Shortly after a National Public Radio (NPR) report exposed the disparity among workers’ compensation benefits for the same types of injuries in different states, Alabama lawmakers introduced a bill to increase benefits for workers within this state. In spite of the fact that Alabama workers’ compensation benefits for certain injuries are reportedly the lowest in the nation, this bill never seemed to take off. However, each Tuscaloosa workplace injury lawyer at our firm reminds employees that third-party claims can potentially provide injured workers with the compensation they need.
The NPR story looked at the claims of two workers who lived within 75 miles of each other, with surprisingly similar claim details:
Perhaps the main difference was the location of their accidents since they lived on different sides of the Alabama/Georgia border. While the Georgia victim received lifetime benefits expected to exceed $740,000, the Alabama victim received a total of $45,000 in workers’ compensation benefits.
Since the overall cost of living fluctuates in different areas of the country or even within a state, it is somewhat logical to expect differences in claim valuations based on location. Still, it is less logical to understand why a border can substantially reduce the value of an arm from $118,125 in Georgia to only up to $48,840 in Alabama.
Of course, the primary purpose of workers’ compensation is to ensure that victims of workplace accidents receive the benefits they need regardless of fault. In other words, regardless of whether employees sustain injuries due to their own carelessness or due to employer negligence, they can receive benefits in most cases without taking each other to court.
It is important to understand, however, that issues of liability in workers’ compensation claims only apply to the individuals who are connected with the company. When injuries are connected with workplace equipment, victims should look beyond their immediate environment to the equipment involved in their accidents. Did any feature on the equipment fail to work as expected? Did safeguards on the equipment fail? Was a machine’s design too unsafe to expect safe use?
These are just some examples of conditions that can justify filing a personal injury claim against a third party. Anyone who sustains disabling on-the-job injuries should strongly consider seeking legal advice when their workers’ compensation benefits fall short of their expected needs.
Alabama Amputation Risk Higher in Certain Jobs, Tuscaloosa Work Injury blog
Alabama Work Accidents, Workers’ Compensation & Third-Party Liability, Tuscaloosa Workers Compensation blog