Alabama Workers Compensation Information

Alabama Workers Compensation Information

The Mobile Alabama law firm of Boteler, Finley & Wolfe has a free publication available for injured workers who have questions about Alabama Workers Compensation laws and benefits. On the Job Injuries: A Guide for Injured Workers – Alabama edition provides detailed information about many aspects of the Workers Compensation laws in Alabama. Written by top rated personal injury attorney Mark Wolfe, the guide provides a quick and easy to read summary of Alabama workers compensation laws as well as practical pointers and suggestions. Below is an Annotated table of Contents for this free publication. To get your copy call Boteler, Finley & Wolfe toll free at 1 866 975-7766 or for a digital version complete with resource hyperlinks, e-mail Mark Wolfe at and put Guide for Injured Workers in the subject line. FREE CONSULTATIONS ALSO AVAILABLE.

On the Job Injuries: A Guide for Injured Workers – Alabama edition  Annotated Table of Contents

CH I. A Quick Summary of Alabama Workers Compensation Laws. Provides a quick and easy to read summary of Alabama workers compensation laws to help injured workers get a basic understanding of the wage and medical benefits available to them after being injured on the job.

CH II. On the Job Injury – Defined. Covers the basic definition of an “on the job injury” and discusses reporting requirements for an on the job injury. This section also provides practical advice and recommendations to help report and document an on the job injury.

CH III. Benefits Available to Injured Workers. Discusses the difference between a scheduled and non-scheduled injury. Discusses the lost wage benefits available to injured workers and how benefits are calculated. It reviews the medical benefits afforded to injured workers. Also, discusses and reviews death benefits available to family members. Covers vocational retraining benefits.

CH IV. Occupational Disease, Exposure Claims and Repetitive Injury Claims. Covers the definition of occupational disease and exposure claims and which includes injuries such as repetitive motion injuries. Defines legal and medical causation for these claims.

CH V. Injured Workers Rights. Discusses some of the basic rights of injured workers under the Alabama Workers’ Compensation Act.

CH VI. Hiring an Attorney. Discusses factors for injured workers to consider such as when to consult with an attorney and when to consider hiring an attorney to assist with a workers compensation claim. Also covers the prescribed contingency fees authorized for attorneys under the Alabama Workers Compensation Act.

CH VII. Practical Pointers and Suggestions. Provides injured workers with some practical suggestions related to workers compensation claims.

CH VIII. Resources and References. Provides injured workers with helpful resources and references related to a job related injury claim.

To get your copy call Boteler, Finley & Wolfe toll free at 1 866 975-7766 or for a digital version complete with resource hyperlinks, e-mail Mark Wolfe at and put Guide for Injured Workers in the subject line. FREE CONSULTATIONS ALSO AVAILABLE.


Required Disclaimers:

Alabama Rule of Professional Conduct 7.2: No representation is made that the quality of legal service to be performed is greater than the services provided by other lawyers. General Disclaimer: This information is posted for general information purposes to help those interested parties or persons with potential civil claims better understand their rights and potential causes of action. If readers are currently represented by an attorney on the subject matter of this post then they are encouraged to continue with said representation. No attorney-client relationship is established by this post.

New Study Offers Distracted Driving Insights

a recent study on distracted driving revealed new statistics on teen driversAlabama Public Radio recently reported on some disturbing findings in a well-publicized New England Journal of Medicine study about teen driving habits. While the findings might not surprise you, they should definitely give you pause about sharing the road with hormonal, inexperienced drivers. A Short But Blessed Grace Period First, here’s the good news: Teen drivers are model road citizens for the first several months of their driving careers. Before they develop an innate familiarity with the rules of the road, they’re extra-careful about signaling early, looking both ways, respecting speed limits and avoiding dangerous passing maneuvers. Over time, however, these good habits start to fall by the wayside. Within six months, teens are just as reckless as their adult counterparts. It’s possible that teens don’t fully absorb the good habits that their teachers impart. Alternatively, they may acquire dangerous behaviors by mimicking role models like older siblings and college students. Eating and Driving: Better for Adults? Eating and driving is a classic example of such a dangerous behavior. Surprisingly, this act poses relatively little risk for adult drivers who can successfully keep their eyes from wandering during the maneuver. By contrast, teens who eat while behind the wheel are involved in accidents at far higher rates than teens who refrain from the practice. Practice Makes Perfect Although the study’s conclusions weren’t crystal clear on this point, it seems likely that teen drivers engaged in risky maneuvers as a result of general overconfidence in their driving abilities. After six months of driving, the study found that teens drove distractedly at the same rate as adults in their 20s and 30s. While these drivers were no longer novices, they still hadn’t gained enough experience to react to external hazards while distracted. “It takes thousands of hours of practice to get good at driving,” notes the study’s co-author. Cell Phones: The Great Equalizer Teens aren’t solely responsible for distracted driving accidents. According to the study, adults and teens alike struggle to maintain focus while operating a mobile phone’s keypad. Although accidents in which texting is a factor occur at dismally high rates, even dialing a 10-digit phone number before completing a call can be hazardous. These findings reinforce the need to educate drivers about the dangers of using hand-held phones on the road. This requires a collective effort. While you can personally avoid texting, eating, applying makeup or performing other dangerous tasks during your commute, you can’t control what nearby drivers are doing. Fortunately, you’re not alone out there. If you’ve suffered injury or property damage in an accident that may have been caused by distracted driving, you could be entitled to compensation. To learn more about your options, contact our Mobile, AL attorney’s office at 866-975-7766 or visit our auto accident resources page.

Should I Participate in a Mass Tort Case?

If you’ve suffered property damage, personal injury or other losses as a result of a large-scale disaster, defective product or toxic incident, you may have grounds to join a mass tort case against the liable party. Although the mass tort process generally isn’t time-consuming or arduous for individual plaintiffs, it can seem confusing. We’ve compiled a helpful “cheat sheet” that outlines the advantages of participating in mass tort cases. Mass Torts vs. Class Action Lawsuits It’s understandable to confuse mass torts with class action lawsuits, but the two forms of litigation aren’t identical. The key difference lies in their structure: Whereas a class action lawsuit is a single action that’s joined by hundreds or thousands of participants, a mass tort case is a collection of individual actions with similar characteristics. For this reason, mass torts are often called “multidistrict legal actions” or variations thereof. Characteristics and Promotion Mass tort cases generally stem from complaints about one of these three broad issues: •    Defective machinery or consumer products •    Large-scale disasters like plane crashes or building fires •    Toxic events like oil spills or waste dumping incidents Regardless of the exact complaint, a judge must determine that each individual claim is similar enough to warrant the formation of a mass tort. Once a given case is certified, it must be promoted in local or national media in accordance with certain guidelines. Preparing for Your Case To prepare for your case, compile any documents that might strengthen your claim. These include: •    Hospital bills •    Termination letters •    Worker’s compensation forms •    Pay stubs •    Testimony from witnesses or others involved in the case As a rule, you should never divulge specific information about your case without your attorney’s consent. It’s never a good idea to attempt to enter a mass tort case without the help of a legal professional. Time Commitment and Results Even though mass tort cases are structured as streamlined collections of individual legal actions, they generally don’t require their participants to appear in court on a daily basis. Trained legal representatives can handle the pre-trial and trial phases of each mass tort without direct input from their clients. As such, mass tort participants generally don’t need to devote huge amounts of time to their cases. Since judgments in these cases may run into the tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars, many participants are happy to invest some of their time in the outcome. Do you feel as if you’re entitled to compensation under a pending mass tort case but wonder whether it would be worthwhile for you to participate? Many regular folks are understandably nervous to “put themselves out there” in a legal action that can stretch on for months or years. Before you make any decisions, contact us at 866-975-7766 or visit our homepage for more information.

What’s the Difference Between Homeowner Liability and Commercial Liability?

If you own your own home, chances are good that you’ve taken out homeowners liability insurance on it. In many jurisdictions, this step is required by law. Likewise, most business owners use commercial liability insurance to protect their investments and insulate themselves from claims. While such insurance policies are designed to insulate homeowners and business owners from the financial costs associated with physical damage, liability claims and other issues, they’re not intended to absolve them of responsibility for negligent or intentionally harmful actions. If you’re thinking about filing a liability claim against a homeowner or business owner, take a moment to review the basic differences between homeowners liability and commercial liability. Homeowners Liability Insurance Basics Homeowners insurance comes in two basic parts: property and liability. While we could easily devote an entire article to property insurance issues, homeowners liability insurance is fairly straightforward. This guarantee protects homeowners from financial damages associated with injuries, deaths or damages that occur in their homes or on their properties. Liability claims against homeowners often occur after falls that result in severe injuries, or after on-site machinery accidents that can’t be blamed on defective products. Commercial Liability Insurance Basics Commercial or business liability insurance tends to be far more broad in scope. In addition to the physical structures in which the covered entity conducts its affairs, most commercial liability plans cover claims and damages associated with the products and services that it offers. If you file a claim against a business that makes a defective or harmful product, it’s quite likely that its commercial liability plan will cover the cost of any judgment that arises out of the case. Key Differences There are some obvious differences between homeowners liability and commercial liability. Whereas homeowners tend to be held liable for a narrower range of problems, businesses can be faulted for a variety of indirect problems that can be traced back to their products or services. However, business owners often evade personal responsibility for such issues. Any judgment that you stand to receive as a result of a commercial liability claim is likely to come out of the at-fault business’s asset pool. How Do You Know Who’s at Fault? In some cases, it may be difficult to determine the identity of an at-fault party. If you were injured on a residential property that doubles as a business site, the sequence of events that led up to the incident could prove to be consequential. You’d do well to speak to a liability expert before proceeding. If you still have some questions about the differences between homeowners liability and commercial liability, or aren’t sure how to determine the identity of the at-fault party in your specific case, turn to the seasoned liability experts at the law firm of Boteler, Finley and Wolfe in Mobile, AL. To learn more about the services that our firm’s seasoned attorneys can provide, visit us online or call 866-975-7766.

How to Reduce Safety Concerns for Guests on Your Property

When visitors come to your home, you want them to be comfortable and safe. Unfortunately, accidents do sometimes happen, and the resulting injuries can cause strain on your friendship and finances. Although insurance can help mitigate the cost of an accidental injury claim, you may still require an attorney to protect your interests. It’s best to avoid the situation whenever possible by working to keep your home safe. Here are a few of the most common household risks and ways to avoid them: Falls Slips and falls account for about 40% of all injuries sustained in the home, and they’re the leading cause of injuries to home visitors. Guests may be unfamiliar with the terrain around your home, and safety hazards around the house may increase their chances of slipping. Although you may know that the last step in your stairs is an odd height or that there are extension cords crossing the yard, your guests won’t know to avoid these hazards. It’s best to clear your home of hazards. Pay special attention to clearing debris from walkways, and repair any unsteady or damaged stairs and porches. Animal Bites Dogs and cats have wills of their own, and they sometimes aren’t as friendly toward your guests as you might want them to be. Even a generally friendly animal can have an “off” day, and a stranger could trigger their defensive behavior. It’s important to keep your pets well trained and well socialized to avoid possible bites. It’s also not a bad idea to keep your pets away from guests during occasions that might over-excite them. Tucking them away in a quiet room during a party will be a lot less stressful for everyone. Kitchen Mishaps Dinner parties can be fun, but they can pose risks like burns and cuts to your guests. Reduce the number of kitchen accidents by keeping your knives properly sharpened, turning pot handles inward and encouraging appropriate dress in the kitchen. You might feel a little awkward at first, but a safe kitchen is the first step to safe guests. For more information about home safety risks, you can reference the most extensive study ever completed on the topic, the 2004 Home Safety Council report. Of course, even the most careful homeowner cannot always protect their visitors from themselves. If visitors to your Mobile, AL home have recently been injured, it might be time to contact an attorney about handling the liability claim.

5 Things You Need to Know About Disability Insurance

These days, disability insurance is a hot topic of political discussion. After years of low-key operation, federal and state disability programs have been thrust into the spotlight. Despite its new-found prominence in the national discourse, disability insurance remains a necessary source of income for millions of Americans with health conditions that make gainful employment difficult or impossible. Before you file your disability insurance claim in Alabama, review these five little-known facts about the program. 1. Your Claim Won’t Automatically Be Accepted Many workers who suffer long-term injuries or receive psychological diagnoses that preclude gainful employment assume that they’ll automatically be accepted into Alabama’s disability insurance program. This is far from the truth: Recent statistics indicate that only 30% of initial applications for disability insurance are accepted by Alabama Disability Determination Services. That’s lower than the national average. 2. You’ll Need to Meet Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) Criteria In Alabama and elsewhere, ultimate decisions to distribute or withhold disability insurance payments often turn on the question of whether a potential recipient can perform “substantial gainful activity.” SGA isn’t exactly synonymous with “working,” but most forms of work do count as substantial gainful activity. If you earn more than a set amount per month, you’ll be deemed capable of performing SGA and won’t be eligible for disability benefits. Current SGA thresholds sit at $1,740 for blind workers and $1,040 for non-blind workers. 3. Unemployment Isn’t the Whole Story Many applicants wrongly believe that currently employed individuals are automatically ineligible to receive disability insurance payments. While unemployed applicants tend to have a better shot at earning disability insurance payments, those who engage in “unsuccessful work attempts” may be considered as well. If you work at a job for less than six months after a prolonged period of unemployment and ultimately leave said job as a result of your disability, you can petition to have your stint categorized as a UWA. If this petition is successful, you’ll remain eligible for disability benefits. 4. Appeals Work While only 30% of initial disability applications are accepted by Alabama Disability Determination Services, a full 62% earn acceptance after applicants lodge formal appeals. If your application has merit, don’t be discouraged by an initial rejection. Instead, talk to a lawyer about appealing the decision. 5. Disability Eligibility and Awards Aren’t Static State and federal agencies are constantly updating eligibility requirements for disability insurance payments. For instance, the late 1990s saw an increase in the length of time for which applicants are eligible for Medicare support. By contrast, recent changes have made it more difficult for some individuals with diagnosed psychological disorders to continue receiving benefits. It’s important to work through these issues with a disability insurance expert. If you’re in the Mobile, AL area and having trouble negotiating your disability insurance situation, consider reaching out to a law firm for expert counsel. At Boteler, Finley & Wolfe, we have years of experience successfully representing disability cases. Let us help you with yours.

Polygrip Denture Cream

Polygrip Denture Cream’s manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline, is under investigation for failing to inform users of this product’s potential safety risks. Polygrip Denture Cream contains 38 milligrams of zinc per ounce. Health experts recommend 8 milligrams of zinc per day for women and 11 milligrams for men. Medical studies have found excessive zinc may purge the body of copper, a chemical needed for normal brain and nervous system function. GlaxoSmithKline has announced that it will stop making Polygrip formulas containing zinc. Common side effects related to this product’s health risk include: loss of balance, loss of sensation in hands and feet and anemia. If you have any questions regarding your or a family member’s health and the use of Polygrip, please contact Knox Boteler at 866-975-7766 or email him at for additional information. To learn more about this situation, click here.

F&S Marine LLC v. Indemnity Insurance Company of NA, et al , et al. CV 2009-900715

This insurance case involved a significant loss claim for F&S Marine LLC (F&S) at a shipyard job site in South Carolina. F&S submitted the claim for the loss and it was denied because the insurance company claimed F&S was not covered for the loss. Mark Wolfe of BF&W was retained by F&S to investigate and prosecute this matter. Pre-litigation attempts at resolution were not successful and a lawsuit was filed. Shortly after filing the lawsuit, a confidential settlement was reached in the matter.

Wolfe Speaks at New Jersey Seminar

Boteler Richardson Wolfe attorney, Mark Wolfe recently did a presentation for New Jersey attorneys on Practice Building. The presentation was done in Atlantic City at the New Jersey Association for Justice’s annual Boardwalk seminar. The Boardwalk seminar is one the largest programs in the United States for personal injury attorneys and consumer advocate attorneys. This year’s program had over 1100 attorneys register according to Christie Reha of AAJ-NJ. The two day program featured speakers from all over the United States.

Why are Medical Malpractice Cases so Difficult in Alabama?

by Mark Wolfe, Attorney at Law

DISCLAIMER: The following material is being provided as a courtesy and without remuneration. It is not intended to be a commentary on the merits of any potential medical malpractice claim or case. If you believe you have been the victim of medical malpractice, please consult with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer.

In Alabama medical malpractice cases are one the most difficult type of tort cases to successfully prosecute. From 2004 through 2008 health care providers won almost 80% of the medical malpractice cases tried by juries in Alabama. Besides being difficult to win at trial, many medical malpractice cases are dismissed by the Court before a jury even gets a chance to hear or decide the case. From 2004 through 2008 171 medical malpractice cases were dismissed in favor of the health care providers by Summary Judgment. The reason these cases are so difficult for victims is because Alabama evidentiary and procedural laws favor health care providers and make it difficult for a malpractice victim to succeed in a civil lawsuit. Yes, you hear doctors and the medical community raise concerns over the high cost of their malpractice premiums and they blame Plaintiff lawyers and lawsuits for these high premiums. But the truth is their gripe should be with the insurance companies who continue to claim “frivolous” lawsuits are the reason for these high premiums. As you will see from the information below, Alabama laws make it almost impossible for a frivolous medical malpractice case to even get through the Court house doors. These difficulties also explain why some attorneys in Alabama often just summarily dismiss calls from people who believe they have been the victim of malpractice without offering any meaningful explanation as to why no viable case exists.

Often times people will call an attorneys office simply wanting them to just to write a letter to the doctor’s insurance company to obtain a settlement for their harm without filing a lawsuit. But the insurance companies who provide malpractice insurance to doctors and hospitals know how difficult these type claims or cases are to prove under Alabama law. That is why they rarely offer compensation to people who believe they have been the victim of malpractice without full and complete litigation. Simply put, they know medical malpractice cases are very expensive and costly to prove and therefore they are not willing to settle until extensive and expensive litigation has been undertaken. But why are these cases so expensive and difficult?

Why are Medical Malpractice cases so expensive?
Medical malpractice is the failure of a health care provider to follow the appropriate standard of care (breach of a duty) which causes a harm or death. This sounds simple enough until you look at what is required to meet this definition. The victim must “prove by expert testimony” the standard of care which was breached and that the failure to follow that standard of care probably caused the injury or harm. This means no matter how straight forward the alleged malpractice may seem, expert testimony is needed to support the malpractice claim. Furthermore expert testimony is needed to establish the causation of the injury or harm. Experts must be equally or similarly qualified as the healthcare provider in question. Basically very few if any local doctors are willing to testify against another local doctor. This means victims must usually secure the services of an expert from outside the local area and these experts can be very expensive. A preliminary retainer for a basic medical record review can easily cost $10,000.00. These preliminary expert reviews usually are done for the basic purpose of establishing if a potential malpractice case can move to the next level of investigation and warrant further review by experts in a specific area or related to a specific issue.

Further adding to the expense and cost of a medical malpractice case is Ala Code § 6-5-551. This statutory law requires that a medical malpractice lawsuit include in the Complaint “a detailed specification and factual description of each act and omission alleged by plaintiff [victim] to render the health care provider liable to plaintiff and shall include when feasible and ascertainable the date, time and place of the act or acts.” In practical application this means victims of alleged malpractice must have a detailed expert opinion before drafting and filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. Given the complexities of medicine and medical care, it is often necessary to have two or three experts in order to comply with this statute. Again, more expenses. The statute further states that a Complaint which does not comply with these requirements “shall be subject to dismissal for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.”

What all of this means is that Alabama law basically requires victims and their attorneys to undertake very expensive investigation procedures before ever trying to bring a medical malpractice case into Court. Most attorneys in Alabama who handle personal injury matters, including medical malpractice cases, do so on a contingency fee agreement (a percentage of the recovery) and they advance expenses for clients related to the prosecution of that case. These costs include expert fees. But the cold hard reality is the case must warrant the risk of these expenses. It does not make economical sense to advance $50,000 to $100,000 in litigation expenses if the probable recovery in the case is not significant or is not even going to cover the expenses of prosecuting the case. Medical malpractice insurance companies know this and that is the main reason victims get the cold shoulder from them. This is also the reason they pay little heed to victims who say “I’m going to get a lawyer and sue the doctor!”

Why are Medical Malpractice cases so difficult?
Medical care is a complex blend of sciences. Biology, chemistry, anatomy and physiology all factor into the healing arts. These complexities often make issues of causation complicated to prove. Add to this that the standard of care of what should or should not be done in a particular medical situation is not always as clear as we would like it to be and you can see why medical malpractice cases can be difficult to prove. The mere fact that another doctor would have done something different or opted for another treatment protocol or procedure in and of itself is not evidence of malpractice. The treatment or procedure in question must be a deviation from the applicable standard of care, i.e., no reasonable health care provider would have done it that way and the harm would not have occurred if there had been no breach or deviation from the acceptable standard of care. What follows is a brief summary of Alabama laws that apply to medical malpractice cases.

Higher burden of proof: Unlike most civil lawsuits in Alabama which simply require proof to the jury’s reasonable satisfaction, medical malpractice cases require proof by substantial evidence.

Alternative methods of treatment: The mere fact that an alternative method of treatment would have brought about a better result is not evidence of malpractice if the method of treatment in issue was within the reasonable standard of care.

Bad result or outcome: A bad result or outcome from a medical procedure is not malpractice or evidence of malpractice if the health care provider followed the standard of care.

Informed consent to a known material risk of the procedure: If the alleged harm is the result of a known material risk of the procedure and the patient consented to the procedure and the health care provider followed the appropriate standard of care, then there is no malpractice. Even if consent to the procedure is not obtained, Alabama law recognizes implied consent to treatment if the patient knew about the material risks of the treatment.

Limitation on time for commencement of action. All actions against physicians, surgeons, dentists, medical institutions, or other health care providers for liability, error, mistake, or failure to cure, whether based on contract or tort, must be commenced within two years next after the act, or omission, or failure giving rise to the claim, and not afterwards; provided, that if the cause of action is not discovered and could not reasonably have been discovered within such period, then the action may be commenced within six months from the date of such discovery or the date of discovery of facts which would reasonably lead to such discovery, whichever is earlier; provided further, that in no event may the action be commenced more than four years after such act; except, that an error, mistake, act, omission, or failure to cure giving rise to a claim which occurred before September 23, 1975, shall not in any event be barred until the expiration of one year from such date.

In summary.
Alabama laws and the complexity of medical care make medical malpractice cases difficult to win in our State. It is often discouraging for people who believe they have been the victim of medical malpractice to get attorneys to take the time to explain why medical malpractice cases are so difficult to pursue in Alabama. Also, sometimes victims don’t understand all the hurdles that have to be cleared by a lawyer before he or she can say whether or not a viable medical malpractice claim exists. It is our hope this article has helped provide a better understanding of these issues.