Can I file a lawsuit for an employment-related injury in Florida? Can I receive compensation for my medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages resulting from my injuries? These are some of the questions you might be asking yourself if you were injured on the job.
Notably, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that there were 332 fatal work injuries in 2018 in Florida, with many deaths attributed to transportation incidents, slip and falls, and exposure to harmful substances or environments. Many more have been injured but survive.
When you are injured on the job in Florida, whether it is a head and brain injury, a hip and leg injury, or even a catastrophic work injury, you have the right to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Here’s a brief overview of workers’ compensation benefits in Florida and what you can do to protect your rights.
Florida’s Workers’ Compensation Program
In Florida, there are three categories of benefits which you can receive if you are injured on the job:
- Medical benefits,
- Lost wages, and
- Other monetary compensation including death benefits.
Florida employers must provide medical treatment through an insurance company. Medical benefits include things like an authorized primary doctor and specialist when it is medically necessary. It also covers authorized medically necessary care and treatment that relates to your injury. Think of doctor’s visits, physical therapy, hospitalizations, prescription drugs, and medical tests.
Compensation depends on the extent of your disability resulting from your work-related injury. Specifically, in Florida, you are either temporarily totally disabled (TTD), temporarily partially disabled (TPD), permanently totally disabled (PTD), or subject to impairment income benefits (IIB).
If you are temporarily totally disabled, this means that you cannot work and that you should get two-thirds (66 2/3%) of your regular wages subject to Florida’s maximum benefit amount ($971 for 2020 accidents), which is calculated based on the average weekly wage as determined by Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
However, keep in mind that you don’t receive these benefits for the first week of your disability unless you are disabled for more than three weeks. If you are temporarily partially disabled, you would be eligible for benefits if you cannot make 80% of the wages that you made when the accident occurred.
If your injuries are severe enough, you might not ever be able to work again in which case you would be entitled to permanent total disability benefits.
Finally, if you are what the doctor describes as at maximum medical improvement, you get compensation for your permanent impairments based on an impairment rating.
If a work accident victim dies within one year of the accident or up to five years from when they began suffering an ongoing disability, there could be as much as $150,000 in death benefits which become due and payable. These benefits include funeral expenses, compensation for dependents, and benefits to a surviving spouse.
Dealing with the Insurance Company’s Denial of Your Claim
Insurance companies deny claims to protect their bottom line. In workers’ compensation cases, the insurance company may issue you a Notice of Denial as to your eligibility for benefits in situations where you did not submit a claim within the required 30-day period, or where you had insufficiently evidenced your medical history or work-related injuries. For example, the insurance company might claim that your injuries were pre-existing. This could prevent you from getting the treatment that you need and can result in you losing out on much-needed compensation. Also, insurance companies might act in bad faith and deny your claim on unreasonable grounds, leaving you with uncertainty about the road ahead.
You might be able to sue your employer for your injuries depending on the circumstances. However, traditionally employers avoid liability for your injury when workers’ compensation coverage is applicable. So, if you are entitled to benefits, then those benefits might be the only way of receiving compensation for your injury. However, if an employer’s intentional misconduct gave rise to your injuries, then they could be held liable through a separate personal injury case.
Hiring A Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you were injured on the job, there are certain steps that you must take to get coverage, including:
- Notifying your employer within 30 days of your injury
- Documenting or evidencing your injury
- Following authorized treatment plans
Obtaining workers’ compensation coverage is not a walk in the park. Rather, it can be frustrating and time-consuming. If your employer or insurance carrier is delaying or denying your benefits, you could consider getting an attorney who is well versed in workers’ compensation cases to fight for your rights.
At The Watson Firm, PLLC, our attorneys have extensive experience with protecting the rights of our injured clients. Our attorneys can advise you as to your options and can aggressively pursue any and all remedies against the insurance company or your employer to help get you the benefits that you are entitled to.
Call (850) 607-2929 to consult with an experienced Pensacola workers’ compensation attorney who can assist you with your case today.