Injured At Work In Alabama?
Were you injured on the job? More often than not, an injured employee is not aware of their options until it is too late to take any action. Does you know if your injury qualifies for workers’ compensation? Do you have the ability to choose your own doctor? What is the time period for your benefits?
DIRECTLY AFTER A WORK RELATED INJURY:
- File a written report immediately after your injury to your direct supervisor, boss or employer.
- Make sure your employer or direct manager inform you of which doctor you need to see regarding your work related injury.
According to the Alabama State Workers’ Compensation Law, these conditions must be present in order for an employee with a work related injury to be entitled to benefits. The employee also needs to be sure they are working for a business covered by the Alabama State Workers’ Compensation Law; the law will cover a business with a minimum of five employees, but it will not cover a leased operator or owner/operator of a common carrier who conduct business in interstate commerce, casual employees, farm laborers, domestic services.
The injury must also result from what the law considers an “accident”; an event that is not expected and happens suddenly with or without a human causing a violent action that accidentally causes a physical injury to the person’s body or an artificial limb of the body.
A relationship between the accident and time of employment must exist. The injury must happen during the course of the employment and occur in a place and time where the employee is completing the duties required by his terms of employment.
The time period taken to report the incident is another requirement to the law. A notice must be given within five days of the injury, but the law allows some cases to report the notice within ninety days.
WAITING PERIOD – In temporary disability cases, either partial or total, the injured party must wait at least 3 days after the disability for compensation. Considering the employer was notified within the appropriate time period, compensation with start on the fourth day following the disability claim. Also, if the disability extends past a period of 21 days, the first three days of the disability period should be paid back to the employee following those 21 days.
EXCEPTIONS – The following is a listing of different circumstances that may disqualify an employee’s claim for benefits:
- When an employee’s actions that cause the injury can be considered willful misconduct.
- If the injury is caused by a personal conflict with a third party and not a direct result of the duties required of their employment terms.
- If there is proof that the employee intended to cause the injury or death of themselves or another.
- If the employee was under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs during the incident.
- If the employee refused or failed to follow safety protocol or use equipment designated to provide a safe work environment for the employee.
- Failure or refusal by the employee to complete their duties as instructed by the employer.
- If an employee knowingly failed to follow rules and regulations set forth by the employer.
ALABAMA WEEKLY COMPENSATION BENEFITS
To calculate an injury claim, take the employee’s average earnings per week for a 52 week period prior to the injury and multiply it by 66 2/3%. Compensation benefits can meet but not exceed the maximum benefits allowed on the date of incident. To determine the State’s Average Weekly Wage, refer to Section 25-5-68 of the Workers’ Compensation Law.
For death claims, multiply the employee’s average weekly earnings prior to the accident by 50% if the employee has one dependent, or by 66 2/3% if the employee has two or more dependents. Death benefits are subject to maximum and minimum in effect on date of injury. If the deceased employee, at the time of his or her death, has no dependents, then within 60 days of his or her death, the employer shall pay a one-time lump sum payment of $7,500 to the deceased worker’s estate.
If the claim involves a death, take the employee’s average earnings per week prior to the incident and multiply by 50% if the deceased employee has one dependent, or by 66 2/3% in situations with two or more dependents. The benefits from a death claim are subject to the minimum and maximum effective the date of the accident.
The weekly compensation rate can never be less than the effective minimum compensation rates at the time of the injury, unless the injured employee’s average weekly compensation were less than the minimum. If that is the case, the injured employee should be paid 100% of their average weekly earnings.
ALABAMA LIMITATIONS – Below is a listing of types of claims and their corresponding time period limitations:
- Death, 500 weeks
- Permanent, unlimited
- Permanent Partial Body, 300 weeks
- Temporary Total, unlimited
- Temporary Partial, 300 weeks
ALABAMA STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS – The statute of limitations for any workers’ compensation claim is two years from the date of the incident as specified in a verified complaint filed in the courts. In cases where compensations payments have already been made, the complaint needs to be filed within two years of the most recent compensation payment. Compensation does not include any payments for surgical, medical, or hospital treatments.
BURIAL EXPENSES – In workers’ compensation claims where an employee dies as a result of their injury, the employer’s responsibility should not exceed $3,000 for burial expenses. If the deceased employee carries insurance to cover a private burial service, the compensation amount the employer is responsible for does not decrease.
HOSPITAL, MEDICAL, SURGICAL TREATMENT – The injured employee can also hold their employer responsible for payments associated for necessary surgical, medical, and chiropractic treatments and any supplies required such as: medical and surgical supplies, artificial members, crutches, attention. This compensation responsibility for the employer is in addition to weekly compensation payments.
At the time of the accident, the employer will choose the physician to treat the injured employee. After the first treatment if the employee is not satisfied and further treatment is required, the employee can tell the employer and request a second physician either from a panel or a list of at least four physicians to choose from.
NOTE: In the even the injured employee does not comply with a reasonable request for examination, or does not accept any offers from the employer for medical service or physical rehabilitation, compensation will be suspended and the injured employee will not receive any compensation for the period of such refusal.
FILING OF CLAIM BY EMPLOYEE IN ALABAMA – The steps to file a workers’ compensation claim in Alabama include: proper notification given to the employer of the incident, and then applying to the employer for benefits. In the situation where an employer declines liability for the claim, the injured employee could either call the Examiner at the Workers’ Compensation Division or the employee can seek legal counsel to manage the claim in court. The attorney’s fee and payment terms are set by the Judge of the Circuit Court. An attorney’s fee from a workers’ compensation claim should not exceed 15% of the amount awarded or paid out to the injured employee.