January 16, 2023
personal injury

If you sustain injuries in a workplace accident, you may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses and lost wages or disability benefits. Identifying whether your injury qualifies for workers’ compensation under Alabama law is essential to receiving the correct amount of compensation.

Learn the first steps to take after a workplace accident and how an Alabama work injury lawyer can help protect your right to workers’ compensation after your accident.

What Is a Workplace Injury in the Eyes of the Law?

The Workers’ Compensation Act defines a workplace injury as an injury occurring in a workplace and throughout a career. The workplace injury must have resulted from an unexpected or unforeseen event that did not involve human fault or purposeful injury to yourself or another person.

Injuries under this law include:

  • Injuries resulting from accidents, including injury to the physical body or damage to an artificial member of the body
  • Occupational diseases, such as radiation exposure and pneumoconiosis
  • Cumulative physical injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Damage to eyeglasses, hearing aids, and prosthetic devices that work as part of the body

Specific diseases, such as hearing loss, are compensable under the law if they result from a workplace hazard like excessive noise exposure. It also covers injuries and diseases aggravated by workplace conditions. For instance, an electric shock that aggravated a heart defect can result in an employee filing for workers’ compensation.

What a Workplace Injury Is Not

The law does not cover workers unless they are working in a specific environment at the time of the accident. For example, you cannot claim workers’ compensation if you sustained injuries after work, such as on your commute home. It also excludes these types of injuries:

  • Diseases not resulting from a workplace accident, such as cancer
  • Injury caused by a third party or a coworker
  • Personal injuries unrelated to a person’s employment
  • Mental disorders or injuries not caused by physical injury

What to do if You Suffer a Workplace Injury: First Steps

Under Alabama law, you must follow specific procedures to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Here are the first steps you must take to secure your compensation:

Seek Medical Care

The first thing to do after a workplace injury is to seek medical care. If you were involved in an accident, you should call emergency services or go to an emergency room immediately. Receiving care ensures your injuries are properly evaluated and starts the documentation of your workplace injury.

You must tell your doctor that you sustained injuries at work or that your illness is associated with your job responsibilities. The primary care physician will make any recommendations for medical specialists.

After receiving treatment from a doctor, you must maintain all scheduled follow-up appointments with your treating healthcare providers and follow their treatment plan closely. Failure to follow medical instructions may jeopardize your compensation claim by allowing insurance companies to declare your injuries less severe than you allege.

Document Crucial Evidence

As soon as possible after an accident, obtaining evidence essential to proving your compensation claim is important. Evidence can be in the form of the following:

  • Photos or videos of the scene
  • Eyewitness statements
  • Security camera footage of the accident
  • Images of products or equipment that caused the long-term injury

You or a trusted friend can collect this evidence, or a lawyer can obtain this evidence on your behalf. If a lawyer has suggested you avoid contact with your employer or work colleagues, they must obtain security video or witness statements for you to prevent the possibility of discrediting your compensation claim.

Report the Injury to Your Employer

You must notify your employer of your workplace injury within 5 days of the accident. If you cannot submit your report within that timeframe, you must prove that you were physically or mentally incapacitated.

Alabama law also permits written notices within 90 days after an accident. If you report your accident and injury within the allotted time, you may retain your eligibility for benefits, but you may be unable to claim compensation for medical fees billed before reporting.

Be Honest and Professional with Your Employer

Your employer will investigate the accident after you file an injury report, including questioning you about the facts. When discussing your case with the employer and the insurance company, you should be forthright about how the accident occurred.

During the interview, be detailed about your injury, using facts and data you have, such as from your medical records. It’s also important to avoid assigning blame or fault to a specific person or group.

For example, if you slipped on oil, you should simply state the location, the time, and what you were doing at the time of the accident. Don’t say that your coworker spilled it or did not clean it up.

If requested, you should submit a blood or urine test. If you refuse to cooperate with a drug or alcohol test after an accident at work, the employer’s insurer can deny your workers’ compensation claim.

Retain a Lawyer

Hiring an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer from The Vance Law Firm is essential throughout the claim process. While you can make a claim on your own,  a lawyer can help you approach it all safely and smartly by reviewing the circumstances of your accident and estimating the value of your case based on previous experience.

A lawyer can help obtain your medical records, workplace evidence, and witness statements while you focus on recovery. If you cannot settle with the insurance company, your lawyer can create a solid legal strategy to defend your workers’ compensation claim.

File Your Workers’ Compensation Claim with The Vance Law Firm

A workplace injury lawyer at The Vance Law Firm can assist you with a workers’ compensation claim. Our skilled attorneys can explain your rights and responsibilities as an injured employee and give you legal advice on proceeding with a claim.

Let us help you during this trying time by collecting the evidence necessary to support your claim and ensure you receive the benefits you deserve.

Contact us for a free, no-obligation evaluation to get started.

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