temporarily leave[] this state incidental to th[eir] employment” and are injured must file their workers’ compensation claim in the state of Arizona.  A worker is deemed “temporarily” in another state if the claimant has done work for fewer than 90 continuous days out of the 365 days preceding the accidental injury or date or last injurious exposure in an occupational disease/cumulative trauma claim.

Notably, this law will have significant impact on the ability of many types of employees, such as drivers or traveling salespersons, to file workers’ compensation claims out-of-state.  In particular, however, Arizona professional sports teams, including the Diamondbacks, have urged this amendment as a result of current or former players pursuing workers’ compensation benefits in foreign jurisdictions.  Notably, many claims have been filed by Arizona athletes in the state of California where workers’ compensation rules regarding cumulative trauma and timely claim filing are significantly more lenient.

Ultimately, this bill provides a major roadblock for current or former Arizona athletes to file claims in California or other jurisdictions in attempts to obtain workers’ compensation benefits, especially when one considers Arizona’s one-year statute of limitations on claims filing, regardless of whether the claimant has notice of that requirement.

Notably, this bill has already spawned a similar legislative proposal, bill AB 1309, in California.  Whether more states follow suit and pass similar laws which will in effect preclude temporary workers from seeking out-of-state benefits will be a trend to follow in the near future.

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