Who Is Entitled to Workers’ Compensation?
Alabama law strikes a balance between making employers pay for worker injuries and putting limits on the compensation workers can receive.
This is known as workers’ compensation. You generally do not get to sue your employer the same way you could sue someone else for hurting you. However, you are also not required to prove that your employer was at fault for the accident. Instead, you simply must prove that you were injured in the performance of your work duties.
This can get a little more complicated than it should be, however. There are also a number of specific exceptions when an employee may not be entitled to compensation, such as:
- Employee’s willful misconduct
- When it is an intentional and personal act (fights between coworkers based on something that happened outside of work)
- Intentional self-harm
- Employee impaired by drugs or alcohol
- Employee failing to follow safety rules or laws
These are just a short list of the types of disqualifiers that may exist. Of course, you should always talk to an attorney about your specific case to be sure.
When are You Entitled to More Than Workers’ Compensation?
There are times when a third party (someone other than you or your employer) is responsible for a workplace accident. Some examples may include:
- A car accident caused by a negligent driver
- An injury caused by a subcontractor or different contractor company
- A defective device made by another company
When some third party is responsible, you may actually have two separate cases – one against your employer for workers’ compensation benefits and one against the at-fault party for negligence.
What Compensation May You Be Entitled to Receive?
Unlike a typical personal injury case, a workers’ compensation case will compensate you based on a set of statutory guidelines that set forth the amount of money you can receive for your injuries. There is no jury, but rather the government agency will review the injuries to determine the statutory amount to award.
There are three calculations that need to be made in order to determine your compensation:
- Your Average Weekly Wage for the Past 52 Weeks Prior to Injury. First, you must calculate your average weekly wage based on the last year of employment before your accident or injury. You can receive weekly compensation at a rate of 66.67% of your average weekly earnings for the last year before the accident or injury. However, payments cannot exceed the average maximum wage or fall below the average minimum wage, which are set forth by state law each year. See average weekly wages.
- Whether Your Injury Is Permanent or Temporary. Next, you must determine if the injury is permanent or temporary. The difference will affect how long you receive payments.
- Total or Partial Injury. Finally, you must determine if your injury is only partially disabling or if it is a total disability that affects your entire body or so significantly impairs you that there is little else you could do for work.
How Long You Can Be Compensated. In general, you can receive compensation as follows. Just keep in mind these are subject to change, and the determination may not always be as clear as it seems.
- Worker death – Maximum of 500 weeks
- Permanent / Total Disability – Indefinite / unlimited payments possible
- Temporary / Total Disability – Indefinite / unlimited payments possible
- Permanent / Partial Disability – Maximum of 300 weeks
- Temporary / Partial Disability – 300 weeks
The amount of compensation a family can receive for the death of a worker will depend on the number of surviving dependents.
Common Types of Workplace Injury Cases We Handle
No two work injury cases are the same. At Gartlan Injury Law, we handle all types of workplace injuries, including:
- On-the-Job Car Accidents
- Construction Accidents
- Federal, State, and Municipal Employers
- Trip/Slip and Fall Injuries
- Scaffolding Injuries
- Healthcare Worker Injuries
- Chemical Exposures
- Electrocutions and Burns
- Other Injuries Incurred At Work
- Industrial Accidents
How Long Do You Have to File a Workplace Injury Lawsuit?
After an industrial accident or other work injury, you have very limited time to take action. In general, the statute of limitations is 2 years from the date of the injury.
More importantly, there are other deadlines that need to be understood. For instance, you are required to notify your employer of the injury immediately. This should happen as soon as possible. Many employers are clearly made aware of the injury but later claim to have no notice. Therefore, you should put it in writing, yet be careful to stick to just the facts. An attorney can help you with this as well.