The landscape industry has been thriving in Alabama in recent years. In fact, the Birmingham area alone has more than 3,400 different landscaping contractors. While this is good news for the Alabama economy, landscape work can be physically demanding and often involves a good degree of risk.
According to data from the CDC, employees new to the profession have it the worst, with 46% to 55% of serious worker injuries occurring within their first year of work and almost 30% occurring within the employees’ first 90 days.
Approximately 50% of serious injuries were experienced by employees aged 34 years or younger, which is lower than the landscaping profession’s median age of 38.
Fortunately, many Alabama landscape workers who are injured on the job are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for lost wages and medical expenses.
Common jobs performed by landscapers
Landscapers perform a variety of jobs on any given day, often requiring the use of several types of tools, equipment or machinery. Many of these jobs can expose workers to a higher risk of injury.
Duties can include the following:
- Lawn care. Mowing, edging and fertilizing lawns
- Planting. Hauling, planting, and maintaining landscape features such as trees, flowers, shrubs and rocks
- Irrigation. Installing, repairing and maintaining sprinklers and other irrigation system components to direct water to planted areas
- Maintenance. Regular tasks to keep planted areas healthy and attractive, such as weeding, pruning, mulching and pest control
Common hazards faced by landscapers
Devastating injuries can occur in landscaping work that lead to falls from heights, contact with electrical wires, and contact with falling trees or chainsaws.
Some other common hazards for landscapers include:
The most common injuries for landscapers
Landscapers experience a wide variety of occupational injuries, and the following list includes the most common:
Many of these injuries can vary in severity from minor to life-threatening.
Alabama’s workers’ compensation and the “no-fault” concept
Under Alabama law, most employers must carry worker’s comp insurance, which provides benefits to workers who become hurt at work.
The insurance is a no-fault system, meaning that in most cases, workers are legally entitled to benefits regardless of who was at fault for their injury or illness.
To receive compensation, workers only need to prove that their injury or illness occurred within the course and scope of their work, meaning that it resulted from their work duties or environment.
Which employees aren’t covered under Alabama workers’ compensation?
In Alabama, most employees are covered by workers’ comp, but some exceptions exist. Employers with fewer than 5 regular employees or fewer than 10 seasonal employees are exempt from the state’s requirement to carry workers’ comp insurance.
Exemptions also depend on the type of employer. Employers of domestic employees such as housekeepers or farm labor employees are exempt from workers’ comp requirements. Additionally, if an employer hires temporary employees who perform work that is not part of the employer’s main or regular business, they are exempt from coverage requirements.
What types of workers’ comp benefits can workers receive?
Employees who become injured on the job may receive the following benefits:
- Medical benefits. This includes all reasonable and necessary expenses, such as doctor and hospital bills, medications, surgeries, rehabilitation, crutches, prosthetics, and other necessary medical devices or equipment.
- Lost wage benefits. These benefits are based on the nature of your injury and are categorized into 1 of 4 types:
- Temporary partial disability (TPD). Provides partial wage replacement if you need to work part-time or light duty during recovery and earn less than your normal wages.
- Temporary total disability (TTD). Pays 2/3 of your average weekly wages if you cannot return to work temporarily, with no limit on how many weeks you can receive payments.
- Permanent partial disability (PPD). Provides partial wage replacement if you are permanently disabled but can work in some capacity; payments are based on your assessed degree of impairment.
- Permanent total disability (PTD). Pays 2/3 of your average weekly wages if you become totally, permanently disabled and cannot obtain work, with no maximum limit for weeks of payments.
- Death benefits. Certain dependents can receive benefits based on the deceased employee’s average weekly earnings. If the employee has 1 dependent, workers’ comp pays 50% of their average weekly wages and 66% of wages for 2 or more dependents. Employees with no dependents receive a lump-sum payment of $7,500 to their estate. The employer will also pay $6,500 toward funeral costs for the deceased.
The answer is YES, but there are some key issues for you to consider before you file for bankruptcy.
Steps to filing a workers’ compensation claim in Alabama
Employers might not provide as much assistance as employees would like or need, and the workers’ compensation claims process can often become confusing. If you need to file a claim, be sure to follow each of the steps carefully and completely:
- Seek medical attention. In Alabama, the doctor treating you is chosen by your employer (except in emergencies), so check right away to find out where you should go to receive treatment.
- Report your injury or illness. Notify your supervisor no longer than 5 days after the accident or onset of illness. If you missed the 5-day deadline, provide written notice to your supervisor anyway. Notifying them 90 days or more after a workplace accident means your claim will be denied regardless of the reason.
- File a First Report of Injury form. After you report your injury, your employer must file a First Report of Injury form to begin the workers’ comp claim process. Follow up with them to make sure they file this form.
- Contact an attorney. If your employer refuses to complete and file this form or your claim is denied, you should seek legal representation by contacting an Alabama workers’ compensation attorney.
Learn about deadlines, rules, and filing procedures to ensure a successful workers’ compensation claim.
How a workers’ comp attorney can help you get the benefits you deserve
The workers’ compensation system is complex, and workers’ comp insurance companies can be aggressive. Workers who genuinely need and deserve benefits may see their claim denied or have their benefits granted and then cut back or eliminated.
A workers’ comp attorney specializes in helping workers navigate the process, from the initial claim filing to appealing a denied claim. An attorney can ensure you get the benefits you are legally entitled to, including paid medical expenses, lost wages and disability payments. They can help you understand your rights, negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf, and advocate for you in court if needed.
Once you accept a workers’ comp settlement—it’s final. Understand the pros and cons of accepting a lump sum workers’ comp settlement vs. going to trial in Alabama.
Contact an Alabama workers’ compensation attorney
If you’re a landscape worker in the Birmingham area who’s suffered a work-related illness or injury, contact the experienced 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 and their insurer so you can focus on healing.
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.