Getting hurt on the job could lead to medical expenses and lost wages. When your injury is severe or does not heal completely, it could permanently limit your ability to support your family. We’ve helped injured workers obtain important workers’ compensation benefits for over twenty-five years.
The workers’ compensation program exists to help employees who sustain on-the-job injuries. Each state administers the program and establishes its own rules. In Alabama, participation in the program is mandatory for most employers.
Learn how to apply for workers’ compensation in Huntsville before you need its benefits. The claims process is not difficult, but you must be aware of the rules and adhere to the program’s timelines to access your benefits. A dedicated workers’ compensation attorney from The Blackwell Law Firm could guide you through the process.
Understanding the Workers’ Compensation Program
Any employer with five or more part-time or full-time employees must participate in the workers’ compensation program, with a few exceptions for some municipalities, farms, and persons employing household help. Businesses that work on-site in the construction of residential housing must participate, even when they have fewer than five employees. Most employers buy workers’ compensation insurance, but some larger employers self-insure.
An employee has workers’ compensation benefits starting from their first day of work. There is no waiting period. Part-time and seasonal workers are entitled to the same benefits as permanent, full-time workers, but independent contractors do not receive workers’ compensation benefits from the businesses that hire them.
Any worker who is unsure whether they receive workers’ compensation benefits should check with their employer. A Huntsville attorney could answer any questions about whether a specific employer is required to participate in the workers’ compensation program and how employees could apply.
Workers’ Compensation Offers Valuable Benefits
Workers’ compensation offers a valuable safety net to people who sustain injuries while doing their jobs. The injury must be related to their work but need not be the direct result of their job duties. For example, injuries sustained in a fall in the employee cafeteria or in a car wreck while driving to a work-related meeting off-site might trigger workers’ compensation benefits.
Alabama Code § 25-5-77 requires the workers’ compensation program to provide free medical care for work-related injuries and conditions. However, injured workers must obtain their care from an approved healthcare provider; the program will not reimburse the services of an unapproved provider. Generally, the employer is allowed to pick or authorize the initial doctor. After authorizing the initial doctor, the employer is not legally allowed to dictate the treatments provided. As a worker, you do have rights to the medical care and treatment prescribed by the authorized doctor. If you are unhappy with your authorized doctor, you have certain limited rights to select a new physician. In these cases, you should talk to a lawyer who is experienced with workers’ compensation issues and the doctors in your community. We have years of experience with the medical community across northern Alabama.
When an employee misses more than three days at work due to a work-related injury or condition, the program will pay a partial wage reimbursement until they can return full-time to their prior employment. This benefit is often called Temporary Total Disability (or TTD). The employee is also entitled to permanent disability payments when their work-related condition does not heal completely. Consult a Huntsville attorney for help negotiating permanent disability benefits and figuring out how to apply for workers’ compensation.
Observe Key Rules To Claim Benefits
Employees endanger their valuable workers’ compensation benefits when they fail to follow the rules for submitting claims.
Report the Injury Immediately
A worker who sustains an injury in a workplace accident should report it to their supervisor or HR as soon as possible, preferably the day it happens. You only have a limited time to report your claim, so act quickly. Give notice in writing so it cannot be disputed.
If the injury is an occupational illness like hearing loss or a repetitive stress injury, the worker should report it as soon as they receive a diagnosis. The workers’ compensation program allows claimants five days to report their injury or condition to their employer unless they are incapable of doing so because of the injury. In those cases, the period may typically only be extended up to 90 days from the accident or illness. If you do not report an injury or accident within the time requirements, you will be barred from making a claim. Even if you think the accident is not serious, you should still report the matter. With many accidents, you may only realize the seriousness of the injury after several days or weeks.
Seek Medical Attention
Workers should see an employer-approved physician after any work-related injury, no matter how minor. Doing so protects the worker’s health and strengthens a workers’ compensation claim. A worker who needs emergency care could visit an urgent care center or emergency room, but they must seek follow-up care from an approved workers’ compensation physician. An employee who received a diagnosis of occupational injury from their personal physician should see a workers’ compensation doctor promptly to confirm the diagnosis.
Submit the Paperwork On Time
The law allows an employee two years to file a lawsuit related to a workers’ compensation claim. However, there is rarely any benefit in waiting to file. A worker who is unsure when or how to file a compensation claim should consult a Huntsville attorney. At the Blackwell Law Firm, we have handled workers’ compensation court claims for many years.
Consult a Huntsville Attorney and Learn How to Apply for Workers’ Compensation
In the event of a workplace accident, the workers’ compensation program ensures you get medical care and a partial wage to tide you over until you can get back to work. However, sometimes, getting the benefits you are entitled to is complicated.
When you are wondering how to apply for workers’ compensation in Huntsville, speak with a local attorney. The Blackwell Law Firm proudly offers free initial consultations to help individuals understand their rights and to answer questions so that workers may be protected. We could walk you through the process and help you file any paperwork. Call today.