Birmingham Workers Compensation Attorney
If you sustain an injury while performing tasks related to your job, you may be entitled to financial compensation through one or more recovery options. The most common solution is a workers’ compensation claim. Although this is a relatively straightforward no-fault system in Alabama, an insurance company may make it more difficult than it has to be for an employee to recover.
You may need an attorney to assist you with the claims process. At Drake Injury Lawyers, our experienced Birmingham workers’ compensation lawyers have what it takes to guide you through a case and get your life back on track after a workplace accident.
Why Choose Us?
- Drake Injury Lawyers is a local law firm – not an out-of-state firm advertising in Alabama.
- Our lawyers get results, even if this means litigating a case at trial.
- Using proven legal strategies, we have recovered well over $100 million for our clients.
- We are not a mill-type law firm. You will benefit from personalized attention from your lawyer.
- We are committed to engaging in open communication with our clients throughout the legal process.
What Is Workers’ Compensation?
When you are injured on the job, in most cases, you will turn to your company’s workers’ compensation carrier to cover your medical bills, lost earnings and rehabilitation. Workers’ comp allows you to get these benefits without the necessity of a lawsuit, and at the same time protects the employer from litigation. The advantage is that it is a no-fault system, so all you have to show to qualify for benefits is that you are suffering a job-related injury or disease.
Nevertheless, workers’ compensation has its limitations – most notably that it does not compensate you for pain and suffering and that punitive damages are not available, regardless of how blatantly egregious your employer’s behavior may be. With workers’ comp, your employer is normally only liable for paying for related medical treatment and two-thirds of your weekly wage during the period you are unable to work.
How a Birmingham Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Can Help
If you’ve suffered an injury on the job, an Alabama workers’ compensation lawyer can help prepare your paperwork properly and guide you through the workers’ compensation system to ensure that you get the maximum benefits you’re entitled to and overcome any obstacles you may encounter along the way.
Sometimes, it is difficult to prove that your injury is job-related, especially if it is not the result of a single incident but a cumulative injury that has developed over the course of years on the job. The right attorney can help you prove the cause and extent of your injuries using tools such as your medical records, a letter from your doctor and testimony from a medical expert.
A workers’ compensation lawyer can be especially helpful in getting you the vocational rehabilitation services you need for an occupation that suits your interests when your disabilities keep you from returning to your regular job, or if your doctor wants to try a cutting-edge procedure that the insurance company is trying to deny as “non-standard.” A workers’ compensation attorney can help you overcome these challenges and pursue full financial compensation for your work-related injury or illness.
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU’VE BEEN INJURED ON THE JOB
To preserve your right to a workers’ compensation claim, if you are hurt on the job, you must report it to your employer. Alabama law states that you must report your work injury within five days. Your employer will give you the name of a doctor or a list of acceptable physicians. You must choose an approved care provider and make an appointment immediately. Make certain the doctor knows that the injury occurred at work. Contact a Birmingham workplace accident lawyer who can help you with your case if you have been injured at work.
To start your workers’ comp claim, you will have to complete some rather complicated paperwork (your lawyer can help with this). Your employer can provide these documents and submit them to the Alabama Division of Workers’ Compensation for you by the deadline. You will need to provide a copy of your medical records or an authorization for them to document your claim.
Don’t be surprised if there are delays or denials. As with any kind of insurance, the carrier makes money by taking in as much as possible in premiums while paying out as little as possible in claims. A good workers’ compensation lawyer can facilitate the process and help you overcome any obstacles the insurance company or your employer may try to throw in your path.
THE AVAILABLE BENEFITS
Workers’ comp provides benefits for a variety of losses and expenses associated with a workplace injury or illness, without requiring proof of fault. Although the benefits available are not as much as with a personal injury claim, they can still significantly help a worker who is dealing with expensive medical bills and lost wages. Depending on your injury or illness, you may potentially qualify for the following categories of workers’ comp benefits.
If you’ve lost a significant amount of time at work as a result of your injury or illness, you may be able to receive disability benefits to cover lost earnings, typically at two-thirds of your normal pay. The insurance carrier will examine your disability claim and make one of these four possible determinations:
- Temporary partial disability
- Permanent partial disability
- Temporary total disability
- Permanent total disability
The type of disability pay you could receive depends on the nature, extent and prognosis of your injury. Workers’ comp for lost wages is subject to the state’s maximum and minimum amounts, which change annually. As of 2021, the maximum amount payable is $983 per week and the minimum is $270 per week.
When necessary, workers’ compensation covers physical and/or occupational therapy. In the event your disability makes it impossible for you to return to your regular job, workers’ comp must provide vocational rehabilitation to train you for a different kind of occupation that you can do with your injury-related limitations. A vocational rehabilitation counselor will be assigned to determine what kind of work this should be. It may be necessary to involve your attorney to get you training for a job you want.
Death Benefits for Survivors
The spouse and minor children of a worker killed on the job are entitled to death benefits based on the deceased person’s wages at the time of death. The law states that if the decedent left behind one dependent, the dependent will receive 50 percent of the decedent’s average weekly earnings. If there are two or more dependents, they will receive 66 percent of the decedent’s average weekly earnings. Surviving family members can also receive compensation to pay for funeral and burial expenses. Working with our Birmingham wrongful death lawyers, they can provide you with more information and help you receive compensation.
If you are injured on the job and covered by Alabama’s Workman’s’ Compensation Act, your employer or their insurance carrier must pay all accident-related medical expenses for the rest of your life. This is frequently called “open-meds.” This type of compensation will pay for all of your necessary medical treatments, including surgeries, hospital stays, specialists, tests, x-rays, medications, medical devices, physical therapy and rehabilitation. You may need a workers’ compensation injury lawyer to help you fight for coverage for nontraditional medicines, such as holistic medicines.
Lump Sum Settlement
If you have sustained a permanent injury, regardless of whether you return to work, the employer and/or workers’ comp insurance carrier is responsible for a lump sum paid at the end of your medical treatment. This lump sum can vary dramatically depending on what your primary physician says you can do or no longer do. At Drake Injury Lawyers, we can hire experts to testify to these issues and this can usually increase the benefits paid as a lump sum.
What Is the Average Workers’ Compensation Settlement in Alabama?
There is no such thing as an average workers’ compensation settlement. How much one employee receives in workers’ comp benefits may significantly differ from another employee at the same company. This is because there is not one single sum that an employer pays to all injured workers; benefits are based on the individual’s injuries and losses. The amount that you could receive in workers’ compensation benefits will depend on the circumstances that are unique to your case, such as:
- The type and severity of the injury
- The amount of your medical bills
- Your prognosis for recovery
- Whether you have a disability
- Whether you can return to your normal job, or any job
- How much you earned before your injury
- The amount of insurance coverage available through your employer
- The state’s applicable minimum and maximum benefit limits
- Your age and overall health
Insurance companies are known for trying to save money by devaluing claims and minimizing clients’ payouts. It is entirely possible that the first settlement offer you receive from a workers’ compensation insurance provider is less than the true value of your claim. To make sure that you do not accept a too-low settlement, work with an attorney in Birmingham. An attorney can go up against an insurance company in pursuit of fair damages, as well as help you explore any other options for a greater financial recovery.
How Long Does a Workers’ Compensation Claim Take?
This answer also depends on your unique case. If you have a relatively simple case and the insurance company accepts your claim right away, you can expect your first workers’ compensation check within about two weeks of filing your paperwork. If your case requires a longer investigation, further proof of your losses or has other complications, however, this could delay the processing of your claim by days or weeks.
Working with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer from the very beginning of your claim can help ensure a faster, smoother and more efficient workers’ comp process. Your lawyer can help you avoid mistakes that could add time to your claim, such as missing an important filing requirement. Your lawyer can also help you negotiate with the insurer to resolve potential issues quickly, such as the denial of your claim or an inadequate settlement offer.
Workers’ compensation allows you to receive benefits without having to file a lawsuit or prove negligence, but it does not allow for compensation for damages to your quality of life, such as pain, suffering, and inability to enjoy hobbies, sports, and other activities that make life enjoyable. These types of losses may be even more difficult for you to deal with than the financial ones.
In some cases where you’ve been injured on the job, a party other than your employer may have caused your injury in full or in part. For example, if you were injured using a tool with a defect that caused your accident, our Birmingham product liability lawyers are able to assist you in filing a third-party claim against that party. In the case of the defective tool, this would be the manufacturer.
Fault for your workplace accident with someone other than your employer or coworker could make it possible for you to claim compensation for your non-economic damages, and in extreme cases, you might be awarded punitive damages as well. Your workers’ compensation attorney will examine the details of the accident carefully to determine if you may have a third-party claim.
Willful Conduct Exclusion
Alabama law has an exception to what it calls the Exclusivity Doctrine, or the protection from litigation that an employer receives from the workers’ compensation system. The exception is if the injured worker can prove using clear and convincing evidence that his or her injury or illness resulted from a coworker’s willful conduct. The law’s definition of willful conduct is an action or omission that the coworker knew or reasonably should have known would injure someone.
If the willful conduct exclusion applies to your case, you may be able to bring a personal injury lawsuit against a coworker – or, through the law of vicarious liability – against your employer for your work-related injury. It is up to you or your workers’ compensation lawyer, however, to prove the existence of willful conduct in relation to your injury or illness before you can initiate a claim.
LEGAL REPRESENTATION FOR WORKERS’ COMPENSATION AND THIRD-PARTY CLAIMS
Some potential clients ask whether they need legal representation for a work injury. If you have a small injury that does not prevent you from returning to your normal duties, then you may very well not need an attorney. If, however, your injury has a permanent element and you will be unable to resume your regular tasks, it is a mistake to negotiate a settlement without an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer by your side.
Additionally, our personal injury lawyers can assist in determining if you have a claim other than just against your employer. Alabama law allows suits against anyone who caused or contributed to your injury. Unlike a simple workers’ comp claim, suits against other companies or people can include many of the things workers’ comp doesn’t allow, such as mental anguish, future lost wages, pain and suffering, punitive damages, etc.
Contact Our Workers’ Compensation Lawyers in Birmingham
In Alabama, to make certain that your claim is filed properly so you receive the benefits you’re entitled to from workers compensation, contact Drake Injury Lawyers in Birmingham and schedule a free consultation today. Our highly skilled Birmingham personal injury attorneys have many years of experience in helping the injured get the compensation they need and deserve.
We will help you file the claim properly and look closely at your situation to determine if there is potential for making one or more third-party claims to improve the possibility of a full recovery for all your damages, including the nonfinancial ones. Don’t delay, as missing a legal deadline could cause you to lose your right to benefits. Call (205) 970-0800 today for a free consultation.