Workplace Injuries: Workers’ Compensation vs. Personal Injury Claims

Thousands of workplace injury incidents are reported annually in Alabama. Understanding your rights and the steps following an injury is crucial for protecting yourself, especially in terms of your financial future. In Alabama, there are laws to support workers injured on the job. They provide you with routes for workers’ compensation and, in certain situations, personal injury claims. Knowing what to do and how to pursue compensation before you get injured is in your long-term interest.

The Distinction Between Suing Your Employer & Workers’ Compensation

In Alabama, companies with at least five employees—whether full or part-time—must carry workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ compensation insurance pays for medical costs and covers lost wages for people who have been injured at work. The other component is that you do not need to prove fault. Accepting these benefits, however, bars you (as an employee) from suing your employer for the injury. You must report your injury to your employer as soon as possible. Alabama’s Department of Labor must be notified within five days of the injury if you want to be eligible for benefits. 

When you are injured, your employer will document it. This report must be written and will provide details about the accident. Immediate reporting ensures that you do not lose your right to claim benefits. Many people may stay quiet after an injury because they don’t want to get reprimanded or lose their job. It’s illegal for employers to retaliate against employees for reporting injuries, and anyone who does file a report is protected from unfair treatment or termination. When you give your employer the details of your injury, clearly describe the accident. The more descriptive it is, the easier it will be to process your claim accurately. Following these reporting guidelines is critical for a smooth claims process. Failing to report on time can result in denied benefits, making timely action essential.

Seeing a Doctor Strengthens Your Claim

Seeking medical attention immediately after an injury is crucial for your health and an integral part of the workers’ compensation claim process. While employers generally select the initial healthcare provider, it’s your right to receive prompt and proper medical care. This step is vital for your recovery. The documentation generated during this visit will support your claim. Should your claim be denied, or if your injury involves a negligent third party, you may need to explore further legal actions. In cases of denial, you can appeal. Pursuing a personal injury lawsuit could secure additional compensation if a third party acted negligently and contributed to your injury. 

Medical records serve as key evidence in your claim, and they highlight the severity and impact of your injuries. It’s essential to follow through with all prescribed treatments to fully document the extent of your injuries. Professional legal advice can be invaluable, especially if you have challenges with your claim or are considering a lawsuit. Differentiating between workers’ compensation claims and personal injury lawsuits is crucial, as each offers distinct avenues for compensation. Navigating these legal paths requires a clear understanding of your rights and the processes involved.

Get Additional Support After Your Injury 

Understanding your rights and taking steps after an injury at work is essential. We are committed to supporting injured workers and helping them secure the necessary benefits and compensation. If you’re having issues with your claim or considering additional legal action, contact our office for a consultation. We can discuss your claim and explore your options for achieving justice and compensation.

John M. Totten