Back injuries, knee injuries, broken bones, carpal tunnel syndrome, neck injuries, occupational diseases, and other conditions affect Alabama’s work force constantly. Often, when workers are afflicted with work-related conditions or injuries, employers refuse to pay workers’ compensation benefits or even to provide payment for the medical treatment that the law requires.
The lawyers at King Simmons, PC have handled thousands of workers’ compensation claims, involving virtually every type of injury or condition imaginable – from broken backs to myofascial pain syndrome to reflex sympathetic dystrophy to torn knee ligaments to ruptured or bulging discs.
Injured workers have a variety of complex rights available, involving medical treatment, vocational retraining, job protection, and cash payments for disabilities. Most cases involving workers’ compensation are settled, usually in such a way that results in lump sum cash payments to the injured workers.
Railroad employees, unlike most other classes of workers, are permitted a jury trial when injured on the job. In late 2005, the firm represented an engineer injured on the job when a boxcar was accidentally directed onto the track where he was aboard his locomotive; he suffered a ruptured disc in low back and was not able to return to work. After a week-long trial, a Jefferson County jury returned a $720,000 verdict to compensate the engineer for the losses that resulted from his injury. The railroad’s motion for a new trial was denied.
Top 5 Things You Need to Know About Your Workers’ Comp Rights
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KING SIMMONS, P.C. 5300 Cahaba River Road, P.C. Birmingham, Alabama 35242
1. Your Medical Rights Are Limited, but Precious:
As a general rule, you won’t get to select the doctor; they do, because they are paying for it. Additionally, workers’ comp is given some “veto” power under the law if they challenge the treatment decisions of the doctor treating you – but we are skilled at fighting that. On the upside, if your claim is accepted, you are entitled to lifetime medical benefits – so long as the treatment is reasonable and necessary, related to the work injury, and from doctors approved by workers’ comp. These rights must be protected!
2. Case Nurses Are Not Always Your Friend:
Sometimes, workers’ comp carriers send “case nurses” to your doctors’ appointments. Do not ever forget who is paying them. Whatever you tell them can and will be used against you. And you absolutely have a right to privacy during medical exams – ask that they leave. What time and where doctors’ appointments are – that is helpful; “tell me what all you’ve been up to” – that is a trap. Be very, very careful.
3. Social Media is Never Your Friend:
Guess where every workers’ comp insurer, private investigator, and lawyer defending workers’ comp goes first for information about you and anything touching on your injury or your claim? If you guessed “Facebook,” you won. This also includes blogs, Instagram, dating apps, Twitter, and all other sorts of social media. “I’m gonna sue the heck out of my employer,” or pictures of you on the roller coaster at Six Flags – how is that going to look in court? Alright – you’ve been warned! Don’t blame your lawyer if your Facebook page comes back to haunt you!
4. No Lawyer Can Make Claims People to Do Anything. But We Can Sue.
The claims adjuster won’t approve your doctor doing an X-ray, or your weekly check is late. Absolutely – let us know if that happens. While no lawyer can force a claims adjuster to act, we take an aggressive approach to these matters by filing suit early (with great frequency), and involving the judges in the decision-making process. So while we can’t magically make an adjuster call a doctor and approve a treatment, or write a check, we can – and do – file motions and get court orders requiring action when that is the appropriate and protective course to take.
5. Nobody Has Ever Gotten Rich off Workers’ Comp Settlements:
For those totally disabled from all work forever, the result is a workers’ comp check for life OR as long as disability lasts – according to a judge. For those partially disabled, only 300 weeks of total benefits are available – and the permanent disability benefits are capped at $220 per week. This is why our law firm worked so hard at having the laws held unconstitutional to try and bring about legislative change in the law. Because the benefit structure is unfair and so low, we have to fight for every scrap – and we do. We realize that you have one shot at this – and we work to see that your one shot is maximized.