Finally finding a resolution to your workers’ compensation claim is the main goal of most every injured employee. It is far from easy to be in pain and navigate the whirlwind of paperwork and doctors’ visits that go along with an objectively tedious and trying time. So, once a claim has concluded, money has been awarded, and you, as the employee, attempt to wade back into your duties at work mindful of the injury that took you away, to begin with, why should you bother wondering if you should reopen your claim?
To illustrate why this option could be of importance to you, consider this example. Suppose there is an employee working on a job site, and one of his duties involves climbing up and down ladders. The employee has been properly trained and is following all the safety protocols mandated by his employer. One day, this employee falls while climbing the ladder and suffers a significant injury to his back. The employee undergoes surgery and physical therapy, all covered by his workers’ compensation settlement with his employer. Eventually, the employee returns to work, yet he is unable to perform his previous duties. The employee then loses his job for a reason that does not include a “labor dispute,” voluntary resignation, dishonest or criminal act, actual or threatened misconduct after a previous warning from his employer, or a lapsed vocational license. This employee is then able to reopen his workers’ compensation case to obtain a reconsideration of his permanent partial disability rating.
Had the employee worked in a different state, the same conclusion to the story might not be written. However, the state of Alabama allows for workers’ compensation claims to be reopened if the employee is terminated any time within 300 weeks of his injury. This means that regardless of a previously concluded claim, an employee may reopen his case within two years of the termination in order for his rating to be reconsidered, so long as his termination does not fall within one of the five exceptions mentioned in the example above.
A change for the worst in your employment status after attempting to return to work is not something you have to endure without complaint. Even after a successful claim for injury compensation, as an employee in Alabama, you are entitled to further compensation in certain cases after termination. Contact a workers’ compensation lawyer to learn if your claim meets this standard.
If you are hurt on the job due to unsafe working conditions, seek legal counsel, as you may be entitled to workers’ compensation or other benefits. As we have since 1967, we will continue to protect the legal rights of our clients – those who are hurt on the job while working for Alabama employers. If you have been injured on the job and want to learn your rights, please consider contacting the Nomberg Law Firm. Our office number is 205-930-6900.
Ala. Code § 25-5-57(a)(3)(i) (2020).
Bernard D. Nomberg has been a lawyer for more than 20 years. Bernard has earned an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell’s peer-review rating. In 2019, Bernard was named a Super Lawyer for the 7th year in a row.