Since the mid-1990s, work-related injury and illness rates have been dropping across the country. That’s good news overall, unless you’re one of the affected. Workplace injuries are expensive, not only to you in terms of pain and lost wages, but to your company and to the economy in general in terms of lost productivity. It’s in everyone’s interests that you’re back on your feet quickly.
In Alabama, you have the right to compensation when you’ve been hurt at work. The Workers’ Compensation Division of the Alabama Department of Labor administers workers’ compensation claims, assuring that you get the treatment you need and the benefits to which you’re entitled.
Practicing in Huntsville, Dr. Chad Mathey and his team at Crown Medical Center are well-versed in treating musculoskeletal workplace injuries. Knowing what types of injuries qualify for workers’ compensation and who can treat those injuries can both aid in a fast recovery.
Are you covered?
In Alabama, most employers with five or more workers are included under the Alabama Workers’ Compensation Act, but the legislation does allow for some exceptions. You may not have the right to workers’ compensation benefits if you’re:
- Working as a domestic servant
- A casual employee hired temporarily for duties outside the employer’s usual course of business
- A farm employee working for an employer who has opted out of workers’ compensation
- A state employee, or a county or city employee in some jurisdictions
- An independent contractor
Employers with fewer than five workers can choose to participate in the Workers’ Compensation Program, but it’s not required. There are other exceptions and inclusions to worker coverage, so it’s a good idea to fully understand your status before you experience a workplace injury yourself.
You’re eligible under the Act for compensation when your injury is caused by an “accident arising out of and in the course of employment.” This generally covers most injuries that occur in the workplace, as long as you’re observing safety practices and not engaged in willful misconduct, such as being drunk or engaging in horseplay.
This can include occupational diseases, such as respiratory conditions that arise from inhaling contaminated air connected with the workplace — including asbestosis, silicosis, black lung, or brown lung. Hearing loss due to occupational noise levels is covered (provided you followed safety procedures), though it may be classed as either an occupational disease or as an injury by the courts.
Existing conditions are generally excluded unless there’s significant aggravation presented by the working environment. If you have a heart attack at work, for example, you’re not eligible for workers’ compensation. If the heart attack was caused by an electric shock, however, you may be.
Injuries that benefit from chiropractic care
Many workplace injuries result from exertion, such as muscle strains or ligament pulls, but you can also develop back and neck problems from poor ergonomics while sitting at a desk. Cumulative trauma disorders — that is, things like carpal tunnel syndrome — have been added to the definition of injuries under the Act, so injuries from repetitive strain are also recognized as workplace injuries.
It’s up to you to report an injury to your employer within five days of its occurrence or within five days of receiving treatment in the case of a cumulative trauma disorder. There are some exceptions, but prompt reporting is crucial to receiving benefits.
Crown Medical Center specializes in workers’ compensation claims. Time is of the essence with workplace injuries, so if you require treatment, contact the closest office by phone or online to schedule an appointment as soon as possible.