Alabama Workers' Comp Blawg

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  On August 22, 2021, the Alabama Supreme Court issued Administrative Order No. 13, which declared a temporary state of emergency for the entire Judicial Branch of the State of Alabama due to recent increases in COVID-19 infections. The Order expressly provides that, subject to any party’s substantive or constitutional rights, any Alabama rule or statute that impedes a judge’s or court clerk’s ability to utilize available audio/visual technologies is suspended until November 29, 2021.…
  The Alabama Supreme Court recently released its opinion in Jackson v. Voncille Allen and Penn Tank Lines, Inc. The plaintiff, Patrick Jackson, was riding in the passenger seat of a commercial vehicle being operated by Valerie Allen, an owner/operator leased to Penn Tank Lines (PTL). Allen was killed in the accident, and Jackson alleged severe injuries. Jackson sued Allen’s estate, asserting that Allen’s negligence had caused the accident, and asserted claims of negligent hiring,…
  On July 30, 2021, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals released an opinion in Kevin Patrick v. Mako Lawn Care, Inc. wherein it addressed the compensability of an assault by a co-employee. The altercation was the result of a feud between two lawn care crews. The member of one crew took the other crew’s mower home for personal use. To retaliate, a member of the other crew did the same thing. After that, words…
  On July 28, 2021, the Alabama Supreme Court issued Administrative Order No. 12, which extended its previous orders concerning workers’ compensation settlements. This means that the following rules will be in effect through October 29, 2021:   1. Any workers’ compensation settlement hearing in any court may be conducted telephonically or by videoconferencing.   2. Any workers’ compensation settlement may be approved by an ombudsman of the Alabama Department of Labor (ADOL) or by…
  On July 15, 2021, the presiding judge of the 10th Judicial Circuit of Alabama, Jefferson County, entered an Administrative Order which extended the previously entered Order concerning the holding of non-jury court proceedings by video or audio conference.   The previous Order provided Jefferson County Circuit Judges with discretion to hold virtual court hearings in all non-jury proceedings which included workers’ compensation cases.   The previous Order can be accessed at the following link: …
As of July 1, 2021, the maximum workers’ compensation payable is increased to $983.00 per week and the minimum is increased to $270.00 per week. The memorandum regarding the new minimum and maximum rates issued by the Director of the Alabama Department of Labor Workers’ Compensation Division, Steve Garrett, can be accessed at https://labor.alabama.gov/docs/guides/wc_weeklywage.pdf.…
  In exchange for providing no fault workers’ compensation insurance, Alabama employers are afforded the protections of the Exclusivity Doctrine. While this doctrine serves to insulate employers from liability claims, Alabama Code § 25-5-11 provides a means for recovery against supervisors and safety personnel. To prevail, the employee must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the injuries resulted from a co-employee’s willful conduct. § 25-5-11(c)(1) requires a finding that the co-employee acted in a…
  The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals recently released an opinion in In re: Laura Register v. Outdoor Aluminum, Inc. wherein it reversed summary judgment in favor of the employer in a retaliatory discharge case. While the decision itself did not create any new legal precedent, or narrow, or expand prior holdings, it did highlight the importance of communication between the employer and the workers’ compensation claim handler.   In Register, the non-retaliatory reason asserted…
  The Alabama Department of Labor (ADOL) requires all people handling lost time workers’ compensation claims to complete 8 hours of Continuing Education (CE) per calendar year. Medical only adjusters are exempt from this requirement.   Typically, the 8 CE hours must be completed in person. As the result of the pandemic and associated travel restrictions, arrangements have been and will continue to be made for virtual attendance. Per ADOL Workers’ Compensation Division Director, Steve…
  On April 28, 2021, the Alabama Supreme Court issued Administrative Order No. 10 which extended its previous orders concerning workers’ compensation and taking witness testimony remotely during the pandemic. This means that the following rules will be in effect through July 29, 2021:   1. Any workers’ compensation settlement hearing in any court may be conducted telephonically or by videoconferencing.   2. Any workers’ compensation settlement may be approved by an ombudsman of the…