When an individual is injured or suffers an illness arising out of and in the course his/her employment, that individual has certain rights provided to her/him under the Alabama Workers’ Compensation Act (also referred to as “the Act”). The Act provides for medical care, surgery, and rehabilitation as well as Temporary Total Disability (TTD) benefits. TTD benefits are compensation based on a percentage of the injured worker’s wage. The TTD benefits provide compensation for an individual that is determined to be unable to return to work to earn wages.
An injured worker is required to report the injury as soon as possible and no later than in writing within five (5) days. Obviously there are exceptions (such as a catastrophic injury within a plant that is witnessed and where management makes the 911 call). However, if the injured worker is able it is best to be sure to give notice of the injury and request that a First Report of Injury is completed. Typically a worker is sent to the employer’s company doctor. If the injuries are severe the worker is sent to an ER.
An injured worker has the right to request a panel in which to choose a different treating physician if he or she is not satisfied with the current treating doctor. However, it should be noted that the request for a panel is a one-time event and the request should be used only as a last resort. If a worker elects to use his/her own physician without approval of the employer (or work comp insurance carrier) that worker may find that the treatments are not paid for by the work comp carrier or his/her health insurance carrier. Injured workers are reminded to be very careful when electing to use their own physician as the results may be harsh on several fronts.