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birmingham workers' compensation lawyer
When it comes to workers’ compensation, many people believe it is a straightforward process. For example, maybe you were at work and became injured. Surely your employer will cover the costs of your injury. Unfortunately, it is rare that cases are that easy to navigate.
Instead, many people face denials, undervalued settlements, and threats from their employers. If this happens to you, it is important for you to hire a workers’ compensation lawyer in Birmingham. Keep reading to learn more.
What Does Workers’ Compensation Mean?
Workers’ compensation is the payment of monetary and medical benefits from a company to an employee who was injured on the job. Usually, this payment comes from a company’s insurance. Ideally, workers’ compensation covers any damages, medical bills and loss of wages. However, many insurance companies and businesses will deny you workers’ compensation coverage in an effort to keep their own costs low.
Do You Need a Lawyer for Workers’ Compensation Settlements?
Whether or not you need a personal injury lawyer depends on the insurance company, your employer, and the extent of your workplace injuries and other damages. Strictly speaking, a lawyer in Birmingham is not required to submit workers’ compensation injury claims.
If the settlement offered is more or sufficient for your needs, you may not need workers’ compensation lawyers at all. However, settlement offers like that are rare, and so we usually recommend any injured workers hire a workers’ compensation lawyer.
Is Getting a Workers’ Compensation Attorney Worth It?
Getting a workers’ rights attorney is one of the main ways you can protect against the violation of your rights. Unfortunately, insurance companies and employers don’t always have your best interest at heart and may try to settle for less than you deserve.
In fact, even though it’s illegal in Birmingham, Alabama, some employers may even threaten to fire you for making a workers’ comp claim or going to a lawyer. Don’t be intimidated by these actions. With the right attorney working for you, you will receive financial justice and be able to return to work.
How Much Should I Expect from a Workplace Injury Claim?
The simple answer is that you should expect enough payment from workers’ compensation to cover any expenses related to your injury. This might include medical bills, lost wages, supplemental job training and more. The severity and longevity of your injury will also have some influence on the overall amount you’re awarded.
If you’re not awarded enough to cover these costs, you should absolutely call a lawyer. If you're still hesitant, at least counter-offer with a more reasonable amount. Having an attorney in Birmingham on your side can greatly increase the total amount you’re offered. Companies are aware that workers’ compensation attorneys know how much your injury is worth and are more likely to offer a fair settlement as a result.
As a general rule, the Alabama Department of Labor lists 66.66% of an employee’s average weekly wage as the minimum set amount for workers’ compensation payment.
Can I Sue If My Employers Refuse My Workers’ Comp Claim?
In most cases, you cannot sue your employer for denying your workers’ compensation. Birmingham, AL employers are required by law to pay for workers’ compensation insurance, which means they are immune from most lawsuits. However, if your employer didn’t have sufficient insurance, negligently put you in harm’s way, deliberately threatened your job status, or denied your injury, you may have grounds for a workers’ compensation lawsuit.
It’s best to exhaust all options before taking your employer to court. We recommend that, before you do anything else, you or your lawyer contact your employer to find out the reason for denial. Some paperwork may be misplaced or there may be a simple misunderstanding. By simply checking, you may be able to secure workers’ compensation with no extra effort.
However, if this doesn’t work, the next course of action we usually recommend is the appeal of the denial of workers’ compensation. This appeal must be made very quickly after the denial in order to stay within the statute of limitations. Appeals are often denied, but with the help of a lawyer, they are more likely to succeed.
Even if your workers’ compensation claim is denied a second time, there can be a lot of reasons to not file a lawsuit against your employer. First of all, doing so will likely damage your relationship with your employer, making an unfriendly work environment even if you do return to your job. Secondly, it can be a very time-consuming process that may pay very little in the end. Thirdly, you may not have a strong case against your employer, even if they treated you unfairly.
Having a good lawyer on your side is absolutely essential should you decide to take your employer to court. They can help you decide if a lawsuit is truly the best option for you. If a lawsuit is possible for your case, they will be able to fight on your behalf in court.
Frequently Asked Questions for Workers’ Comp in Birmingham
What Does Workers’ Compensation Insurance Cover?
In the state of Alabama, workers’ compensation insurance is required for employers with more than five employees. This requirement is put in place to protect Alabama’s work force by providing monetary awards to those injured while working, regardless of who was at-fault for the accident.
However, because the workers’ compensation system is a no-fault system, there are limits to what benefits employees are entitled to. For instance, in general, non-economic losses are not recoverable in workers' comp settlements. These non-eligible losses include pain and suffering and loss of quality of life.
There are some instances where you may get coverage for these losses, though. If a third party was responsible for the event that caused you harm, your workers' compensation lawyer in Birmingham may be able to put together a suit against them.
Generally, though, you can expect the workers’ comp insurance carrier to provide benefits for the following:
If you’re unable to work for at least 3 days, you’re eligible for temporary disability, sometimes called temporary total disability. Employees meeting this condition are entitled to two-thirds of their average weekly wage of the time that is missed due to a job-related injury. However, there is a cap for the total amount an injured worker can be paid. Workers’ compensation laws adjust the cap annually.
Your doctor will tell you when you are able to either return to work or when you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). If you’ve reached MMI, you may be eligible for another type of disability claim. Work with a qualified workers’ compensation lawyer in Birmingham to navigate the workers’ compensation claims process.
Temporary Partial Disability
Temporary partial disability (TPD) is for workers who have suffered an injury on the job but are still able to do some work. Following your initial doctor’s appointments, your physician will tell you how much work you can do without hindering your healing. With your doctor’s approval, you can return to modified or part-time work. Your benefits are determined by the severity of your work-related conditions and are paid in addition to your weekly wages.
State law requires that injured workers accept offers of temporary partial disability if your employer offers it and your doctor approves of it. As with temporary total disability, there is a cap on the length of time that you can receive TPD. It’s important that you have the proper legal representation to walk you through the process of filing a claim for workers’ compensation. Otherwise, you risk not receiving the maximum benefits for your work-related injuries.
If the workplace accident is severe enough and your medical treatment is complete, you may be permanently disabled. Permanent disability benefits come in many forms, and they are dependent on the nature and severity of your disability. It is most common to receive partial permanent disability, as opposed to total permanent disability. You may be unable to work at all, or you may be able to complete some work at a job that’s different from the previous one.
The length of time that you receive these workers’ comp awards is dependent on the injury as well, although some injuries are eligible for lifelong compensation. Let a trusted workers' comp lawyer in Birmingham work with you. Permanent disability benefits have many gray areas, and a licensed attorney will know when the insurance company is offering you less than the compensation you need.
What Would Disqualify an Injured Employee for Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Even though most employers are required to carry workers’ comp insurance, there are several ways that an injured worker may disqualify themselves from work injury benefits. Though not common, if any of the below apply to you, you are not entitled to workers’ compensation.
Some people may try to claim workman’s compensation by intentionally injuring themselves. However, if you are found to either be faking or to have purposefully caused the events that resulted in your injury, your workers’ compensation benefits will not be paid.
Injuries Occurred While Under the Influence
Working while under the influence puts you at a greater risk of injury, which is why your workers’ comp benefits will be denied if you were intoxicated by drugs or alcohol. Even if you weren’t drunk, any proof that you had been drinking can weaken or even disqualify your insurance claim.
Injuries Caused by Inappropriate Work Behavior
While not everything we do at work can be considered work, two actions in particular can negate your workplace injury case: Fighting and reckless behavior. If you get into a fight with another person at your workplace, you cannot claim that your work or employer was responsible for your injury. Likewise, if you knew how to safely work at your place of employment but were horseplaying on the property or with other workers, you are responsible for your own injuries and cannot receive workplace injury benefits.
If you or someone you know suffers a workplace injury and are wrongfully denied benefits, call our law firm today for a free case review. Our team wants to protect your workers’ and medical rights and to maximize your benefits.
What Are the Most Common Mistakes Injured Employees Make After a Workplace Accident?
Unfortunately, there are many mistakes you can make following a workplace injury, and many of these mistakes occur minutes after the event of the injury. First of all, denying immediate medical attention could show the workers’ comp insurance carrier that you neglected to take your medical care into your own hands and may have even made your injury worse.
From there, many injured workers share too much information with the insurance-appointed doctors. These doctors help you see if anything is immediately wrong, but they also can share with the insurance adjusters if you claim to be “fine,” even if your medical tests prove otherwise. You should also carefully listen to your doctor and follow their prescribed activities and medications. Failure to follow the doctor’s orders could result in your benefits being denied.
When it’s time to report the injury, you should always do so in a timely manner and with proper documentation. You are required to submit a report to your employer within five days of the injury, otherwise you will likely be disqualified for workers’ compensation benefits. When you do submit this report, include documentation of the injury, including testimony of witnesses and your own detailed testimony of the event.
Unfortunately, there are many ways you could jeopardize your own workers’ rights to compensation, which is why you should always work with a workers’ comp attorney you trust.
Workers’ Compensation Lawyer in Birmingham
Workers’ compensation has a lot of hoops to jump through before you get your settlement. When you’re injured, the last thing you want to do is file paperwork and talk to companies about your payment. Let an expert workers’ compensation lawyer in Birmingham handle your case for you.
If you’re looking for experienced lawyers who are empathetic to your situation, call the law firm at Wettermark Keith. We know the workers’ compensation industry well and want to put our knowledge to work for you.
Start with a free consultation today.