To have a successful workers’ compensation claim in Alabama, there are certain things for the injured worker to consider. Once a person is injured on the job, all of life’s stresses ramp WAY up—health, finances, employment, family communications, etc.
From the beginning, the most important thing to know is to be informed and knowledgeable about how to handle certain situations. This will make your claim run more smoothly and ensure a better result.
1. DO act quickly
Reporting your accident and injury to your employer in a timely manner is of the utmost importance. One of the most common mistakes during the process of a workers’ compensation claim is failing to report your accident or injury in a timely manner.
In the state of Alabama, the injured worker is required to orally report the accident to their employer within 5 days of the injury, or in writing within 90 days of the accident.
(Source: Alabama Code 25-5-1, et seq.)
Generally, an employer is required to submit the First Report of Injury within 15 days after the notice of the occurrence of the injury to the State of Alabama. Failing to report your accident and injury to your employer within the allotted time could result in losing your benefits eligibility.
2. DON’T leave out or add details
While not every detail might help your case, leaving out or adding certain details when reporting to your employer could hurt you. It’s very important to tell the truth about everything you remember when reporting your case.
When relaying your case to insurance companies, lawyers or doctors, being able to tell a detailed and accurate story of the event will help your claim progress efficiently. Be consistent about what you tell them! Although rare, failing to tell an accurate and honest story could result in workers’ compensation fraud.
On the other hand, reporting the accident to your employer is not the time to downplay your injuries. If you are not fully honest with your employer or your lawyer, the process of your workers’ compensation claim becomes much harder and might even take away potential benefits.
3. DO follow medical treatment
Once you are prescribed medical treatment from your doctor, you need to follow their instructions. This includes attending all medical and therapy appointments. If you miss these appointments, the insurance company or the employer will typically attempt to cut off all benefits for failure to comply with medical care. If you need to reschedule, notify the medical office as soon as practical.
Following your doctor’s prescribed care is usually the best course of action; however, in some circumstances, you do have the right to a second opinion paid for by the insurance carrier. Every situation is different. Consult with a lawyer experienced in these matters to guide your decision-making.
4. DON’T take part of work outside of your restrictions
Typically, employers will have a return-to-work program or a modified duty program to help ease the stress of coming back to work. These programs help the employee return to the workplace even if they cannot handle the job duties of their pre-injury job.
If your doctor issues a return to work order and you participate in one such program, make sure it falls within the guidelines ordered by your work comp approved physician. Although these programs can be beneficial, working outside of the scope of the program could cause you physical harm and suspend any progress you have made in your recovery.
5. DO hire a lawyer who is experienced in these matters
Throughout this process, it’s essential to have a good lawyer with experience and expertise of workers’ compensation claims. Avoid an attorney who doesn’t specialize in workers’ compensation claims. While you can educate yourself on important points of the process, a knowledgeable lawyer will help your claim substantially. It is important to hire a law firm with detailed experience regarding workers’ compensation issues in Alabama.
Do your research online, ask around and interview the lawyers you think would be a good fit for your case. The sooner you hire the right lawyer, the better they will be able to protect your legal rights!
If you are hurt on the job due to unsafe working conditions, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation or other benefits. As we have since 1967, Nomberg Law Firm will continue to protect the legal rights of our clients—those who are hurt on the job while working for Alabama employers.
Bernard D. Nomberg has been a lawyer for more than 25 years, and he has earned an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell’s peer-review rating. In 2021, Bernard was named a Super Lawyer for the 9th year in a row.