2006 Alabama Code - Section 25-5-57 — Compensation for disability.

(a) Compensation schedule. Following is the schedule of compensation:

(1) TEMPORARY TOTAL DISABILITY. For injury producing temporary total disability, the compensation shall be 66 2/3 percent of the average weekly earnings received at the time of injury, subject to a maximum and minimum weekly compensation as stated in Section 25-5-68, but if at the time of injury the employee received average weekly earnings of less than the minimum stated in Section 25-5-68, then he or she shall receive the full amount of the average weekly earnings per week. This compensation shall be paid during the time of the disability, but at the time as a temporary total disability shall become permanent, compensation for the continued total disability shall be governed by (a)(4) of this section with respect to permanent total disability. Payments are to be made at the intervals when the earnings were payable, as nearly as may be, unless the parties otherwise agree.

(2) TEMPORARY PARTIAL DISABILITY.

a. Amount and Duration of Compensation. For temporary partial disability, the compensation shall be 66 2/3 percent of the difference between the average weekly earnings of the worker at the time of the injury and the average weekly earnings he or she is able to earn in his or her partially disabled condition. This compensation shall be paid during the period of the disability, but not beyond 300 weeks. Payments shall be made at the intervals when the earnings were payable, as nearly as may be, unless the parties otherwise agree, and shall be subject to the same maximum weekly compensation as stated in Section 25-5-68.

b. Effect of Change in Employment. If the injured employee who is receiving compensation for temporary partial disability leaves the employment of the employer by whom he or she was employed at the time of the accident for which the compensation is being paid, he or she shall, upon securing employment elsewhere, give to the former employer an affidavit in writing containing the name of his or her new employer, the place of employment, and the amount of wages being received at the new employment, and until he or she gives the affidavit, the compensation for temporary partial disability shall cease. The employer for whom the employee was employed at the time of the accident for which the compensation is being paid may also at any time demand of the employee an additional affidavit, in writing, containing the name of his or her employer, the place of his or her employment, and the amount of wages he or she is receiving; and if the employee upon demand fails or refuses to make and furnish the affidavit, his or her right to compensation for temporary partial disability shall cease until the affidavit is made and furnished.

(3) PERMANENT PARTIAL DISABILITY.

a. Amount and Duration of Compensation. For permanent partial disability, the compensation shall be based upon the extent of the disability. In cases included in the following schedule, the compensation shall be 66 2/3 percent of the average weekly earnings, during the number of weeks set out in the following schedule:

1. For the loss of a thumb, 62 weeks.

2. For the loss of a first finger, commonly called the index finger, 43 weeks.

3. For the loss of a second finger, 31 weeks.

4. For the loss of a third finger, 22 weeks.

5. For the loss of a fourth finger, commonly called the little finger, 16 weeks.

6. The loss of the first phalange of the thumb or of any finger shall be considered as equal to the loss of one half of the thumb or finger, and compensation shall be paid at the prescribed rate during one half of the time specified above for the thumb or finger.

7. The loss of two or more phalanges shall be considered as the loss of the entire finger or thumb, but in no case shall the amount received for more than one finger exceed the amount provided in this schedule for the loss of a hand.

8. For the loss of a great toe, 32 weeks.

9. For the loss of any of the toes other than the great toe, 11 weeks.

10. The loss of the first phalange of any toe shall be considered to be equal to the loss of one half of the toe, and compensation shall be paid at the prescribed rate during one half the time prescribed above for the toe.

11. The loss of two or more phalanges shall be considered as the loss of an entire toe.

12. For the loss of a hand, 170 weeks.

13. For the loss of an arm, 222 weeks.

14. For the loss of a foot, 139 weeks.

15. Amputation between the elbow and wrist shall be considered as the equivalent to the loss of a hand, and amputation between the knee and ankle shall be considered as the equivalent of the loss of a foot.

16. For the loss of a leg, 200 weeks.

17. For the loss of an eye, 124 weeks.

18. For the complete and permanent loss of hearing in both ears, 163 weeks.

19. For the complete and permanent loss of hearing in one ear, 53 weeks.

20. For the loss of an eye and a leg, 350 weeks.

21. For the loss of an eye and one arm, 350 weeks.

22. For the loss of an eye and a hand, 325 weeks.

23. For the loss of an eye and a foot, 300 weeks.

24. For the loss of two arms, other than at the shoulder, 400 weeks.

25. For the loss of two hands, 400 weeks.

26. For the loss of two legs, 400 weeks.

27. For the loss of two feet, 400 weeks.

28. For the loss of one arm and the other hand, 400 weeks.

29. For the loss of one hand and one foot, 400 weeks.

30. For the loss of one leg and the other foot, 400 weeks.

31. For the loss of one hand and one leg, 400 weeks.

32. For the loss of one arm and one foot, 400 weeks.

33. For the loss of one arm and one leg, 400 weeks.

34. For serious disfigurement, not resulting from the loss of a member or other injury specifically compensated, materially affecting the employability of the injured person in the employment in which he or she was injured or other employment for which he or she is then qualified, 66 2/3 percent of the average weekly earnings for the period as the court may determine, but not exceeding 100 weeks.

b. Successive or Concurrent Temporary Total and Permanent Partial Disabilities Resulting from Same Injury. When a permanent partial disability, the number of weeks compensation for which is scheduled in subdivision (a)(3) of this section, follows or accompanies a period of temporary total disability resulting from the same injury, the number of weeks of the temporary total disability shall not be deducted from the number of weeks payable for the permanent partial disability.

c. Concurrent Disabilities. If an employee sustains concurrent injuries resulting in concurrent disabilities, he or she shall receive compensation only for the injury which entitled him or her to the largest amount of compensation, but this paragraph shall not affect liability for the concurrent loss of more than one member for which members compensation is provided in the specific schedule.

d. Loss of Use of Member. The permanent and total loss of the use of a member shall be considered as equivalent to the loss of that member, but in such cases the compensation specified in the schedule for such injury shall be in lieu of all other compensation, except as otherwise provided herein. For permanent disability due to injury to a member resulting in less than total loss of use of the member not otherwise compensated in this schedule, compensation shall be paid at the prescribed rate during that part of the time specified in the schedule for the total loss or total loss of use of the respective member which the extent of the injury to the member bears to its total loss.

e. Effect of Refusal of Suitable Employment. If an injured employee refuses employment suitable to his or her capacity offered to or procured for him or her, he or she shall not be entitled to any compensation at any time during the continuance of the refusal, unless at any time, in the opinion of the judge of the circuit court of the county of his or her residence, the refusal is justifiable.

f. Maximum and Minimum Compensation Awards. Compensation provided in this subsection (a) for loss of members or loss of use of members is subject to the same limitations as to maximum and minimum weekly compensation as stated in Section 25-5-68.

g. Compensation for Permanent Partial Disabilities Not Enumerated. For all other permanent partial disabilities not above enumerated, the compensation shall be 66 2/3 percent of the difference between the average weekly earnings of the worker at the time of the injury and the average weekly earnings he or she is able to earn in his or her partially disabled condition, subject to the same maximum weekly compensation as stated in Section 25-5-68. If a permanent partial disability, compensation for which is not calculated by use of the schedule in subdivision (a)(3) of this section, follows a period of temporary total disability resulting from the same injury, the number of weeks of the temporary total disability shall be deducted from the number of weeks payable for the permanent partial disability. Compensation shall continue during disability, but not beyond 300 weeks.

h. Affidavit of New Employment. If the injured employee leaves the services of the employer for whom he or she was working at the time of the accident and accepts employment elsewhere, he or she shall make and furnish affidavit as to his or her new employment in the manner as required in (a)(2) of this section.

i. Return to Work. If, on or after the date of maximum medical improvement, except for scheduled injuries as provided in Section 25-5-57(a)(3), an injured worker returns to work at a wage equal to or greater than the worker's pre-injury wage, the worker's permanent partial disability rating shall be equal to his or her physical impairment and the court shall not consider any evidence of vocational disability. Notwithstanding the foregoing, if the employee has lost his or her employment under circumstances other than any of the following within a period of time not to exceed 300 weeks from the date of injury, an employee may petition a court within two years thereof for reconsideration of his or her permanent partial disability rating:

(i) The loss of employment is due to a labor dispute still in active progress in the establishment in which he or she is or was last employed. For the purposes of this section only, the term "labor dispute" includes any controversy concerning terms, tenure, or conditions of employment, or concerning the association or representation of persons in negotiating, fixing, maintaining, changing, or seeking to arrange terms or conditions of employment, regardless of whether the disputants stand in the proximate relation of employer and employee. This definition shall not relate to a dispute between an individual worker and his or her employer.

(ii) The loss of employment is voluntary, without good cause connected with such work.

(iii) The loss of employment is for a dishonest or criminal act committed in connection with his or her work, for sabotage, or an act endangering the safety of others.

(iv) The loss of employment is for actual or threatened misconduct committed in connection with his or her work after previous warning to the employee.

(v) The loss of employment is because a license, certificate, permit, bond, or surety which is necessary for the performance of such employment and which he or she is responsible to supply has been revoked, suspended, or otherwise become lost to him or her for a cause.

The burden of proof is on the employer to prove, by clear and convincing evidence, that an employee's loss of employment was due to one of the causes (i) through (v) above. At the hearing, the court may consider evidence as to the earnings the employee is or may be able to earn in his or her partially disabled condition, and may consider any evidence of vocational disability. The fact the employee had returned to work prior to his or her loss of employment shall not constitute a presumption of no vocational impairment. In making this evaluation, the court shall consider the permanent restriction, if any, imposed by the treating physician under Section 25-5-77, as well as all available reasonable accommodations that would enable the employee in his or her condition following the accident or onset of occupational disease to perform jobs that he or she in that condition otherwise would be unable to perform, and shall treat an employee able to perform with such accommodation as though he or she could perform without the accommodation. Nothing contained in this section shall be construed as having any effect upon any evidentiary issues or claims made in third party actions pursuant to Section 25-5-11.

(4) PERMANENT TOTAL DISABILITY.

a. Amount, Duration, and Payment of Compensation. For permanent total disability, as defined in paragraph d. of this subdivision, the employee shall receive 66 2/3 percent of the average weekly earnings received at the time of the injury, subject to a maximum and minimum weekly compensation as stated in Section 25-5-68. Notwithstanding the foregoing, if at the time of injury the employee was receiving earnings of less than the minimum as stated in Section 25-5-68, then he or she shall receive the full amount of his or her earnings per week. This compensation shall be paid during the permanent total disability, as defined in paragraph d. of this subdivision. Payment of the compensation shall be made at the intervals when the earnings were payable, as nearly as may be, unless the parties otherwise agree. The payments, with the approval of the circuit judge or by the agreement of the parties, may be made monthly, quarterly, or otherwise as the parties may agree. Payments for permanent total disability shall not be ordered to be paid in a lump sum without the consent of both the employer and the employee.

b. Alteration, Amendment, or Revision of Compensation. At any time, the employer may petition the court that awarded or approved compensation for permanent total disability to alter, amend, or revise the award or approval of the compensation on the ground that as a result of physical or vocational rehabilitation, or otherwise, the disability from which the employee suffers is no longer a permanent total disability and, if the court is so satisfied after a hearing, it shall alter, amend, or revise the award accordingly. If compensation for permanent total disability is being paid pursuant to a written agreement between employer and employee without approval, the employer may make application to the court that would have had jurisdiction to award the compensation to the employee to alter, amend, or revise the agreement on such grounds. If an employee is receiving benefits for permanent total disability other than as a result of an award or a written agreement between the employer and employee and if the employer terminates the payment of the benefits, the employee may, within two years of the last payment, petition the court to reinstate the benefits and, upon a showing that the permanent total disability still exists, shall be entitled to have the benefits reinstated effective the date of the last payment.

c. Employees in Public Institutions. In case an employee who is permanently and totally disabled becomes an inmate of a public institution, no compensation shall be payable unless the employee has wholly dependent on him or her for support a person or persons named in Sections 25-5-61 and 25-5-62, whose dependency shall be determined as if the employee were deceased, in which case the compensation provided for in this subdivision shall be paid for the benefit of the person so dependent, during dependency, in the manner so ordered by the court, while the employee is an inmate in the institution. Nothing contained herein shall be construed to deprive a permanently and totally disabled employee who has no dependent named in Sections 25-5-61 and 25-5-62 from receiving benefits to which he or she would otherwise be entitled if the employee, although an inmate of a public institution, is paying or on whose behalf funds are paid from any source to the public institution the normal and customary charge for the services rendered by the public institution. Normal and customary charge shall mean that charge actually made by the public institution to persons able to pay for the services rendered them whether the charge actually covers the expense of the upkeep of the inmate or not. If the employee has had a guardian appointed by a court of competent jurisdiction, the workers' compensation payments shall be directly paid to the guardian.

d. Definition. The total and permanent loss of the sight of both eyes or the loss of both arms at the shoulder or any physical injury or mental impairment resulting from an accident, which injury or impairment permanently and totally incapacitates the employee from working at and being retrained for gainful employment, shall constitute prima facie evidence of permanent total disability but shall not constitute the sole basis on which an award of permanent total disability may be based. Any employee whose disability results from an injury or impairment and who shall have refused to undergo physical or vocational rehabilitation or to accept reasonable accommodation shall not be deemed permanently and totally disabled.

e. Second Permanent Injuries Generally. If an employee has a permanent disability or has previously sustained another injury than that in which the employee received a subsequent permanent injury by accident, as is specified in this section defining permanent injury, the employee shall be entitled to compensation only for the degree of injury that would have resulted from the latter accident if the earlier disability or injury had not existed.

f. Second Permanent Injury in Same Employment Resulting in Permanent Total Disability. If an employee receives a permanent injury as specified in this section after having sustained another permanent injury in the same employment, and if the previous and subsequent injuries result in permanent total disability, compensation shall be payable for permanent total disability only.

g. Concurrent Compensation Payments. If an employee receives an injury for which compensation is payable while he or she is still receiving or entitled to receive compensation for a previous injury in the same employment, he or she shall not at the same time be entitled to compensation for both injuries, unless the later injury is a permanent injury, as specified in this section, but he or she shall be entitled to compensation for that injury and from the time of that injury which will cover the longest period and the largest amount payable under this article and Article 4 of this chapter.

If an employee receives a permanent injury as specified in this section, after having sustained another permanent injury in the same employment, he or she shall be entitled to compensation for both injuries, subject to paragraph e. of this subdivision, but the total compensation shall be paid by extending the period and not by increasing the amount of weekly compensation, and in no case for permanent partial disability exceeding 700 weeks.

h. Effect of Rehabilitation or Recovery on Permanent Total Disability Benefits. If an employee who is receiving benefits for permanent total disability shall, as a result of physical or vocational rehabilitation or otherwise, obtain gainful employment, the obligation to pay permanent total disability benefits shall thereupon terminate; provided, that at any time that the employee's weekly wage from the employment shall be less than the employee's average weekly wage at the time of injury, the employer shall remain obligated to pay to the employee as compensation an amount equal to 66 2/3 percent of the difference, subject to each of the following limitations:

1. The employer's liability for the payment of 66 2/3 percent of the difference shall continue for 200 weeks from the date of reemployment or 300 weeks from the date of injury, whichever is the longer period.

2. In no event shall the amount of weekly benefits paid by the employer to the employee exceed the weekly benefit the employee was receiving for permanent total disability.

3. No payments shall be due for any week the employee earns as much as or more than his or her average weekly wage at the time of injury. If the employee who obtains gainful employment suffered a permanent partial disability as specified in subsection (a), subdivision (3) of this section, the total amount of compensation paid for permanent total disability shall not be less than that amount which would have been payable for the permanent partial disability.

i. Affidavit of Gainful Employment. If an employee who is receiving benefits for permanent total disability shall, as the result of physical or vocational rehabilitation, accommodation, or otherwise, obtain gainful employment with an employer other than with his or her former employer, he or she shall, upon securing employment, give to his or her former employer an affidavit in writing containing the name of his or her new employer, the place of employment and the amount of wages being received at the new employment. Until he or she gives the affidavit, the compensation for permanent total disability shall cease. The employer for whom the employee was employed at the time of the accident for which compensation is being paid may also at any time demand of the employee additional affidavit, in writing, containing the name of his or her employer, the place of his or her employment, and the amount of wages he or she is receiving. If the employee, upon demand, fails or refuses to make and furnish the affidavit, his or her rights to compensation shall cease until the affidavit is made and furnished.

(5) DEATH FOLLOWING DISABILITY. If an employee sustains an injury occasioned by an accident arising out of and in the course of his or her employment and, during the period of disability caused thereby, death results proximately therefrom, all payments previously made as compensation for the injury shall be deducted from the compensation, if any, due on account of death. If an employee who sustains a permanent partial or permanent total disability, the degree of which has been agreed upon by the parties or has been ascertained by the court, and death results not proximately therefrom, the employee's surviving spouse or dependent children or both shall be entitled to the balance of the payments which would have been due and payable to the worker, whether or not the decedent employee was receiving compensation for permanent total disability, not exceeding, however, the amount that would have been due the surviving spouse or dependent children or both if death had resulted proximately from an injury on account of which compensation is being paid to an employee.

(6) HERNIA.

a. Proof. For hernia resulting from injury by an accident arising out of and in the course of the employee's employment, it must be definitely proven to the satisfaction of the court all of the following:

1. That there was an injury resulting in hernia.

2. That the hernia appeared suddenly.

3. That it was accompanied by pain.

4. That the hernia immediately followed an accident.

5. That the hernia did not exist prior to the accident for which compensation is claimed.

b. Treatment. All hernia, inguinal, femoral, or otherwise, proved to be the result of an injury by accident arising out of and in the course of the employment, shall be treated in a surgical manner by radical operation. If the injured employee refuses to undergo the radical operation for the cure of the hernia, no compensation will be allowed during the time the refusal continues. If, however, it is shown that the employee has some chronic disease or is otherwise in physical condition that the court considers it unsafe for the employee to undergo the operation, the employee shall be paid as otherwise provided in this chapter.

(b) Computation of compensation; determination of average weekly earnings. Compensation under this section shall be computed on the basis of the average weekly earnings. Average weekly earnings shall be based on the wages, as defined in Section 25-5-1(6) of the injured employee in the employment in which he or she was working at the time of the injury during the period of 52 weeks immediately preceding the date of the injury divided by 52, but if the injured employee lost more than seven consecutive calendar days during the period, although not in the same week, then the earnings for the remainder of the period, although not in the same week, then the earnings for the remainder of the 52 weeks shall be divided by the number of weeks remaining after the time so lost has been deducted. Where the employment prior to the injury extended over a period of less than 52 weeks, the method of dividing the earnings during that period by the number of weeks and parts thereof during which the employee earned wages shall be followed, provided results just and fair to both parties will thereby be obtained. Where by reason of the shortness of the time during which the employee has been in the employment of his or her employer or the casual nature or terms of the employment it is impracticable to compute the average weekly earnings as above defined, regard shall be had to the average weekly amount which during the 52 weeks prior to the injury was being earned by a person in the same grade, employed at the same work by the same employer, and if there is no person so employed, by a person in the same grade employed in the same class of employment in the same district. Whatever allowances of any character made to an employee in lieu of wages are specified as part of the wage contract shall be deemed a part of his or her earnings.

(c) Setoff for other recovery. In calculating the amount of workers' compensation due:

(1) The employer may reduce or accept an assignment from an employee of the amount of benefits paid pursuant to a disability plan, retirement plan, or other plan providing for sick pay by the amount of compensation paid, if and only if the employer provided the benefits or paid for the plan or plans providing the benefits deducted.

(2) The employee shall forfeit to the employer all compensation paid for any period to which is attributed any award of back pay either by a court, administrative agency, arbitration, or settlement, provided, however, social security payments shall not be included herein.

(3) If an employer continues the salary of an injured employee during the benefit period or pays similar compensation during the benefit period, the employer shall be allowed a setoff in weeks against the compensation owed under this article. For the purposes of this section, voluntary contributions to a Section 125-cafeteria plan for a disability or sick pay program shall not be considered as being provided by the employer.

(Acts 1919, No. 245, p. 206; Code 1923, §7551; Acts 1935, No. 387, p. 831; Acts 1936, Ex. Sess., No. 29, p. 9; Code 1940, T. 26, §279; Acts 1949, No. 36, p. 47; Acts 1951, No. 563, p. 978, §1; Acts 1955, No. 110, p. 355; Acts 1957, No. 337, p. 438; Acts 1963, No. 578, p. 1252, §1; Acts 1967, No. 168, p. 509; Acts 1969, No. 233, p. 557, §1; Acts 1973, No. 1062, p. 1750, §14; Acts 1975, 4th Ex. Sess., No. 86, p. 2729, §5; Acts 1984, 2nd Ex. Sess., No. 85-41, p. 44, §6; Acts 1992, No. 92-537, p. 1082, §17.)

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