Were you injured on the job in Alabama? Did insurance deny your workers’ compensation claim or give you a low offer for your work-related injury or illness? If so, the workers’ compensation lawyers at Morris, King & Hodge, P.C., are here to help you fight for the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve.
Many people think that workers’ comp is just meant to cover high-profile accidents like a crane collapse or warehouse tragedy. However, workplace injuries happen at all types of businesses – from typical office environments to factories to retail stores and more – and work-related accidents cause all sorts of damage, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, illnesses from toxic substance exposure, and paralysis.
At Morris, King & Hodge, P.C., we know that the people of Alabama work hard every day, and they deserve fair compensation when workplace accidents cause them harm. That’s why we’re committed to helping workers stand up for their rights and pursue the compensation they’re owed for work-related injuries and illnesses.
Our skilled attorneys have been serving people across North Alabama and the surrounding areas for more than 50 years. We’ve helped clients recover over $113 million. As our client testimonials demonstrate, we’re passionate about serving injured victims with our highest-ranked legal skills, plus we’re dedicated to making sure each client receives the compassionate and personalized attention they need.
If you’ve been injured in a workplace accident, contact the experienced workers’ comp lawyers at Morris, King & Hodge, P.C., right away. We’re prepared to handle all the details of your case and fight for the maximum compensation you deserve. To schedule your free consultation, contact us today by phone or online.
Does My Employer Have to Provide Workers’ Comp Insurance in Alabama?
Under Alabama law, most private and public employers in the state with five or more employees must have workers’ comp insurance to cover employees’ workplace injuries and illnesses. “Employees” are typically defined as any full-time or part-time workers whose schedule, work content, work location, and equipment are controlled by their employer. This includes officers, regular employees, and members of a limited liability company (LLC).
There are a limited number of instances where Alabama employers aren’t required to provide workers’ compensation. This includes municipalities with a population of fewer than 2,000 people and employers of farm laborers, casual employees, and domestic workers in private homes. However, even if it isn’t mandated, employers can still elect to provide workers’ compensation coverage for their employees.
While state law requires most employers to carry workers’ comp insurance, they’re not necessarily required to cover all of their employees’ injuries or illnesses. To be eligible for coverage, the employee’s injury or illness must be work-related or must have occurred while the employee was acting within the scope of their employment.
If the employee was engaging in certain behavior when the injury occurred, then this might prevent them from claiming benefits. For example, employees who intentionally harm themselves, refuse to use safety equipment, or were under the influence of drugs or alcohol when an accident occurs typically cannot recover benefits.
For eligible injuries and illnesses, some types of compensation that Alabama employees can typically recover from workers’ comp after a workplace accident include medical benefits. This helps cover reasonably necessary treatments, such as surgeries, medication, diagnostic tests, medical devices and equipment, and ongoing care.
Additionally, employees can often recover benefits to cover a certain amount of lost wages. Depending on the severity of the employee’s injury or disease and the resulting impact on their ability to do their job, they might be able to receive:
- Temporary total disability if they’re completely unable to work for more than three days
- Temporary partial disability if they can return to work in a modified capacity while they’re still recovering
- Permanent total disability if they can’t return to work in their previous job or any other type of reasonable employment
- Permanent partial disability, according to a disability rating assigned by their doctor
In Alabama, workers’ compensation also provides death benefits for surviving family members in instances where employees die because of a work-related injury or illness. These benefits typically include a lump-sum payment to help cover funeral and burial expenses, in addition to income replacement payments for as many as 500 weeks and up to 75% of the deceased worker’s average weekly income.
Survivors who might be able to claim death benefits include individuals who were financially dependent on the deceased employee, such as:
- The deceased worker’s spouse
- Minor children
- Children enrolled in higher education
- Disabled adult children
If I Own an Alabama Business, Am I Required to Cover Myself Under My Company’s Workers’ Compensation Policy?
Whether you must include yourself in your business’ workers’ comp policy depends on what type of business you run. For example, a company’s workers’ compensation policy must cover its corporate officers and LLC members, according to Alabama law, although these employees can request an exemption from this coverage by filing a form with their insurance company.
If you are a sole proprietor, then you don’t have to cover yourself. However, if your business has five or more employees (including yourself), then Alabama law will most likely require you to provide coverage for your employees.
How Do Employers and Employees Access Workers’ Comp Insurance in Alabama?
Most Alabama employers purchase their workers’ compensation insurance from a range of private companies that offer policies at various rates. However, if they’re rejected by at least two insurers, then they can buy last-resort coverage from the Alabama Assigned Risk Pool, which is guaranteed by the Alabama Insurance Guarantee Association and administered by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI).
Some Alabama employers choose to self-insure for workers’ comp instead of working with an insurance company. To qualify for this option, the business must have an assets/liabilities ratio of one or more, a net worth of at least $5 million, and positive net income over each of the three previous years.
Under Alabama’s statute of limitations laws, injured employees typically have up to two years from the date of their workplace accident to file a claim for compensation for their injuries.
However, to improve their chances of getting the full compensation they’re owed, it’s critical for employees to report their injury to their employer within five days of the accident and file an official claim as soon as possible. Otherwise, the employer or their insurer might try to argue the injury wasn’t work-related and use this as an excuse to deny the claim.
Once the worker notifies their employer about their injury, then the employer should report the injury to their insurance provider and provide the employee with a list of company-approved doctors. The insurer will then reject or accept the claim and propose a benefit amount.
If the insurance company refuses to cover a medical treatment or procedure that the employee’s doctor thinks they need, then the employee can appeal to the Alabama Department of Labor’s Workers’ Compensation Division. If the insurance company denies the claim or offers the worker a low amount of benefits, then the employee or their lawyer can try to negotiate with the insurer or file a lawsuit with the local Alabama Circuit Court.
Can Alabama Employers Face Penalties If They Don’t Have Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
Yes, courts can charge any Alabama business that is mandated to have workers’ comp insurance with a fine of $1,000 per employee for each day that they don’t have this insurance coverage. The employer might also face jail time and fines, plus the court can order them to close the business until they get the required insurance coverage.
Alabama Workers’ Compensation Settlements
Oftentimes, an insurer will seek to reach a settlement agreement with the employee and their employer for workers’ comp cases. This settlement is a way for insurers to try to close out the claim, and it typically involves a one-time lump-sum payment, although insurance companies sometimes agree to pay in installments instead of a lump sum.
Even if injured employees agree to a settlement, Alabama law permits them to seek additional compensation at a later time in limited cases and only if their condition deteriorates within four years.
Insurers have an incentive to pay out as little as possible for claims, so they will look for any reason to deny an employee’s claim or reduce the amount they have to pay. For example, they often try to claim that employees’ injuries and illnesses aren’t work-related and were actually caused by previous accidents or underlying medical conditions.
Insurers may try to argue that employees’ injuries aren’t as severe as they claim. Sometimes, these companies even deny benefits for small procedural reasons. This is why it’s essential for employees to build a solid case to support their claims and to work with an experienced workers’ comp attorney who can help fight for their rights.
Contact Our Alabama Workers’ Comp Lawyers Today
Don’t wait to stand up for your rights after a workplace accident. Contact the experienced workers’ comp lawyers at Morris, King & Hodge, P.C., right away, and get the help you need to fight for the maximum compensation you deserve. To get started, call us today or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.