What to Know About Workers’ Compensation Law in Florida
What do I Need to do if I am Injured on the Job?
You should always report any job-related injury or illness to your supervisor and work doctor as soon as possible. Do not hesitate to talk to your supervisor about your job-related injuries. If you fail to report the accident to your employer within 30 days, you will lose all your rights to Workers’ Compensation.
What is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ Compensation is an insurance policy that is designed to provide compensation for disability, medical bills, and loss of income incurred after an injury on the job. This type of insurance coverage is important because it covers workers when they are injured on the job site. It is also important because it allows you time to heal physically and financially.
Who is Responsible for Reporting my Injury to the Insurance Company?
Your employer should report your injury to the insurance company within seven days after they find out about it. From there, the insurance company will send you information that explains your rights and responsibilities for a claim. If your employer does not report it within this timeframe, you have the right to report it yourself.
Can I Be Fired for Reporting an Injury?
Florida Workers’ Compensation law prohibits employers from retaliating against employees in any way for reporting dangerous working conditions or injuries. Your employer is legally bound to investigate the accident, and they must take the proper measures to make sure that you are not discriminated against due to your injury. If the accident occurred due to the negligence of the company or another worker, the employer cannot fire you.
However, if your accident was the result of your own negligence, the employer may have a legal basis to fire you for violating company policies. For example, if you came to work intoxicated and injured yourself, then it was a violation of company policy to come to work under the influence and put yourself and others in danger. Therefore, they are legally within their right to let you go.
You should be aware that your employer is not required to hold your job for you if you will be gone for an extended period of time. If you end up losing your job after reporting your injury and feel it was due to retaliation, you will want to find an attorney. However, you will probably find it very difficult to prove retaliation in such a case.
Who is Exempt From Workers’ Compensation Insurance in Florida?
Under Florida Workers’ Compensation law, all non-construction businesses with four or more employees are required to carry Workers’ Compensation insurance. All construction companies with one or more employees are required to carry it, as well. It doesn’t matter if the employees are full-time or part-time. It is against the law for a non-exempt employer to disregard that coverage and not protect their workers from loss or injury.
Florida also requires employers to post a written notice acknowledging the existence of workers’ compensation at each work site. This written notice should have the contact information of whom to contact in case of a workplace injury.
There is the ability for an executive of a company to exempt themselves from coverage for Workers’ Compensation in Florida. In order to be eligible, the person must waive all rights as an employee of the company. However, no such exemption rules exist for regular employees.
What Happens if a Company is in Non-Compliance with Workers’ Compensation in Florida?
If an employer is not obeying the law, they may be subject to civil enforcement action and forced to stop all operations. The business will not be allowed to operate until it fixes issues with non-compliance and pays the required penalties. In certain circumstances, they may be subject to fines and criminal penalties, as well.
Florida Workers’ Compensation Requirements
The requirements for Workers’ Compensation benefits in Florida are similar to other states in that it is a “no-fault” system. This means you are not required to prove your employer was negligent in order to receive standard benefits.
Instead, the main requirement for Workers’ Compensation in Florida is to provide proof that you sustained a job-related injury or illness. To determine whether a worker has met this requirement, an accident report must be completed and a medical history form must be completed and signed by the injured person.
The work history forms for each claim submitted must include a copy of the workers’ compensation claim, a copy of the medical records, and the claim number. The Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation manages the filing of claims. You may choose to file a claim on your own behalf or hire an attorney to represent you.
Should I Sue my Employer if I am Hurt at Work?
It may be worth your while to talk to an attorney who works on personal injury cases. They will be able to inform you about whether you have a case against your employer. They will be able to tell you if the employer is at fault and how much you can expect to be compensated for your injuries. The more experience an attorney has, the better chances you have of getting the compensation you deserve.
Generally speaking, it can be impossible to file a legal claim (lawsuit) against an employer that has provided you with workers’ compensation coverage under normal circumstances. Carrying workers’ compensation is supposed to provide immunity to the employer for legal claims related to a job-related injury or illness. However, this may not be the case in extreme circumstances. If the employer has a pattern of blatant neglect, willful misconduct, criminal behavior, or other such actions, then it may be possible to hold them liable for your injury costs.
Keep in mind that you will need to prove that you were injured, sufficiently suffered a significant injury and that financial losses were incurred as a result of your injury. Your lawyer will help you prepare this documentation. They can help you obtain the necessary forms and paperwork for the lawsuit. Once you are prepared, you will be able to move forward with the lawsuit.
Some questions that may arise during your consultation include:
- Have you ever received Workers’ Compensation from prior employment?
- What happened during your prior employment?
- Is this injury related to any past health conditions or injuries?
- Was there anything previous employees did that caused your injuries?
- Were there any safety or health issues on the job?
- Was there a record of any of these problems?
What Types of Medical Benefits Does Workers’ Compensation Provide?
The insurance company that handles your employer’s Workers’ Comp policy acts just as your personal insurance would. They will provide you with an approved doctor, cover prescriptions, and any necessary treatment. There should be no out-of-pocket expenses for any approved medical assistance. However, you are entitled to choose the pharmacy you get your meds from.
Will Workers’ Compensation Cover Time Off From my Job to Recover?
Under Florida law, you will not be entitled to wage reimbursement by the insurance company for the first seven days of disability. But, if your injury is severe enough that you are required to take more than 21 days off from work, the insurance policy may cover more than the first seven days.
If your wages are covered by the insurance company, your payments will be 66.6% (⅔) of your average weekly wages and paid on a bi-weekly basis. The way your benefits are calculated may change depending on your case. These benefits are not taxable, but if you return to work in any capacity, the wages you earn at your job will be taxable as they usually would.
How Long Does it Take to Resolve a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
If all of the proper procedures have been followed and there are no issues, you should receive your first check within 21 days after your employer reports your injury. However, that is most often not the case for many people. There are numerous things that can delay your claim or even cause it to be denied. For this reason, you should speak with an experienced Florida Workers’ Compensation attorney as soon as possible.
Common Mistakes That Cause a Workers’ Compensation Claim to Be Delayed or Denied
When you’ve been injured and worried about the future, filing a bunch of confusing bureaucratic paperwork correctly can be extremely difficult. Not only is there a mountain of paperwork, but there are strict deadlines that must be adhered to. Here are some of the most common mistakes people make that cause their claims to be delayed or denied:
- Not reporting the injury to their employer in time.
- The employee or employer doesn’t file the claim in time.
- The employer disputes whether the injury happened while you were on the job.
- The severity of your injuries does not meet the requirements for Workers’ Compensation.
- The doctor does not believe your injuries are severe enough to qualify.
- A pre-existing condition was a major contributing factor to the injury.
Why Should I Hire an Attorney to Help with my Workers’ Compensation Claim?
One of the many reasons why it is important to hire an attorney to handle your workers’ compensation claim is the fact that they are trained to handle all different types of claims. Many of the claims that are submitted by employees are rejected due to mistakes in paperwork, missing or erroneous information, and other issues.
However, an attorney has the training and knowledge necessary to present a comprehensive case to Workers’ Compensation. Additionally, an attorney will be fully equipped to deal with any complications or obstacles that may arise during the claims process. The team of professionals will be able to handle anything that comes up in the way of a claim.
An attorney’s services, knowledge, and guidance can increase the likelihood of your workers’ compensation claim being paid in full. Most individuals that are injured on the job are not going to receive the full amount of compensation that is legally due them. This is because injury law is extremely complex and many factors go into determining an injury’s settlement. An attorney is experienced in dealing with cases such as yours and will do all that they can to ensure that you receive just compensation.
What Safety Issues Should I be Aware of at my Job? Should I Report Dangerous Things?
As an employee, your employer is legally responsible for providing as safe a working environment as reasonably possible. While some safety issues are impossible to predict, both employees and employers should actively take charge of ensuring a safe workplace for everyone. Here are some safety issues to keep an eye out for that you may not have yet considered:
- Are you using the correct hand gloves?
- Are you cleaning the right things?
- Are you following the appropriate safety procedures?
- Do you follow safe practices in general? The health of your workers and customers depends on your ability to provide a safe working environment.
- What are you doing about worker safety?
- How are you managing lighting, power surges, chemical spills, and falling objects?
- Are your machines properly maintained?
- Are you using personal protective equipment as per the safety regulations?
- Are your employees trained in workplace safety?
- Is there proper ventilation?
- Are all electrical cords securely fastened and covered to avoid tripping?
- Are you storing dangerous materials incorrectly?
- How are they stored? What is their storage location?
- Is there adequate ventilation?
- Are there any closed systems, such as chemical storage cabinets, hazardous waste storage areas, and air conditioning systems?
- What are you doing about maintenance?
- Are you maintaining the machinery?
- Are you replacing parts as needed?
- Are you repainting?
- Are you cleaning it out after repairs?
- Are you mixing your cleaning products correctly?
- Are you disposing of toxic chemicals correctly?
- Have you got training in the correct disposal?
- Are your employees trained and equipped to handle toxic chemicals while working?
- Are there possible environmental effects due to your working procedures or equipment?
- Are you using personal protective equipment that could pose a health hazard?
- What about adverse effects on your customers and employees?
- What safety regulations are in force?
- Does your premises have adequate security arrangements?
- What about fire safety?
- Is your alarm system working?
- Are you equipped with emergency first aid?
- Is staff properly trained in emergency security procedures?
- Is your company storing hazardous waste in the proper containers?
- Are you aware of the hazards your employees can face working with this waste?
- Is your company complying with all legislation requirements concerning hazardous waste and hazardous substances?
- What about the welfare of present and future employees?
- Are they properly trained in safely handling dangerous substances?
- Are they aware of the health and safety implications of handling hazardous waste?
Health and Safety Training
- Is staff adequately trained in the Health and Safety legislation regarding health and safety?
- What measures are in place to protect employees from hazardous waste, and how do they benefit from it?
- What happens if your staff does not follow the safety plan that is in place?
- What are the consequences for failing to comply?
- Do your business operations adhere to the various laws regarding cleanliness, waste, and hazmat?
- Are you keeping the area around your facilities well-maintained?
- Do you have adequate fire safety regulations in place?
- What about noise regulation?
These are just a few examples, but they represent some of the most common hazards. In fact, the list of things that people end up forgetting (and remembering only after something terrible has happened) can be extensive. However, there are many simple things that everyone can do to help reduce these problems.
Training staff in what to do in the case of an emergency is a simple step that your employer can take. If your employer doesn’t often address safety issues, speak up! There are many things each individual worker can do to make their workplace safer. It might mean something small, such as having some employees trained in first aid, but these can all add up.
Get Help With Your Claim From a Tampa Workers’ Compensation Attorney
In case you are injured or fall ill in your workplace, you may require the services of a Tampa workers’ compensation lawyer. The workers’ comp policy is meant to help the employers in taking care of their employees who get injured in the course and scope of their employment. In other words, it is meant to be your protector, if any injury occurs. This is not only to ensure that you get adequate compensation but also that you are treated fairly by your employer. Therefore, it is very important to seek legal help before you file a workers’ comp claim.
Darrigo & Diaz can provide you with a free, no-obligation case evaluation. This appointment will help you be better able to analyze the key legal factors of your case and the types of damages you should be able to claim. We will inform you of your rights and outline the steps you will need to take next to pursue your claim.
Start the process when you call (813) 774-3341 or contact us online to schedule your no-cost, risk-free, confidential appointment today.