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Lack of Trial Transcript Reverses Workers' Compensation Claim in Baldwin County, Alabama

Person in wheelchair with others around him

Have you ever been scrolling through the channels and caught sight of one of those commercials for workers’ compensation law? You know the kind – “If you’ve been injured on the job, call 1-800-ABC-WXYZ”.

The reality is what while television may make workers’ compensation judgments seem lucrative, the procedure behind them can be a bit tricky. My office does not advertise to make me money, but rather get you, the injured worker, what you deserve.

Recently, in Baldwin County, the court addressed the procedural issues of a settlement agreement in Regions Bank v. Allen. In 1998, the trial court approved a worker’s compensation agreement between Kathleen Allen and Regions Bank.

Allen sustained injuries to her right buttock and hip at her job when a chair she was sitting in broke, causing her to fall to the floor. Allen was awarded a lump-sum payment of $3,359.88 in disability benefits. Additionally, the court ordered Regions to remain responsible for any of Allen’s reasonably necessary future medical benefits.

When Allen sought medical treatment for her back, Regions filed a motion seeking a termination of its responsibility to pay medical benefits. The trial court held a hearing on this motion but there was no transcript of the hearing on the record. The trial court entered a judgment denying Regions’ motion to terminate medical benefits. Regions appealed.

Under Alabama law, a trial court must make findings of fact and conclusions of law in workers’ compensation cases. On appeal, the Court of Civil Appeals reversed the judgment because the judgment did not contain these findings of fact or conclusions of law.

Without a transcript of the hearing of Regions’ motion, the trial court has not officially relied upon any of these findings in ruling on Regions’ motion. The Court reversed the trial court’s holding, granting Regions’ motion to terminate its responsibility to pay medical benefits for treatment Allen was seeking for her back.

It is always important to have a trial transcript of a hearing to preserve the record, the trial court cannot comply with the law in a workers’ compensation case. Even if Allen had presented valid arguments at the trial level, Alabama law requires that the judgment be reversed where the trial court did not rely on findings of fact or conclusions of law in a workers’ compensation case.

If you have a been hurt on the job, contact INGRAM LAW LLC at (205) 335-2640 for an attorney with the experience and knowledge that can make all the difference.

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