Hurt on the job in Alabama? Our workers’ compensation laws provide valuable medical and disability benefits. You may need those benefits. You may not realize the importance of those benefits at the time of the accident. Many of our clients in both workers’ compensation claims and car accidents do NOT realize the extent of their injuries at the beginning.
Our workers’ compensation laws require injured workers to provide prompt notice of an accident. If you do not, then you cannot later recover workers’ compensation benefits. Notice seems simple. Yet, it is a frequent issue in many cases.
Alabama’s Workers’ Compensation Act talks in terms of “written” notice. Yet, our courts allow claims where notice is only oral and not provided in writing. I could give you a long legal lecture on how and why these notice requirements developed. That’s a different discussion for another day. I will say this — Alabama provides a standard accident notice for employers. You can find a copy HERE. If you suffer an accident and injury, make sure it is completed.
We have helped many clients get their workers’ compensation benefits where NOTICE was only oral. I understand many workers decide not to provide written notice (or complete an accident report) for several reasons. I have heard these “reasons” many times. Some employees worry the boss will retaliate. For some, these fears are legitimate. Some employees initially think the injury is minor. That hurting back may be a simple muscle strain or it may be a serious ruptured disc. You may not know which for days or weeks after the accident. Some employees figure (wrongly) their injuries are not covered because they have suffered similar problems or injuries in the past. If the accident worsens your pain or problems, at all, you probably have a claim. If you fail to provide written notice of your accident, you can pay a huge price later.
If you rely on oral notice with no written report, you are taking a huge risk. A recent case in another state highlights the danger of NOT reporting workplace injuries in writing. It’s not an Alabama case but the issues are similar to our state. Most states require some form of notice for work comp benefits.
In this recent case, the employee was a baker at a local grocery store. She claimed an injury to her shoulder while lifting a 50 pound bucket of corn syrup. She did NOT report the injury the day it happened. She admitted that. Did she tell the boss later? She says she did. The boss says she did not. No written documents existed. Ultimately, the employee lost her claim. The court listened to the conflicting evidence and determined the employee did NOT provide notice. Why did the court rule against the employee who argued she provided oral notice?
- Many inconsistencies existed in the employee’s testimony that kept her from being credible.
- No other evidence supported the employee’s assertion of an accident and notice.
Wait. Maybe you are thinking — “I’m telling the truth.” Trust me, I understand. Maybe you can convince the court you are. We have won numerous trials with similar conflicting evidence. Yet, it’s not a good idea to wait and give your employer an issue to argue.
If you don’t give written notice of your accident, your bosses are likely to say they do NOT remember you telling them about it when asked weeks or months later. Don’t be shocked. I’ve seen many bosses deny notice in deposition and trial. Some of them genuinely do not remember. Others are purposely evading the truth. Either way, you suffer. By then (months or years later), you are down the road with no documents supporting your claim. Why risk your health and ability to work on the assumption everyone will later remember and admit you provided oral notice of your accident. Put it in writing.
At the Blackwell Law Firm, we have pursued Alabama workers’ compensation claims in counties across the state. We specialize in personal injury cases on behalf of people in Alabama. If you have questions, give us a call. Consultations are always free and confidential.