There are more than 250,000 fast-food restaurants in the United States, and some states are more densely populated with franchises than others. Alabama, for example, has the highest number of fast-food restaurants per capita in the whole U.S. This translates to a large number of Alabamians working at fast-food restaurants.
While these plentiful jobs are great for the Alabama workforce, they also lead to a high number of work injuries. The good news is that workers’ compensation laws in Alabama can help these injured workers recover compensation for lost wages and medical expenses while they recover from their injuries.
Most popular fast-food restaurants in Alabama
Alabama is home to many national franchises, such as McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger King. It also has regional fast-food chains such as Milo’s Original Burger Shop.
According to research, the top-rated restaurant chain in Alabama is Daylight Donuts. However, other restaurants are favored for specific cuisines. For example, Culver’s is the destination of choice for burgers, while Chick-fil-A is the winner for chicken. Papa Murphy’s is the reigning champ for pizza.
Here are a few other popular franchises in Alabama:
- Taco Bell
- Dunkin’ Donuts
- Dairy Queen
Fast-food workers injury statistics
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that in 2017, restaurant workers (including fast-food workers) experienced injuries at a rate of 77.7 for every 10,000 workers.
While this is lower than the rate of 89.4 per every 10,000 workers across all private industries, it’s still a significant number of injuries requiring workers to miss days of work. The majority of these reported injuries were caused by muscle sprains, tears and strains.
Common injuries and illnesses for fast-food workers
There are many ways that fast-food employees can get hurt on the job. In addition to musculoskeletal injuries, fast-food workers frequently experience the following:
- Cuts and lacerations
- Bruises and contusions
- Burns and other thermal heat injuries
- Repetitive motion injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome
Because these workers work in a fast-paced environment where slippery/greasy floors are often present, head and spinal cord injuries from slip-and-fall accidents are also fairly common.
Injuries from violence
Though often not included in official statistics, violence is another cause of workplace injuries in fast-food employees. Staffers have been violently assaulted while on the job. Some have even been killed.
Is workplace violence covered by workers’ compensation?
Should an employee sustain an injury while performing their duties within the scope of their employment, they would be covered by their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance.
In New York, for example, a shooting at a McDonald’s made headlines in 2022 after it was revealed that the entire incident started over cold fries. A customer complained about her order, and her adult son got into an argument with one of the employees on shift. It turned into a fight, and the customer’s son drew a gun. The employee spent several days on life support before passing away.
Colleagues can represent a danger just as much as customers, too. In January 2023, an employee at a Georgia-based Cookout restaurant was stabbed by a coworker during a fight. The night shift was responsible for cleaning up the blood, showcasing the impact that workplace violence can have on everyday employees even when they aren’t involved in the incident.
Workers’ compensation in Alabama
Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that covers employees who get sick or injured because of their job. In Alabama, most businesses with 5 or more employees are required to have workers’ compensation insurance, but their individual policies and procedures can differ.
Workers’ comp is classified as a “no-fault” insurance system, meaning that you don’t have to prove abuse or negligence in order to qualify for compensation.
This is different than other types of personal injury cases where you have to establish that someone else is liable for your accident. In most cases, if you’re injured in the regular course of your duties as a fast-food worker, you likely qualify for workers’ comp even if you’re partially to blame for the accident that caused your injury.
Exemptions to workers’ comp
Fast-food employees are usually covered under state-based workers’ compensation laws. There are some employees who aren’t, including the following:
- Federal employees
- Domestic employees
- Farm workers
- Temporary employees and contract workers
For fast-food chains, however, the exceptions to workers’ compensation laws don’t often apply.
Types of workers’ compensation benefits
If you’re a fast-food worker who has suffered a job injury, you might be entitled to several types of workers’ comp benefits, including:
- Lost wages (typically two-thirds of your average weekly wages while you’re unable to work)
- Medical expenses, including hospital stays, doctor appointments, surgeries, medications and rehabilitation costs
- Death benefits for certain family members if a work-related injury or illness causes your death
The amount of time you can receive these benefits depends on the severity of your injury/illness and your assigned disability.
Filing a workers’ compensation claim in Alabama
Injured workers should take the following steps to file a workers’ compensation claim in Alabama:
- Get medical attention as soon as possible. Except in emergencies, you will need to see a physician approved by your employer. It’s important not to delay seeking medical treatment, as doing so could make it more difficult to tie your injury to your work accident.
- Report the accident to a manager or supervisor within 5 days.
- Make sure that your employer files a First Report of Injury Form and notifies their insurance company of your injury.
- Wait for your claim to be accepted or denied.
- Contact an attorney if your claim is denied or you need help with your claim.
Contact an Alabama workers’ compensation attorney
It’s a good idea to hire an attorney when seeking workers’ compensation. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney will be familiar with all of the deadlines, policies and paperwork required to file a claim. They can also ensure that your legal rights are upheld during every step of the process.
If you’ve suffered a job injury as a fast-food worker in Alabama, contact our Birmingham workers’ compensation attorneys at Nomberg Law Firm. Our attorneys have extensive experience fighting for injured Alabama workers to get them the money they deserve. Let us handle the negotiations with your employer so you can focus on healing.
Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.
About Nomberg Law Firm
Nomberg Law Firm has been helping people in Alabama recover fair compensation for their injuries since 1967. We know our clients are hard-working men and women who deserve the best representation possible. That’s why we’ve dedicated our entire practice to fighting for your rights after an injury.
The small size of our family-owned firm allows us to focus on our client’s needs and enables us to provide individualized assistance and personal attention that larger firms simply can’t match.