Ensure that your workplace injury and subsequent treatment do not leave you drowning in debt.
Suffering an on-the-job injury can be a traumatic experience that leaves you struggling to make ends meet while you recover. Fortunately, workers’ compensation benefits are available to provide injured workers in Alabama with financial assistance during this challenging time.
However, not all workers’ compensation benefits are created equal, and it’s important to understand the different types of benefits available to ensure you receive the appropriate compensation for your injuries.
In this article, we’ll explain the various workers’ compensation benefits available to injured workers in Alabama and how they differ from one another. By gaining a better understanding of your options, you can make informed decisions and ensure you receive the benefits you deserve after a workplace injury.
Types of workers’ compensation benefits
Medical care benefits
If you’re injured at work, there’s a high probability that you’re going to incur medical bills. Whether it be doctor visits, prescriptions or even surgery, the costs add up. Workers’ compensation benefits can help cover the costs of medical care, including the costs to identify and treat the condition or injury you may experience as a result of a workplace injury. Some benefits may even cover additional expenses such as counseling and pain therapy.
Other alternative forms of medical care, such as acupuncture, aromatherapy or energy healing, may be recognized but traditionally are not approved through workers’ compensation. If you’re interested in alternative medicine, it’s always best to check if they’re covered before incurring associated costs.
Unlike medical care costs that are designed to cover future expenses, disability is a way to cover lost expenses. Depending on the severity of the injury, you may be out of work for a prolonged period of time, and without work, it can be hard to pay the bills.
Fortunately, with disability benefits, you can be compensated for lost wages while you’re out of work.
There are 4 different types of disability benefits you may be entitled to, including:
- Temporary total disability (TTD) applies when you’re out of work but will be able to return. The period may be unknown, but it’s likely that you will be back after recovering from the injury.
- Temporary partial disability (TPD) would be awarded when you’re able to complete some of your work-related tasks but may be unable to perform your job to the fullest extent. Just like temporary total disability, the effects of the injury are short in duration, and it’s expected you’ll be able to return to your normal job once the injury is healed.
- Permanent total disability (PTD) is given when you’re never going to be able to return to your job. You might still be able to work, but you’re unable to work in the same or a similar position as you did before the injury and cannot earn wages similar to what you earned before you got hurt.
- Permanent partial disability (PPD) covers permanent injuries that may only partially affect your ability to work.
Rehabilitation benefits generally cover the costs of 4 different types of therapeutic services that may be needed to regain the strength and coordination necessary to return to work.
Occupational therapy is a type of rehabilitation program that aims to help individuals recover and regain their ability to perform daily activities after a work injury. Occupational therapists work with individuals who have suffered from work-related injuries, such as repetitive motion injuries or those caused by accidents, to help them regain their physical, cognitive and emotional abilities.
This type of therapy often involves exercises and therapies to improve range of motion, strength, coordination and balance, as well as adaptive techniques to help individuals compensate for any limitations or disabilities they may have.
Physical therapy is a type of treatment that involves exercises and movements designed to improve the physical function, mobility and strength of the body. After a work injury, physical therapy can be an essential part of the recovery process.
Physical therapy sessions may include a combination of exercises, stretching, manual therapy and the use of specialized equipment to help an injured worker regain their physical abilities and return to their normal daily activities.
Employees who are chronically exposed to toxic substances may develop respiratory illnesses or injuries over time. In these instances, the treatment provided is designed to maintain airways and minimize breathing difficulties. Depending on the type of illness or injury experienced, therapy might include instruction on using inhalers or portable oxygen tanks.
A work-related illness or injury suffered by an employee may require finding and training for a new type of employment. The many services offered by vocational therapists include:
- Skills analysis and testing
- Vocational evaluation and coaching
- Career counseling
- Resume or job application assistance
- Job placement
- On-the-job training
- Assistive devices or technology
Unfortunately, there may be an instance where a workplace incident results in death. In the unlikely event a loved one dies as a result, workers’ compensation may provide for funeral and burial expenses and will likely provide financial support if the deceased was a dependent source of income.
In order to qualify for compensation, a spouse, minor children or other qualified family member must have been financially dependent on the deceased employee.
The amount of monetary benefits provided depends on the number of qualifying family members. In general, benefits are commonly 50% of the average weekly wages earned by the employee before their death for one dependent or 66% for 2 or more dependents.
The benefits can be paid for up to 500 weeks. Additionally, workers’ compensation provides up to $6,500 to cover funeral expenses.
One of the benefits an injured worker can receive in an Alabama workers’ compensation claim is reimbursement on mileage when they go to the doctor, pharmacy, physical therapist or hospital for prior approved care. Effective January 1, 2019, the mileage rate is 58 cents per mile.
Alabama workers’ compensation laws require businesses and companies that employ 5 or more full- or part-time workers to provide workers’ compensation insurance coverage to their workers.
Employers not required to carry workers’ compensation insurance include the following:
- Construction company employers who build single-family, detached residential dwellings
- Employers of domestic workers
- Employers of farmworkers
- Employers of casual/temporary employees
Workers’ compensation is a form of no-fault insurance. This means that, unlike in personal injury cases, the injured party doesn’t have to prove that anyone is at fault for their injury to recover compensation.
As an injured worker, you only need to be able to prove the following:
- There is a direct correlation between your injury or illness and your job
- The illness or injury occurred while you were at work or performing your work duties
- The injury or illness occurred during your employment
In most cases, workers are entitled to benefits even if they were partially to blame for the accident that caused their injury.
However, there are some exceptions. Workers wouldn’t qualify for compensation if they were:
- Under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the accident
- Intentionally attempting self-harm
- Engaged in horseplay or fighting
No. Workers’ compensation only provides benefits for economic losses like medical expenses and lost wages. Non-economic damages, like pain and suffering or emotional distress, are not covered under workers’ compensation. If, however, an employer intentionally tries to cause an employee harm, that worker may have the legal option to file a personal injury lawsuit against their employer.
Workers’ compensation is considered an “exclusive remedy.” In exchange for the no-fault workers’ compensation system, injured workers are typically prohibited from suing their employers.
There are limited cases in which filing a personal injury lawsuit may be an option after a work injury, such as if the employer didn’t purchase the required workers’ compensation insurance or if the employer intentionally injured the employee. However, you can’t file a lawsuit against your employer and collect workers’ comp benefits.
If you believe that either of these exceptions applies to your case, you should discuss your options with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.
Contact an Alabama workers’ compensation attorney
If you’ve suffered an on-the-job injury or illness in Alabama, let the knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorneys at Nomberg Law Firm help you with your claim. Our attorneys have extensive experience fighting for injured Alabama workers to get them maximum compensation after a work-related injury or illness. 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.