Can I Seek Workers’ Compensation After Heat Illness?
Workers’ compensation relieves the financial burden from the shoulders of injured employees, so they can focus on healing rather than medical bills and wage losses. State workers’ compensation systems provide no-questions-asked benefits to most employees who suffer injuries or illnesses while performing job-related tasks. Almost all injuries and illnesses qualify for benefits, as long as they are occupational and the worker did not self-inflict them – including heat-related illnesses. Learn your rights as an injured worker or laborer in the state of Alabama.
Facts About Heat Illness in a Work Setting
Many occupations require employee exposure to the sunlight and other heat elements. Employees who have to work in outdoor environments, around hot exhaust, or physical contact with hot objects may all be at risk of contracting heat illnesses. Employees with physically-demanding jobs may also suffer heat illnesses. Farm workers, oil and gas workers, construction workers, landscapers, hazardous waste site workers, kitchen employees, warehouse workers, and employees in production facilities are the most common victims of heat illness in Alabama.
Heat illness can include heat rash, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. Heat stroke is the most serious form of heat illness. It can be fatal without immediate emergency medical treatment. Heat stroke can cause dizziness, confusion, seizures, and loss of consciousness. Heat exhaustion is also serious and can turn into heat stroke without treatment. Heat cramps is a milder form of heat illness that affects the muscles. Heat rash is the mildest type, where exposure to heat causes skin irritation.
Heat illness while performing occupational duties generally qualifies an employee in Alabama for workers’ compensation benefits. As long as the incident happened at work or while on the clock, the employer has workers’ compensation insurance, and the employee did not cause his/her injuries intentionally or through an act of recklessness, workers’ comp will cover the employee’s damages. It is up to the employee to file a claim requesting workers’ compensation benefits. To do so, the injured employee must obey all related rules and requirements.
How to File an Alabama Workers’ Comp Claim for Heat Illness
A heat illness episode at work can have lasting damages on your health and wellness. Heat stroke is especially dangerous, with the risk of suffering vital organ damage. Some victims of heat stroke have suffered permanent brain damage and death. Even if an employee survives a heat stroke, he or she may never fully recover organ function. Employees with heat-related illnesses often have to take off work to recover, pay hefty prices for medical treatment, and max out their sick days dealing with a temporary disability.
Filing a workers’ comp claim can give the employee the financial assistance he or she needs during a difficult time. To file your claim, you must first notify your supervisor of your illness. Do so as soon as possible, but at least within 90 days of the incident. Waiting too long to notify your employer could mean forfeiting your right to workers’ compensation. Your supervisor can help walk you through the claims process. You will need to fill out and file the proper claims form within two years from the date of your injury.
If your employer doesn’t have workers’ compensation insurance, you may still be able to secure compensation for your damages through a personal injury claim. You will have to prove negligence to go this route, however. A lawyer is an important asset to have if you plan on filing a lawsuit against your employer or another party for work-related heat illness. A Birmingham workers compensation attorney can investigate your incident, help you identify the negligent or responsible party, and file your claim within the state’s deadline. A lawyer can also answer any other questions you may have about filing for workers’ comp after a heat illness.