The “purpose of Alabama’s Workers’ Compensation Act is to provide benefits to employees who suffer occupational health and injury problems,” according to the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations.
Under Alabama workers’ compensation laws, benefits are awarded on a no-fault basis, regardless of who caused the workplace accident. In general, Alabama employers with five or more employees, full or part time, must carry workers’ comp coverage.
Workers’ comp is considered an exclusive remedy. In other words, an injured employee cannot file a civil lawsuit against an employer who maintains workers’ compensation insurance. A claimant does not have to prove that the employer did anything wrong. Benefits may be paid even if the worker was negligent. Workers’ comp’ claims may be denied, however, under certain circumstances, such as intoxication, drug use, or willful intent to injure self or others.
Suffering an on-the-job injury can be very confusing and stressful, especially for people who are the household’s primary breadwinner. If you or a family member suffered a job-related injury, an experienced Alabama workers’ compensation attorney can give you the best chance for accessing and recovering all of the benefits you are entitled to.
The respected Morris, King & Hodge, P.C., workers’ compensation firm has been helping clients throughout Alabama since 1966. Our attorneys are here to help you. We will discuss all your legal options under Alabama workers’ compensation laws in a free consultation. Call us or contact us online to schedule an appointment today.
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Accidents and Illnesses That Qualify for Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Alabama
Alabama residents work in a wide variety of jobs, and some accidents can be unique to certain occupations, particularly in an industrial or manufacturing environment. Other kinds of accidents commonly occur in all kinds of workplaces, such as:
- Slip and falls
- Falling objects
- Unsafe equipment
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Falls from heights
- Heavy machinery accidents
- Chemical exposure
The injuries that can stem from these types of accidents can often be quite severe. Many workers require several weeks or months of hospitalization and ongoing treatment or rehabilitation.
Such injuries can also lead to incredible difficulty returning to work with the same functionality or possibly even working again. Some of the possible injuries and illnesses in these cases may include the following:
- Vision and hearing loss
- Respiratory issues
- Muscle strains
- Burn injuries
- Back or neck injuries
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Loss of limbs
- Internal organ injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Spinal cord injuries
- Cardiovascular disorders
A worker can also be killed on the job, which can leave an entire family in disarray. In such tragic instances, the family of a deceased worker could file for death benefits under Alabama workers’ compensation laws.
Occupational illnesses stemming from workplace exposure to hazardous substances can be very complex because employees typically do not display any symptoms until much later after the original exposure. The statute of limitations in these cases is usually the date a victim knew or should have known about their medical condition.
Some employees may be reluctant to “rock the boat” by reporting a workplace injury. Please keep in mind, however, that it is against the law for any employer to engage in any kind of retaliation against an employee who files an Alabama workers’ compensation claim.
Types of Alabama Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Alabama workers’ compensation may involve three kinds of benefits: compensatory benefits, medical benefits, and death benefits. Compensatory benefits for lost wages are either temporary partial disability, temporary total disability, permanent partial disability, or permanent total disability.
Temporary partial benefits pay two-thirds of the difference in an employee’s earning capacity for up to 300 weeks, while temporary total benefits are two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly earnings at the time of the injury. Permanent partial benefits can vary depending on the extent of an injury and are limited to $220 per week. Permanent total benefits constitute two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly earnings at the time of the injury.
Medical benefits cover the full costs of all reasonably necessary medical treatments related to the incident. The catch for employees is that the treatment must be sought from an employer’s or workers’ compensation insurance carrier’s pre-selected list of physicians. Alabama Department of Labor Administrative Code § 480-5-5-.08 lists medical services that require pre-certification.
When a person dies in a work-related accident, death benefits may be payable to one dependent at 50 percent of the deceased worker’s average weekly earnings or two or more dependents sharing two-thirds of the deceased worker’s average weekly earnings. The order of preference in these cases is spouse, child, parent, grandparent, sibling, mother-in-law or father-in-law who was wholly supported by the deceased at the time of the death.
How to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Alabama
Alabama requires an injured worker to file a written report of an accident or injury to their employer within five days, but an oral report of such injuries or accidents may be acceptable. An employee who does not submit a written report within 90 days of the date of an accident will not receive any workers’ compensation.
Your employer should have a list of preferred medical care providers from which you should seek treatment. If you receive care from an unauthorized healthcare provider, the bills may not be covered by workers’ compensation.
Your employer is required to file a First Report of Injury or Occupational Disease Form with the Alabama Department of Labor. The form must be submitted within 10 days after the date of receipt of notice of knowledge of death or injury.
Not all employers accept liability for accidents and may seek to deny benefits in some cases. An injured employee can contact the Worker’s Compensation Division of the Alabama Department of Labor to request that an examiner review the claim. It is best, however, to quickly seek an attorney for assistance with your appeal options to help you navigate through the system.
How Morris, King & Hodge, P.C., Can Help
Upon taking your case, Morris, King & Hodge, P.C., will provide immediate assistance by ensuring that your initial application for benefits is free from any errors that could result in denials. As part of that process, our firm may conduct a full investigation of the accident scene and secure all of the medical records needed to prove the extent of your injury. We will also take charge of negotiating with the workers’ compensation insurance to pursue the maximum compensation rate possible including in any kind of lump-sum settlement.
When there are any issues in getting your claim approved, such as when your employer disputes any aspect of your claim, we can help you exercise your appeal rights and represent you in any hearings.
Furthermore, our firm can also explore possible third-party liability applicable to your accident and can seek additional personal injury damages beyond your workers’ compensation benefits. In other words, a negligent subcontractor at your job site or an equipment manufacturer, for example, may bear some responsibility for your injuries,
Contact an Alabama Workers Compensation Lawyer Today
Did you sustain catastrophic injuries or was your loved one hurt or killed on the job in Alabama? Give yourself and your family a major advantage in obtaining benefits by placing your trust in a skilled workers’ compensation lawyer.
Morris, King & Hodge, P.C., has received an AV preeminent professional excellence designation by Martindale-Hubbell, the highest rating possible. Call us or contact us online to schedule an appointment for a free consultation. There are no upfront legal fees required on your part. You only pay us if we successfully win benefits for you. Attorney’s fees in Alabama workers’ compensation cases are limited by statute, so there are no surprises when your case concludes.