When you sustain an injury on the job in Alabama, state law gives you up to two years from the date of the injury to file a workers’ compensation claim. However, it’s in your best interest to file your claim as soon as possible. If you delay, your employer, or the insurance company representing your employer, could question the validity of your injury claim, supposing your injuries could not have been that severe if you waited to file a claim. Since some types of injuries aren’t always apparent right away, so you should file as soon as you make the connection between your injury and work activity.
Conditions That Must Exist to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Alabama
According to the Alabama Department of Labor, you can only file a claim for workers’ compensation if you meet the following criteria:
- You must work for an employer whose business is covered under state law. Typically, this includes companies employing five or more people. It excludes the United States and state governments, farm laborers, casual employees, domestic servants, owner/operators, or a leased carrier or common carriers who are engaged in interstate commerce.
- The injury must result from an accident, which the state defines as a sudden or violent event not caused by human fault. Article 4 and Article 7 of Alabama law includes provisions for occupational pneumoconiosis and occupational radiation disease.
- The accident causing the injury must occur during the course of employment. This can include the actual performance of work duties, while engaged in duties incidental to employment, or at a place where you as an employee would be expected to be present.
- You must report the accident to your employer as promptly as possible.
Additionally, the following circumstances can negate your request for benefits after you have already filed a claim:
- Willful misconduct, such as refusal to use safety equipment
- Use of alcohol or illegal drugs
- Caused by a fellow employee for personal reasons
- Your intention to cause injury or death to yourself or another employee
- Neglect to perform a statutory duty
Unfortunately, some employers try to argue that the above circumstances occurred when in fact they did not. Some employers make this argument in order to avoid the legal responsibility to pay your medical expenses and a portion of your wages while you recovery from your injury.
What to Expect After Making Your Claim
Injured workers in Alabama are subject to a three-day waiting period in which they receive no benefits. You should receive retroactive payment for these days if you are unable to work for more than 21 days due to your injury. Starting with day four, your payment is equal to 66 and 2/3 of your average weekly pay for the past 52 weeks. This payment is subject to the state’s minimum and maximum weekly workers’ compensation benefit, which was $229 and $832 effective July 1, 2016. The state legislature adjusts for inflation on July 1 of each year.
The duration of your weekly workers’ compensation payments depends on your classification of injury. Temporary partial and permanent partial disability are capped at 300 weeks while permanent and temporary total disability have no limit placed on them.
When Your Claim is Denied or Your Employer Doesn’t Cooperate
Even when you have a legitimate claim and file it in a timely manner, your employer may make things difficult for you. Common problems include being sent to a doctor with financial motivation to downplay the severity of your injury, claiming your injury was not work-related or your own fault, or denying the claim without a good reason. You have the right to seek legal representation if you’re dissatisfied with the progress or outcome of your workers’ compensation case. Our experienced Alabama workers’ compensation Attorneys stand ready to assist you with your workers’ compensation claim. Please contact Burge & Burge, PC at (205) 545-8291 to request a free and confidential assessment of your case today.