“Alabama’s Booming Manufacturing Sector: Key Points to Know About the Alabama Workers’ Compensation Act"
In an article published in Business Alabama on Oct. 24, 2018, Trey Dowdey discussed Alabama’s booming manufacturing market, crediting big-name production facilities in the state like Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, Mazda, Honda and Hyundai for the state’s boost in national rankings for automobile production.
While the increase in production is a boon for state revenue and reputation, it will likely result in a rise in workers’ compensation claims given that manufacturing jobs in Alabama now account for more than 13 percent of Alabama’s workforce. The Alabama Workers’ Compensation Act can be complex for employers as it is liberally designed to favor employees while providing the means to protect employers from tort claims including negligence.
In situations where an employer has acquired the services of a staffing agency, an injured employee can bring suits against either the manufacturer or the staffing company, or both. It is worth noting that even if both employers are liable for an employee’s workers’ compensation benefits, both would remain immune from tort liability. Employers should keep this in mind when engaging an outside staffing agency in their hiring process.
Employers should also be aware of Alabama Code § 25-5-51, which states that an employee cannot be compensated if the injury or death was caused by the employee deliberately avoiding the use of safety devices required by the employer. Even though the employer again bears the burden of proof in this situation, which can result in the preclusion of an employee’s right to recover compensation, though an employer or insurance carrier is still “obligated to provide reasonably necessary medical treatment with an otherwise compensable work injury.”
“While not an exhaustive list of legal concerns for employers, insurance providers, or claims professionals in Alabama’s manufacturing sector, a working knowledge of the parameters of the Alabama Workers’ Compensation Act is key,” said Dowdey. “This knowledge can help employers set expectations, issue spot, manage employees, decrease costs and expenses, and improve ways to handle work injuries, all while staying focused on production.”
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