Judge: Al workers' comp law unconstitutional


Worker's comp payments to injured workers in Alabama puts them well below the poverty line. One reason this week an Alabama judge ruled the state's workers' compensation act is unconstitutional. Local 15's Andrea Ramey spoke with one injured worker who is at his wits ends.

Stanley Nassar's right leg shattered in more than 90 places and both lungs were punctured when a truck hit and threw him 100 feet as he was placing an orange safety cone in the road. That was four and half years ago.

Surgeries so far?

"Too many to name," said Nassar.

Nassar's lucky he didn't lose his life, but he certainly lost his livelihood. And his worker's comp payments have left him financially disabled. They're just $220 a week.

"I've lost everything. I lost my house, the wife and a dog. Everything," said Nassar. "I felt like they were punishing me for getting hurt."

Payments in Alabama are capped at $220 a week. That's less than what a person earning minimum wage makes.

"This is something that has to be addressed," said attorney Dick Browning, who represents injured workers in workers comp cases.

And this week it was. A Jefferson County judge ruled Alabama's Workers Compensation Act is unconstitutional in part because of the low payments that put workers below the poverty line. Browning says the ruling is long overdue.

"Anyone involved in the worker comp field realizes it's simply not fair," said Browning. "This $220 cap has been fixed at that same rate for over 30 years."

"I've lost a lot of money. I'd rather be working," said Browning.

The judge issued a 120 day stay in this case, meaning nothing changes right now about what injured workers receive.

A ProPublica study found workers in Alabama get the lowest pay outs for injuries in the nation. One example, if you lose an arm the max compensation is $48,000, compared to the national average of $169,000. To see this study and how other juries compare click here.