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Articles Posted in Workers’ Compensation

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Huntsville Personal Injury AttorneysWhen I settle an Alabama workers compensation case with continued medical benefits, I explain to my clients what they may expect in the future. Of course, that future depends on many facts. Are the injuries easily provable or highly disputed? Does the client suffer other health problems that complicate issues? Does the client have access to health coverage through other sources? Does the client have a good authorized physician?

Every situation is different. Each case should be approached with thoughtful advice and planning. Lawyers should help their clients prepare to navigate the work comp system. We do. We help our clients during the case and afterwards when issues arise.

The potential issues following a work comp settlement are too numerous for this short post. So, I will just mention three quick takeaways when you settle your work-related injury case with open medical benefits under Alabama law. If you are in this situation, you probably settled expecting and hoping you would receive continued medical care for your injuries. What immediate things should you know? Here are three:

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In January, I wrote a post titled A Shameful History Of Workplace Injuries. In that article, I discussed the Pilgrim’s Pride chicken plant in Guntersville, Alabama. Over the last two decades, I’ve helped many workers injured in local chicken plants. That includes the one in Guntersville.

In too many poultry plants, management only thinks of speed. Faster. Faster. The line moves too fast for anyone to work safely. Accidents and physical stress take a toll on workers. When workers are injured, the plant simply ignores their complaints or sends them to its biased company doctor. Too often, they are left hurting and without medical care. Personally, I think the rate of injury in these plants is FAR under-reported.

I decided to write my prior article after a worker fell to his death in the company’s Guntersville plant. What happened? A worker was using a lift to move materials when he fell.

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Huntsville Accident And Injury LawyersAs I write, firm attorney Jennifer McKown is attending a court hearing by Zoom. Rather than appear at the courthouse, she is sitting in front of her laptop in the conference room. During the coronavirus pandemic, Zoom hearings have become a necessity. Teleconferencing has become necessary for many businesses. Think also of our schools. In our home (like so many other families), we’ve grappled with the reality of remote learning during the pandemic. Like other businesses and schools, the legal profession must also grapple with questions of what activities can be handled remotely versus in-person.

Since March, I’ve attended numerous hearings by teleconference (through Zoom). I’ve also attended some in-person hearings in full mask. Just a couple weeks ago, I argued a lengthy post-trial motion in-person in a Marshall County workers’ compensation case. Maybe that hearing could have been handled remotely but it would have been much more difficult. We won a work comp trial right before the coronavirus shutdown and the defense lawyer filed post-trial motions. The arguments involved discussions of numerous cases and pieces of evidence. Everyone present in the same room made it much easier. Maybe I’ll write more about in-person pandemic hearings later. But, right now, I’ll talk about tele-hearings.

We all hope for a quick return to life without the coronavirus. We all face the current uncertainties together. What happens after the pandemic? What parts of life return to pre-corona normal? What parts of life permanently change? Can we learn from this shared experience? Can we benefit by lessons learned during this time?

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Alabama Accident & Injury LawyersIf you suffer a work-related illness or injury in Alabama, you should be covered by our work comp laws. Should be! Yet, the numerous limitations, hurdles and injustices in our current system leave many employees without proper benefits. One issue where workers’ compensation neglects many injured workers — Mental or Psychological Care. Several practical and legal barriers exist to psychological care.

Are Mental Injuries Covered Under Current Alabama Workers’ Compensation Law?

Let’s start with the issue of coverage. Are psychological injuries covered? The answer is, yes, with a big caveat. Yes, but! To recover for mental or psychological injuries under current law, the worker must have suffered an actual physical injury that proximately caused the psychological injury. I know, that’s a long answer.

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Huntsville Personal Injury AttorneysWhat Personal Injury Cases Are At Issue?

If you are hurt on the job in Alabama, you are likely entitled to work comp benefits. What if you were hurt because someone else was also negligent? You still have a work comp case. If the negligent person was a co-worker, that’s probably all you have. With a few limited exceptions for things like intentional conduct, your employer (and co-workers) are immune from claims outside workers compensation.

Sometimes, the negligent person is a third-party. That is, the negligent person did not work for your employer. If you are hurt due to the negligence of another person (outside your employer), you may also have a separate personal injury claim to recover your damages. In these cases, you likely have BOTH a work comp claim and a negligence claim against the third-party.

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Huntsville / Decatur Accident & Injury LawyersCan I get work comp benefits if injured while working from home? In recent days, I’ve been asked this question several times. Across Alabama, many workers are adjusting to remote work requirements from the COVID-19 crisis. Hopefully, these adjustments are temporary. With this new reality, let’s discuss how home-based work impacts workers’ compensation benefits.

Does The Alabama Workers’ Compensation Act Specifically Address Home-Based Workers?

Unfortunately, the Alabama Workers’ Compensation Act does not specifically address home-based workers. And, the Alabama Supreme Court has not yet provided a detailed opinion exactly on this issue. So, we do not have a bright-line answer to the specific home-based situations where work comp benefits are available (or are not available). Although the statute does not expressly address home-based workers, we do have some general rules that help. So, let’s look at the general rules as well as some past injuries outside an employer’s factory or office which court’s have previously found compensable.

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https://www.alabamainjurylawyer-blog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/122/2020/04/Need-Advice-Have-Legal-Questions-We-Are-Available.-300x300.pngDuring this difficult time, people are worried. Health. Work. Finances. Family. All are worries. Many people are asking, when will life return to normal.

I spoke with someone earlier this week who had waited five weeks for the doctor to review his MRI. The caller suffered a work-related injury. He was seeing a doctor authorized by work comp. He underwent an MRI. Now, he is sitting and waiting to hear the results. It’s a slow process in normal times. Even in normal times, our injured neighbors wait too long for treatment. These are NOT normal times.

Our attorneys answer workers compensation questions for callers on a daily basis. We’ve compiled some of the most frequent questions to create a Workers Compensation FAQ page on our website. If you cannot find your question on that page, let us know. We are happy to discuss the issue with you. Our consultations are always free.

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How will Covid-19 affect my case? Many of our clients and callers are asking this question. Our personal injury clients will be impacted by the novel coronavirus. This especially includes injury clients with work comp claims. Injured workers are especially vulnerable to delays in medical care or claims.

As I wrote in a prior post, the Blackwell Law Firm is open and operational. Our firm has long operated with a system that allows its lawyers to work and prepare for cases remotely across Alabama. We have long-established processes that allow us to work remotely as needed. In normal times, we are frequently working from counties and courts across Alabama. Our established processes will be especially valuable during current events. Within our office, we have taken steps to protect our staff and clients. We continue to help our clients and to prepare their cases. We believe it essential that injured clients have access to needed legal advice. You can read my prior post on our general firm procedures here.

For our work comp clients, I have listed a few of the most frequently asked questions by callers. I hope this information helps. If you have additional questions or concerns, let us know. We are happy to provide information.

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BLACKWELL-LAW-FIRM-ALABAMA-WORKPLACE-SAFETY-LAWYERS-300x300The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently announced the Top 10 most frequently cited workplace safety violations for 2019. What were they?

  1. Fall Protection – General Requirements
  2. Hazard Communication
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Alabama Work Comp ClaimsSurveillance. Hurt at work? Have an Alabama work comp claim? You should expect surveillance. What should you know about workers’ compensation claims and surveillance? Here are a few thoughts.

A Few Ways Surveillance Can Be Used Against You

  1. To Show You Are NOT Disabled. Most injured people have good days and bad days. If you’ve ever hurt your back, you know what I mean. Some days you feel practically bedridden. Other days, you feel better. An investigator may conduct days or weeks of surveillance on you. Yet, it will never be seen. Only a few moments will be on video – the few moments when you were at your best. This is all the insurance carrier needs to create doubt at trial. My advice:  Be honest from the start about your condition. If you have good and bad days, tell the truth. And, avoid activities that worsen your pain.
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