Most Alabama employers with more than four employees are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ comp is a program that provides benefits to employees who suffer injury or illness due to an accident on the job, regardless of who is at fault. In exchange for the “no fault” provision, employees are usually unable to file a personal injury lawsuit against their employer for their injuries.
The workers’ compensation claims process can be very confusing, and many employees find it difficult to navigate the complexities of it. There are certain steps that need to be followed if you are injured on the job, and it is important to complete each step in the process. The steps to take to apply for workers’ comp are:
Report the Accident Right Away: When you become injured or ill from an accident at work, you need to report it immediately to your manager or supervisor. Alabama law requires you to report the incident within five days, so make sure to do this at the first convenient time. If your employer is already aware of the incident, this knowledge has been held to be the equivalent of statutory notice.
Seek Medical Attention: Your employer selects the doctor you will see to be treated for your condition. Check with them right away to find out where they want to send you for treatment. If you are not satisfied with the initial treating physician and additional treatment is required, you can inform your employer and be allowed to choose from a panel or list of four other physicians your employer selects.
File a Workers’ Compensation Claim Benefit Form: If your employer agrees to accept liability for the accident, a First Report of Injury or Occupational Disease Form must be completed. This form should be filled out by your employer, your employer’s insurer, or a third-party administrator. The form includes information about the employee’s wages and describes the injury, how it occurred, the severity of the injury, and medical treatment received.
What if My Employer Denies Liability for my Claim?
There are many cases in which an employer declines to accept liability for an injured employee. They might do so by alleging one of the following:
- The injury did not result from an accident;
- The accident did not occur in the course of employment;
- The employee did not give proper notice of the accident to the employer;
- The accident was caused by willful misconduct on the part of the employee;
- The accident was caused by the employee being intoxicated from alcohol and/or the use of illegal drugs;
- The accident resulted from an employee’s intention to kill himself/herself or someone else;
- The accident resulted from the actions of a fellow employee or third person for reasons unrelated to your employment;
- The employee failed or willfully refused to utilize safety equipment which the employer provided;
- The employee willfully refused or willfully neglected to perform a statutory duty;
- The employee had knowledge of and willfully breached an employer’s reasonable rule or regulation.
If your employer does not want to accept responsibility for your work-related accident, you have a couple of options; you can contact the Worker’s Compensation Division of the Alabama Department of Labor and ask to speak with an examiner to look at your claim, or you can retain an attorney and pursue your claim through the courts. An experienced Workers’ Comp attorney will be able to thoroughly assess the specific circumstances of your case and help determine the best legal path to recover the compensation you deserve.
Your attorney may be able to work out a settlement with your employer, or if your employer is not willing to be reasonable, the case may need to go to litigation. In cases involving a third party who was the cause of the accident and injury, you may be able to recover damages under Alabama personal injury laws. By working with an attorney, you can ensure that all your legal options are explored and that your rights and interests are protected throughout the process.
Speak with a Skilled Alabama Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
Filing a workers’ compensation claim can be complex and confusing. Oftentimes, employees find it very difficult to obtain the benefits they need to make ends meet when they are injured and out of work for a while. Employers may deny benefits for arbitrary reasons, and in many cases, these tactics are designed to frustrate the employee in hopes that they will give up.
At Alsobrook Jackson, Attorneys at Law, we understand the frustration working people have when they are eligible for workers’ comp but denied by their employer. We aggressively pursue benefits for our clients, and we have a strong track record of success with these types of cases. If you are denied workers’ compensation benefits anywhere in Opelika, Auburn, or throughout Alabama, call our office today at 334-737-3718 for a free consultation.