If you have been injured in a construction, industrial, offshore or any other workplace incidents such as timber mills, farming, power plants, shipyards, offshore oil rigs and manufacturing facilities and physically cannot perform your duties, a workers’ compensation case or a work injury lawsuit may be filed to help you recover money for medical expenses, lost earnings, and other damages such as pain and suffering. Fighting with insurance companies, your employer, or third parties to pay for your injuries can be stressful and time-consuming.
Those who have suffered an injury at work or while performing a work-related task have the legal right to seek compensation for their injuries through their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ compensation insurance is designed to pay for injured workers’ medical expenses, and sometimes, a portion of their lost wages as well. Workers who have been injured also have the right to file a work injury lawsuit against a co-worker, a business owner, a contractor, or an employer who does not have workers’ compensation insurance.
If you are injured while at work in Alabama and have questions about your right to workers’ compensation insurance, or your grounds to file a work injury lawsuit, or if your claim for compensation has been denied, speak to an experienced Alabama work injury lawyer at the law office of Taylor Martino, P.C. We are here to advocate for you.
Compensation for an Injury at Work: The Basics
While not all employers in the state are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, the majority are, which means that most workers are covered. As explained by the Alabama Department of Labor, all employers that employ five or more employees, full or part-time, are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. There are some exceptions to this rule; for example, employers of farm laborers are not required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, but may elect to do so.
Workers’ compensation is a type of no-fault insurance system. This means that workers’ are covered under this insurance type, and can seek compensation for their injuries regardless of fault – workers’ need not prove fault of another party, and are not denied benefits if their own actions contributed to their accident.
Benefits Available Under Workplace Injury Compensation Insurance
Understanding the benefits available to you in the event that you are injured on the job is important. So many people ignore their injury at work because they do not know how workplace injury compensation works. Being aware of your options can make a life-changing difference. In addition to filing a work injury lawsuit, an injured employee should file for workplace injury compensation with their employer’s insurance company. The benefits available under workers’ compensation insurance include:
Hospital, medical, and surgical treatment. Workers who are injured on the job have the right to be compensated for all necessary and reasonable medical treatment, including costs of appointments, prescription drugs, physical therapy, hospital stays, surgery, medical devices/apparatuses, etc.
Weekly compensation benefits. Workers who are injured on the job to the point where they are unable to return to work for a period of time are entitled to weekly compensation benefits for their lost wages. These benefits are calculated at a rate of 66 ⅔ percent of the employee’s average weekly wage prior to the incident. There is a three-day waiting period after the date of disability. However, in the event that the employee must miss work for a period of 21 days or more, the employee will recover compensation for the first three days of injury at work as well.
Burial expenses. If a workplace accident is severe enough to result in death, then burial expenses in an amount not exceeding $6,500 will be paid.
Workers’ compensation insurance does not cover payment for noneconomic losses like pain and suffering, but there are options available to those who have suffered after being injured at work. Additional Compensation Opportunities After an Injury at Work Workers’ compensation insurance does not cover reimbursement for “general damages,” such as pain and suffering caused by an injury at work. In some cases, employees who have suffered from an injury at work will have grounds to file a work injury lawsuit in order to be compensated to the fullest. In some cases, injured workers have the right to file a work injury lawsuit against a co-worker, a business owner, a contractor, or an employer who doesn’t carry workers’ compensation insurance.
Reasons Why a Claim for Workers’ Compensation May Be Denied
As stated above, workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, where an employee need not prove fault, nor be denied benefits should their own actions contribute to the accident. This is true to an extent; there are some cases in which an employee’s actions may negate their right to benefits. This includes:
The employee’s willful breach of rule or regulation;
The employee’s refusal to use safety equipment or follow safety rules;
Situations in which the accident and injuries result from the employee’s intoxication; or
When the accident is caused by the willful misconduct of the employee.
In addition to the above, a claim for workers’ compensation insurance may be denied if the employee fails to provide their employer with notice of accident and injury at work within the required amount of time, if the employer denies that the accident occurred on the job, or if the employee’s extent of injuries is disputed.
Appealing a Denied Workplace Injury Compensation Claim
If your claim for workers’ compensation benefits is denied, you have the right to appeal the decision. Your appeal will be filed with the Hearings and Appeals Division, and must be done within 15 calendar days of receiving notice of denial.
You are not required to have a workplace injury attorney to represent you during the process of appealing your workers’ compensation claim, although having a work injury lawyer is usually within your best interest. During the hearing, you will need to present your side of the case, and provide evidence that supports your claim for benefits. For this reason, bringing in any witnesses who have firsthand knowledge of the case is recommended. After the hearing, you will be mailed a decision (made by the Administrative Hearing Officer), typically within 10 days’ time. If this decision is not in your favor, you have the right to appeal it as well, and can do so by filing an appeal to the Board of Appeals within 15 days. If you have not already retained legal representation at this point in the process, it is strongly recommended that you do so.
How a Work Injury Lawyer Can Help With Additional Compensation
In addition to filing for workers’ compensation, an employee who has been injured at work may be entitled to file a work injury lawsuit. An experience workplace injury attorney will thoroughly investigate a case to ensure that every party responsible the the injury at work is held responsible either under workers compensation laws or tort law claims like punitive damages, recklessness, and recklessness.
A work injury lawyer can help you determine if you have grounds to sue a third party, such as a subcontractor, transportation provider, or part supplier for your injury at work. Your workplace injury attorney will also investigate proof of OSHA violations, a history of accidents, or the absence of safety procedures.
Find an Alabama Workplace Injury Attorney That Will Be There for You
At the law offices of Taylor Martino, P.C., our experienced Alabama workers’ compensation attorneys are here to represent you if you have been injured on the job. When an injury at work occurs, you deserve to be fully compensated for your injuries, lost wages, and suffering. In the event that your claim is denied, you are released back to work earlier than you believe you are ready, or any other disputes arise, our team will be here to aggressively advocate for you. To schedule a free consultation with a work injury lawyer and learn more about the process, please contact us today at 251-433-3131. We care about injured workers in our state!