Anyone who suffers from an accident or injuries at work has protection under workers’ compensation laws. These laws are designed to help you with lost wages and medical expenses. The problem is that the laws are complex, and it isn’t always easy to know what your rights are. You might need Alabama workers’ compensation claims help.
Laws for Workers’ Compensation in Alabama
There are laws that protect the rights of workers under the Alabama Workers’ Compensation Act. This law requires that any employer who has more than five employees has to have insurance that protects them if they are injured in an accident at work or if they become ill from something at work. This law doesn’t apply to domestic workers, independent contractors, or farm workers, but employers can carry the insurance in these situations.
These laws use a no-fault system, so the injury or illness doesn’t need to be the employer’s fault. However, the employee is limited in that they cannot collect compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress, or mental anguish. What they can recover is any medical treatment related to the accident and two-thirds of their average weekly wages during the time that they aren’t able to work.
What Are the Worker’s Compensation Eligibility Requirements?
If you suffer an injury at work, you have to be eligible to receive any compensation. You won’t be able to receive these benefits if the accident was a result of your own willful misconduct. In addition, you have to follow any safety regulations at work. The criteria for eligibility includes the following:
- You were injured while doing tasks that you were assigned
- The cause of your injuries has to be unexpected and unforeseen
- You have to notify your employer and file your claim within a specific time frame
- Your employer must carry workers’ compensation insurance
When you hire an Alabama workers’ compensation attorney, they will be able to help you determine your eligibility and get your claim filed in time.
How to File a Worker’s Compensation Claim in Alabama
First, you are required to let your employer know about the accident within five days. You need to let them know any details about the accident at this time, as well as the extent of your injuries. Your employer may have a specific process to follow, so you need to do so. After you let your employer know, you need to file what is called a First Report of Injury Form with the Alabama Department of Labor.
Once you have completed the steps above, you should consider meeting with an experienced Alabama workers’ compensation attorney. These professionals can help you gather your supporting documentation, including your medical records that specify your injuries and how they prevent you from working. They can also help you fill out any forms you need.
The Categories of Alabama Workers’ Compensation Benefits
There are three different categories of benefits under the Alabama Workers’ Compensation Law, including medical, compensation, and death.
Medical benefits cover the cost of your medical treatments for your injury. This includes any cost associated with your treatment, from surgery and medical supplies to prescriptions and transportation to appointments. The insurance plan may limit you to physicians or medical groups that are pre-authorized.
Generally speaking, you won’t be covered for any unnecessary treatments or experimental therapies. You can get a second opinion, and a workers’ compensation lawyer can help you make sure that you aren’t denied any procedure you need.
Compensation is the second category, and you are allowed to recover part of your lost wages. They will look at your average weekly earnings for the year prior and award you two-thirds of that amount. The state does have a minimum and a maximum, so this amount needs to be inside of that range. An attorney can help you if you need other benefits, such as temporary or permanent disability, whether partial or total.
The third category is death benefits. This is a factor if you or someone you love is killed in an accident at work. Dependents may be entitled to death benefits, which depends on the number of surviving dependents. There is a time limit of 500 weeks, and one dependent is entitled to 50% of the deceased’s wages, while two or more can receive up to two-thirds. If there aren’t any dependents, $6,500 is reserved for the personal representative of the person’s estate.
A Lawyer Can Help with Third Party and Personal Injury Claims
When a person is injured on the job, the only claim they can file is workers’ compensation. Alabama law prohibits seeking damages in a civil lawsuit, mental anguish, or pain and suffering. In spite of this, there are some exceptions where you can file a claim. A lawyer can help you with this. These exceptions include the following:
- Injuries caused by a third party who is not your employer
- Your injuries were intentionally caused by your employer
- Your employer doesn’t have the required workers’ compensation insurance
These third-party lawsuits are different from workers’ compensation. They offer more than compensation and the costs of your medical care if you can prove that the party was malicious, reckless, or negligent. In this case, you can sue them for damages that might include the following:
- Mental anguish
- Physical pain and suffering
- Loss of earning potential
- Medical bills
- Loss of quality of life
Whether you are filing a workers’ compensation claim or a third-party lawsuit, you must do so within two years to stay within the statute of limitations. A lawyer can help you make sure that you are within the allowed time period.
Final Words on Worker’s Compensation Claims in Alabama
Alabama has laws to protect you if you are injured while you are at work. However, there are rules you need to follow, and you are limited in terms of the benefits you can receive. The laws can be complicated and there is paperwork to fill out, and an Alabama lawyer can help you with this. You need to make sure you file your claim in a timely fashion, and an attorney who is well-versed in the law can help you get the benefits you are entitled to.