Alabama Workers’ Compensation Attorneys
Protecting the rights of injured workers throughout the state
When you are hurt on the job or in the course of your job duties, you can apply for workers’ compensation benefits. They help you pay the bills while you recover from those injuries. Sometimes, though, an application will be denied, or your benefits are cut off before our fully recover. If you need help claiming workers’ compensation benefits in Alabama, an attorney from Mezrano Law Firm may be able to help. Call us today.
What is workers’ compensation?
The workers’ compensation system is a state-run program which provides benefits for workers injured in the workplace. Every state in the United States has its own workers’ compensation program, with rules that vary, but with a similar structure. Employers are generally required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance which covers their liability when a worker is injured or is diagnosed with an occupational disease.
The workers’ compensation program was designed to strike an unspoken bargain between employers and their workers. The employees are given a no-fault benefit program which covers their medical expenses and a partial wage replacement benefit when they have sustained an injury that will cause them to lose three or more days at work. In exchange, workers are barred from suing their employer for a workplace injury even if it was caused by the employer’s negligence.
Which benefits are included in workers’ compensation?
The following is a brief summary of the benefits available through Alabama workers’ compensation program. More specific details are available on the Alabama Department of Labor’s website.
- Medical benefits, which cover the cost of medical care related to the occupational injury or disease.
- Partial wage loss benefits compensate the worker for time lost at work due to a workplace injury.
- Death benefits which includes funeral expenses and weekly benefits paid to the dependents of a worker who dies within three years of a workplace accident or disease.
- Burial expenses up to $6500, paid by the employer.
- Temporary total benefits for workers who are totally disabled for a limited time.
- Temporary partial benefits are for workers who can’t perform their regular work tasks and need to take on lighter duty tasks while they recover.
- Permanent partial benefits are for workers who are suffering from a permanent disability.
- Permanent total benefits are for workers who have a permanent disability and can’t work at all.
Calculating your benefits
If you get hurt on the job and need to claim weekly benefits, you take your average weekly earnings for the last 52 months, and then multiply it by 66 2/3. So, if you earn $400 a week, your weekly benefits should be about $268.
The other benefits are calculated like this:
- Death benefits: 500 weeks
- Weekly earnings x 50% for one dependent
- Weekly earnings x 66 2/3% for two or more dependents
- $7,500 one-time lump sum to the deceased’s estate (paid by the employer) in the event there are no dependents
- Permanent total disability / temporary total disability: unlimited weeks
- Permanent partial disability /temporary partial disability: 300 weeks
What is the difference between a workers’ compensation and a personal injury claim?
When an injured worker files a workers’ compensation claim, if they qualify, they will receive the benefits which apply based on their injury including partial wage replacement benefits and medical care.
If the worker’s injury was caused by a negligent third party, such as the manufacturer of a defective tool or piece of equipment which caused the injury, the worker may be able to file a third-party personal injury lawsuit. The difference between filing a personal injury claim and a workers’ compensation claim is that for a personal injury claim, you must be able to prove that the at-fault party’s negligence was the direct cause of your injury. In a workers’ compensation claim, you must prove that the injury took place at work while you were doing regular work tasks.
Another important difference is that if you prevail in your personal injury claim, you may be able to recover compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress and where applicable punitive damages.
Your Alabama workers’ compensation lawyer will explain how each works, and which applies to your case.
Common workplace injuries in Alabama
In Alabama there were 83 fatal workplace injuries in 2017, which is down by 17 from the previous year according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nationwide, there were a total of 5,147 fatal workplace injuries that year, which was also down slightly from the 5,190 fatal workplace injuries the year before.
Transportation injuries resulted in 34 fatal work-related injuries, down from 61 fatal injuries in the previous year. Contact with objects and equipment accounted for 21 workplace fatalities, which was an increase over the 16 from the year before. Falls, slips and trips accounted for 13 workplace injuries and exposure to harmful substances and all other injuries accounted for the rest of the fatalities.
There is no limit to the type of injury that is covered by workers’ compensation. The injury must have been sustained at work while the worker was performing regular work tasks. Some examples of the most common types of workplace injuries include:
According to Airbill, a workplace safety publication, the following are the ten most common workplace injuries, in descending order:
- Acts of violence in the workplace such as assault or shooting
- Repetitive motion injuries such as carpal tunnel, back pain and vision problems
- Machine entanglement accidents often occur when protective equipment and training are missing
- Transportation accidents
- Walking into injuries occur when a worker accidentally walks into walls, doors, cabinets, windows, etc.
- Falling objects injuries
- Bodily reaction injuries which can occur in a slip and trip injury when the person does not actually fall to the ground
- Falls from heights such as roofs, ladders, and stairways
- Slip, trip and fall injuries caused by slippery floor surfaces, uneven floors and debris on the floor
- Overexertion injuries from lifting, pushing, pulling, carrying, holding and throwing injuries
What are some examples of occupational diseases?
The following is a list of some of the more common types of occupational diseases as compiled by the International Labour Organization (ILO):
- Chemical poisoning and chemical burns which can occur when workers are not given appropriate training and personal protective equipment.
- Mesothelioma, which is a form of lung cancer from exposure to asbestos. Workers in construction demolition, plumbing, mechanics, power stations and other such industries are more likely to contract the disease.
- Industrial dermatitis, which is a chronic skin condition from exposure to industrial irritants.
- Industrial asthma from exposure to airborne toxins.
- Neurological disorders from exposure to toxic chemicals in the workplace.
- Stress-related injuries caused by emotional stress in the workplace from being overworked, an abusive supervisor and difficult coworkers and employees.
If your disease or medical condition was caused by occupational exposure on your current job or from a previous place of employment, an experienced Alabama workers’ compensation lawyer can fight for your right to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
Am I required to hire a workers’ compensation lawyer?
You are never required to hire a lawyer to represent you, but here are a few reasons it makes sense to consider representation for your workers’ compensation case:
- Your employer has denied a legitimate workplace injury claim
- Your employer’s insurer has stopped paying your benefits
- Employer fraud, which can look like misclassification of employees as contractors
- Any other dispute related to your workers’ compensation claim
Another instance where it would be beneficial for you to work with an experienced Alabama workers’ compensation lawyer is if your injury was caused by a third party such as a traffic accident. If your injury did not take place at your place of employment, and was caused by a third party such as the driver of a vehicle that hit you while you were driving as a part of your regular employment tasks, you may be able to file a personal injury claim against the party which caused the accident.
Remember that insurance companies have a legal team full of lawyers whose singular mission is to make sure that you recover as little compensation as possible. Having a trusted attorney on your side will give you the confidence to go up against the insurance company trying to deny your benefits.
How does my workers’ compensation lawyer get paid?
A skilled workers’ compensation attorney will meet with you for a free initial consultation to discuss your workplace injury or occupational disease case. If they agree to take your case, you are not required to pay a retainer fee up front. Instead, the law firm will advance the costs of pursuing your case. If you win your case, your lawyer will get paid a 15% contingency fee from the total amount of your settlement or judgement, as stipulated in the Alabama Workers’ Compensation Act.
Alabama workers’ compensation lawyers helping the injured get back to work
If you have been injured at work and you are facing any type of dispute with your employer’s workers’ compensation insurer, or with the Alabama Workers’ Compensation Division, you will need experienced representation to level the playing field. Mezrano Law Firm can help you get the help you need. We represent clients injured in the workplace throughout the state with offices in Birmingham, Mobile, Florence, Gadsden, Montgomery, and Tuscaloosa. You may schedule your free consultation to discuss your case with a skilled Alabama workers’ compensation lawyer by calling 205-206-6300 or filling out our contact form today.
If you have a case, you have a lawyer. Call us now to learn more about what we can do for you.