Benefits Available to Injured Workers in Alabama: Temporary and Permanent Disability Payments

The Alabama Workers' Compensation Act provides benefits for an injured worker who has suffered a permanent injury that has resulted in a disability that negatively impacts the worker's ability to earn an income. The Alabama Workers' Compensation Act distinguishes the types of disability in a few ways. First, the injured worker has suffered either a temporary disability, or a permanent disability, and that disability is either a partial disability, or a total disability. If you'd like to read the law, the relevant portions regarding compensation for disabilty are found in Ala. Code § 25-5-57

Temporary Total Disability: Ala. Code § 25-5-57(a)(1) 

If you have suffered a work injury and seen a workers' comp doctor, it is possible the doctor will take you out of work for a while to recover from your injury. This commonly results in you being entitled to Temporary Total Disability Benefits, which will be a weekly check that is roughly 2/3 of your average weekly wage. Note that there are minimum and maximum values in place for the weekly amount, see: Ala. Code § 25-5-68. If you think you are not receiving weekly checks when you should be, or if you are not receiving as much as you should, you are invited to contact me to discuss what can be done. 

Permanent Partial Disability: Ala. Code § 25-5-57(a)(3)

Schedule Injuries

Permanent partial disabilty payments are calculated based on the nature and extent of the injured worker's injury, and the specific body part that was injured. Permanent Partial Disabilty benefit calculations are controlled by a schedule found in the law. The schedule outlines the maximum available compensation for the loss (or loss of function) to different body parts, for example: loss of thumb, loss of first finger, loss of second finger, loss of entire hand, etc. The reasoning is that if we lose a thumb, that is a universal experience. We all suffer that injury equally, going from ten fingers to nine.  

Non-schedule Injuries

Other types of injury are not suffered equally, as there is a great variety in potential outcomes, such as an injury to the back or neck, or a brain injury. Such injuries may be minor for some people, and devestating to others, depending on the degree of the injury, and the response to medical treatment. The Alabama Workers' Compensation Act recognizes that it is unjust to treat all back or brain injuries the same, and there is not a schedule for those types of injuries. They are instead considered injuries to the body-as-a-whole, or non-schedule injuries. The maximum amount recoverable under the Alabama Workers' Compensation Act for a partial injury to the body-as-a-whole is 300 weeks of the compensation rate, which typically equates to approximately $66,000. 

Permanent Total Disability: Ala. Code § 25-5-57(a)(4)

Total Disability under the Alabama Workers' Compensation Act means that your injury has done permanent damage that will prevent you from ever doing the type of work you are trained and experienced to do. It does not mean totally helpless or bedridden. There is no weekly cap on Permanent Total Disability benefits. They last for the duration of your injury, which, if permanent, is presumed to be for the rest of your natural life. While Permanent Partial disability is limited to a maximum of 300 weeks, which equates to approximately $66,000, the dollar figure for a Permanent Total Disabililty award is often much higher. You will need to have an attorney look at your medical records to determine if you are eligible for Permanent Total Disability benefits, and to help calculate the total amount to which you are entitled. You are invited to contact me to discuss your claim in further detail. 

To ascertain the nature of the disability and the appropriate benefits:

Medical Evaluation: A doctor will assess the severity and duration of the disability. This medical report plays a significant role in determining benefits.

Employer's Role: Employers may request a second medical opinion to confirm the nature of the disability.

Legal Assistance: Given the nuances involved, consulting with Alabama workers' compensation lawyers can be invaluable, especially if there are disputes.

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Duration of Payments

  • Temporary Disabilities: Benefits typically continue until a worker can return to their job or reaches "maximum medical improvement" – the state where their condition isn't expected to improve further.
  • Permanent Disabilities: Payments may continue indefinitely, but specifics depend on the nature of the injury and other factors.

While benefits usually represent about two-thirds of a worker's average weekly wage, there are maximum and minimum thresholds set by the state. It's crucial to understand how these apply to individual cases.

Challenges & Disputes

Navigating the intricacies of disability payments isn't always straightforward:

  • Claim Denials: Employers or their insurers might dispute the nature of the injury, its connection to work, or the amount of benefits. This is where skilled workers' compensation attorneys in Alabama become crucial allies.
  • Delayed Payments: If an employer delays or withholds rightful benefits, legal recourse may be necessary.
  • Change in Disability Status: Medical conditions can change. If an employer believes a worker's disability status has improved, they might seek to reduce or terminate benefits.

Whether facing a temporary setback or a life-altering injury, Alabama's injured workers deserve clarity on their entitlements. Understanding the nuances of temporary and permanent disability payments is a significant step in that direction.

For comprehensive assistance and guidance, remember that Alabama boasts a community of dedicated workers' compensation lawyers, ever ready to champion the rights of its workforce.

Additional Reading

Recent Alabama Decisions Related to this Subject

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During your Initial Strategy Session, I will asist you in creating a strategy on how to best pursue your claim, whether it be the result of a Car Accident Claim, 18 Wheeler Injury, or, Alabama Workers' Compensation Claim. At your Initial Strategy Session, you will receive the following:

  • First - I will listen to your story. You will have a chance to tell everything to someone who wants to hear what happened to you.
  • Based on the information that you provide, I will give you my best advice on both what claims you have, and the next steps you should consider to proceed with your claim(s).
  • If your claim is something that I think I can help you with, I will explain the services that I can provide for you, and what the next steps are that we should take. We will start working immediately.
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  • Either way, what should happen is we will put to rest some of the unkowns that you may be experiencing. We will start to shed some light on what you can expect, and how to best pursue the benefits you deserve.

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