Workers’ Compensation Law in Mobile
A Case for Change: Landmark Workers’ Compensation Cases Level the Playing Field for Alabama Workers
The firm that protects the injured workers of Alabama
When you suffer from a workplace injury and need to file a workers’ compensation claim there are a few things to remember. The representative from the Work Comp Insurance Company may pressure you to keep the process moving. Only an independent lawyer has you and your recovery as their number one priority. Do Not Sign Anything Before Speaking To An Attorney.
When you suffer from a workplace injury, so many things can change in the blink of an eye. The workmans comp insurance company does not want to pay, most employers do not want their premiums to go up, and you may get stuck in the middle.
This is where an experienced Workers Compensation attorney will take over and make sure you are compensated for your workplace injury.
Alabama attorney Richard Thiry successfully defended the rights of two Alabama workers who were injured on the job in cases that changed the legal landscape for employees who suffer workplace injuries in our state. His success in securing these two landmark decisions has reestablished important rules for all injured workers on how they report and are compensated for their injuries suffered during the scope of their employment.
Can I Still Get Workers’ Comp Benefits If I Caused My Own Injury?
Alabama’s laws are clear about when you can pursue workers’ compensation. Your workers’ comp claim cannot be denied because:
- You caused the accident leading to your injuries.
- A coworker caused your injuries.
- You knew the risks when you began the job.
This doesn’t mean that you might not hear any of this from your employer. Supervisors might tell you that you can’t get workers’ compensation if your negligence caused your injuries, either because they don’t know any better or because they are intentionally misguiding injured employees. When this occurs, it’s important to stand up for your rights, report your injury, and follow up to ensure that they have filed a workers’ compensation claim.
Your Rights Under the Workers’ Compensation System
What are you entitled to under Alabama’s workers’ compensation system? When you file your claim and it is approved, you should receive both medical treatment and partial wages. It’s important to be familiar with the process to avoid unnecessary delays.
In Alabama, your employer or workers’ compensation insurance carrier directs your medical care. The only exception to this is if your injury is so serious that it is considered an emergency. In this situation, you must seek emergency care at the nearest location.
For non-emergent injuries, you must go to the primary care provider selected by your employer. Your employer or insurance carrier pays medical bills associated with the injury. Additionally, they pay mileage reimbursement for your doctors’ appointments.
In addition to having your medical bills paid, you should also receive 66 2/3% of your average weekly wages after a three-day waiting period. Your average weekly wages are determined by what you earned in the 52 weeks prior to your injury. Payments are subject to minimum and maximum limits, which are set by the state each year. Injuries that happen on or after July 1, 2021, the minimum payment is $270 weekly, and the maximum weekly payment is $983.
Can you give up any of these rights? Yes. If you refuse to submit to a blood or urine drug test, you will not receive any compensation from your claim.
Getting What You Are Owed After a Workplace Injury
The workers’ compensation system was created to streamline injury claims for employees and employers alike. It protects employers from personal injury claims that can easily bankrupt a company. It helps employees by providing them compensation without forcing them to prove that their employer caused their injury. However, not all employers make this process as easy as it should be. You may receive pushback from your employer or their workers’ compensation insurance carrier.
In some cases, your employer might falsely claim that your claim is invalid or that you can’t file a claim because no one else saw you get injured. In others, they may threaten you with job loss, demotion, or loss of hours if you proceed with a workers’ compensation claim.
If this pressure comes from the insurance provider, it may come in the form of aggressive questioning about your claim and how your injury occurred. They want to prevent fraudulent claims, but some companies go too far and actually discourage victims from filing valid claims.
If your claim is denied and you know you are entitled to workers’ compensation, it’s important to consult with a workers’ compensation attorney. They can advocate for your rights, clear up delays in the process, and ensure that both your employer and their workers’ comp provider are following Alabama law.
Case Study 1: Right to Seek Treatment from an Unauthorized Physician when Wrongfully Denied Benefits
Under Alabama law, an injured worker is normally required to obtain medical treatment from a doctor who is chosen or approved by the employer. If you seek treatment from your own doctor, you may risk losing the right to claim benefits.
Mr. Thiry represented a worker who had seen his own physician while being denied workers’ comp benefits by his employer’s insurer. The worker sued the employer for medical and temporary total disability benefits, and the trial court determined that he was entitled to these benefits. Based on this determination, the court ordered the employer to pay both his medical costs and temporary total disability benefits.
The employer argued that the court could not order them to pay for medical treatment from the worker’s chosen physician after the injury was determined to be compensable because they had the right “in the first instance” to select the physician who would provide medical services. They argued that they may require the injured worker to change to an employer-authorized physician after a worker successfully proves that the injury is compensable.
Citing prior case law, Mr. Thiry successfully argued that his client could continue treatment with his current physician because he had forged a doctor-patient relationship and was satisfied with the treatment. Therefore, there was no reason to discontinue this relationship. The court ruled that the employer’s refusal to provide necessary treatment to the injured worker permitted the worker to seek medical services elsewhere.
Case Study 2: Oral Notice of Workplace Injury (Even Without a Specific Injury Date) Constitutes Actual Notice
Mr. Thiry represented an injured construction worker in front of the Alabama Supreme Court who was denied workers’ compensation benefits by a lower court. The employer argued that the injured worker had failed to provide written notice of the injury within 90 days of the injury, as required by state law. The lower court had sided with the employer in concluding that they had not been given timely notice of the injury.
Upon appeal, Mr. Thiry successfully argued that written notice is not required if the employer had actual knowledge that the employee was injured during the scope of his employment, and that his client had given oral notice to his supervisor a few days after his injury. The supervisor testified that the worker “did not make a big deal” out of his injury, which is why he did not fill out a First Report of Injury form.
In reversing the lower court’s decision, the Supreme Court found that even though the injured worker had not provided the exact date or time that the injury occurred, the worker had given the supervisor “actual knowledge” that the injury had occurred a few days prior, and this was sufficient to “put a reasonable man on inquiry” of a work-related injury. The court went on to say that “even minimal further investigation would have revealed the exact date” on which the worker sustained his injury.
Are you are struggling to get answers to your basic questions? Are you concerned that you may not be getting accurate information regarding workers comp from your employer? You should talk to a workers’ compensation attorney right away. It’s essential to speak with an independent disability lawyer. Why? They are only concerned with your best interests. Your boss or manager may have very little information regarding workplace injuries or maybe worried about telling you something incorrect.
Don’t Let The Insurance Companies Dictate The Rest Of Your Life
- The workers’ compensation system is not designed for you to win your case.
- We understand the laws in Alabama and how the system works.
- Medical evidence in your case is huge. We understand what must be present for a case to be approved.
- Our negotiation skills will be put to work for you throughout the entire process.
- We understand the tactics used by insurance companies to reduce your settlement.
- If your workers’ compensation attorney knows how to negotiate with the insurance companies, it will give you a massive advantage in your case.
US Workplace Injury Statistics (2018)
Injuries Per Hour
Injuries Per Day
Injuries Per Week
Injuries Per Year
Top Workplace Injuries 2018
The percentages listed here are based off a study by The National Safety Council in a report based off workplace injuries inb 2018.
Overexertion & Bodily Reaction (282,860)
Falls, Slips, & Trips (240,160)
Contact With Objects & Equipment (235,740)
Injuries Caused By Others or By Animals (44,000)