Worker’s Compensation – Draft

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Workers’ Compensation Attorneys

Workplace injuries can be life shattering, but Alabama’s workers’ compensation laws are there to provide you with legal solutions. During these difficult times, you could be eligible to receive monetary benefits for your lost wages and medical expenses. With that said, challenges can arise when dealing with the state workers’ compensation statute. In addition, you may be able to file a third-party claim or personal injury lawsuit, which can complicate your situation.

When you work with McCutcheon and Hamner, you can rest assured your legal rights are in good hands. We have decades of combined experience representing workplace accident victims. Our knowledge in legal strategies is valuable if a third-party claim or personal injury case turns out to be the right move for you.

Call us today at 256-333-5000 to schedule a free initial consultation or fill out our online contact form.

Workers’ Compensation Laws

According to the Alabama Workers’ Compensation Act, employers with at least five full or part-time employees must carry workers’ compensation insurance to protect their workers who are hurt due to on-the-job accidents, or those who have developed occupational illnesses. Employers of domestic workers, farm laborers, and workers hired outside the usual course of the employer’s business are exempt. Employers can choose to carry workers’ compensation insurance anyways. Furthermore, cities with a population of 2,000 can choose whether to have this coverage.

Limits on Workers' Compensation

Workers’ compensation in Alabama is a no-fault system. Workers compensation insurance provides a solution to workers who are injured while doing their job, without needing to determine their employer’s responsibility. In return for removing that burden of proof, the benefits that employee may collect is limited. For example, emotional distress, pain and suffering, and mental anguish are not available through workers’ compensation.

Workers’ Compensation Eligibility Requirements

If you are injured on the job, you could be eligible to receive monetary benefits for your lost wages and medical expenses, if your employer is required to carry insurance. However, you must meet certain qualifications to do so:

  •  Your employer must provide workers’ compensation insurance
  • You were injured while performing job-related duties within the scope of your employment
  • You must notify your employer and file a claim within an appropriate amount of time

Be aware, there are some situations that you may not qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, such as:

  • Your deliberate actions were a contributing factor to the accident/injuries
  • You disregarded your employers’ regulations or did not execute proper safety precautions

Filing On-the-Job Injury Claims

If you are injured on the job, you have five days to notify your employer of the accident. Make sure to include all details. Most companies have policies in place for this type of situation, so be sure to follow the proper protocols.

Once your workplace has been properly notified of your injury, you must then file a First Report of Injury Form with the Alabama Department of Labor.

Next, contact a knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney. McCutcheon and Hamner, can help you fill out appropriate forms with supporting documentation, such as medical records describing your injury and how it affects your daily life.

Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Alabama

Once you have been deemed eligible for compensation under workers’ compensation laws, there are three categories your benefits could fall under:

  • Medical Benefits
  • Compensatory Benefits
  • Death Benefits

MEDICAL BENEFITS

Workers’ compensation is intended to cover the cost of all necessary medical care to treat your work-related injury. Medical expenses include surgery, outpatient procedures, medical supplies, prescription medication, physical therapy, transportation for appointments, and other costs related to the treatment of your injury. Your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier can control where you receive medical treatment, by providing you with a list of pre-authorized physicians or medical groups. It is good to be aware that if you visit any medical treatment facilities not pre-authorized, you may not be reimbursed.

Also, workers’ compensation does not reimburse for experimental procedures or treatments that are not necessary to your injury. However, you do have the right to ask for an independent medical exam to determine what is necessary, as well as get a second opinion from more than one doctor. If an insurer is trying to deny your claim based on the care you received being experimental, call us as soon as possible.

COMPENSATORY BENEFITS

If you miss work because of your injuries, workers’ compensation laws allow you to recover for a portion of your lost wages or “indemnity” benefits. The exact amount is based on various factors, but the calculation is tied to your average weekly earnings for the prior year. In Alabama, compensation benefits in a workers’ comp case are calculated by multiplying your average weekly earnings (for the 52 weeks prior to your injury) by 66.66 percent. If this number falls within the state’s minimum and maximum amount as allowed by law, you will receive weekly compensation.

Other categories of benefits that you could be entitled to: temporary total disability, temporary partial disability, permanent partial disability, and permanent total disability. Each of these has various rules and restrictions that may apply to affect the number of benefits applicable.

DEATH BENEFITS

If you or a loved one was killed in a workplace accident, your dependents might be able to receive death benefits. The exact amount is based upon how many dependents the decedent had. For up to 500 weeks, you are eligible for 50 percent (in the case of one dependent) or 66.66 percent (in the case of two or more dependents) of the deceased’s average weekly earnings. If there are no dependents, the personal representative of the decedent’s estate is eligible for $6,500 in death benefits.

Third-Party and Personal Injury Claims for a Work Accident

If you are injured on-the-job, your best course of action is to file a claim for workers’ compensation. In a worker’s compensation lawsuit, you CANNOT seek damages or recover for your pain and suffering. However, there are exceptions! You can file a personal injury claim if:

  • Your employer does not carry workers’ compensation insurance as required by law
  • Your employer acted intentionally in causing your injury
  • Your injury was caused by a third-party other than your direct employer

Third-party claims generally occur in industries, including construction, when a contractor, vendor, business partner, or other unrelated individual causes an accident.

Types of Third-Party Compensation

When you file a civil lawsuit, you are not limited to compensation benefits and medical costs. If you can prove that the other party was negligent, reckless, or malicious in causing your injuries, you can recover for damages such as:

  • Medical bills
  • Disfigurement
  • Loss of earning potential
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish

Statute of Limitations

Third-party personal injury cases and worker’s compensation claims must be addressed within two years after the date of the accident that caused the injury. To do that, you must file a workers’ compensation or third-party claim in court. If you fail to do that within the two-year time frame, you will NOT be able to seek compensation for your injuries.

How McCutcheon and Hamner Can Help You

If you were injured on-the-job, you have limited time to act under state workers’ compensation and personal injury laws. If your Florence or North Alabama workers’ compensation attorney anticipates that you are or will receive social security disability, the law allows language in the workers’ compensation settlement to protect social security benefits. If your workers’ compensation attorney knows about your social security potential, they are then in the best possible position to advise you as to how to settle or resolve your workers’ compensation case in a manner that helps you the most.

Please call McCutcheon & Hamner at 256-333-5000 or fill out our online contact form to schedule your free initial consultation.

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