If you have been injured in a construction, industrial, offshore or any other workplace incident such as timber mills, farming, power plants, shipyards, offshore oil rigs and manufacturing facilities and physically cannot perform your duties a personal injury or workers’ compensation case may be filed to help you recover money for medical expenses, lost earnings and other damages. Fighting with insurance companies and your employer to pay for your injuries can be stressful and time-consuming.
Those who are injured while at work or performing a work-related task are able 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. While not all employers in the state are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, the majority are, which means that most workers are covered.
If you are injured while at work in Alabama and have questions about your right to workers’ compensation insurance, or if your claim for compensation has been denied, our experienced Alabama workers’ compensation lawyers at the law office of Taylor Martino, P.C. are here to advocate for you.
Workers’ Compensation Insurance: The Basics
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.
However, by virtue of the at-fault system, workers are barred from filing a civil claim against their employer and seeking certain damage types. Indeed, damages for noneconomic losses like pain and suffering are not available in a workers’ compensation claim.
Who is 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.
Benefits Available Under Workers’ Compensation Insurance
Understanding the benefits available to you in the event that you are injured on the job is important. 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 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.
Rules for Recovering Workers’ Compensation Benefits
The employee must work for an employer who is covered by workers’ compensation insurance;
The injury must result from an accident that occurred during the course of employment; and
Proper notice must be given to the employer. If the injured employee does not provide notice of their injury within five days, they may be prevented from recovering benefits.
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 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 Workers’ 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 an attorney to represent you during the process of appealing your workers’ compensation claim, although working with an attorney 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.
Our Alabama Workers’ Compensation Attorneys Are Here 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 a workplace injury occurs, you deserve to be fully compensated for your injuries and lost wages. 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 our lawyers and learn more about the process, please contact us today at 251-433-3131. We care about injured workers in our state!