Birmingham Workers’ Comp Lawyers
No matter what industry you work in, there is always the risk that you incur harm in an accident. You may be injured in a slip and fall in the hallway, in a crash on the way to a client’s office, or when a piece of equipment fails at your work site. Whatever the incident, if your injuries are connected to your job duties, then you should pursue medical care and compensation benefits through an Alabama workers’ compensation claim. This is often commonly referred to as “work comp” or “workers’ comp” around the jobsite.
At Belt & Bruner, P.C., our Birmingham workers’ comp lawyers are here to guide you through the process and to fight for you to receive the benefits you deserve. Additionally, if someone from outside of your employer is responsible for your injuries, then you may be eligible to bring a third-party claim against that individual or business.
What is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system enacted by the Alabama Legislature. The specific laws pertaining to this system are found in the Alabama Workers’ Compensation Act. Generally speaking, the workers’ comp system is designed to provide a remedy to those workers injured while working in the line and scope of their employment without the burden of proving that their employer is at fault. Although some exceptions exist, this system is even allowed for the recovery of comp benefits even if the worker is to blame for the incident.
In exchange for removing the burden of proving fault on the employer, the employee is limited in the types of benefits he or she may receive. For instance, emotional distress, pain and suffering, and mental anguish are not available under the Workers’ Comp Act. Instead, workers are limited to the payment of accident-related medical treatment and 2/3 of the average weekly wage while ordered off work from a physician authorized by the employer’s workers’ compensation carrier.
Eligibility for Alabama Workers’ Comp
A common issue we see regarding on-the-job injury claims in Birmingham is confusion or disputes over whether an employee is eligible for workers’ comp. While workers’ compensation insurance coverage applies to many individuals, it does not cover every worker and every situation.
You are eligible to for workers’ comp benefits in Birmingham if:
- Your employer provides workers’ compensation coverage. In Alabama, workers who have five or more full or part-time employees must provide workers’ compensation. Employers with fewer than five employees, those who employ domestic workers, and municipalities with less than 2,000 residents are not required to carry workers’ comp, though they may elect to do so. If our employer is required to provide workers’ compensation coverage and has failed to do so, there may be harsh punishment under the Act such as double the award of benefits.
- You are injured in an accident or are diagnosed with a work-related condition. Workers’ comp insurance covers injuries and fatalities that happen in a workplace, as well as diseases that arise due to conditions in the workplace.
- The accident or condition arose out of the course of your job. Whether you suffer an injury or are diagnosed with a medical condition, it must be directly related to your job duties.
- You gave your employer proper notice of the injury or condition. In order to retain your right to workers’ comp benefits, you need to notify your employer of your injury or diagnosis as soon as possible. There are time requirements under the Workers’ Comp Act. As a rule of thumb, its best to notify your employer the day of the accident.
Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
If you were hurt at a Birmingham workplace or diagnosed with a work-related medical condition, we recommend contacting our Birmingham workers’ comp lawyers for help in filing a claim and obtaining benefits you are entitled to.
Obtaining Medical Care Under Workers’ Comp
Under the Act, workers’ compensation is required to pay the medical expenses associated with your accident. But outside a true emergency situation, Alabama law enables your employer’s workers compensation insurance carrier to control where you seek medical treatment. Typically, this means you are assigned a specific physician or medical group. If you seek treatment outside this assigned physician or group, you may not be reimbursed for those expenses.
If you have any difficulty obtaining proper medical care after a workplace accident, or the workers’ comp insurer refuses to cover certain medical expenses, do not hesitate to call our Birmingham workers’ comp lawyers. You have the right to request an independent medical exam or a utilization review to determine what medical care is reasonably necessary for your condition. You may even request that you be provided a panel of physicians for a second opinion.
Potential Workers’ Compensation Benefits
There are two main benefits available under workers’ compensation insurance: medical and wage or “indemnity” benefits. In addition to having your medical care paid for, you may receive a certain percentage of your wages while you are unable to work. Typically, your indemnity payments are calculated by multiplying your average weekly earnings by 66.66 percent. Your average weekly earnings are those for the 52 weeks prior to your injury. There are maximum and minimum caps on these weekly indemnity benefits.
There are several categories of indemnity payments that you could be entitled to receive: temporary total disability, temporary partial disability, permanent partial disability, and permanent total disability. Each of these have various rules and restrictions that may apply to affect the amount of benefits applicable to these assignments.
Birmingham Workers’ Comp Death Benefits
If your loved one was killed in a workplace accident, do not hesitate to contact us about filing a workers’ comp claim and pursuing death benefits. Our Birmingham workers’ comp lawyers are here to help you after you unexpectedly lose a spouse.
If your workers’ comp claim is approved, the insurer will cover burial and funeral expenses up to $6,500. For up to 500 weeks, you can receive either 50 or 66.66 percent of the deceased’s average weekly earnings depending on the number of dependents survived by the worker.
Compensation Through Third-Party Claims
When a third party is responsible for your injuries, you should speak to an attorney about filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Although workers’ compensation insurance is helpful, it will not cover all of your damages related to the accident. By pursuing a third-party lawsuit, you have the opportunity to obtain additional compensation for your injuries. If you can prove the other party was negligence, reckless, or malicious in causing your injuries, then you may receive compensation for your:
- Medical costs
- Loss of earning potential
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of quality of life
Obtaining this compensation can be essential in moving forward in life and moving past a workplace accident.
Call Our Birmingham Workers’ Comp Lawyers for Help Today
Were you injured at or because of work, or did your spouse pass away due to a work-related accident? You should contact the experienced Birmingham workers’ comp lawyers at Belt & Bruner, P.C. to learn more about your legal rights and options. Depending on the circumstances, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits and/or to file a third-party injury lawsuit. We can guide you through either process, and we will always strive for you obtain the maximum amount of compensation available under the law.