Workers Compensation in Florida
Answers From Work Comp Attorneys in FL
Florida Division of Workers Compensation – F.A.Q.’s:
- Who is eligible for workers’ compensation benefits?
- The Florida Workers’ Compensation law provides that all employers with four or more employees, or in the construction industry – all employers regardless of the number of employees, must provide workers’ compensation coverage for their employees. If such an employee is injured in the course and scope of employment, he or she is eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
- What do I do if I am injured or hurt at work?
- The first thing you should do is report the incident to your immediate supervisor. Your employer is responsible for filing a First Report of Injury with the workers’ compensation insurance carrier. If your employer fails to report your claim, you should contact the insurance carrier directly. Your employer should have a poster of a person with a broken arm that will have the information necessary to report your injury. You should also request your employer send you for a medical evaluation and/or medical treatment. Unless your condition and/or need for treatment is of an urgent nature or an emergency, you must give your employer a reasonable opportunity to provide you with medical care.
- How long do I have to report my injury?
- You must report the accident within 30 days of its occurrence, or your claim may be barred. If your medical condition is the result of repetitive trauma or an occupational exposure, you must report the medical condition within 30 days of your knowledge that the condition was work-related.
- What workers’ compensation benefits am I eligible to receive?
- All covered employees that are injured in the course and scope of their employment are eligible to receive medical treatment for their work-related injuries. If an injured employee is unable to return to work due to the work-related injuries, the injured employee is entitled to lost wages. If the injured worker is placed on a no-work status by the authorized treating physician, they should receive Temporary Total Disability (TTD) benefits calculated at 66 2/3% of their Average Weekly Wage. Average Weekly Wage (AWW) is defined as the average of the gross earnings for the 13 weeks prior to the accident. In addition to medical treatment with a physician, the injured worker is entitled to medications prescribed by the authorized treating physician that are related to the work injury, along with reimbursement for mileage to and from medical appointments.
- If the injured worker is released to work with restrictions and the employer is unable or unwilling to accommodate those restrictions, the injured worker should receive Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) benefits calculated at 64% of their Average Weekly Wage(AWW). If the injured worker is able to return to part-time work, the injured worker is entitled to lost wages equal to 80% of the difference between 80% of the employee’s AWW and the actual pay the part time worker is receiving post injury. Temporary Total Disability and Temporary Partial Disability benefits are payable until the injured worker is placed at Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) or upon receiving 104 weeks of combined benefits. TTD/TPD benefits are subject to a maximum compensation rate, which is the based upon the statewide average weekly wage.
The maximum compensation rate for the past few years is as follows:
2017 – $886.00 2010 – $772.00
2016 – $863.00 2009 – $765.00
2015 – $842.00 2008 – $746.00
2014 – $827.00 2007 – $724.00
2013 – $816.00 2006 – $683.00
2012 – $803.00 2005 – $651.00
2011 – $782.00 2004 – $626.00
What can I do if I am not happy with my doctor?
You are entitled to one change in doctor for your claim. If you request a change in doctor and the insurance company authorizes the change within 5 days of your request, the insurance company is entitled to choose the doctor. If the insurance company fails to authorize a change in doctor within 5 days of your request, you are entitled to choose the change in doctor. You must be careful in deciding when to request a change, as you are only entitled to one change per claim; regardless of the various types of doctors that are treating you.
- What if my employer does not provide me with light duty work and the adjuster does not pay me?
- If the workers’ compensation adjuster does not provide you the benefits you are entitled to receive, you must file a Petition for Benefits seeking payment of the proper benefits. This applies to both lost wage benefits and medical benefits. The Petition for Benefits begins the litigation process, which may ultimately be decided by a Judge of Compensation Claims.
- My employer does not take taxes out of my paycheck and gives me a 1099 tax form at the end of the year. Am I still entitled to workers’ compensation benefits?
- The answer depends on the circumstances of your employment. If you meet the definition of an independent contracture pursuant to the workers’ compensation law, you are not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. However, if you do not meet the definition of an independent contractor, you may still be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, even though you are paid as an independent contractor and even if you signed a document saying you are an independent contractor. This determination is very fact specific to the circumstances of your employment.
- How long can my case last?
- There is no time limit on the length of a case. As long as you see an authorized treating physician at least one time every twelve months, your case will remain open.
- My family member died as a result of a work accident. Am I eligible for any benefits?
- The Florida Workers’ Compensation law provides eligibility for up to $150,000.00 in death benefits and $7,500.00 for funeral expenses if a worker dies from his or her work-related condition within five years of the date of accident,. Family members that can be eligible for death benefits include the spouse, child parent, sibling or grandchild. However, eligibility of these family members also requires proof they were a dependent, received substantial financial support on a regular basis, and the support was reasonably expected to continue into the future.
- Do I need a lawyer to represent me?
- An injured worker is permitted to represent themselves in their workers’ compensation case. However, many cases can be quite complicated, both with the legal and medical aspects of the case. Proper representation requires knowledge and understanding of the workers’ compensation laws and the medical knowledge to question the doctors or the insurance company regarding the issues in the case. The legal team at Vassallo, Bilotta, Friedman & Davis has a combined 70 years of knowledge and experience to represent injured workers in their pursuit of lost wages and medical care. We can also retain an expert to testify on your behalf in court.
- How do workers’ compensation lawyers get paid?
- Attorney’s fees are on a contingency basis. The injured worker’s attorney is paid only if the attorney secures a benefit(s) from the employer/carrier/insurance company or a settlement of the claim or case is reached. If the employer/carrier fails to provide the injured worker the benefit(s) they are entitled to and the benefit(s) is ultimately secured, the employer/carrier must pay the injured worker’s attorney fees and costs.