The workplace can be a dangerous environment. Sure, you can do a lot to control your home environment. But in many workplaces, hazards are a fact of life. Workplace hazards that could cause injury include everything from sharp scissors and blades to heavy lifting to vehicular accidents to loud noises, high voltage and exposure to toxic chemicals and explosives and much more. From time to time, despite every precaution, some people are going to get hurt.
Fortunately, Alabama has a robust, mandatory workers compensation insurance system. Workers comp is there to protect both the worker and the employer. It protects the employer by ensuring that a thriving business need not be driven into bankruptcy – taking other peoples’ jobs along with it, because a worker gets injured on the work site. It protects the worker by ensuring that whatever the injury and however costly the medical treatments may be, there is enough cash available to ensure that workers and their families can still have their basic needs met.
How Workers Compensation is Structured
The workers compensation system is mandatory for most employers with five or more workers. Workers compensation does not apply, however, to owner/operator or leased operator of common carriers engaged in interstate commerce, domestic servants, casual employees, farm laborers, and federal or state government employees.
Covered employers must pay a workers compensation insurance premium to the state workers compensation fund. The more dangerous the job, the higher the workers compensation premiums. When a worker gets hurt on the job, he or she may file a claim for a variety of benefits. Typically, workers can apply for payment of all medical treatment required as a result of the workplace injury. This includes hospital and doctor bills, any special equipment required, medical and adaptive supplies and equipment, and prescription drugs needed to provide treatment. In most cases, if your injury is a bonafide work-related injury, incurred on the job or at a work-related function, you pay nothing for required medical treatment.
Additionally, workers may qualify to have the workers compensation system pick up part of their wages for the time they miss work. In Alabama, however, there is a three-day exclusion period before the workers compensation wage benefit kicks in (you get the three days’ back if you’re out of work longer than 21 days.) In Alabama, you may also be able to qualify for a mileage payment if you have to drive to medical appointments.
What to Do If You Get Hurt on the Job
- Get appropriate medical attention. Don’t dilly-dally, or try to work-through the injury unless you are trying to prevent a more severe injury to yourself or other workers. By seeking immediate medical attention, you are doing your part to ensure that your injury isn’t compounded by infection or other complicating factors. In the long run, getting medical attention early.
- Start the paper trail. Document the injury with your employer. You or your supervisor may have to fill out a serious incident report and submit it to your manager or human resources department. This is critical, because it creates a document you can point to in the future, in the event someone challenges your claim. Don’t say “I’m fine,” or “it’s nothing,” until you have fully recovered. This could give others ammunition they could use against you to challenge your claim or reduce your benefits. Stick to the facts.
- Call an attorney. Your employer will have an attorney of his own, working actively to limit your costs. The insurance companies will certainly have attorneys of their own. You will also be dealing with adjusters. Remember that they don’t work for you – they work for insurance companies, and it’s their job to pay out as little as possible. You should have an experienced workers compensation professional representing your interests as well. Make sure your attorney specializes in workers compensation law, specific to your state – in this case Alabama.
Workers compensation is a complex field. Working with an attorney of your own is critical to ensuring you receive the maximum compensation benefit you are entitled to.
- Write down what happened. Memories fade over time. The memories of witnesses fade, as well. Take time as soon as possible after the injury to write down or record everything that happened. Include who, what, when, where and why. Specify who was present and who witnessed or may have witnessed the accident, as well as any steps you took to notify your supervisor.
- Review the pre-certification rules. Alabama law requires pre-certification before workers compensation benefits. You can read the list of procedures requiring pre-certification here. Other states have similar rules as well. It’s important to understand this list, because if you get these treatments without pre-certification, you could get stuck with the bill. Your attorney can help you navigate the system and help you avoid getting left holding the bag.
Scheduling a Free Consultation
There is never a fee for your initial consultation. You pay no fees unless and until you actually retain our services. Our rates are designed to be affordable for working families.
- At this consultation, we can help you with the following:
- Determine if your employer is covered by workers compensation.
- Review your medical condition and treatment options.
- Review your prospects for a successful claim.
- Evaluate the situation for evidence of fraud or negligence on the part of your employer.
- Explore alternate means of coverage or compensation.
We invite you to call our Birmingham offices today at (205) 881-0555 for honest answers to important legal questions or to schedule a completely confidential appointment.