Alabama workers compensation settlements are decided by the courts rather than by an administrative process as in most other states. Most plaintiffs are encouraged to settle to avoid overwhelming the courts with cases of this kind and have several pathways if they decide to do so.

Settling an Alabama Workers' Compensation Case

A settlement means that you agree with your employer on an amount you will be paid for your injury in the workplace. Options for settling an Alabama workers' comp case include:

  • A lump-sum settlement in one or two payments
  • An annuity with regular payments over a defined time period

Both options generally require that you release your employer from future compensation for this injury. Each must also be approved by the court.

Workers' Compensation Benefits

Workers who are injured on the job in Alabama are usually entitled to receive workers' compensation benefits under the Alabama Workers' Compensation Act. If the accident happens outside Alabama, you may be covered by laws in that state. If your accident happened at a dock or shipyard, you may receive benefits under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act.

Because benefits under each of these laws vary, it's important to consult an attorney when filing a claim. Private disability policies, workers' comp claims, and Social Security disability are off-set by one another, so a lawyer can help reduce the off-set amounts and maximize your settlement.

Associated Claims

If you're injured on the job, you may be eligible to make other types of claims in addition to workers' compensation. These may include:

  • Personal injury if a negligent driver caused an accident when you were driving a work vehicle
  • Wrongful termination if you lose your job after the injury
  • Personal injury claims for defective equipment, machinery, or safety devices
  • Personal injury claims against third parties who were negligent, such as landowners or contractors
  • Social Security disability
  • Private disability insurance claims
  • Claims under laws such as the Americans With Disabilities Act, ERISA, or the Family Medical Leave Act

Issues Associated With Workplace Injury

Workers and their families often face adverse consequences when an injury occurs on the job. These may include permanent disability, loss of income, bankruptcy, employer apathy, struggles with the insurance company, delays, loss of job and benefits, inability to work, family stress, and disrespect from medical care providers.

While workers' compensation once did not determine fault when paying a claim, today businesses take steps to limit payouts from their policies. If you are denied a workers' compensation claim, you may need to fight the decision in court.

It's important that you immediately report the injury to your employer in writing when you are hurt at work and seek medical care right away. Delaying care can lead your employer to claim that the injury did not occur at work.

Workers' Compensation Claim Amounts

Under Alabama law, medical expenses are still covered after your claim is settled. Employers are responsible for these costs unless this provision is specifically waived in the settlement agreement. Sometimes, a business offers a larger lump sum in exchange for this waiver. Consult with an attorney before waiving your right to have your medical expenses paid.

The amount of your settlement will depend on the extent of your injuries and the amount of your regular salary. Although you can't settle for less than the legal threshold, you can settle for a higher amount.

Until you are released from medical treatment and/or return to work, you will receive either weekly or bi-weekly temporary disability payments. These may also be settled in a lump sum.

Your medical records may be reviewed by professionals hired by your employer's insurance company, including vocational experts, doctors, lawyers, nurses, claims adjusters, and private investigators.

Mediation Services

If you're involved in a workers' compensation claim, Alabama courts offer free mediation services to help you reach a settlement with your employer. This is a negotiation session run by an ombudsman, an independent mediator who works for the state. They will help you find common ground but cannot force you to accept a settlement. If an agreement is made, the ombudsman will prepare a contract for both parties to sign and submit it to the court for approval.

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