Behind the scenes at Alabama hotels, people are working around the clock to create a smooth, enjoyable experience for their guests. Hotels are usually associated with rest and relaxation, but they can also be surprisingly risky environments for workers.
Housekeepers never know what they’ll find when they enter a guest room. Many staff members are required to push carts, lift heavy objects and work with chemicals, and these are just a few of the potential hazards Birmingham hotel employees encounter while on the job.
Fortunately, hospitality workers are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for medical expenses and lost wages if they’re injured at work in Alabama. This article will explain which workers qualify for benefits and how to file a claim to receive maximum compensation.
Common injuries for hospitality workers
Most maids and other hotel workers’ injuries are caused by the physical nature of their job.
- Overexertion injuries. Long hours of standing, moving heavy objects, reaching, climbing and bending can cause muscle strains and sprains.
- Slip, trip and fall injuries. Hotel workers may slip on freshly-mopped or otherwise wet floors or trip over unexpected objects on the floor of a guest room. Falls can cause broken bones, back injuries and even traumatic brain injuries.
- Chemical injuries. Chemical burns, eye irritation or lung irritation can occur in workers who are exposed to chemicals.
- Repetitive motion injuries. Front desk workers and others who do tasks that require the same physical movements for their entire shift may develop carpal tunnel syndrome or other repetitive motion injuries.
- Injuries from violence. Hotel workers are at a high risk of experiencing injuries at the hands of angry or drunken guests. In fact, 2020 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that workers in the service industry had the highest rates of intentional injuries at the hands of another person than workers in any other private industry, with 18,690 workers injured in 2020 due to violence.
Hotel worker found dead onsite from carbon monoxide poisoning
In November 2022, the Ann Arbor Fire Department was called to the scene of a Victory Inn following a report of a carbon monoxide incident. First responders found the body of a maintenance worker inside a boiler room where carbon monoxide levels were reportedly in excess of 500 parts per million (ppm).
Currently, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says that any carbon monoxide exposure above 50 parts per million ppm is unsafe. The local energy company shut off the gas to the boiler, and the hotel was declared unsafe until repairs could be made.
Workers’ compensation for injured hotel workers
Cleaners and other hotel staff who are hurt on the job may receive workers’ compensation benefits. Most Alabama companies with 5 or more employees are required to carry workers’ comp insurance coverage.
Under Alabama law, workers who are classified as employees are generally eligible to receive workers’ comp benefits if they are injured at work. In most cases, 1099 workers are not eligible to file a workers’ comp claim unless an employer voluntarily offers coverage to the worker through the company’s insurance policy. Nevertheless, independent contractors may have other legal remedies available to them if they’re injured while working.
Workers’ compensation is a form of no-fault insurance. This means that, in most cases, even if a worker caused the accident that led to their injury, they should be entitled to receive workers’ comp benefits as long as their injury was the result of a work-related accident. Injuries that occur while a worker is under the influence of drugs or alcohol or that are intentionally self-inflicted are generally not covered by an employer’s workers’ comp policy.
What workers’ comp benefits am I entitled to after an injury?
Injured workers in Alabama are entitled to the following benefits:
- Medical expenses. All necessary doctor’s visits, prescriptions, required medical equipment, surgeries, hospitalizations and transportation expenses to and from medical appointments are covered by workers’ comp.
- Lost wages. If your injury causes you to take time off from work, you’re entitled to two-thirds of your lost income for a period of time that depends on your disability.
- Death benefits. If you die as a result of a work-related injury or illness, your dependents are entitled to benefits that cover funeral costs and lost wages.
Learn about workers’ comp benefits in Alabama, and find out how your average weekly wage is calculated.
How do I file an Alabama workers’ compensation claim?
To start the workers’ comp process, injured workers should take the following steps:
- Seek medical attention. Always seek medical attention as soon as possible after a work accident to ensure your injury is documented. This is a necessary step to establish a connection between your injury and your work accident so you can get compensation.
- Notify your employer. In most cases, you’re required to notify your employer in writing within 5 days of an accident or injury. Some exceptions may apply, so contact an attorney if you’re unsure about the time restriction for filing your claim.
- Verify your employer files the necessary forms. Next, your employer is required to file a First Report of Injury Form with their insurance company. The insurance company will then require you to be examined by an approved physician. Be sure to follow the physician’s orders regarding medication, physical therapy, rest and work restrictions so you can remain eligible for workers’ comp benefits.
- Contact an attorney. If your employer doesn’t file your claim or if your claim is denied, contact a workers’ compensation lawyer immediately to ensure your rights are protected.
How workers’ comp attorneys help injured workers
Although it’s possible for workers to go through the workers’ comp process on their own, having an attorney is generally in the injured worker’s best interest.
An experienced Alabama workers’ compensation attorney will have a thorough knowledge of the workers’ comp process. In addition to ensuring workers follow the required timeline, attorneys can also more readily sense when something may go wrong and devise a legal strategy to overcome challenges.
There are also cases in which an injured worker is required to make important decisions. Insurance companies sometimes offer one-time settlement amounts to injured workers. An injured worker should always consult an attorney to determine whether a workers comp settlement offer is reasonable in light of the facts surrounding their injury.
Sometimes a worker may also be able to file a personal injury lawsuit if a 3rd party (such as a parts manufacturer) was responsible for their work-related injury. A Birmingham workers’ comp attorney can advise workers regarding their legal options for a 3rd-party lawsuit.
Learn about your eligibility for workers’ comp benefits if you’re injured on a movie or film set in Alabama.
Contact an Alabama workers’ compensation attorney
If you’ve been injured on the job in Alabama, contact the experienced workers’ comp attorneys at Nomberg Law Firm in Birmingham. We can negotiate with your employer and their insurance company to ensure you get a fair settlement offer. Our attorneys have extensive experience fighting for injured Alabama workers to get them the money they deserve.
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.