Workers’ Compensation Insurance in Alabama
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Alabama workers’ compensation insurance

Alabama requires every business with five or more employees to provide workers’ compensation insurance.

Who needs workers’ compensation in Alabama?

Alabama state law requires most public and private-sector employers to provide workers’ compensation insurance. The law defines employers as any person or entity with five or more employees. The term “employee” applies to all full-time or part-time employees, officers of a corporation, or members of a limited liability company (LLC).

Employers that are not required to provide workers’ comp coverage include those that hire:

  • Domestic workers
  • Farm laborers
  • Casual workers
  • Municipalities having a population of fewer than 2,000 residents (based on the most recent U.S. Census)

However, employers with workers in the above categories may elect to include them voluntarily in their workers’ compensation program.

Workers’ comp for construction contractors in Alabama

Alabama contractors involved in the construction of single-family dwellings can file for a workers’ comp exemption. Once granted, the exemption removes liability for workplace accidents from the person or company that does business with the contractor.

In other words, if one of the contractor’s employees gets injured on a job that another person or business commissions, that person or business won’t be liable for providing workers’ compensation benefits to the injured worker.

Do Alabama business owners need to be covered by workers’ comp?

It depends on your status. Sole proprietors and independent contractors don’t have to buy workers’ compensation coverage for themselves. However, they must comply with the state’s rules for covering employees. The same is true for business partners.

The situation changes for corporate officers and LLC members. Corporate officers must be included in workers’ comp but may elect to request an exemption if they believe they don’t need or want the protection. The same is true for LLC members.

Corporate officers and LLC members who wish to be exempt must file a form with their workers’ compensation insurance company. Ask your company for the correct form to use.

Even when it's not required, it can be a smart business decision to buy workers' comp for yourself or for your employees to gain protection against costly medical expenses.

How much does workers' compensation insurance cost in Alabama?

Male business owner calculating number of employees and other factors

Estimated employer rates for workers’ compensation in Alabama are $1.01 per $100 in covered payroll. Your cost is based on a number of factors, including:

  • Payroll
  • Location
  • Number of employees
  • Industry and risk factors
  • Coverage limits
  • Claims history

How does workers’ comp work in Alabama?

Alabama business owners can compare quotes and purchase a policy from private insurance companies. Insureon offers this service with our free online application.

If you're unable to get insurance from two commercial insurers, you can buy it from the Alabama Assigned Risk Pool, which is administered by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI). You can access “last-resort” coverage through your local insurance broker after providing written proof of two insurance declinations.

Alabama assigned-risk coverage is approved by state courts and is guaranteed by the Alabama Insurance Guarantee Association.

Alabama employers who qualify can self-insure their workers’ compensation claims. This means they’ll pay for their own workers’ comp claims rather than submit them to an insurance company.

To qualify for self-insurance, Alabama employers must have:

  • A net worth of $5 million
  • A current assets / liabilities ratio of 1 or higher
  • Positive net income in each of the prior three years

What do workers' comp benefits include in Alabama?

The Alabama workers' compensation law states that the employer must cover medical treatment and part of the employee's wages for missed days of work after a three-day waiting period.

Workers' compensation benefits includes:

  • Medical bills for a job injury or occupational disease
  • Two-third of the employee's wages during recovery
  • Temporary total disability benefits
  • Temporary partial disability benefits
  • Permanent partial disability benefits
  • Permanent total disability benefits
  • Vocational benefits (training for other suitable employment)
  • Death benefits for fatal incidents

Policies usually include employer's liability insurance, which can help cover legal expenses if an employee blames their employer for an injury. However, the exclusive remedy provision in most workers' comp policies prohibits an employee from suing their employer if they accept workers' comp benefits.

To receive benefits, a First Report of Injury form must be filled out within 15 days from the date of injury or date the employer was notified. You can find out more through the Workers' Compensation Division of the Alabama Department of Labor.

What are Alabama's penalties for not having workers’ comp insurance?

If you operate your business without workers’ compensation insurance in Alabama, you could be fined $1,000 per employee for each day in which you failed to provide mandated coverage. Other potential penalties include:

  • Being ordered to close your business until you come into compliance with the state’s workers’ comp requirement
  • Criminal penalties including fines, jail time, or both
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Workers’ compensation death benefits in Alabama 

If an employee dies as a result of a work-related injury or illness, the worker’s eligible family members may receive death benefits. Eligibility is determined by a person’s relationship to the deceased worker and their degree of financial dependence on the worker.

In Alabama, the following individuals are assumed to be financially dependent on the employee:

  • A surviving spouse
  • Children younger than 18 who live at home with the spouse
  • Children younger than 22 who are enrolled in an accredited higher education program
  • Adult children who are mentally or physically unable to support themselves or who depended on the deceased worker for financial support in the past

In addition, family members who can prove they depended on the deceased worker in the past may be eligible for death benefits. This includes:

  • Parents
  • Siblings
  • Grandparents
  • Grandchildren

Eligible family members can receive weekly death benefits amounting to no more than 75% of the deceased employee’s average weekly wages. This amount can’t exceed the average weekly wage across the state.

For partially dependent survivors, the weekly benefit will be based on how much the person provided for each dependent.

Whether wholly or partially dependent, survivors can receive benefits for no longer than 500 weeks.

In Alabama, eligible family members can also receive a lump-sum payment for burial and other expenses as long as the worker died no longer than four years from the date of the injury. The lump sum is calculated on the basis of the state’s average weekly wage.

Workers’ comp settlements in Alabama

A workers’ compensation settlement is an agreement between the injured employee, employer, and insurer that will close out a workers’ compensation claim. This benefits both the employee and the employer.

Settlements in Alabama usually take the form of a lump-sum payment. However, some are paid over time, especially if the survivor lacks sufficient income.

Alabama is different from many other states in that its workers’ comp settlements don’t necessarily remove the possibility of receiving future medical benefits. The state allows an injured employee’s claim to be reopened if the person’s condition deteriorates within four years.

A workers’ comp settlement in Alabama may be reached either with a formal hearing or without a hearing.

Workers’ compensation statute of limitations in Alabama

In Alabama, the statute of limitations for workers’ comp claims is within two years of the date of injury or of the last voluntary payment of disability income benefits, whichever comes later.

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If you are ready to explore workers’ comp insurance options for your Alabama business, start a free online application today to compare quotes from top-rated insurance carriers.

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