Orlando Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
Workers’ compensation is a vital resource that we pay into throughout the years, and hope to never use. However, serious accidents happen on the job every day. Over 4,000 workers lose their lives on the job each year, and hundreds of thousands end up in emergency rooms with serious medical bills to pay and the possibility of lost wages down the road. If you injury happened on the job, no matter who was at fault, these expenses can and should be covered by your employer’s workers’ compensation policy. While this is no fault coverage, it is not always treated as such by your employer. They may make false claims, deny that the injury occurred at work, blame you for negligence, or claim that the injury is being faked. Additionally, the legal process of applying for workers’ compensation is difficult, time consuming, and often leads to denied coverage. In fact, many claims are denied, which is why the help of an lawyer will greatly increase an injured worker’s chances of acquiring this incredibly valuable financial tool. If you have been injured on the job, contact an experienced Orlando workers’ compensation lawyer today.
If you have been injured on the job in the course of your work, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits under Florida law. As an employee, it is important that you understand your rights and benefits, the limits on coverage, and what is and is not covered under the law. The Pendas Law Firm in Orlando has experienced workers’ compensation lawyersthat are able to help you with your claim and ensure that you are receiving all of the compensation you are owed for your workplace injuries.
Who’s Covered Under Workers’ Compensation in Florida?
Florida law requires nearly all employers in the state to purchase workers’ compensation insurance to provide coverage to employees who are injured while performing work-related duties. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule. The basic coverage requirements are as follows:
- Employers in the construction industry – If you work in the construction industry, your employer is required to provide workers’ compensation insurance so long as there is one or more employees.
- Employers in non-construction industries – For those who work in industries outside of construction, the general rule is that employers must provide workers’ compensation coverage if there are four or more employees.
- Employers in the agricultural industries – Those who work in the agricultural industry are subjected to slightly different rules; only employers with six regular employees, or 12 seasonal employees who work more than 30 days in a season but no more than 45 days in a calendar year, are required to provide workers’ compensation.
Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
If you have been injured on the job, you are required to report your injuries to your employer in order to receive benefits. In Florida, you have thirty days to report your injury to your employer, although it is highly recommended that you seek medical evaluation and treatment as soon as the injury occurs. The statute of limitations to file a claim for benefits is two years from the date of the injury or when the injury should have been discovered.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Workers’ compensation entitles employees to a number of different benefits if injured on the job. The first is temporary disability benefits, which is two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly wage, and it begins on the eighth day of disability for injuries that take between eight and 21 days to recover. For injuries that take longer than 21 days to recover from, benefits are distributed from day one. Benefits are increased to eighty percent if the injury is deemed critical under the law. Temporary disability benefits continue until a doctor says the employee can return to work, the employee reaches maximum medical improvement, or the employee has reached the maximum time for temporary disability benefits.
For employees that can return to work but are impaired by their injuries, they may be entitled to permanent impairment benefits. The doctor will assign an impairment rating as a percentage of ability to work, and that percentage will determine how long the benefits will last. Permanent impairment benefits are 75 percent of the temporary disability benefits. The next types of benefit under workers’ compensation is permanent total disability. This is awarded if the doctor finds the employee is permanently disabled and cannot perform any type of work, even at a sedentary job. These benefits continue until the employee is 75 years old.
Additional benefits under Florida workers’ compensation law include medical benefits for all medical care necessary to treat the injuries in addition to costs for travel. Vocational rehabilitation is also provided under workers’ compensation for employees that cannot return to their normal job but can be retrained for another job that is suitable to their disability. In the most serious workplace injury cases where an employee dies, death benefits are provided to the employee’s loved ones which includes funeral expenses and two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly wage for a period of time.
What Does Orlando Worker’s Compensation Cover?
According to Florida statute 440.14, workers’ compensation covers all accidental injuries, infections, diseases, and illnesses that occur on the job or arise from the job. It can also be applied to accidental death from those injuries within a certain time frame.
Florida Workers’ Compensation and Accident Statistics
No job place is completely safe from severe injuries or fatalities. Even an office worker can be exposed to dangerous building materials like asbestos, and traffic accidents can occur while on the job as well, not just during the commute home. In fact, of the 239 workplace fatalities in Florida in 2013, transportation accidents made up 91 of them, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Deaths and injuries on the job take a large financial toll on workers and their families. In 2015, Florida private insurers issued a total of $2.5 billion in workers’ compensation premiums, according to The 2015 Workers’ Compensation Annual Report by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. Only five other states were higher (California, New York, Texas, Illinois, and Pennsylvania). The exact amount of benefits each injured worker receives differs based on their salary, injury, and other variables. In 2014, the minimum wage replacement was $20 a week, while the maximum was $827, calculated based on the worker’s average weekly wage (AWW). The AWW is calculated based on the 13 weeks before the injury occurred.
Common Reasons Why Workers’ Compensation Claims Are Denied
If you have been injured on the job, it can be frustrating to learn that your claim for workers’ compensation benefits has been denied, especially if you have been seriously injured. Unfortunately, despite the pretense of protections for workers that are inherent, workers’ compensation claims are often denied, or workers are offered less than they believe they deserve. Common reasons for workers’ compensation claim denials include:
- Failure to report injury – If you wait longer than 30 days to provide your employer with notice of your injury, it is possible that your claim will be denied. It is critical that you report the workplace incident to your employer as soon as possible.
- Lack of proof – An insurance company may deny your workers’ compensation claim on the basis of a lack of proof that your injury occurred on the job or while you were performing a work-related task. For example, if there were no witnesses to your accident, the insurance company may attempt to get away with denying your claim.
- Failure to follow a doctor’s orders – If you failed to seek medical care for your injury, or if you failed to follow the doctor’s orders, the insurance company may doubt your credibility or even claim that you have contributed to your injuries by your failure to comply with your doctor’s recommendations.
- You have a preexisting injury – In the event that you have a pre-existing injury, the insurance company may try to claim that the workplace accident that you were involved in did not result in a new injury, as you are claiming, but instead that the injury you are suffering was pre-existing. This is a common tactic for denying workers the compensation to which they are entitled.
- Allegations of fault – While workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, which means that employees can recoup workers’ compensation benefits even if their own actions contributed to the injury and that they do not have to prove the fault of any other party, you may be denied benefits if it is found that certain reckless or inappropriate conduct (such as roughhousing or being intoxicated at work) contributed to your accident and injuries.
If your workers’ compensation claim has been denied, you have the right to appeal the decision. Our experienced Orlando lawyers can help.
Our Orlando Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Can Help
If you were injured on the job and have either just begun the process of acquiring workers’ compensation benefits, or you have been struggling with your employer or insurance provider with the appropriate amount you are owed, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced Orlando workers’ compensation lawyer today. Call The Pendas Law Firm today at 1-888-573-6327 to speak with one of the most popular lawyers in Orlando today.