Articles Posted in Workers’ Compensation

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Alabama Accident & Injury AttorneysOn May 7, the Alabama Supreme Court issued an opinion in Register v. Outdoor Aluminum, Inc.. The case addressed a claim of retaliatory discharge for filing a work comp claim in Alabama. Every so often, the court issues an opinion reminding everyone how difficult these cases are to prove. Let’s take a look at some of the issues.

Retaliatory Discharge:  An Exception To At-Will Employment

The general rule in Alabama is that employment is “at-will.” What does at-will employment mean? It means you can be fired for any reason at all. Your employer does not need a good or justifiable reason to terminate you.

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Alabama Lawyers For The InjuredOne employer recently learned a hard lesson — Ignoring FMLA rights for employees injured at-work can get you sued! When people think about work-related accidents and injuries, they always think workers’ compensation. They should. Work comp provides necessary medical care and disability benefits. But, don’t forget the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) may also provide important leave and job protections for injured and ill employees.

What Does The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Provide?

What benefits are provided by FMLA? The FMLA provides eligible employees up to 12 work weeks of unpaid leave in a year. The FMLA also entitles covered employees to return to their same or an equivalent job after this leave.

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Blackwell Law Firm -- Helping Injured Healthcare WorkersSeveral years ago I wrote about one of the most dangerous jobs when it comes to work-related injuries — Nursing. You can read my prior article at, Health Care Workers Have High Rates Of Injury. At one time, a National Public Radio (NPR) study even called nursing “one of the most dangerous jobs in America.”

What about jobs like construction or law enforcement? Those professions have pretty high risks of injury. According to research, back and other injuries occur at much higher rates in nursing than in the construction industry.

Think about it. Nurses are on their feet for pretty long shifts. And, they regularly lift or move heavy patients. How many professions require a worker to routinely lift or move objects weighing over 100 pounds? Not many. Keep in mind — Some patients don’t cooperate which makes the lifting much more difficult. Ask a hospital nurse about moving an uncooperative patient!

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Alabama Accident & Injury Attorneys“He left a voice message yelling at me!” That’s how one injured worker’s story began. “He acted like a jerk.” The worker continued to describe how he suffered a bad lifting injury to his lower back at work. He required surgery. He now suffers chronic pain and limitations. He could not return to work.

Why did his lawyer leave a nasty voice message for him? It comes down to this — The lawyer wanted him to accept a quick settlement. The problem — That settlement was totally unfair and would have left the disabled worker in worse shape a year or two from now.

The guy needed a lawyer who would prepare his case. He needed a lawyer who would discuss how Alabama work comp benefits are calculated, who would develop the medical evidence, and who would prepare the case for the best possible trial. He needed a lawyer in his corner!

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Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD). Sometimes it is referred to as Chronic (or Complex) Regional Pain Syndrome. Either way, it can be a devastating pain condition for patients. I’ve written a couple articles discussing RSD and the disabling toll it has on people. You can read my prior posts here:

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Alabama Accident & Injury LawyersWhere can I file my workers’ compensation claim? For many people, the answer is easy. Many people work entirely within a single state.

For others, the question brings choices. Maybe you work primarily in one state. But, you were injured while performing job tasks in another state. Years ago, these issues mainly applied to truckers and traveling salesmen. But, now, it’s not unusual for people to work across several different states.

What happens if you work primarily in one state but are injured on-the-job in another? What happens if your office is in one state but you are hurt while present in another? What are the rules for work-related injuries? Where can you file a claim?

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Blackwell Law Firm - Alabama Accident & Injury LawyersLawyer ads are everywhere. They are all very similar. Smiles. Confidence. Promises. What kind of promises? In all of them, the advertising lawyer promises he or she will handle your problem. As one local advertising lawyer says in his ads, “we got this.” Does he? Lots of companies advertise assurances about their products and services.

One local Huntsville law firm advertises for workers’ compensation cases by saying a settlement may be in your best interest. Their ad starts by noting “the uncertainty that surrounds” lots of comp cases. Then, it offers the hope of a settlement. Finally, the ad says you should call them for help. It’s a classic marketing ploy — Step one, highlight the need or fear. Step two, disclose a potential solution. Step three, offer yourself as guide to solve the need.

Is a settlement in your best interest? Maybe it is. Maybe it is not. I talk to injured workers every day. Most people are unfamiliar with the work comp process. For many callers, it is the first time they have ever suffered any significant personal injury at work. The whole process can be uncertain. Medical treatment. Continued employment. Vocational rehabilitation. Money Benefits. It’s a new, and very different, process. Some lawyers exploit that unknown by smiling and telling clients the results are good when they really are not.

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Blackwell Law Firm / Alabama Work Comp LawyersA lawsuit filed against Tyson Foods in February over Covid-19 and workplace safety raises some serious issues. According to the lawsuit:

  • Tyson reported the greatest number of COVID-19 cases of any company in the meatpacking industry.
  • Tyson reported twice as many deaths as any other meatpacking company.
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Blackwell Law Firm - Huntsville Injury LawyersA well-known work comp writer publishes an annual Top 10 list of the most bizarre workers compensation cases. When it comes to bizarre, the year 2020 really shines bright!

Three of the top 10 bizarre cases for 2020 are COVID-related. Are you surprised? I’m certainly not. More specifically, all three coronavirus-related cases involved assaults. Again, I’m not surprised at all. We lived through a turbulent year! I’m using the past-tense “lived” in the hope we are entering a time of greater stability and sanity.

When A Virus Infects The Workplace With Violence!

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Huntsville Accident & Injury AttorneysLast summer, I wrote about the mental issues (such as PTSD) faced by our first responders. Our first responders have extremely stressful jobs. They handle people and situations at the very worst moments. First responders see the worst human suffering in normal times. With the COVID-19 pandemic, the stressors faced by first responders have exponentially increased.

In my prior post, I discussed current Alabama workers compensation law related to mental injuries. Current law does not provide compensation for mental-only injuries. Mental injuries are only compensable if they stem from a work-related physical injury. The physical injury requirement is also the law in several other states.

You can read my prior article if you want a greater understanding of current Alabama work comp law. Over the years, many of our severely injured clients have dealt with psychological issues. I’ve seen the depression and anxiety suffered by clients who face chronic pain, serious disability or an inability to work. Some physical injuries such as RSD (reflex sympathetic dystrophy) produce chronic pain so severe, mental health injuries are almost inescapable. When we help an injured client facing severe personal injuries and disabilities, we often have to fight in court to win them the benefits needed. Many insurance companies simply deny every request for mental health treatment. You won’t get the treatment you need without a fight. Where the injury and need for care is clearly documented, that’s shameful.

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