When you work for a company in Alabama, you probably get workers’ compensation insurance through your employer. All employers with at least five full or part-time workers must participate, with some limited exceptions.
The workers’ compensation program ensures that when you get hurt at work or develop a work-related condition, you receive the medical care you need and still have some money coming in if you cannot work. However, you must follow specific procedures to access your benefits.
Your supervisor or HR department should be able to answer any questions you have about workers’ compensation benefits in Huntsville. However, sometimes companies are reluctant to pay out benefits to injured workers. If you are not satisfied with your company’s response, contact a local workers’ compensation attorney immediately.
Workers Are Entitled to Medical Care
Workers’ compensation provides free medical care for work-related injuries, occupational diseases, and other conditions associated with employment. Unlike other states, Alabama provides care for work-related injuries and conditions for life. However, the injured worker must see an approved healthcare provider.
Employers are allowed to authorize the initial physician. After that, the employer is not legally allowed to dictate specific treatments or to deny subsequent referrals to specialists. Workers must seek diagnosis and treatment of work-related injuries from healthcare professionals approved to bill the workers’ compensation program.
Anyone receiving treatment for a work-related injury should comply strictly with their doctor’s recommendations, keep all appointments, and take medications as prescribed. An employee who is dissatisfied with the care they receive from a workers’ compensation approved provider should contact a Huntsville attorney to explore their options for seeking a different provider.
Workers’ Compensation Pays a Partial Wage for Disabled Employees
Whenever an injury or illness prevents a worker from doing their job, workers’ compensation pays a partial wage until they can resume their former position. The program pays two-thirds of an injured worker’s average weekly salary, subject to minimum and maximum payments.
Alabama Code § 25-5-68 requires the state’s Department of Labor to calculate the average weekly wage state-wide and set it as the maximum weekly payment. A low-wage worker receiving the minimum payment might get more than two-thirds of their average weekly wage, and a high-wage earner might get less. Sometimes, employers miscalculate a worker’s average weekly wage by failing to consider overtime, tips, commissions, and similar earnings.
Benefits for workers’ comp in Huntsville start on the fourth day a work-related injury or illness prevents an employee from doing their job and continue until the healthcare professional approves a return to work in some capacity. When an employee can return to work only part-time or in a different position that pays less, they will receive two-thirds of the difference between their current wage and their wage before they sustained injuries.
Workers’ Compensation Provides Disability and Death Benefits
Workers’ compensation physicians treat employees until they reach a point of Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI), meaning that further treatment will not improve the patient’s condition. When the employee reaches MMI, the doctor may assign a disability rating, which is a percentage that describes how severely the person’s permanent injury will impact their ability to work. In some cases, the worker may undergo a physical test, often referred to as a Functional Capacity Examination (FCE), to determine permanent restrictions. If you have questions about MMI or an FCE, call us.
The amount of disability benefits an injured worker receives depends on the disability rating and the body part affected. A worker could receive a weekly permanent disability payment, but it is often beneficial for both the worker and the insurer to take the payment in a lump sum.
Huntsville workers’ compensation also pays a death benefit if a worker is killed in an employment-related incident or dies of an occupational illness. The amount of the benefit depends on the number of dependents the worker left behind. When a worker dies without dependents, the estate receives a payment of $7,500. Surviving loved ones or the decedent’s estate also could receive burial expenses.
Speak to a Huntsville Attorney About Accessing Your Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Workers’ compensation benefits in Huntsville provide important protection to workers. Unfortunately, employers and their insurers do not always make claiming benefits as easy as it should be.
We believe everyone deserves to know their rights and how to protect them. That is why we offer free consultations, where we are happy to explain the legal benefits available to you in simple terms. Our dedicated team could help you file a claim and intervene on your behalf if the insurer rejects your claim or unfairly limits your benefits. Schedule a free consultation with The Blackwell Law Firm today to get started.