Workers' compensation (or workers' comp, as you may have heard it called) is governed by Alabama's Workers' Compensation Law (Code of Alabama Section 25 5 1 through 25 5 340) and by a variety of federal statutes which provide for financial compensation to employees or their dependents in the event of employment related accidents and diseases. These statutorily prescribed benefits enable the injured worker to receive compensation without initiating legal action against his or her employer and help encourage safety in the workplace. Workers' comp is compulsory, meaning that employers are required to provide worker's compensation insurance for their employees. Worker's compensation insurance may be provided through a private insurance carrier, or employers may self-insure. Waivers are not permitted.
Federal employees are covered under a number of federal laws including:
- Federal Employees Compensation Act (federal workers)
- The Jones Act (seaman)
- Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (longshoremen and harbor workers)
The effect of workers' compensation laws is to make the employer strictly liable to an employee for injuries sustained in the course of employment, without regard of the negligence of the employer or employee. In order to have a valid claim, the injury must arise in the course and scope of employment and an employee employer relationship must exist (independent contractors are not covered under workers' compensation laws in most cases).
The goal of the workers' compensation attorney representing the claimant (injured worker) is to help obtain the benefits to which he or she is entitled under the law. The benefits vary according to duration of disability and the worker's wage.
- Payments are made for temporary total disability (TTD) in an amount determined by a percentage of the worker's wage, subject to a weekly maximum payment amount. Payments continue for the duration of the disability.
- Payments are made for permanent total disability (PTD) based upon a percentage of the worker's wage, subject to a weekly maximum payment amount. Payments for PTD continue for the duration of the disability.
- Payments for permanent partial disability (PPD) are made based upon a percentage of the worker's wage, subject to a weekly maximum payment. Payments for PPD continue for up to 300 weeks. Scheduled awards are paid in addition to total temporary disability benefits starting upon termination of the termination of the TTD benefits. Scheduled awards are not reduced because of receipt of TTD benefits.