Learn about workers' compensation in Alabama, including workers' eligibility requirements, the duties of employers, and what kinds of benefits you may be entitled to.
Safety on the job is of the utmost importance. But, even among the safest workers, accidents can happen. In an instant, a normal workday can transform into a traumatizing and potentially life changing experience.
Following the correct procedures in order to have a successful workers' compensation claim is often far from the first thing on the mind of a worker immediately following an on the job injury. But, by knowing what your employer's responsibilities are, whether or not you are eligible, and what to do if you do suffer an injury at work, you can be ready to take on the challenges involved in getting the workers' compensation benefits you deserve.
Not every worker is entitled to workers' compensation after suffering an on the job injury or being diagnosed with a work-related disease. Under Alabama law, there are several requirements that must be met in order for an employee to be entitled to workers' compensation benefits. First of all, a worker must be employed by a business covered by the Alabama Workers' Compensation Law. Although there are certain exceptions, in general, the law covers employers with more than four employees.
A second prerequisite for a worker to receive benefits is that the injury must have resulted from an accident. In other words, something unexpected and unintentional must have been the cause of the injury. An employee will not be eligible for benefits if their own misconduct caused the injury; included in this caveat is injury resulting from willfully breaking known workplace rules, refusal to use employer-provided safety gear, and intoxication from alcohol or illegal drugs.
The third requirement is that the accident must have a relationship to the worker's employment. The accident must have occurred at a time and place where the employee was reasonably expected to be in the course of performing his or her job, and it must have occurred while the employee was performing official employee duties or related activity. If the injury was caused at work, but by the actions of another person directed at the employee for personal reasons, a claim cannot be filed for workers' compensation benefits (although the injured employee could likely pursue other claims against the individual in this scenario).
Finally, employees must inform employers of accidents and injuries in the manner prescribed by law in order to claim benefits. Usually this means at a minimum giving some notice within five days (there are exceptions which can extend the notice period up to ninety days). Of course, any workplace injury should be reported as soon as possible, and the employee should ask a supervisor about the employer-recommended health care professional to see about the injury.
Any employer covered by the Alabama Workers' Compensation Law is required to carry workers' compensation insurance. This guarantees benefits for injured workers. An employer has the right to select the initial treating physician. Additionally, workers' comp claim forms reporting an on the job injury, detailing the circumstances of the injury, and summarizing the claim must be filed to the state by the employer, their insurance company, or a designated administrator.
Overview of Benefits
If you have suffered an on the job injury or been diagnosed with an employment-related disease, you may be entitled to a variety of benefits depending on the nature of your claim. There are three basic types of workers' compensation benefits available: compensatory, medical and death. Medical benefits are perhaps the simplest conceptually; they cover all expenses incurred in the treatment made necessary by an on the job injury.
When an employee is rendered partially or completely unable to work as a result of workplace injury, compensatory benefits pay for lost wages. The amount of compensatory benefits an injured worker receives depends on the severity of the injury. If, because of an injury, an employee is completely unable to work, benefits equal two-thirds of the employee's average weekly pay (subject to a statutory maximum).
Benefits cease when an employee can return to work, but if the injury causes permanent disability, benefits can continue for as long as the employee is debilitated. If an injured employee is still able to perform some workplace duties while recovering, he or she will receive partial benefits commensurate to the level the employee is prevented from taking on a full workload.
Death benefits are paid to the dependents of a worker killed on the job, or who dies within three years after a workplace injury. Subject to minimum and maximum amounts, if the employee has one dependent, benefits are half of average weekly earnings; for two or more dependents, death benefits are two-thirds of average weekly earnings. For an employee with no dependents, the employer must make a payment to the worker's estate in the amount of $7,500. Death benefits continue for 500 weeks, or until the remarriage or death of the dependent receiving benefits. In addition, the employer must pay up to $3,000 to help cover funeral and burial expenses.
If You Need Help
Ensuring you receive the workers' compensation benefits you are entitled to is very important, but it can be a complicated undertaking. If you or a loved one has recently suffered an on the job injury, an experienced workers' comp attorney can help answer your questions and get the ball rolling on your claim.
Article provided by Bohanan & Associates PC - Visit us at www.bohananknight.com
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