The state of Alabama is taking a great stride to positively reform workers’ compensation laws to better protect injured workers’ rights. In the Circuit Court of Jefferson County, AL, Judge Pat Ballard ruled that two provisions of the Workers’ Compensation Act of Alabama were unconstitutional: the $220/week cap in compensation benefits once the worker’s condition has stabilized and the 15% cap on attorney fees.
The ruling took place in the case of Nora Clower vs. Caremark Corporation. Clower, who worked at CVS, hurt her back and was unable to work. Her average pay was $335/week, but because of regulations laid out in the Workers’ Compensation Act of Alabama, she is only able to receive $220/week in compensation – a significant decrease from her standard wages. This cap for workers’ compensation was created in 1987, representing a standard now made obsolete by thirty years of inflation.
The cap of 15% for attorney fees was also deemed unconstitutional because claimants in workers’ compensation cases don’t have easy access to legal help. Since the fees are capped for workers’ compensation lawyers, attorneys in Alabama may choose cases selectively. No injured worker should be forced to fight for their benefits alone.
The stride that Alabama has taken towards correcting workers’ compensation laws should serve as an example to all state legislatures. According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), workers’ compensation benefits only cover 21% of the cost of a work injury. Around 50% of the expenses have to be paid out of pocket by the injured worker and their family. We must fight back against these outdated acts and make our voices heard. Injured workers must be able to get the compensation they need and deserve.
Help us fight against unconstitutional workers’ compensation laws by contacting your state and federal representatives and demanding that they protect your rights. Together, we can make a difference.