How to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim
If you’ve sustained an injury at work, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. But you could be facing an uphill battle in getting your employer’s insurance company to pay out. Below, we discuss how to file a workers’ compensation claim, and how an Alabama workers’ comp lawyer can guide you through this complicated process.
Reporting Your Workplace Injury
The first step in a workers’ compensation claim is notifying your supervisor, boss, or human resources representative about your injury or occupational illness. Typically, you must give verbal notice within five days of your injury and written notice within 90 days, although there may be exceptions to this rule under certain circumstances.
Sometimes, your employer will accept your claim and file a form with the State of Alabama, called a First Report of Injury form. However, it is not uncommon for employers to refuse to submit this document. If your employer disputes your claim, you should immediately consult with a Birmingham workers’ compensation lawyer about your legal options.
Seeking Medical Care for Your Injuries
Your medical records will serve as important evidence in your workers’ comp claim. When you see a doctor, they will usually document your injuries, determine whether they are work-related, recommend a treatment plan, and suggest work restrictions. All of this information is vital to your Workers’ Compensation claim since it can help the insurance adjuster or the court determine whether you are eligible for certain benefits.
Typically, you must treat with your employer’s doctor, unless it’s an emergency. If you opt to see your own doctor instead of the company physician, the insurance company may refuse to cover these bills.
However, if you become dissatisfied with the company doctor, you can select a new provider. You will need to ask your employer for its list of other approved physicians — and you will need to select a doctor from this list.
Investigating Your Claim
Once the insurance company gets your claim, they will evaluate your eligibility for benefits. This may include reviewing your accident report, medical records, and other information. If the adjuster believes that you qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, they will approve your claim and you will start to receive medical benefits and disability payments.
If your claim is denied, you have a right to file a lawsuit.
Filing a Lawsuit
Compared to most other states, Alabama has a fairly unique workers’ compensation claim system. We do not have a designated administrative system that processes and evaluates all claims. Instead, you and or your attorney will settle your claim with your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company or you will file a lawsuit against your employer in an Alabama Circuit Court. In most situations, you are not entitled to a jury trial.
If you need to file a lawsuit in your workers’ comp claim, you need to act quickly. Under most circumstances, you only have two years from the date of your injury or if you were paid some compensation you will have two years from the date of the last compensation payment to file a lawsuit. Once this deadline expires, you may lose your right to compensation benefits.
You can also choose to mediate your case, using a specially trained ombudsman employed by the State of Alabama or you can use a licensed practicing attorney experienced in handling workers’ compensation claims.
Because the workers’ compensation process is highly technical and requires detailed knowledge of Alabama’s workers’ compensation laws, it is in your best interest to work with an attorney. A workers’ comp attorney can also help you determine whether a settlement is in your best interest.
How Much Is My Workers’ Comp Claim Worth?
In many cases, workers’ compensation benefits and settlements are based upon a series of calculations. However, you may be eligible for:
- Temporary disability benefits
- Permanent total disability awards
- Permanent partial disability awards
- Payment of your medical bills, including prescriptions, surgeries, and ambulance bills
- Payment of future medical bills and expenses
- Compensation for necessary assistive devices like crutches and prosthetics
- Vocational rehabilitation, which helps you find new work within your limitations
- Death benefits and funeral expenses
Each case is unique, and the value of your claim will depend on a variety of factors. Your attorney can help you understand what you can expect in terms of benefits.
Learn More About How to File for Workers’ Compensation
At Petro Accident & Injury Attorneys, we help injured workers understand their legal rights and get the benefits that they deserve. We are aggressive, tough, and smart — and we would love to help you understand all of your options.
Before you agree to a settlement or give up your legal claims, consult with an experienced Alabama workers’ comp lawyer. We can help you understand how to file a workers’ compensation claim and determine its true value. Contact Petro Accident & Injury Attorneys today to learn more.