- Workers comp benefits in Florida are in place to help you get some return after your work injury.
- Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that protects workers from medical bills and lost wages in the event that they’re injured on the job.
- Workers’ compensation insurance is paid for by the employer, and it’s their responsibility to follow through after one of their employees has been injured.
- These benefits include medical coverage, lost wages, and death benefits.
- If you’re having trouble accessing the workers’ compensation benefits you’re owed, get in touch with an experienced attorney like the team at Werner, Hoffman & Greig.
Getting injured on the job can be tough. On top of dealing with the pain and healing process, you’re also left with the financial burdens of lost wages and mounting medical bills.
Fortunately, Florida’s workers’ compensation system exists to help you get back on your feet after a workplace injury.
What is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ comp in Florida is a no-fault insurance system designed to provide injured workers with medical care and wage replacement benefits, regardless of who caused the accident. This means you don’t have to sue your employer to receive compensation for your injuries.
The system is funded by employers who, by law, are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance.
The benefits included in workers’ compensation will typically cover all of your medical bills related to the workplace injury and two-thirds of your lost wages. In the tragic event that you die on the job, your family will also receive death benefits from workers’ compensation.
Am I Eligible for Workers’ Compensation?
In Florida, any business with 4 or more employees is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance.
There are two exceptions to this rule:
- Construction industry employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance if they have even one employee.
- Agricultural industry employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance if they have at least 6 regular employees or at least 12 seasonal employees.
How Do I File a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Ideally, all you need to do is report your injury to your employer. They will then file a claim with their insurance company. However, if your employer fails to act, you can report the injury directly to the insurance company yourself.
In some cases, you may need to contact Florida’s workers’ compensation system or hire a lawyer.
Remember, document everything. Keep copies of all medical records, accident reports, and communication with your employer and the insurance company. This documentation will be crucial if your claim is disputed.
Generally, all medical expenses necessary to treat your workplace injury should be covered by workers’ compensation benefits. This includes:
- Doctor visits
- Physical therapy
- Medical tests
- Mobility aids
- And more
You can even receive reimbursement for travel to and from your medical appointments.
One important note: you won’t be going to your usual doctor. Workers’ compensation medical benefits require you to use a doctor approved by the insurance company, though you can ask to switch doctors if necessary.
Lost Wages and Disability
While workers’ comp in Florida doesn’t replace your full lost wages, it provides vital financial support during your recovery. The exact amount you receive depends on the severity of your disability.
Temporary Total Disability (TTD)
If your doctor says you can’t work at all for some time, that’s known as temporary total disability. You’ll receive two-thirds of your average weekly wage.
You won’t get paid for the first 7 days unless your total time away from work exceeds 21 days.
You can receive these benefits for up to 104 weeks, or two years.
Temporary Partial Disability (TPD)
If your doctor clears you to work, but with restrictions that would prevent you from earning at least 80% of your pre-injury wages, you can receive temporary partial disability benefits to make up the difference.
Crucially, you can receive these benefits after partially recovering from temporary total disability.
You can receive these benefits for up to 104 weeks after the date of your last TTD payment.
Impairment Income Benefits (IIB)
Once your doctor says you have reached maximum medical improvement–as in, you’re not expected to recover any more than you already have–you can be evaluated for a disability rating.
This rating, assigned by a doctor, will be used along with your pre-injury wages to calculate your impairment income benefits, up to a weekly maximum of $1,260.
Permanent Total Disability (PTD)
If you have reached maximum medical improvement and are permanently unable to work, you can receive permanent total disability benefits.
Contact the Florida Bureau of Monitoring and Audit for information about the benefits you’ll be able to receive.
Sadly, sometimes workplace injuries result in loss of life. In such cases, your surviving family members may be eligible for death benefits, including:
- A lump sum payment of up to $150,000
- $7,500 for funeral expenses
- Educational stipends for dependent children
Why You Might Need a Workers’ Compensation Attorney
While filing a claim can be done independently, there are situations where having an experienced workers’ compensation attorney on your side can make a significant difference:
- Disputed claims: If your employer denies your claim or tries to shortchange you on benefits, an attorney can fight for your rights and ensure you receive fair compensation.
- Appeal denied: If your initial claim is denied, an attorney can help you navigate the appeals process and fight for a reversal.
- Negotiating settlements: Insurance companies often try to offer lowball settlements. An attorney can negotiate a fair settlement that adequately covers your medical expenses and lost wages.
- Complex cases: If your case involves multiple injuries, disabilities, or additional legal issues, an attorney can provide invaluable guidance and expertise.
Werner, Hoffman & Greig Can Help You
At Werner, Hoffman & Greig, we understand the physical and financial challenges faced by injured workers. We want to help and we have a proven track record of success in securing the maximum compensation for our clients.
Don’t hesitate to contact us for a free consultation to discuss your legal options and get the support you deserve during this difficult time.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I file a workers’ compensation claim?
Usually, you won’t be filing your claim yourself. You report your workplace injury to your employer and report it to their workers’ compensation insurance provider.
If they don’t, you can report it directly to the insurance company or contact the Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation for guidance. Contacting an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer may also be a good idea at this point.
What happens if my employer contests my claim?
If your employer disputes your claim, don’t panic. There is an appeals process that allows you to have your case heard by a judge if necessary.
A workers’ compensation attorney can help you gather evidence, present your case, and fight for your rightful compensation.
Can I get workers’ compensation as an independent contractor?
Independent contractors are typically not eligible for workers comp in Florida. However, there are some possible exceptions:
- Statutory employees: In certain professions, like construction work, you are considered a statutory employee even if you’re technically paid as an independent contractor. If you belong to one of these categories, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation.
- Misclassified employees: Sometimes, companies misclassify employees as independent contractors to avoid providing worker benefits, including workers’ compensation.
- Joint employer situations: In some cases, you might be working as an independent contractor for one company while simultaneously being considered an employee by another. This complex situation could potentially make you eligible for workers’ compensation from one of the companies involved.
If you are unsure whether you qualify, get in touch with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to discuss your case.