Any type of work has inherent risk to the well-being of those who carry out the job.
Some jobs, however, are more physically strenuous than others. For example, a firefighters work environment is significantly more threatening than a software engineer’s. A line man on an oil rig will be more likely to break a bone or tear a muscle than a waitress in a local diner.
Workers’ compensation exists so that individuals who are injured while working may not be regarded as expendable while they are unable to work.
What Is Workers’ Compensation?
Oftentimes if an employee is injured while on the job, he or she will not be able to work for several weeks. This is especially true of more serious injuries such as broken bones, infections, major surgeries, etc.
Because this employee is unable to work, he or she will likely not receive a consistent income. As we all know, though, bills are due whether they are healthy or sick, active or injured.
So, our government has developed a set of financial protections for workers whenever they are injured on the job. This is Workers’ Compensation; it is also sometimes referred to as “Workers’ Comp.”
Under workers’ compensation laws, employers are required to make payments to employees in order to cover the money lost from a work-related injury.
How Do I Take Advantage of Workers’ Compensation?
If you are working a physically demanding job and roll your ankle while playing soccer with your children over the weekend, you cannot make a workers’ compensation claim.
In order to be under the category of workers’ compensation, an injury must occur while you are working on behalf of your employer.
This generally means that an employee has to be on the premises in order to claim workers’ compensation. However, if you work away from a centralized location and are injured, you can claim workers’s compensation–so long as the injury pertained to work for the company.
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How to File a Claim
If you are injured on the job, you should report the accident immediately to your supervisor.
Then, your employer will direct you to a doctor for medical treatment. This ensures that the doctor who treats you accepts your company’s workers’ compensation insurance.
Your employer will then fill out the paperwork necessary for a workers’ compensation claim. In Alabama, these documents are: First Report of Injury, Supplementary Report, and Claim Summary Form.
With workers’ compensation, the burden of responsibility falls on your employer to justly rectify your losses that came as a result of a work-related injury.
What If My Employer Is Not Complying With Workers’ Compensation Laws?
It is important to know that not all employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Many employers choose not to carry workers’ compensation insurance benefits for their employees, or may choose not to file an injury complaint with the insurance carrier in certain instances.
If an employer believes that an employee’s injuries are minor, then it may attempt to pay for the employee’s medical treatment out-of-pocket to save money on an insurance claim. This can translate into mismanagement of workers’ compensation claims.
If you are injured at work, then you must know the benefits that you are entitled to. You may have a right to paid-for medical treatment, partial payment of wages while you are out of work, a light duty job, or a second opinion by a panel of doctors different than the workers’ compensation doctor you were treated by initially.
If you believe that you have been denied your rights to access workers’ compensation because of an injury sustained at work, you can call the Workers’ Compensation Division of the Alabama Department of Labor and ask to speak with an Examiner. You can also hire an attorney to represent you by handling the claims in court as dictated by the law.
Hiring an attorney can take an immense burden of research off of your already weighed-down shoulders. A good attorney will know the law well and be able to argue your case effectively while helping you return to your job.