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Filing A Workers’ Comp Claim In Alabama? Here Are Some Common Terms You Need To Know

Nov 30, 2023 - Workers' Compensation/Work Injury by

Being injured on the job and pursuing a worker’s compensation claim can be confusing and stressful. While you are accomplished in many ways, the workers’ comp legal process is daunting for those who do not deal with it every day. At Cross & Smith, LLC, a Tuscaloosa workers’ compensation attorney can guide you through every step, ensuring you know what is happening and your best chance at recovering benefits is best supported. In the meantime, the following are some workers’ compensation terms you may be hearing over and over again, so it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with them. 

Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI)

There will likely be a point when your injury has improved as much as it is going to improve. This is known as having reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). Whatever your performance level is when you reach MMI is considered to be permanent and you will no longer receive temporary benefits although you may be eligible for permanent benefits. It is important that you only enter into settlement negotiations once you have reached MMI so you will have a clear picture of what your future holds. 

Panel of Four

When you are pursuing workers’ comp benefits, you will be assigned an authorized doctor to treat you. If you are not happy with the care that this physician provides, you may be able to request a Panel of Four, which consists of four doctors. You will then have the option of choosing one of these physicians to treat you. There are rules to this process and certain matters which must be considered. A Tuscaloosa workers’ compensation attorney from Cross & Smith can help. 

Average Weekly Wage (AWW)

For certain types of workers’ compensation in Alabama, the amount of compensation you receive will be based on your average weekly wage (AWW). Generally, this amount is determined by taking the amount you earned for the 52 weeks preceding your injury and dividing that number by 52. If you have not worked for a full 52 weeks, there are other ways your AWW can be calculated. Speak with a Tuscaloosa workers’ compensation attorney to find out more and calculate your AWW.

Vocational Benefits

Once you have reached MMI, if it has been determined that you have a permanent disability and you are unable to perform your previous job, you may qualify for vocational benefits. These benefits would allow you to receive training for a different job that you can perform now.

Whether or not you qualify for these benefits is a matter best addressed by a Tuscaloosa workers’ compensation attorney at Cross & Smith, LLC.

Independent Medical Exam (IME)

An employer or employee, under certain circumstances, is able to request an independent medical exam (IME). An IME is essentially an assessment that is performed by a doctor who is not the treating physician. This physician is supposedly not biased towards either side and submits a written report of their findings. 

Arising Out of Employment / Course Of Employment (AOE/COE)

In order to be compensable, your injury should arise out of your employment and have occurred during your employment (AOE/COE). For example, if you are injured while engaging in horseplay with a co-worker, your injury will likely not be covered. However, a Tuscaloosa workers’ compensation attorney at Cross & Smith, LLC, can help you determine if your injury is considered to arise out of and during the course of your employment. 

Temporary Total Disability (TTD) Benefits

Temporary total disability (TTD) benefits are typically available to injured workers who are completely disabled for a temporary period of time and are unable to perform any job duties during this time period. There is generally no predetermined amount of time for which TTD benefits may be received. Rather, they can be received until you reach MMI. At that time, a determination will need to be made as to whether or not you qualify for any type of permanent benefits. While receiving TTD benefits, they are not reduced as there is no ability to earn. There is a minimum and maximum that can be paid per week.

Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) Benefits 

Temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits are benefits paid when you are not totally disabled and have not yet reached MMI. As your disability is partial, you are able to perform your job in some capacity; therefore, the compensation you receive is reduced to 66 ⅔% of the difference between your average weekly earnings at the time of injury and the average weekly earnings you make in your current injured condition. There is a maximum amount that can be paid per week, and like TTD, ends when you reach MMI. 

Permanent Partial Disability (PTD) Benefits

Permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits are paid when you have been permanently injured but are still capable of work in some capacity. This could mean you are able to work part-time or light-duty only. Alabama law establishes a schedule for how much shall be paid for certain disabilities. There is a minimum and maximum amount that can be paid weekly. If you have questions regarding your ability to collect PTD benefits, contact a Tuscaloosa workers’ compensation attorney at Cross & Smith, LLC.

Permanent Total Disability (PTD) Benefits 

When you suffer an injury that renders you completely unable to work on a permanent basis, you may be eligible for permanent total disability (PTD) benefits and you can receive 66 ⅔% of the average weekly earnings at the time you were injured. There is a minimum and maximum amount that you will be able to receive each week. If you remain disabled for life, these payments may be able to continue for life. 

Speak With A Tuscaloosa Workers’ Compensation Attorney At Our Firm

A Tuscaloosa workers’ compensation attorney from Cross & Smith, LLC, will walk you through the workers’ compensation process. Contact our firm today to schedule a free consultation with a Tuscaloosa workers’ compensation attorney.

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