Huntsville Workers’ Compensation Attorneys

Fighting for fair compensation for injured employees

For just over a century, the workers’ compensation system has been in operation. Struck as somewhat of a deal between employers and their employees, the workers’ compensation program provides a no-fault temporary disability program for workers in exchange for their not suing their employer when they get hurt at work. The employer is either self-insured or pays for workers’ compensation insurance to cover their employees who get injured while doing their job, or who are diagnosed with an occupational disease. Although workers are generally prohibited from suing their employer, there are other options for recovering compensation for workplace injuries caused by defective equipment or premises liability injuries at a client’s work site.

At Martin & Helms, we are dedicated to achieving the best possible outcome for our clients. We leverage our more than 45 years of combined legal experience to help you win. You may schedule a free consultation to discuss your case with our experienced Huntsville workplace injury lawyers. You will never pay attorney fees if we do not recover compensation for you.

What does Alabama workers’ compensation provide?

Employees who work for an employer with five or more employees whose business is covered by the worker’s compensation law, and who are injured in an accident which arose “out of and in the course of employment,” and who have given proper notice of the accident to their employer may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

Alabama workers’ compensation provides temporary disability benefits which represent a percentage of the claimant’s salary for workplace injuries or occupational diseases after a three-day waiting period. It also includes medical benefits for medical care related to the workplace injury.

Workers’ compensation also pays benefits for:

  • Death, including burial expenses, and a benefit payment to the deceased’s dependent’s or estate.
  • Permanent disability benefits
  • Permanent partial disability benefits
  • Temporary total disability benefits
  • Temporary partial disability benefits

Injured or ill workers must report their injury to their employer immediately (within five days of the incident, with an absolute deadline of the 90-days) and get information about what doctor they should consult for medical treatment.

Examples of workplace injuries

There are many ways in which a person could become injured at work. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the Department of Labor which oversees workplace safety and health keeps tabs on the most common workplace injuries.

The following are the ten most frequently cited OSHA safety standards:

  1. Fall protection, construction
  2. Hazard communication standards, general industry
  3. Scaffolding, general requirements, construction
  4. Respiratory protection, general industry
  5. Control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout), general industry
  1. Ladders, construction
  2. Powered industrial trucks, general industry
  3. Fall protection, training requirements
  4. Machinery and machine guarding, general requirements
  5. Eye and face protection

What is an occupational disease?

An occupational disease is one that is caused by workplace exposure to pathogens, which is any substance that can cause disease, such as asbestos, silica dust, toxic chemicals, coal dust, etc. The following are some examples of occupational diseases:

  • Lung cancers and respiratory diseases such as work-related asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Skin diseases
  • Bloodborne infectious diseases
  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
  • Traumatic incident stress
  • Tuberculosis
  • West Nile virus
  • Zika virus

Why was my workers’ compensation claim denied?

The following are a few examples of why your workers’ compensation claim might be denied:

You filed your application too late. You must report your workplace injury within five days of the incident, and you have 90 days to submit your application for workers’ compensation benefits. If you file your application late, you must be able to offer a plausible explanation for why it was late.

No one saw the accident. If there were no witnesses to the accident where you were injured at work, your employer’s insurer might dispute your claim. This is when it is critical that you have medical evidence that corroborates your description of what occurred.

Keeping the costs of premiums down. Sometimes insurers deny claims because when more employees than they had estimated file claims, the costs for the insurance premiums go up. Not every worker whose claim was denied will dispute it, so the insurance company wins.

Your employer doesn’t think the injury was serious enough. If you were involved in a workplace accident, but your injury was not severe enough to require medical attention and at least three days off from work to recuperate, your employer might deny your claim.

Alcohol or drugs were found in your system. If it can be proven that you were impaired by alcohol or drugs when the injury occurred, you can be disqualified from receiving workers’ compensation benefits.

If your employer has denied your application for workers’ compensation, you can appeal their decision. Given that Alabama does not have a workers’ compensation appeals process, you must file your appeal in court, or you can choose to work with a mediator to resolve your dispute. A Huntsville workers’ compensation lawyer will represent you throughout the appeals process.

Third-party personal injury lawsuits for workplace injuries

If you become injured at work because of the negligence of someone who is not your boss or a coworker, a defective tool or piece of equipment, or an injury you sustained on someone else’s property, you may have grounds for a third-party personal injury lawsuit. Here is how it works.

Let’s use the example of a worker named Jim who was injured in a construction accident. He qualifies for workers’ compensation, so he reports his accident, seeks medical care for his injury, but then he discovers that the equipment that malfunctioned while he was using it was defective. His brother-in-law, Bob recommends that he talk to a Huntsville workplace injury lawyer because Bob bets that Jim could sue the equipment manufacturer even though he is receiving workers’ compensation for his injury.

It turns out that Bob is correct. Jim hired a lawyer and sued the equipment manufacturer and received a settlement which included pain and suffering, emotional distress, and disability because the injury caused permanent damage which prevented Jim from returning to his previous job.

When you file a third-party personal injury lawsuit for a workplace injury, the plaintiff must still prove that the equipment was defective and that it caused his injury. Because he also received Alabama workers’ compensation for his injury, his employer’s insurer filed a subrogation claim against his settlement to recover what they had already paid him in benefits. Jim was able to keep what was left over after attorney fees.

How can a Huntsville workers’ compensation lawyer help my workplace injury case?

If your workers’ compensation claim has been denied and you want to appeal the decision, or if you are facing a dispute with your employer’s workers compensation insurer, it is important to know that they will be represented by a legal team. Hiring an experienced Huntsville workers’ compensation lawyer to represent you will ensure that your interests are being protected. We will help you through the appeals process, communicate with the workers’ compensation commission, and negotiate the best settlement available for you.

What if I can’t afford to hire a workplace injury attorney?

Fortunately, you do not have to worry about paying a costly retainer to work with an experienced Huntsville workers’ compensation lawyer because at Martin & Helms, we take cases on contingency. You do not pay attorney fees until we have recovered compensation for you.

When your case is successful, your attorney will get paid a percentage of the compensation you are awarded. In Alabama, the limit for how much a workers’ compensation lawyer can charge is 15%. If your attorney pursues a third-party personal injury lawsuit, their fees may be different.

Call on Martin & Helms: Huntsville workers’ compensation attorneys who fight for you

You should not have to risk your health and safety for a paycheck. When you have been injured on the job and are facing a workers’ compensation claim dispute, the experienced Huntsville workplace injury lawyers at Martin & Helms are prepared to help you win. Do not hesitate to call us at 256-203-0332 or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case. We also serve injured clients in Decatur, Athens and Madison, and throughout the state.