There are essentially three benefits provided to injured workers through Alabama’s Workers’ Compensation Act:
- Medical Benefits: As long as you are receiving treatment for an injury that arose out of and in the course of your employment and that is provided by a doctor authorized by your employer or its workers’ compensation insurance carrier, then you should not have to pay anything out of your pocket for your medical care. An injured worker cannot choose the doctor who will provide care for his or her injury. You must go to the doctor that is authorized and approved. If you are not satisfied with the approved treating physician (ATP), then you are allowed one opportunity during the course of your claim to choose a different doctor from a panel of four physicians provided by the employer or insurance carrier.
- Temporary Total Disability (TTD) or Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) Benefits: If you are unable to work as a result of your injury, you are entitled to Temporary Total Disability payments. The payments should equal 2/3 of your average weekly wage (determined by reviewing your prior earnings over 52 weeks). If you are able to work, but are not paid the same as your pre-injury wage, you are entitled to Temporary Partial Disability payments to increase your wages to 2/3 of your pre-injury average weekly wage. Either of these benefits will be paid during the time of disability and normally cease when your approved treating physician states that you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI).
- Indemnity and Vocational Benefits: Once you have reached MMI, your treating physician will generally assess whether or not you have suffered any permanent injury that results in a disability to your body. A permanent injury may be a partial disability or a total disability depending on the severity of your injury. In the case of a partial disability, an injured worker will receive weekly benefits for up to 300 weeks. In the event of a total disability, an injured worker will receive benefits for life. The amount of the benefit payments may be dramatically impacted based on whether an employee can return to the type of work they were doing at the time of the injury.
Some employees are fearful that they will be terminated if they report a work accident and injury to their employers. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that applies to many employers and provides certain employees up to 12 work weeks of unpaid leave each year with no threat of job loss. Even if you do not qualify for the protection of the FMLA, there is also law that protects injured workers from termination solely because they make a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. Of course, employers can terminate even an injured worker for any other legal reason. However, if you feel you have been terminated solely because you filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, you may want to call us to review your case.
In some instances, legitimate workers’ compensation claims may be denied by aggressive insurance companies. The insurance company may claim you were not injured at work, suffered from a pre-existing condition or that your injury does not require medical attention. You may need to take legal action to receive your Workers’ Compensation benefits. If you have been injured in North Alabama and need help with your claim, please call us at 256-536-0770. Initial consultations are free and there is no charge unless there is a recovery.