Do I really need a lawyer?
You definitely DO NOT need an attorney for every case. In fact, we may not accept a particular case and will advise you to proceed on your own. Why would we do this? Because, in many of these cases the system actually works and pays the benefits you are entitled to as an injured worker. Don’t be fooled by promises that an attorney makes that she or he will get you what you deserve. Pain and suffering is not part of a workers’ compensation case (unlike a lawsuit before a jury). However, an experienced attorney can evaluate and assess your claim, and obtain the maximum benefit that you should be entitled to.
How long can I receive workers' compensation benefits?
You will receive TTD benefits for as long as your treatment continues, that is, until you reach maximum medical improvement. In some cases, you can receive benefits after the date of MMI.
How long can I receive medical treatment?
Probably the most valuable benefit to injured workers is the right to receive future medical care for the rest of your life as long as you are treated for the job-related condition by an authorized medical provider. Because this arrangement presents an unknown and potentially very expensive risk to the insurance carrier, most insurance carriers will at some point attempt to close your right to future treatment by having you consider a settlement of your right to future medical benefits. However, you cannot be forced into closing your right to future medical benefits.
When can my benefits be cut off?
Most of the time, the insurance company will stop your benefits when you reach maximum medical improvement. The idea is that when you are through with your treatment and you have recovered as much as you can, you should be able to return to work. Thus, your TTD benefits will typically be stopped so you are not paid both salary or wage benefits in addition to TTD benefits. There are, of course, many times when a worker is not physically able to return to work after he reaches MMI or even if he is able to return to work, his employer does not allow him to return to work. If that happens, you could be entitled to receive unemployment benefits. Also, if you are not taken back to work you will be permitted to offer evidence of vocational disability and you will not be limited to receiving compensation only for your physical impairment.
What is my deadline for filing a workers’ compensation claim?
Ala. Code § 25-5-80 sets forth the general statute of limitations applicable in a workers’ compensation case. The statute of limitations or legal deadline for Alabama workers’ compensation claims is the later of two years from the date of the accident or two years from the last workers’ compensation benefit paid to you. It does not extend the statute of limitations when you are provided medical treatment, because only compensation benefits extends the two years. For non-accidental injuries (for example, carpal tunnel syndrome that develops over time or certain breathing problems that result from exposures at work), the statute of limitations can be two years from the date you were last exposed to a condition that made the problem worse (also known as the date of “last injurious exposure”). Once a lawsuit is filed, the statute of limitations is tolled. Even if an injured worker allows the statute of limitations to run, it has no effect on the employee’s right to future medical care, as long as the worker is able to prove legal and medical causation.
What happens to my benefits if I return to work?
Usually your workers’ compensation benefits stop after you return to work. Af ter you reach maximum medical improvement, except for scheduled injuries as provided in Section 25-5-57(a)(3), when an injured worker returns to work at a wage equal to or greater than the worker’s pre-injury wage, the worker’s permanent partial disability rating shall be equal to his or her physical impairment and the court shall not consider any evidence of vocational disability. But if the employee has lost his or her employment under certain circumstances within 300 weeks from the date of injur y, an employee may petition a court within two years thereof for reconsideration of his or her permanent partial disability rating.