What should I do if I am injured on the job in Alabama?

What should I do if I am injured on the job in Alabama?

If you’ve been hurt, it is important to immediately call an experienced Alabama workers compensation lawyer.

The Alabama Legislature passed the first Workers’ Compensation Law in 1919, effective January 1, 1920. There have been many legislative changes and court decisions since then, but basically, the philosophy of the original Act has been retained.

The Alabama Department of Labor has created a basic claim handling manual that does a great job of putting people in the right direction.  The purpose of the Workers’ Compensation Law is to provide prompt and necessary medical treatment, and wage replacement for workers who are injured or killed from an accident arising out of and in the course of their employment.

Workers’ Compensation was designed as a substitute for common-law tort actions for personal injuries between master and servant. The Alabama Workers’ Compensation Act is found at §25-5-1, et. Seq. Code of Alabama, as amended, 1975.

Will I get paid if I file for worker’s compensation in Alabama?

Alabama worker’s comp law gives injured worker’s two main benefits if they have an accident on the job: Payment of work-related medical bills and payment of 2/3’s of your average weekly wage during the time you are unable to work.

You can also receive a lump sum settlement in Alabama if you are unable to return to work or if you can return to work but have a permanent physical limitation.

How much would my lump settlement be?

Alabama law provides for a lump sum settlement based upon either (1) your medical impairment rating, or (2) your vocational limitations.

While you cannot sue your employer except through worker’s compensation, you may sue a third party (not your employer) and recover if they were negligent.

 

Medical Treatment

Under Alabama Workers’ Compensation Law, an employee who get hurt at work and it is a compensable injury, they are entitled to lifetime medical benefits for the work-related injury.

There are some caveats though. Medical treatment must be medically necessary and appropriate for the treatment of the injury or illness and must be provided by an authorized physician. Medical services provided by an unauthorized physician are not covered and will not be reimbursed. This means that you can’t just go see your regular doctor and expect the medical bills to be repaid.

Who pays for my medical bills?

By law, your employer or their worker’s comp insurance carrier is required to pay for all accident related medical treatment.  There’s a catch though. Because the employer must pick up the tab, Alabama law allows them to choose the facility or physician. The result of all of this is that the employer routinely picks the most conservative doctors who shy away from expensive diagnostic studies or surgery. The goal of the workers compensation carrier is to get the employee back to work and off their tab. For the employer, less down time for the employee and minimal medical treatment helps to keep their job injury insurance premiums down.

You may not like or trust the workers comp doctor that you have been provided.  Fortunately, the Alabama code allows an employee to choose from a panel of four alternate physicans picked by the workers comp insurance carrier. If you don’t like that doctor though, then you are out of luck.

How much money will I make while I am on workers comp in Alabama?

During the time the employee is unable to work, the employer must pay him 2/3’s of his average weekly wage(aww). This is calculated by adding up the employee’s gross income over the past year and divding by 52. The Alabama legislature has reasoned that if the employer were to pay the injured worker his full wage, this would be a disincentive to return to work.

 

Third-Party Claims

Most of the time someone is injured on the job, they have a worker’s compenation claim against their employer but not a third party claim. The Supreme Court of Alabama has expressly ruled that the  only claim that can be made against an employer after a workplace is accident is for workers compensation benefits.But, you can make a claim against someone else other than the employer, so long as that other person’s negligence caused your injury.

For instance, if you are told to use a forklift and another contractor’s employee runs you over in their bobcat, you can bring both a workmen’s comp claim and a Gadsden, Alabama personal injury lawyer claim against the logging truck comany and driver. The third-party claim personal injury claim includes damages that you can’t get in a workers comp case.  This gives another purse to help compensate you. You could be eligible for mental anguish, pain and suffering, loss of earning capacity and even punitive damages, things that cannot be claimed in the workers comp suit. You can also ask for a jury trial, which is not allowed in the Alabama code for worker’s comp cases.

 

Can my boss fire me in Alabama for filing for workers comp?

No.  Not legally at least. Unfortunately, it happens. Employers break the law.  The good news is that Alabama law expressly forbids employer from terminating or firing employees solely for filing a workers comp claim. Employees need to be extra careful during this time to not give the employer any other reason to fire them.

Usually, you can expect to resume your employment after finishing the medical treatment. Companies know about the rule against retaliating against injured workers and realize they can be sued for lost wages and punitive damages should they do so.