Workers’ Compensation Attorneys in Brandon, Florida
When a workplace injury disrupts a person’s routine, it might result in pain, missed pay, uncertainty, and worry. Our adept Florida workers’ compensation attorney can explain these advantages to you. Golden Injury Attorneys may be able to assist you in obtaining workers’ compensation if you have incurred a workplace injury.
Being injured or ill is inevitable. Unfortunately, there are situations when someone is at fault, and when this occurs, one of our experienced attorneys in Brandon, FL can help you.
We Help Florida Residents Get the Compensation They Deserve
Workers’ compensation aids employees who cannot work due to a working injury. To assist clients in obtaining the benefits they require to recover and rebuild their lives, our Florida workers’ compensation attorney may be able to:
- Appeal employer-denied claims and represents you in court
- File a third-party negligence claim
- File for social security disability benefits
- Obtain a doctor or medical test
- Get compensation for lost wages
Who Can Claim Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Florida?
Florida requires every employer with more than four employees to have workers’ compensation insurance. However, workers’ compensation coverage is necessary for construction companies, even if only one employee.
Employees who are eligible for benefits include:
- Full-time employees
- Part-time employees
- An alien employee
- Contractual employees (whether oral or written)
- Prisoners who are on a work-release program
Filing for Workers’ Compensation in Florida
If you’ve been injured at work in Florida, you don’t have to worry if the injury you incurred was due to your carelessness. Florida’s workers’ comp insurance program ignores fault. It focuses on where the accident took place. If you were working when you suffered an accident, you’re eligible for workers’ comp benefits. However, there are instances where employees have suffered workplace injuries because of unsafe working conditions or due to the negligence of others.
Workers’ Compensation Statistics in Florida
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that during the most recent reporting year in the United States, there were 2.8 million nonfatal occupational injuries or illnesses. When examining Florida’s fatality data for that year, the major causes of death were:
- Transportation incidents
- Falls, slips, or trips
- Exposure to harmful substances
- Violence and other injuries by persons or animal
In Florida, the most deaths occurred in the private construction sector. Transportation and material moving jobs were also among the leading causes of occupational deaths in Florida. Some significant figures include:
- Men accounted for 95% of work-related fatalities.
- Workers aged 25 to 54 accounted for 63% of the work-related fatalities.
- 85% of workplace fatalities were those who worked for wages and salaries. The remaining were self-employed.
Common Workplace Injuries in Florida
Workers’ comp attorneys provide legal assistance for Florida residents who have been injured in the workplace due to:
- Employer Negligence
- Construction Accident
- Third-Party Negligence
- Snow and Ice Accidents on the Job
- Car Accidents
- Falling Objects
- Repetitive Movements
- Exposure to toxic substances
- Violence in the workplace
- Machinery Accidents
- Forklift Accidents
- Crane Accidents
- Bulldozer Accidents
- Loader Accidents
- Commercial Vehicle Accidents
- Industrial Accidents
- Unsafe Premises/Dangerous Conditions
- Slip and Falls
Workplace injuries can range from bruises to sprains to more severe injuries such as
- Back injuries
- Soft-Tissue Injuries
- Neck Injuries
- Eye Injuries
- Broken Leg
- Broken Arm
- Brain Injuries
- Electrical Shocks
- Hearing Loss
- Spinal Injury
- Slip and Fall
- Motion Injuries
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Work-Related Deaths
Florida Workers’ Compensation Laws
Most Florida companies are obligated by law to offer workers’ compensation to employees injured on the job. Workers’ compensation, sometimes known as “work comp” or “workman’s comp,” covers medical expenses and lost earnings.
However, suppose your injury was caused by a third party (someone other than your employer). In that case, you may be able to claim compensation in addition to your workers’ compensation payments and social security disability.
Contact our experienced Florida workers’ compensation attorney for assistance in understanding workers’ compensation laws so that you receive all the money to which you are entitled.
How Does the Florida Workers’ Compensation System Work?
In Florida, most businesses must have workers’ compensation coverage by purchasing a policy from a commercial insurance provider or by obtaining state approval to self-insure.
The Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) of Florida regulates all workers’ compensation claims in the state.
Like all other states, Florida has a no-fault worker compensation system. You do not need to demonstrate that your employer was negligent in obtaining benefits. As long as your injury occurred on the job or was caused by work-related activities, you will likely qualify for compensation.
Eligible workers may receive a variety of benefits, including:
- temporary disability benefits (payments for wage loss)
- impairment benefits (for amputations or permanent limitations)
- reasonable and necessary medical care
- vocational rehabilitation (training or education for a new line of work)
What Are the Workers’ Compensation Eligibility Requirements?
If you were injured or fell ill due to your employment, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, including reimbursement for medical expenses and a portion of lost income. You may obtain compensation regardless of who caused your injuries as long as you qualify. In return for this protection, you forfeit the ability to pursue a claim for damages against your employer.
There are unique regulations for some employees, such as:
- domestic workers
- Agricultural workers
- temporary or seasonal workers
- workers placed by temp agencies
Your Employer Must Have Workers’ Compensation
Most companies, but not all, are mandated to have workers’ compensation insurance. State laws vary, but an employer’s need to offer coverage often relies on the number of employees, kind of business, and nature of work performed.
Most states mandate coverage for every firm with at least one employee, although some states impose a minimum of two to five employees. A few jurisdictions have varying standards for agricultural and construction firms, while some states let charities opt out of the workers’ compensation system.
Many companies purchase workers’ compensation insurance despite not being obligated to do so by law. State laws often let these exempt firms “opt-in” to the workers’ compensation system. In this instance, their employees may obtain compensation for work-related injuries, but they will be unable to sue the employer.
Employers often purchase workers’ compensation insurance on the private market or, in some jurisdictions, through a governmental fund. However, many major companies, particularly state and municipal governments, accept the financial risk of workers’ compensation benefits (known as self-insurance) for their employees.
The government of the United States has its own workers’ compensation system. If you are a federal employee, you must utilize the federal benefits system rather than your state’s.
Different standards exist under federal law for compensating injured marine and railroad personnel.
You Must Be an Employee to Qualify for Workers’ Compensation
Not every worker is an employee for purposes of workers’ compensation eligibility. Independent contractors (such as freelancers, consultants, and members of the “gig” economy) often do not qualify for workers’ compensation insurance.
Many workers, including drivers for Uber, Lyft, and other ride-hailing services, assert that they were misclassified as independent contractors when the employing company should have classified them as employees.
Employers frequently misclassify employees as independent contractors to avoid payroll taxes and workers’ compensation premiums. Even though you signed 1099 as an independent contractor, you may still qualify for workers’ compensation as an employee.
Courts will typically consider the degree of control you have over your job and other aspects of your working relationship with the corporation or individual who hired you, even though state laws differ.
Volunteers are often not eligible for workers’ compensation, although exceptions exist. Some states expressly protect volunteer firefighters, while others provide organizations the choice to cover volunteers.
Injury or Illness Must Be Work-Related
Generally speaking, if you are harmed or feel unwell while doing a task for the benefit of your company, it is work-related.
For instance, your injuries are work-related if you hurt your back while moving boxes as part of your warehouse job, if you acquire carpal tunnel syndrome due to typing on the job, or if you fall ill from exposure to toxic chemicals on the job site.
This issue may be more challenging to determine in other circumstances, such as if you were hurt on your lunch break, at a company-sponsored social event, or while playing with coworkers.
Meet Workers’ Compensation Reporting and Filing Deadlines
Even if you fulfill the other requirements, you may lose access to workers’ compensation benefits if you miss the state-mandated deadlines for reporting the injury to your employer and submitting a claim.
What Are Special Workers’ Compensation Rules for Certain Workers?
Even if you fulfill all three of the aforementioned primary eligibility conditions, you may not be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if you belong to one of the groups of exempt employees under state law. The most prevalent categories of exempt employees include:
Other states exclude these workers solely if they are part-time. A few states also exclude gardeners and laborers who perform house renovations.
Agricultural and Farm Workers
A few states exclude agricultural and farm employees from workers’ compensation coverage. However, these exclusions often only apply to small farms. However, several states, such as Texas, include farmworkers, including specific migrant and seasonal workers.
Leased or Loaned Employees
As long as the accident was work-related, workers’ compensation should cover an employee of a staffing or temp agency who is injured while on assignment with another company (often referred to as the “special employer”). The question of who is responsible for coverage, the agency or the employer, might vary depending on state law and the situation.
Typically, temporary workers are employees of both the loan agency and the special employer, allowing the two insurance firms to battle over who is liable for providing benefits.
Casual or Seasonal Workers
Some states exclude temporary or seasonal workers from workers’ compensation, but only if the employment was unrelated to the employer’s usual business or profession.
In most states, including California, Texas, and Florida, illegal immigrant workers are protected by workers’ compensation, either expressly in the legislation or by judicial judgments.
This is a changing aspect of the law, as politicians in certain states attempt to remove illegal immigrants from workers’ compensation coverage.
What Injuries or Illnesses Are Not Covered by Workers’ Compensation?
While workers’ compensation covers most work-related injuries, a few exceptions exist. Notably, the workers’ compensation system is a no-fault structure. It does not matter if you or your employer caused the harm.
The fact that your accident occurred on the job is relevant. However, there are a few instances where workers’ compensation will not cover an injury.
Even though each state has its own workers’ compensation rules, there are certain circumstances in which injuries are deemed to have occurred outside the course and scope of employment.
Contact one of our Florida workers’ compensation attorneys to learn more about Florida’s workers’ compensation laws and your eligibility for benefits.
Commuting To and From Work
Generally, the “coming and going ” rule applies if you are hurt commuting to and from work. According to this guideline, travel to and from your office is not considered part of your employment.
For instance, if you are struck by a car on your daily journey to work, your injuries will not be covered by workers’ compensation.
Alternatively, workers’ compensation will likely cover your injuries if you use a business vehicle, do not have a fixed work location, or were on a job-related errand.
A traveling salesperson, for instance, may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if they were hurt while driving from home to the first client meeting of the day.
Similarly, an executive assistant who sustains an injury on the way to work while picking up the company president’s dry cleaning is likely to be compensated.
Most businesses provide activities for team development and entertainment for their employees. Depending on the circumstances, workers’ compensation may not cover injuries sustained during social events such as a business picnic, Christmas party, or happy hour. Certain factors increase the likelihood that workers comp may cover the damage, including:
- the employee was required to attend the event or reasonably believed that attendance was required
- the employer benefited from the worker’s attendance (for example, because the event included a work-related presentation or brainstorming session)
- the activity occurred on the employer’s premises during business hours
Intoxication or Substance Abuse
The majority, if not all, state workers’ compensation laws exclude injuries caused by the worker’s drunkenness. For instance, your claim would likely be refused if you fall off a ladder while intoxicated. You may still be entitled to benefits if you demonstrate that the accident was unavoidable or not your fault.
For instance, if you were working on an assembly line and another worker struck you from behind with a forklift, you may be eligible for compensation even though you were intoxicated.
Some states, including Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, and Texas, consider an injury non-work-related if a drug test reveals high amounts of alcohol or narcotics. However, it might be difficult for employers to prove intoxication defenses. If your drug and alcohol test was considerably delayed, there might not be sufficient evidence that you were inebriated at the time of the accident.
Injuries caused by intoxication require a comprehensive factual and legal study. Do not assume you are ineligible for workers’ compensation because you tested positive for drugs.
Our skilled Florida workers’ compensation attorney may be able to demonstrate that your injuries occurred in the scope of your job.
Workplace Horseplay and Fighting
Because horseplay and practical jokes are regarded as beyond the scope of employment, workers’ compensation often does not cover associated injuries. There are exceptions to this rule, though.
Your injuries may be compensated, for instance, if your employer permits continuing horseplay. Similarly, if you were an uninvolved bystander, you are likely still entitled to benefits.
Likewise, workers’ compensation does not cover most injuries resulting from workplace fights or altercations. However, you may still qualify for benefits if the dispute involves a work-related matter. For instance, it is most likely not covered if you fight with a coworker over your favorite sports team.
However, you may be entitled to compensation if your coworker assaults you after you complain about their job performance. Each state has distinct workers’ compensation regulations and exclusions.
If your employer or insurer asserts that your injury is not covered, you should call our seasoned Florida workers’ compensation attorneys. We can examine your claim and determine the likelihood of success on appeal.
How Workers’ Compensation Defines a Covered Injury?
Workers’ compensation covers injuries and illnesses sustained in the “course and scope” of an employee’s job. Most courts have widely construed this word and erred on the side of including injuries to the benefit of employees filing for benefits.
In general, your injuries will be covered if you were involved in an activity that benefited your employer. If you are injured on the job while executing your duties, you are entitled to workers’ compensation. A dishwasher who slips and falls in a restaurant kitchen, for instance, would be covered.
Injuries resulting from repetitive labor tasks may occur in the course and scope of employment. For instance, if your work-related clutching and grasping produce carpal tunnel syndrome, you are qualified for workers’ compensation.
What If You’re Injured at Work During a Break?
Workers’ compensation may still cover injuries sustained in your workplace’s break room or cafeteria. In many states, it is deemed advantageous for employees to remain on-site during meal and rest breaks since it saves time and makes them more available.
If you leave your workplace and are injured during your break, you will likely not be entitled to benefits unless you are advancing your employer’s interests. For instance, if you were picking up boxed lunches for a conference or having an off-site business lunch meeting, your injuries are likely to be covered.
What If You’re Injured at Work After You Clock Out?
Most states provide coverage for occupational injuries even if you have already clocked out for the day. Injuries in a parking lot owned or controlled by your employer on your way to work are often covered.
However, you are not covered for any injuries after leaving the company’s facilities.
What If You’re Injured Off-Site?
Your injuries will only be compensated if you were engaged in actions that benefitted your employer while you were away from the office. For instance, courts have determined that the following injuries occur within the course and scope of employment:
- while working from home or taking a work call in the car
- during professional education or job-related training
- while traveling between two work sites
- while off-duty during business travel
Each state has regulations about what determines conduct within the course and scope of employment. Please call our seasoned Florida workers’ compensation attorney if you want assistance assessing your eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits.
How Do You Report an Injury?
Notifying your employer is the initial step in filing a claim for workers’ compensation. In Florida, most injuries must be reported within 30 days. If sickness or illness develops gradually, you must notify your employer within 30 days of discovering a connection between it and your job. You may forfeit part or all of your benefits if you do not tell your employer within these timeframes.
When notifying your employer, be as specific as possible, mentioning the following:
- when the accident happened
- how you hurt yourself
- what symptoms you are experiencing
After reporting an accident, your employer should refer you to a medical specialist. Your employer chooses your treating physician in Florida unless you require emergency care. It is essential to present the doctor with correct details on the origin of your injuries and the severity of your symptoms.
What Happens After You Report Your Injury?
Your employer must submit your claim to its insurance provider within seven days of your notification. You can immediately contact the insurance provider if it refuses to report your injuries. The insurance company will next evaluate whether or not you are eligible for benefits. The inquiry could include:
- reviewing your medical records
- analyzing your work experience, education, and wages
- ordering a medical examination to assess your condition
- sending you for a functional capacity evaluation (an assessment of your ability to perform work duties)
The insurance company must swiftly approve or refuse your workers’ compensation claims following Florida law. If your application for disability benefits is granted, you will begin receiving payments and additional benefits. Unfortunately, many workers’ compensation claims are denied by insurance companies.
Recovering Compensation for Medical Expenses
If you’re a worker and you’ve been injured in a workplace accident, then it can be frightening and frustrating, especially if you’re suffering from severe injuries.
A workplace injury will likely incur medical expenses including:
- The costs of using an urgent care clinic, emergency room, or hospital room
- Medication expenses (over-the-counter and prescription medications) necessary to treat injuries
- Rehabilitation services expenses (e.g., in-home rehabilitation, outpatient rehabilitation, physical therapy, or physical therapy)
Consult with compassionate and reliable Florida workers’ compensation attorneys today to know how we can help you negotiate your insurance claims. Contact us a Golden Injury Attorneys to get the legal aid you need to process your workers’ comp claims in the cities of Brandon, Bradenton, Tampa, and Sarasota located within Hillsborough County, Manatee County, and Sarasota County, Florida.
Dealing with Insurance Companies in Florida
Usually, an insurance adjuster will call you within 24 hours after reporting the incident. However, if you didn’t receive a call from them within two days, you must contact them. An insurance agent should be able to discuss with you your rights, responsibilities, and benefits.
At Golden Injury Attorneys, we take workplace injuries seriously. We know how hard it is to suffer from injuries, especially if it prevents you from working. Our Florida workers’ compensation attorney provides legal aid and help you negotiate with your insurance company.
Seeing a Doctor
Your first meeting with a medical doctor is essential. The number of benefits you will receive and whether you’re qualified for workers’ compensation will depend on your doctor’s assessment. You must provide all the necessary information about your medical history and your injury at work.
Ensure that your doctor understands your situation and the event that caused your injury. Your medical records will determine whether you may claim compensation or not. Ask questions about your injury. Is it permanent? How long will it take to recover? Are you cleared to return to work? Ensure that your doctor will explain your situation clearly so your employer will understand.
Our Qualified Florida Workers’ Compensation Attorney Can Help Investigate Who Was to Blame
Since the workers’ compensation insurance does not consider fault when determining benefits, their agents are uninterested in hearing you discuss fault. Moreover, if your employer is liable for the accident or believes that you may hold them accountable, they may not be interested in examining how you were harmed.
There are even instances where coworkers are scared to report what they know due to the possibility of company reprisal. Here is where our Florida workers’ compensation attorney may give the assistance you require.
Many injured employees are informed by their employer, the insurance adjuster, or others who have been through the workers’ compensation claim process that fault is irrelevant. They may argue that employing us to examine who is responsible for your injuries is a waste of time. These individuals are unaware that there are two instances in which blame matters.
Why Does It Matter If Your Employer is to Blame?
As noted above, in most circumstances, blame is irrelevant. However, our skilled Florida workers’ compensation attorney can advise whether it is appropriate to blame your employer. Workers’ compensation insurance does not defend an employer that violates the law or is severely negligent about workplace safety.
Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to pursue damages that substantially surpass your workers’ compensation benefits.
Why Does It Matter If a Third Party is to Blame?
The other circumstance in which blame is relevant is when a third party is involved in an accident. Our skilled Florida workers’ compensation attorney can establish if a third party is responsible for your injury.
For instance, suppose you sustained chemical burns due to a leaking container caused by a manufacturing mistake. Or, perhaps you were hurt in a forklift accident due to a design error that suddenly caused the forklift to move forward.
In such circumstances, a wounded worker may sue the third party for damages. Similarly, when you sue your employer, you can pursue damages not covered by your workers’ compensation benefits.
How Much Are Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Florida?
A workplace accident may create significant changes to your life, including your health, job, income, and general well-being. Florida’s workers’ compensation system is intended to pay you for some of these losses and assist you in returning to work as quickly as possible.
Temporary Disability Benefits
You are qualified for temporary total disability benefits under Florida workers’ compensation if you require time away from work to recuperate from a work-related accident or illness. Unless your injury prevents you from working for more than 21 days, you will not get these benefits for the first week off.
Temporary total disability payments equal two-thirds of your typical weekly wage before the injury, up to an annualized legal maximum. For some catastrophic injuries, such as paralysis or blindness, the benefit rate is higher: 80 percent of the employee’s pre-injury pay for the first six months, with no cap. The legal minimum weekly wage is about $20.
Temporary total disability benefits will continue until the earliest of three events:
- your doctor says you can go back to work
- your doctor says that your condition won’t improve, even with further medical treatment (a stage called “maximum medical improvement,” or MMI)
- you’ve reached the maximum amount of time for temporary disability benefits
According to Florida law, workers who are temporarily handicapped cannot receive these benefits for longer than two years. However, the state’s supreme court has ruled that the 104-week restriction is unlawful when it is used to terminate benefits for a person who has reached the limit but has not yet attained MMI and is still fully incapacitated.
You may be eligible for temporary partial disability benefits if your condition has not yet reached MMI. Still, your physician has advised you to return to work with limits (such as not lifting heavy objects or using a keyboard for limited periods).
80% of the gap between your current earnings and 80% of your pre-injury pay will be awarded as disability compensation.
Permanent Impairment Benefits
Once your medical treatment is complete (or six weeks before your temporary total disability benefits are set to expire if you have not yet reached the MMI stage), your doctor will determine if you have any permanent medical condition or lost function (impairment) as a result of your injury.
If you can work in some capacity, the doctor will issue an impairment rating, stated as a percentage, using a timetable. This rating will calculate the duration of your permanent disability compensation following Florida law.
The amount of the weekly benefits will be 75% of your temporary total disability rate (up to the same legal maximum). Still, this amount will be halved if you earn at least as much as before your accident.
Permanent Total Disability Benefits
Suppose your doctor determines that you have a permanent condition that prevents you from performing any type of employment (even sedentary work). In that case, you will be eligible for permanent total disability benefits at the same rate as temporary total disability benefits. These payments will continue until you reach the age of 75 or for the rest of your life if you do not qualify for Social Security.
Certain severe injuries, such as the amputation of an arm or limb or severe brain damage, are always determined to result in total and permanent disability.
Florida workers’ compensation also provides additional benefits, including:
Workers’ compensation pays for any required medical care to treat a work-related injury or sickness, provided the therapy is recommended by the treating physician and approved by the insurance company. You are also eligible for reimbursement for transportation to and from doctor’s visits and the cost of medication.
If you cannot return to your previous position, you may get placement services, vocational counseling, and other assistance to find a new job. If you require extra training or education to get suitable employment, workers’ compensation may pay for such training or education for up to 26 or 52 weeks.
When an employee dies from a work-related accident or disease, the worker’s spouse, children, or other dependent relatives are eligible to collect death benefits. The benefit amount varies on the number of dependents. Still, it cannot exceed two-thirds of the worker’s average weekly pay (up to the same restrictions as temporary total disability benefits). Workers’ compensation will also cover funeral and burial costs up to $7,500.
How to Appeal a Denied Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Unless the insurance company declines your claim, you are not required to file papers with the DWC. Generally, you must file a Petition for Benefits within two years of your accident or one year after your last income loss or medical payment to appeal a refused claim.
Unless your claim is simple, you may consider retaining our skilled Florida workers’ compensation attorney to handle your appeal. If you continue without an attorney, you may be at a disadvantage against the insurance company.
How to Keep Your Job After a Workers’ Compensation Lawsuit?
Being hurt can be challenging, especially if you believe your employer is at fault. Even though you have rights, it is crucial to remember that you are still an employee and must act adequately or risk being dismissed.
Too many wounded workers believe they can act as they like and cannot be terminated because they were harmed on the job. While protections are in place, a wounded employee cannot be disobedient out of anger.
Regularly communicating with a supervisor is the most effective way for an injured employee to satisfy their employer. Ensure your immediate supervisor knows what your doctor says following each appointment.
Check in weekly to provide an update on your condition. You will be astounded at the reach of communication. Our Florida workers’ compensation attorney will explain all you need to know to comply with the law and your employer.
Seek Legal Help from Our Florida Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Being injured at work can be very frustrating and overwhelming. You don’t have to go through this alone. At Golden Injury Attorneys, we will ensure that you will only get the compensation you rightfully deserve. Our Florida workers’ compensation attorneys will protect your rights and evaluate your claim carefully.
Contact us a Golden Injury Attorneys to get the legal aid you need to process your workers’ comp claims in the cities of Brandon, Bradenton, Tampa, and Sarasota located within Hillsborough County, Manatee County, and Sarasota County, Florida.