Proposed Alabama legislation may extend workers’ compensation coverage to teachers

Alabama public school system employees are currently not entitled to workers’ compensation. However, there may be a change in this policy next year.

Currently, education personnel are required to cover the costs of any injuries they sustain and then seek compensation from the Board of Adjustment. The board is responsible for determining the amount of compensation that the employee is entitled to receive.

State Senator Sam Givhan (R-Huntsville) has proposed a bill that would provide teachers with automatic workers’ compensation.

Givhan pointed out that many people are surprised to learn that teachers and other public education employees do not necessarily have worker’s compensation insurance. “It’s a common assumption,” she said, “but it’s not always the case.”

While on bus duty, Karon Bullock, a former middle school teacher, suffered injuries when she stumbled over a student’s backpack, resulting in a broken arm and prosthetic leg.

Bullock recalled being informed that she only had a mere 90 days to resolve the issue at hand. She was faced with the daunting prospect of undergoing two major surgeries and felt overwhelmed with the situation. She realized that she needed to understand her legal rights in order to navigate through the challenges that lay ahead.

According to Bullock, it took her a whopping 18 months to receive reimbursement for only a portion of her medical bills. She also mentioned that the injuries she sustained were severe enough to end her career.

Bullock expressed that she had to bear a significant amount of out-of-pocket expenses, amounting to thousands of dollars. She underwent three extensive orthopedic surgeries, which were quite costly. Moreover, her husband had to take a break from work for a period of 12 weeks to look after her since she was incapable of using her arm or leg. The entire experience was quite challenging for her, both emotionally and financially.

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According to Bullock, the education system will now be held accountable with the implementation of this bill.

She emphasized the importance of accountability through workers’ compensation and recognizing any wrongdoing. “We need to ensure that our schools are safe for both teachers and students,” she added.

Lawmakers will have another opportunity to consider the bill that failed to pass at the end of this year’s session as it has been refiled and is set to be presented again next year.

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