This article has been published in “The Advocate”, a monthly publication of the Arizona Association for Justice/Arizona Trial Lawyers Association, May – June 2014 issue, @2014 by Steven J. Bruzonsky, Esq.
May/June 2014 Lien Updates
Workers Compensation Liens – No Automatic Assignment of Injury Claim To Worker’s Compensation Carrier After One Year:
Traditionally, the understanding has been that the Workers Compensation carrier is automatically assigned the injured party’s personal injury claim against a third party after one year from the accident/injury, if a lawsuit is not filed prior to that time. Surprisingly, we learned in Acosta v. Kiewit-Sundt, No. 1 CA-CV 13-0019 (Az. Ct. App. Jan. 23, 2014) that all of us were wrong. Division One explains therein that the Arizona Leglislature’s 2007 amendment to A.R.S. § 23-1023, which deleted the phrase “deemed assignment”, changed the prior rule which required this automatic assignment. This is even though the statute retains language which references a reassignment. What does this mean to Arizona personal injury attorneys? Probably that we no longer need to file a lawsuit prior to one year post-accident , and it is safe to file within the two year tort Statute of Limitations for auto accidents, slip and falls and other on the job accidents where a third party may be liable (please do this at your own risk, not mine, as I am making an educated guess).