A serious work injury often means you won’t be able to perform your job duties. Workers’ compensation benefits exist to replace a portion of your lost wages and to pay for your related medical care. Although the process can go smoothly, some claimants face bumps in the road. Others have their claims denied outright by the insurance company. The experienced work injury lawyers at Long & Long can make sure all steps in the process are completed correctly.
We also handle maritime workers’ comp claims, including those related to the Jones Act and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.
What is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a state-mandated insurance system that is designed to ensure that people injured on the job can receive compensation for their losses. As part of this mandate, the system does not assign fault for an on the job injury, so it doesn’t matter who was responsible. Whether the fault belonged to the employer, the injured party, or someone else, the injured worker should be compensated regardless of the circumstances of any injury received in the course of employment.
If the injured worker was intoxicated or under the influence of illegal drugs, then they are unlikely to be eligible for these benefits.
In addition to workers’ compensation, you may also be entitled to other damages for your injuries through a personal injury lawsuit. Ask our attorneys whether a third party’s negligence may be the cause of your work injury.
What are Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
The insurance benefits are outlined below.
Medical benefits: One of the most important functions of workers’ comp is that it pays for the medical care you need. It is supposed to cover all the necessary treatments for your work-related injury. You will need to see a doctor that has been chosen by your employer. If you decide you want a different doctor, you may be able to choose from a selection of approved physicians. One exception is emergency care – go to the nearest hospital if you have a medical emergency.
Compensation benefits: This benefit replaces a portion of the wages you are losing while you are unable to work. It also provides compensation for permanent total disability caused by the work injury. An approved claim receives 66 2/3% of your average weekly wage, although that is subject to minimums and maximums. Disability compensation is categorized as:
- Temporary partial disability. If your injury prevents you from doing your normal job but your employer can provide light-duty work you are capable of performing, then this compensation will replace some portion of your lost income.
- Temporary total disability. If your injury temporarily but totally prevents you from doing your job, these benefits provide replacement of lost wages at 66 2/3% of your average weekly wage.
- Permanent partial disability. If the injury has left you with some form of permanent disability, but you can still perform some type of job, then you may be entitled to payments based on the severity of the disability.
- Permanent total disability. If your injury has left you with a permanent disability that prevents you from working, then you may be eligible for these payments. It often comes in the form of ongoing payments of 66 2/3% of your weekly pay, or an all-at-once lump sum settlement may be reached.
Death benefits: Tragically, some work injuries are fatal. A spouse or dependant may be eligible for death benefits, which includes payment for funeral and burial expenses, as well as payments of benefits for a predetermined amount of time.
Common On-the-Job Injuries
Virtually any type of injury may entitle you to compensation. Common claims include:
- Brain injury
- Spinal cord injury
- Back, neck and shoulder injuries
- Occupational illness
- Lung diseases
- Blindness or other eye injuries
These injuries can be life-altering. They may be not only painful, but debilitating as well. And medical expenses can be astronomical and ongoing. Our attorneys will work to make sure you get the full benefits you are due.
Construction sites can be dangerous places, and injuries involving construction sites are not uncommon. If you’ve been injured in an accident at a construction site due to someone else’s negligence, you have the right to be compensated for your injuries.
Construction accidents can take many forms, including:
- Being hit by falling material
- Machinery and equipment injuries
How you go about seeking recourse for whatever kind of injury you’ve suffered will depend in large part on your relationship to the construction site. If you are an employee at the site, you can seek damages from your employer as a job-related injury, which will be treated as a workers’ compensation case. If you are injured as a bystander, you can seek damages under personal injury law, much as in any dangerous premises case.
Industrial workers face conditions unlike most other American work environments. A certain degree of danger exists in this type of workplace, and when industrial accidents occur they can leave workers with life-altering injuries.
Industrial worksites have many inherent dangers. Heavy machinery, dangerous equipment and hard physical labor are just a few of the sources of industrial workplace risks. When these risks are not managed properly, a serious industrial accident can result. Severe injury and death can be caused by:
- Fires and explosions
- Crushing accidents
- Chemical exposure
- Gas poisoning
- Defective equipment
These accidents can be caused by a variety of factors. In some cases, a careless co-worker brings about an industrial accident that injures other workers. A manufacturer of industrial equipment and tools may be responsible for defective, dangerous devices that caused job injuries. Also, the company responsible for the worksite may have created an unsafe work environment if safety precautions were ignored.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an industrial accident, you need compensation to deal with the costs associated with the injury. Our lawyers can review your case to determine the best legal strategy to recover compensation. It may be appropriate to file a workers’ compensation claim, or you may need to bring a personal injury claim against the negligent party responsible for the accident.
Why Do I Need a Lawyer?
It’s not a requirement to get a lawyer for help with your claim, but you could benefit immensely from doing so. Here are some of the ways Long & Long can assist with the process:
- Ensuring all steps are completed correctly – a misstep could result in denial or delayed payment
- Ensuring you are getting the full benefits you are due
- Appealing a denied claim
Like any other insurance company, the company handling your workers’ compensation has a financial interest in paying out as little as possible. Our experienced attorneys know what our clients are owed and we will not rest until the best possible results are obtained.
The Specifics of Alabama’s Workers’ Comp Law
Filing a workers’ compensation claim in Alabama can involve a web of paperwork and red tape. Navigating the law is the only way to successfully receive benefits to pay for your medical bills and lost wages. Our attorneys can help you understand the specifics of the state’s workers’ compensation program, because we realize you want to stay informed in the meantime. Five provisions of the law we believe you should know are as follows:
- “Benefit certain” law. Employers with more than four full- or part-time employees must carry workers’ compensation insurance by law. If your employer has coverage, you receive guaranteed “benefit certain” if you suffer an injury or illness on the job.
- Five-day rule. You must report your incident to your employer within five days of it happening to qualify for benefits. Missing this reporting requirement could mean losing your right to compensation.
- Third-party actions. Accepting a workers’ comp settlement takes away your right to file a civil claim against your employer, but not against third parties. You may be able to recover through the system and a personal injury claim if a third party caused your accident.
- Civil actions against employers. The only time you can bring a claim against your employer outside of the workers’ comp system is if he or she is guilty of “willful conduct” that proximately causes the injury or death.
- Protection from retaliation. Section 25-5-11.1 of the Alabama Code states that no employer shall terminate an employee solely for filing a workers’ compensation claim or complaint of a safety violation.
The Alabama Administrative Code has many laws regarding reports, injury records, forms, settlements, case disposition, compensation payments, insurance requirements, and more. Learning all the nuances of Alabama’s workers’ compensation law could take years. Luckily, the attorneys at Long & Long have done the work for you. Our Mobile attorneys know the law thoroughly and can help you negotiate your claim in Alabama.
How to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Filing a workers’ compensation claim for accident-related damages in Alabama is a relatively straightforward process. You must follow all the rules, however, or risk losing your right to benefits. First, immediately report your injury to your boss or supervisor. Check with him or her to find out if you need to see a specific doctor for medical care. Give your employer all the details of your accident and injuries. Then, your employer or its insurance company should complete and file the First Report of Injury Form (WC Form 2). Your employer, its insurer, or a third-party administrator should file this form, as well as a Supplementary Report and/or Claim Summary Form, if necessary. The Supplementary Report (WC Form 3) will come within 10 days of an approved payment of workers’ compensation, from your employer. It is also required upon termination or cessation of compensation payments. The Claim Summary Form describes the suspension, settlement, or amending of a claim, with details of the incident. File the forms yourself if your employer fails to do so within the deadline. You have two years to bring a personal injury claim, but you must first promptly report your incident to the correct parties. If you don’t provide written notice to your employer within 90 days, you’ll lose your right to benefits.
When to Call an Attorney for Assistance
Should your employer deny your claim, call the Workers’ Compensation Division and ask to speak to an Examiner. Describe your situation and seek assistance about what to do next. You can also consult with a workers’ compensation attorney. An attorney can help you file your initial claim, bring a third-party claim if applicable, and file an appeal if your claim isn’t successful the first time around.
Find Out If You Have a Claim in Alabama
Want to find out if our experienced Mobile, AL, attorneys can help you with your workers’ compensation claim? If you have a claim, we can make sure all aspects of the process are completed correctly and that you receive the maximum benefits you are due. For a free case evaluation, please call us at (251) 432-2277. We are available 24/7 to take your call.