When production companies want to save money without jeopardizing the quality of their movies, they often choose to film in Alabama. In addition to tremendous cost savings in comparison to larger markets like Atlanta and Los Angeles, Birmingham offers diverse scenery that can be made to mimic vastly different film settings.
Because the state is generally less crowded than Georgia and California, film crews are able to transport equipment, cast members and workers without the challenge of daily traffic jams. Instead of aiming to be the next major film market, Alabama aims to remain a reliable resource for production companies who are looking to balance geographical flexibility with accessibility and overall value.
Common jobs on Alabama film sets
Most people know that television shows and movies have directors, producers, a cast and a camera operator. But in reality, there are numerous other people who work behind the scenes of each production. Other film industry jobs include:
- Assistant director
- Production assistant
- Production designer
- Art director
- Set dresser
- Prop master
- Concept artist
- Stunt performer
- Construction worker
- Camera operator
- Assistant cameraperson
- Digital imaging technician
- Electric lighting technician
- General operator
On the set of a well-funded project, each of the positions listed above may be filled by multiple workers. Therefore, film sets are generally very busy, crowded settings that can create additional hazards for film industry workers.
Common accidents and injuries on Alabama film sets
Production accidents that cause severe injury are surprisingly common at filming locations throughout the U.S., and Alabama film sets are no exception.
Film crews regularly move, install and dismantle heavy equipment and large props. Special effects can also create on-set hazards that can injure film crew workers and cast members.
Critical injuries and deaths were common during the 1930s in the early days of the movie industry in Hollywood. Today, improved safety standards have reduced movie set injuries. Nevertheless, accidents do still happen.
Common causes of film industry injuries include:
- Tripping over cables, wires and ropes on sets
- Pyrotechnic accident injuries
- Vehicle crashes
Common injuries suffered by film and movie cast and crew members include the following:
High-profile fatal work injuries on film sets
Most injuries that occur on film and television sets happen away from the public eye, but some accidents garner media attention and quickly become headline news.
- The Crow in 1993. The entertainment world was shocked when Brandon Lee, son of the famed martial artist Bruce Lee, died from a gunshot wound after being fatally struck by a live bullet from a prop gun during the filming of The Crow. Initially, foul play was suspected, but the local district attorney later determined that the shooting was the result of negligence.
- Twilight Zone: The Movie in 1982. Vic Morrow and child costars Myca Dinh Le and Renee Shin-Yi Chen, ages 6 and 7, were killed on the set of Twilight Zone: The Movie in 1982. The 3 actors were filming a Vietnam War scene in which they were running from a low-flying helicopter. A special effects explosion caused the pilot to accidentally strike the actors, causing their death. Their families sued Warner Bros. Studios and others involved in film production and later recovered undisclosed settlement amounts through civil cases.
- Rust in 2021. The entertainment industry mourned the death of famed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins who died while working on the set of Rust in 2021. Hutchins was struck by a live bullet from a prop gun fired by Alec Baldwin, who was charged in February of 2023 with involuntary manslaughter.
Alabama workers’ compensation program for film industry workers
Like other states, Alabama requires most employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance. A workers’ compensation policy allows injured workers to file a claim with their employer’s insurance company to receive benefits.
Workers’ compensation policies are no-fault insurance. Therefore, an injured worker is not required to prove their employer was at fault in the accident that caused their injury. They only need to be able to prove that their injury resulted from their work environment or the duties they were performing at work.
Eligibility for Alabama workers’ compensation benefits
Alabama’s workers’ compensation laws require most employers with a minimum of 5 full- or part-time employees to have workers’ compensation coverage. To qualify for workers’ comp benefits, workers must be classified as full- or part-time employees.
Employees who are injured while working for an employer that is legally required to carry workers’ comp insurance are generally eligible to receive benefits. With few exceptions, volunteers and independent contractors are generally not eligible to receive workers’ comp benefits.
Avoid certain mistakes that could negatively impact your claim and potentially harm your chances of receiving the compensation you deserve.
Workers’ comp benefits available to Alabama film crews
Injured workers are entitled to the following types of benefits:
- Medical benefits. This includes all necessary medical care and supplies, including doctor visits, hospital stays, surgeries, medication, rehabilitation and equipment (such as a wheelchair or crutches).
- Lost income benefits. If an injury or illness causes you to take time off from your job or work fewer hours, you’re entitled to two-thirds of your average weekly wages for a period of time that depends on your disability.
- Death benefits. These benefits include funeral expenses and compensation for lost income and are paid to your surviving dependents if a work-related accident causes your death.
How to file a workers’ compensation claim in Alabama
The procedure for filing a workers’ comp claim was designed to be relatively fast and straightforward. Injured film industry workers who choose to file a claim in Alabama should follow these steps:
- Seek medical care immediately. Don’t wait to see a doctor after an injury because doing so can make it more difficult to prove your injury is work-related. Except for emergencies, you should ask their employer for details regarding approved medical care providers.
- Report the work-related accident. Alabama law requires workers who have been injured on the job to report the incident to their manager within 5 business days. In some cases, you may have up to 90 days, so check with a workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible if you’re concerned about your eligibility to file.
- File a claim. Confirm that your employer has filed a First Report of Injury form as required by state law to begin the workers’ comp claim process.
- Contact an attorney. If your employer refuses to file your claim or your claim gets denied, an experienced workers’ comp attorney can go over your options for filing an appeal.
Although workers can file a workers’ comp claim on their own, challenges may arise. To prepare for potential challenges, injured workers are advised to consult an Alabama personal injury attorney prior to filing a worker’s comp claim.
Can I file a workers’ comp claim in Alabama if I live in another state?
For film industry workers who travel for work, filing a claim can be even more complicated. Most workers’ comp insurance policies have a clause that covers workers when they’re working out of state. Many states also have reciprocity agreements that honor workers’ comp policies for employers that are based in other states.
If you’re injured on an Alabama film set, it’s often best to contact an experienced Alabama workers’ comp attorney to assist you with your claim, as they’re familiar with the unique laws and requirements in the state, and they can help determine if filing a claim in Alabama or your home state is your best option.
Contact an Alabama workers’ compensation attorney
If you’re a movie or film worker who’s been injured while working on location in the Birmingham area, contact the experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at Nomberg Law Firm. Our attorneys have extensive experience fighting for injured 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.
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.