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Workers' compensation benefits are designed to provide financial relief to workers who have suffered personal injury or became ill due to their work conditions or setting. Nearly every employer in the state of Florida is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance to provide compensation for lost wages and medical bills.
However, this system is composed of rules that vary between states and whose outcomes depend on a complex system of procedures. Because insurance companies know the system and how to manipulate it, it can be unfair to injured and ill workers. That’s where the experienced workers’ compensation lawyers at Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter can help you.
If you were hurt on the job, our attorneys will review each aspect of your claim during a free consultation. Please contact us by filling out the form on this page or by giving us a call at 407-712-7300. We proudly provide services to those who live in and near Orlando, Florida.
- Who is Entitled to Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
- Florida Workers’ Compensation Laws and Benefits
- Common Workplace Injuries
- What to do Following a Workplace Injury
- When to Hire an Attorney
Who is Entitled to Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Florida law requires that every employer with four or more employees carry workers’ compensation insurance. However, in the construction industry, even if there is only one employee, the employer still needs to carry workers' compensation coverage.
Only employees are eligible for benefits. This includes anyone who is:
- Full-time workers
- Part-time workers
- An alien (lawfully or unlawfully employed)
- A minor
- A prisoner on a work-release program
- Under appointment or contract, whether it be oral or written
You are not considered an employee and will not qualify for benefits (unless your employer voluntarily provides workers' compensation coverage) if you are:
- An independent contractor
- A professional athlete
- A domestic worker or nanny in a private home
- A volunteer
- A casual laborer, hired for a specific job that does not last more than 10 days
As an employee, your injury must arise “out of and in the course of employment” in order for it to be covered by workers’ compensation. In other words, your injury must take place while you are involved in an activity that is directly related your job. You will not be covered if you're traveling to or leaving the workplace unless you are asked to execute a specific duty en route. If you were hurt during lunch or while on break this is not covered.
If you’re injured on the job, it’s your responsibility to notify the employer of the injury within 30 days of either:
- The date you were injured
- The date when the effects of your injury became apparent
- The date that a medical professional first diagnoses or discovered your injury
If you do not meet this deadline, you could be denied benefits indefinitely. However, failure to meet these requirements does not automatically mean you’re not covered in these instances.
You must also submit your workers’ compensation claim with the Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation as soon as you can. Due to the statutes of limitation, you must file within two years of your injury or illness, or risk losing out on your benefits
Florida Workers’ Compensation Laws and Benefits
In the state of Florida, approximately 100,000 residents are hurt on the job each year and file for workers' compensation benefits. In Florida, the system of workers compensation is compulsory. This means that employers must pay workers' compensation insurance for all of their employees. This type of insurance can be provided through either a private insurance carrier or by the employer's own insurance company.
Employers with fewer than four employees are excused from Florida workers' compensation law. A majority of agricultural employers must provide coverage for their agricultural employees, though some small employers may be excluded. Employers can opt to provide workers' compensation coverage for domestic servants, such as nannies and housekeepers.
In some cases, you may choose your physician from a list provided by your employer. In other situations, your employer may designate which doctor you must visit. After you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI), you will be required to pay a $10 patient co-pay for all medical services.
Payments are made for temporary total disability (TTD) in a sum that is 2/3 of your wages at the time of the accident, or, in cases of critical or catastrophic injury, you may receive as much as 80% of your wages for up to six months following your accident. The TTD benefits are subject to a weekly maximum payment amount and may continue for no longer than 104 weeks.
Your disability will be described as a temporary partial disability (TPD) if you can return to work with temporary physical restrictions and earning reduced wages or no wages at all. In cases where you are able to return to work earning a reduced wage, you will receive the difference between 80% of your wages and your earnings after your injury.
Payments for permanent total disability (PTD) are also based on a percentage of your wages and, like TTD, are subject to a weekly maximum payment amount. The PTD payments will continue for as long as you are disabled, but in most cases, these benefits stop at age 75.
You may also receive benefits for:
- Physical rehabilitation benefits
- Vocational rehabilitation benefits
The benefits for which you are eligible depend heavily on the severity, circumstances, and date of your accident. Generally speaking, you are entitled to any necessary medical and related treatment. You may also be eligible for any lost wages while you are unable to work, typically at a reduced rate.
Also, depending on your age, education, work history, and permanent work restrictions, or if you can no longer work at all, you may be eligible to receive permanent total disability benefits. If you remain totally or partially disabled you may be entitled to social security disability benefits as well.
Death benefits may be collected by a surviving spouse or children. Like the other benefits, death benefits are based on a percentage of the deceased employee’s wages and are subject to a cap of between $100,000 and $150,000. Funeral expenses for the family of the victim are also available.
Common Workplace Injuries
Unfortunately, any type of injury is possible in the workplace or at a job site, depending on the circumstances and the industry in which you work.
Some common specific injuries include:
- Joint Injuries: Because of the demands for flexibility, joints are highly susceptible to injury. When these injuries occur, they can be painful and debilitating and often require surgery and heal slowly. Any joint injury requiring surgery and/or extended convalescence is eligible for benefits through workers’ compensation.
- Back Injuries: These are some of the most common and, oftentimes, some of the most serious injuries. An event, like a slip and fall, or lifting an object that is too heavy can trigger a back injury. Other times, a repetitive action like bending and lifting all day every day can cause a back injury. Pre-existing conditions can also be aggravated by routine activities at work.
- Stress Fractures: These injuries are caused by overuse when the muscles grow fatigued and cannot absorb the additional shock of hard work or heavy lifting. With time, your fatigued muscle will transfer the overload of stress to your bone which causes a crack or fracture.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a painful condition where the nerves in your wrist are compressed. In the U.S., this medical condition is the largest single contributor to lost time at work. Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include burning, tingling, or numbness in your fingers, hands, or arms; difficulty gripping or making a fist; dropping objects; overall weakness in hands and wrists.
- Tendonitis: This condition often surfaces when a worker is engaged in a repetitive motion day after day. With tendonitis, your tendon gradually becomes tighter until the fibers that make up your tendons begin to tear.
- Chronic Pain: There are many work-related injuries that can lead to chronic pain. This injury is characterized by painful, on-the-job injuries that last for at least two months after the date of injury.
- Vision loss: The eye is one of the most complex organs in your body. It's also very delicate and can be easily damaged in a workplace accident. Many jobs present the risk of an eye injury which could potentially lead to life-altering vision loss. Some of the most common ways eye injuries occur include chemical exposure, long-term exposure to bright light, brain injuries, or a foreign object penetrating your eye.
- Traumatic Brain Injury: A traumatic brain injury (TBI) usually results from an accident or blow to the head. These devastating injuries can affect your physical, cognitive, and psychological abilities. Most TBIs result in widespread damage to the brain because your brain rattles inside your skull during a severe accident. These can often require life-long medical treatment and therapy.
- Toxic Mold: Many healthcare professionals refer to toxic mold as the “new asbestos,” as there are many health risks associated with its exposure. Some of these include chronic bronchitis, heart problems, multiple sclerosis, cancer, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis.
If you would like to watch a video on Preventing Workplace Pain, click the link below.
- Preventing Workplace Pain teaches you about preventing certain types of injuries at work.
What to do Following a Workplace Injury
In order to obtain workers’ compensation benefits in Florida, it is imperative that you take the proper steps to ensure that you receive the money you deserve. It's important to do the following after a workplace injury:
Notify Your Employer
- In a non-emergency injury, notify your employer about the accident immediately and ask where you should go for treatment. If your employer is not available, you should immediately find the name and phone number of the insurance company that will be handling your claim. A representative of that insurance company should be able to tell you an approved doctor where you can get treatment.
- In an emergency, you may seek treatment at the nearest facility and inform your employer as soon as possible. According to Florida law, you have 30 days to notify your employer of any workplace injury. You need to make sure that your employer knows exactly what happened and precisely what injuries you suffered. Be sure they also know what tasks (if any) you're able to complete following your injury and exactly what your constraints are.
- Talking to your employer in person is always best, but you should also send a letter or email in addition to having a discussion. Doing this helps you to keep a record of when you notified your employer and will help you cover all your bases during the course of your claim.
- If you work for a subcontractor, give immediate written notice of your accident or occupational disease to your direct employer, as well as your general contractor; and remember, even if the injury or accident seems small, it is important to document and report it. Often, a minor injury can lead to a serious problem at a later date.
See a Doctor
- As soon as you suspect a work-related injury, you should seek medical attention. You may not realize how serious your injuries are.
- Besides diagnosing your injury and providing proper care, a doctor’s diagnosis makes a workers’ compensation claim much stronger. You may be required to obtain a doctor's report in order to collect the money to which you are entitled.
- You must receive treatment from a doctor authorized by your employer or the insurance company. If you receive treatment from another doctor, your employer or the insurance company will probably require you see a doctor of their choosing before they will agree to pay you lost wages.
- Be sure to give the medical professional who provides your treatment a detailed account of your accident and the cause of it. The more thorough your report is, the fewer obstacles you will face when filing a compensation claim.
File a Claim
In Florida, your employer must file notice of your claim to the workers' compensation insurance company within seven days after they are aware of your injury. After this step occurs, you will be required to send the insurance company more information.
When to Hire an Attorney
It is a good idea to call an attorney as soon as possible after you become sick or injured on the job. If your work-related injury is serious or your workers' compensation claim is rejected, it's especially important to call a lawyer.
Our experienced attorneys can help you if you are involved in some of these common situations:
- You were injured at work and are not satisfied with the medical treatment you received from the workers' compensation doctors.
- You're interested in settling your workers' compensation claim.
- Your workers' compensation claim is accepted but you do not receive lost wages or you do not receive the correct amount of your lost wages.
- Your employer retaliates against you for filing a claim by either taking disciplinary action or by firing you.
- You were injured or became ill on the job and your claim is denied.
Even if your insurance claims adjuster seems helpful and sincere, it's still important to consult an attorney. The adjuster's motivation for making decisions is to keep your employer's costs down. This goal conflicts with your best interests, which is to acquire the best medical care and ongoing wage loss benefits for as long as you're unable to work.
Insurance adjusters are trained to reduce the cost of your claim any way they can. Some will even go as far as to violate the provisions of the Workers' Compensation Act.
Contact an Experienced Florida Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
Hiring a workers' compensation attorney to handle your case can help ensure that you, the victim, are treated fairly and receive appropriate financial consideration in regard to your illness or injury. If you live in the Orlando area, the law firm of Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter can help you protect your rights as an injured or sick worker.
Serving Daytona, Melbourne and Orlando, Florida, our team of knowledgeable and aggressive workers looks forward to winning your claim. Please schedule a free workers’ compensation claim consultation with us today by filling out the form on this page or calling 407-712-7300.