IF YOU ARE HURT OR INJURED AT WORK:
- Report any injury immediately to your supervisor, boss or employer.
- Check with your supervisor or employer about which doctor you should see for your work related injury.
- Contact an Attorney if you believe you have sustained a permanent injury or if your employer is not cooperating with you.
IN GENERAL – These conditions must exist to entitle an injured employee to benefits under the Alabama Workers’ Compensation Law.
- The employee must work for an employer whose business is covered by the law. (Generally, the law covers employers of five or more employees; it does not apply to owner/operator or leased operator of common carriers engaged in interstate commerce, domestic servants, casual employees, farm laborers, U.S. and State government.)
- The injury must result from an accident. (“Accident” is defined as an unexpected or unforeseen event happening suddenly and violently with or without human fault producing, at the same time, injury to the physical structure of the body or damage to an artificial member of the body by accidental means. See Article 4 of the law for specific provisions regarding occupational pneumoconiosis, and Article 4 and 7 regarding occupational radiation disease.)
- The accident must arise out of and in the course of the employment. (There must be a relationship between the employment and the accident, and it must occur within the period of employment, at a place where the employee may reasonably be, and while he is fulfilling the duties of his employment or engaged in something incidental to it.)
- Proper notice of the accident and injury must be given to the employer. (The law requires that notice be given within five days, but in any case notice must be given within ninety days following the accident. Actual knowledge has been held to be equivalent to statutory notice.)
WAITING PERIOD – In cases of temporary total or temporary partial disability, no compensation shall be allowed for the first three days after disability, nor in any case, unless the employer has actual knowledge of the injury or is notified thereof within the period specified. Compensation shall begin with the fourth day after disability, and in the event the disability from the injury exists for a period as much as 21 days, compensation for the first three days after the injury shall be added to and payable with the first installment due the employee after the expiration of the 21 days.
EXCEPTIONS – Circumstances which may negate an employee’s claim for benefits:
- When the accident is caused by the willful misconduct of the employee.
- When caused by the act of a third person or fellow employee for personal reasons, and not directed against him as an employee or because of his employment.
- By the employee’s intention to bring about the injury or death of himself or another.
- By the employee’s intoxication from alcohol or use of illegal drugs.
- By failure or willful refusal to use safety appliances provided by the employer.
- By willful refusal or willful neglect of the employee to perform a statutory duty.
- By the employee’s willful breach of a reasonable rule or regulation of the employer, of which rule or regulation the employee has knowledge.
WEEKLY COMPENSATION BENEFITS – Weekly compensation benefits for injury and death claims are computed as follows:
For injury claims, multiply the employee’s average weekly earnings for 52 weeks prior to injury by 66 2/3%. Benefits cannot exceed maximum benefits in effect on date of injury. The State’s Average Weekly Wage is determined in accordance with Section 25-5-68.
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.
In no case can weekly rate of compensation be less than the minimum compensation which was in effect at the time of injury, unless the average weekly earnings of the injured employee were less than that minimum. In such case, 100% of the injured employee’s average weekly earnings are paid.
LIMITATIONS – The following types of claims cannot exceed the time period shown:
|Permanent Partial Body||300 weeks|
|Temporary Partial||300 weeks|
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS – All claims for compensation shall be barred unless within two years from the date of the accident a verified complaint is filed in the courts. Where payments of compensation have been made, such complaint must be filed within two years from the date of the last compensation payment. (The word “compensation” does not include payments made for hospital, medical, and surgical treatments.)
BURIAL EXPENSES – In the event of the death of the injured employee, the employer shall be responsible for paying an amount not exceeding $3,000 toward the burial expenses. This liability is not reduced by reason of private burial insurance carried by the deceased.
HOSPITAL, MEDICAL, SURGICAL TREATMENT – In addition to weekly compensation payments to the employee or his dependents, the employer is responsible for the payment of reasonably necessary medical, surgical and chiropractic treatment and attention, medicine, medical and surgical supplies, crutches, artificial members, and other apparatus, as may be obtained by the injured employee during the disability.
The employer will select the treating physician at the time of the accident. If the employee is dissatisfied with the initial treating physician selected by the employer, and if further treatment is required, the employee may so advise the employer, and be entitled to select a second physician from a panel or list of four physicians selected by the employer.
NOTE: If the injured employee refuses to comply with any reasonable request for examination, or refuses to accept the medical service or physical rehabilitation which the employer elects to furnish, the employee’s right to compensation shall be suspended and no compensation shall be payable for the period of such refusal.
FILING OF CLAIM BY EMPLOYEE – A claim is filed by properly notifying the employer of the accident and the injury, and by making application to the employer for benefits. Although notifying your employer verbally is sufficient under the law, the best thing to do is to provide written notice of your injury and keep a copy of the notice you provide. It can be as simple of a note written on typing paper that says “please be advised that I injured my at work while performing my job on ” and sign the note and give it to your supervisor. Any time your injury effects your ability to earn a living you should contact an experienced worker’s compensation lawyer immediately.
RETALIATORY DISCHARGE- Your employer cannot terminate your employment solely because you have been injured at work and have made a claim or request for worker’s compensation benefits or medical treatment related to your injury. However, if you are put on light duty work by your doctor and your employer does not have light duty work available it does not have to create a job for you. If you voluntarily quit your job after making a worker’s compensation injury because you believe your employer is treating you unfairly you may be giving up your rights to file a claim for retaliatory discharge. Therefore, it is important to speak with an attorney if you feel your job is in jeopardy in any way after you have suffered an on the job injury.
THIRD PARTY LIABILITY CASE
The Alabama Worker’s Compensation Act makes worker’s comp benefits the only remedy that you can recover from your employer if you are injured at work. However, in instances where your injury was caused by a third party (i.e. independent contractor, equipment manufacturer, maintenance company, or anyone other than your employer (the person who writes your paycheck and controls your work) you may have a case against the third party. It is important to speak with an attorney any time you suffer a serious injury at work in order to determine whether you have a potential third party case.
WHEN AN EMPLOYER CAN BE LIABLE FOR MORE THAN WORKER’S COMPENSATION
There are two exceptions to the Worker’s Compensation Act that allow an employee to bring a lawsuit other than worker’s compensation against their employer as a result of an on the job injury;
- when the employer willfully removes or fails to maintain a safety device; and
- when the employer or co-employee intentionally injures an employee.
When either of these things occur and you are injured it is important to call an experienced worker’s compensation immediately.