State law governs workers’ compensation claims for anyone sickened or hurt in the workplace. (Federal workers are one exception, since their workers’ comp claims process is the same everywhere.) If you get hurt on the job in Alabama, follow the steps below to apply for benefits. Then, see how the Alabama workers’ compensation program changed from 2013-2017 in our interactive chart.
How to File Your Alabama Workers’ Compensation Claim
State law requires any employer with five or more permanent employees to carry WC coverage. (This includes part-time or full-time employees; contractors as well as seasonal, volunteer or temporary workers aren’t covered.) Follow these steps to apply for Alabama workers’ compensation:
- Report your workplace injury to your supervisor within five days. Seek emergency medical care first if you need it! But you must report your injury in writing within 90 days to qualify for workers’ comp.
- Your supervisor then notifies your employer, who files a First Report of Injury claim. You must file within two years from your injury date to qualify for workers’ comp benefits.
- Then, ask your employer which doctor may treat you. State law says your employer gets to choose. In other words, don’t just go to your own doctor! If you do, you’ll owe money for those appointments.
- If your claim’s approved, you should receive benefits within 4-22 days. There’s a required three-day waiting period before you can get any benefits. Injuries expected to last less than three weeks get compensation starting on day four. For injuries expected to last longer than that, your first payment should come on day 22.
- Contact an Ombudsman to mediate your dispute if your claim’s denied (or retain a lawyer). Once your employer denies your claim, call the Division toll-free at 1-800-528-5166 and ask for an Examiner. The only other way to appeal is with help from an Alabama workers’ compensation lawyer.
Every Alabama workers’ compensation claim is unique, so your own process may vary. For more about the Alabama workers’ compensation program, read the Alabama Department of Labor’s FAQs.
Alabama Workers’ Compensation Statistics, 2013-2017
Data for workers’ compensation programs in most states gets compiled into a Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) annual report. They show all workers’ comp claims filed, how many people missed work or changed jobs and employment sector-specific data. Our chart below shows how the Alabama workers’ compensation program changed from 2013-2017.
The Alabama workers’ compensation program shows steady declines nearly across the board during this five-year period. In fact, from 2013 to 2017, total claims filed fell more than 22%! Service-industry workers make up most claims filed each year, ranging from 54% in 2014 to 60% in 2017. While claims in that job sector fell less sharply over that five-year timeframe, they still dropped 20% overall. What’s interesting to note is that each year, only about half of workplace injuries qualified for Alabama workers’ compensation benefits. That red line indicates which workers missed work, changed jobs or received work restrictions due to their injuries. These are the only injured workers who qualified for Alabama workers’ compensation benefit payments from 2013 to 2017.
You May Qualify for Legal Assistance
The workers’ compensation claims process is actually confusing in many ways. The Department of Labor’s website notes they usually deny mental health-related workers’ comp claims. And since your employer chooses the doctor that treats you, you may feel your injuries deserve more compensation. The state’s website says your only options for appealing a denial include calling a state-employed Ombudsman or hiring a lawyer.
For those reasons, we strongly recommend getting a free consultation with a workers’ comp attorney to discuss your claim. You owe $0 for legal assistance if an attorney can’t win you a cash settlement. And if you win, then you’ll only pay a small, one-time fee.
Ready to see if you may qualify? Click the button below to start your free benefits evaluation online now!
Lori Polemenakos is Director of Consumer Content and SEO strategist for LeadingResponse, a legal marketing company. An award-winning journalist, writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas, she's produced articles for major brands such as Match.com, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Xfinity, Mail.com, and edited several published books. Since 2016, she's published hundreds of articles about Social Security disability, workers' compensation, veterans' benefits, personal injury, mass tort, auto accident claims, bankruptcy, employment law and other related legal issues.