Notify your Employer and make sure it is in writing. Ask them where to go to the doctor or hospital unless it is an emergency.
Not all employers are required to have insurance. Check your employer's status before you have a claim. In Alabama, the employer must have more than four (4) employees to have insurance for workers compensation claims.
How do you obtain medical treatment and from what doctors and hospitals? The treating professionals must be approved by the workers compensation carrier, and if you are not satisfied with their choice, try to get a referral from their doctor. Otherwise, you can request a panel of four physicians, BUT keep in mind, you can only request ONE panel of four (except under certain circumstances) so use it wisely.
Workers Compensation Terminology
MMI - Maximum Medical Improvement
TTD - Temporary Total Disability
AWW - Average Weekly Wage
FCE - Functional Capacities Evaluation
PPI - Permanent Partial Impairment
PT - Permanent Total
Impairment and Disability Ratings - Distinguishing between the Two
This area of the guide provides examples of the difference between an impairment rating, which is provided by the American Medical Association Guilelines, and a disability rating, which determines your level of employability. You need to understand the two in order to see why your compensation is what it is. The best example I can give is the following:
Suppose a concert pianist and a right-handed lawyer each lost their left hand. They would each have the same impairment rating - whatever the AMA guidelines state the impairment is for the loss of a hand. However, their vocational disability ratings would differ. The concert pianist could no longer perform his/her craft; whereas, the lawyer could still practice law. Therefore, the concert pianist would have a much greater vocational disability.
The vocational disability rating takes into account the individual's educational background, work experience, and injury, and it looks at the prospects for future employment.
Calculating Compensation for Injuries
This section guides you through the complicated process for determining what compensation you may be entitled to. Keep in mind that this is only one example.
Let's say the client is 32 years old. His AWW equals $700.00. His injury requires the fusion of two vertebrae in his lower back. He is off of work for 38 weeks, and the doctor states he is now at MMI, he assigns an impairment rating to the client of 23% to the body as a whole, and he states that he cannot lift more than twenty pounds.
Given his restrictions, the client cannot return to work so he sees an attorney who sends him to a vocational expert for an evaluation which is 75%.
$700.00/week X 2/3 = $466.67
$466.67 X 75% = $350.00
$350.00 is greater than the $220.00 maximum allowed
The employee is entitled to the present value of 262 weeks (300 - 38 = 262).
Based on the above figures, the employee would be entitled to $220.00 X 226.1039 weeks = $49,742.85
The deck is stacked against the employees, and these strategies show how difficult it can be to make a recovery. These tactics include video, FCE's, Company doctors, and vocational experts, among others. Beware!
Third Party Lawsuits and Retailiatory Discharge
These are rare claims, but sometiimes, they do arise. Be aware of what to look for so that you can document your potential claim.
Willful and Intentional Acts
Removal of a Safety Guard
Written Notice Prior to Injury
Retaliatory Discharge (Employee Fired SOLELY for Filing a Workers Comp Claim)
Additional resources provided by the author
Alabama legislative page
Alabama Department of Industrial Relations
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