If you have been injured at work, you are most likely eligible for compensation. You probably have many questions that you might be hesitant to ask. There are many things you need to know to ensure that your employer handles your case according to Alabama workers’ compensation law. This is why we have compiled a list of the most pertinent information along with frequently asked questions surrounding workers’ compensation injuries and claims.
We are here to serve you.
What should I do first?
If you have been hurt or injured at work, you should first report any and all injuries to your supervisor, boss, or employer. This is not something to keep to yourself, even though you may be feeling scared, embarrassed, or any number of emotions. At this time, you should also ask your superior which doctor to see for your injuries. Most people are surprised to learn that their employer controls medical treatment. An employer covered under the Alabama Workers’ Compensation Act chooses a primary care provider to treat their workers who are hurt on the job. If the elected physician refers you to another specialist, your employer will have to approve that specialist as well.
How do I know if I’m entitled to workers’ compensation benefits?
There are certain conditions that must exist in order for you to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, and they are the following:
- Your employer must be covered by the law. Most businesses with five or more employees are covered under Alabama Workers’ Compensation Law. There are certain groups that the law does not apply to, such as domestic servants, farm laborers, and federal and state government workers.
- The injury must be the result of an accident. So what is an accident? According to the law, it is defined as an unexpected event that happened suddenly and violently that caused injury to the physical structure of the human body or damage to an artificial part of the body. Whether or not a human was at fault does not matter. You may also have a claim for certain occupational diseases.
- The accident must have taken place during the course of employment. In other words, it must have occurred while the employee was fulfilling the duties of his or her employment at a location where he or she would reasonably be.
- The employer must be properly notified of the accident and related injuries. The time period within which you are required to notify your employer can change depending on the situation, which is why we strongly advise that you contact an attorney who is skilled in this area of law to find out if you have a claim or not. You may think that you have waited too long to inform your employer, but you may still be in the clear.
There are certain circumstances that can negate your claim and disqualify you from workers’ compensation benefits, such as willful misconduct or failing to use safety precautions as provided by the employer.
What are the typical compensation benefits?
If your accident meets all of the conditions noted above, you most likely have a valid injury claim. This means that your employer will be required to pay you weekly compensation benefits. These are computed according to a specific formula. For injury claims, multiply your average weekly earnings for the 52 weeks prior to the injury by 66 2/3 percent. As of July 1, 2015, your average weekly earnings are subject to the state maximum and minimum. Under Alabama law, the maximum workers’ compensation payable is $813 a week and the minimum is $224 a week. For death claims, there is a different formula that is used.
In addition to these weekly payments, your employer is responsible for the payment of all necessary medical expenses associated with your injuries and for mileage reimbursements for your medical appointments. You must remember, however, that you must comply with your employer’s choice in medical service providers. If you do not, you will lose your right to any benefits until you decide to comply. You must also submit to any medical examinations arranged by your employer or you forfeit your benefits until you do.
Common Injuries We See
Sometimes, you simply don’t realize that you have been injured until much later after the accident. Maybe the accident seemed relatively minor and therefore didn’t register that you might have seriously hurt yourself. Other injuries are quite obvious and impossible to ignore. No matter your situation, you should speak with a workers’ compensation attorney.
These are some of the common workplace injuries that we see:
- Back injuries
- Soft tissue inflammation
- Disc herniation
- Spinal cord injuries
- Shoulder injuries
- Knee injuries
- Repetitive stress injuries
- Occupational disease
Whether your job is physically demanding or a desk job, no one is 100 percent safe from accidents and injuries. They can happen anywhere, to anyone. You deserve financial compensation to pay for the medical bills, lost wages, stress, pain, and suffering. This is going to affect you and your family, and it should not be taken lightly or dealt with on your own.
We strongly encourage you to assert your rights. Speak with an attorney for more tailored counsel. The workers’ compensation attorneys at Martinson & Beason, P.C. serve the residents of Huntsville, Alabama, and the surrounding areas. We have been doing so since 1937, and we’re not about to stop now. To speak with an attorney, call our Huntsville office.
Workers’ Compensation Resource Pages:
- Pitfalls to Avoid When Filing an Alabama Workers’ Compensation Claim
- Alabama Workers’ Compensation Vocational Rehabilitation
This information has been taken from the Alabama Department of Labor.