An on-the-job injury or illness can happen to anyone. You could be a factory worker, an office worker, or a field representative. In many cases, if your were injured during the course of your Tampa job, you will need to file a workers’ compensation claim. The workers’ compensation system is aimed to provide benefits in the form of monetary payment when a worker suffers a job-related injury or illness. In exchange for these benefits, the employer generally cannot be sued and held liable for the harm. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work so smoothly. Indeed, both insurance companies and employers often try to deny and/or minimize the benefits due to injured employees. Common allegations include the injury not being as serious as the worker claims or that the injury or illness was not work-related. For this reason, the process of recovering Tampa workers’ compensation benefits to which you may be entitled can be complicated, confusing and time consuming.
Types of Workers’ Compensation Injuries
There are several types of accidents or illnesses that may qualify a victim for Tampa workers’ compensation benefits. Some of these include:
- Illness from exposure to toxins resulting in occupational diseases (i.e., mesothelioma or Black Lung);
- Repetitive motion injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome or tendonitis;
- Head injuries such as concussions or traumatic brain injury (TBI) due to falls or objects falling on you;
- Pushing, lifting or similar injuries causing broken bones, torn rotator cuffs or ligaments, and/or herniated discs;
- Damage or loss of hearing or sight; and
- Burn injuries or cold and/or heat stress due to electrocution or explosions.
Sometimes these injuries and illnesses are the result of unavoidable accidents or environments, such as dangerous working conditions, faulty machinery, or even lack of proper training.
The Basics of Tampa, Florida Workers’ Compensation
Whether or not you are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits is dependent upon several factors. This includes if you work for the public or private sector, what industry you work in, and what state your job is located in. That being said, most employees are covered by and eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. In fact, Florida employers who have four or more employees and construction companies with as little as one employee, are required to have workers’ compensation coverage for their workers. Employers are not, however, required to carry workers’ compensation coverage for independent contractors. Due to its broad coverage, the majority of work-related diseases, injuries, accidents, illnesses, and deaths are covered by the workers’ compensation system.
State law requires that a workers’ compensation insurance company either promptly approve or deny your benefits. If the claim is approved, you will start receiving disability payments as well as other workers’ compensation benefits. If your claim is denied, you are typically required to file a Petition for Benefits within the later of (1) two years of the injury or illness or (2) within one year of your last wage loss or medical payment.
What to Do if Injured at Work
When reporting a work-related incident, the harmed worker should provide specific details regarding the harm to his or her employer including: names of any witnesses; location of the accident; the cause of the injury or illness; and the time and date of the accident or details regarding when the symptoms began. Once you report the injury or illness, your employer should send you to an occupational doctor for a medical consultation and/or treatment. It is important that you provide this doctor with accurate information about why and how you were harmed as well as the severity of your symptoms.
Of note, workers’ compensation coverage is employer-sponsored meaning it is paid by the employer at no cost to you. It is important to know that:
- It is the injured or harmed worker’s responsibility to report the work-related accident or injury as soon as it happens or is discovered;
- Workers’ compensation benefits will pay for the most reasonably and necessary care if you suffer a work-related injury or illness;
- The employer or the workers’ compensation insurance carrier has the right to choose the doctor who will treat the employee;
- Benefits will replace a portion of the employee’s lost wages for time the doctor puts the patient out of work due to the injury or illness.
Florida’s Workers’ Compensation System
Workers’ compensation does not require a harmed employee to establish fault or negligence to successfully be awarded benefits. This is commonly referred to as a “no-fault” system.
Generally speaking, a harmed worker must report the on-the-job injury to his or her employer within 30 days of the incident. If the harm is a work-place illness, the employee must report the condition to his or her employer within 30 days of the first sign of the illness appearing. Failure to notify your boss within the time frame can result in a delay of your benefits at best and an outright denial due to ineligibility at worst.
After the initial injury report is filed, the harmed worker has a limited amount of time to file a workers’ compensation claim. In Florida, this time frame is two years from the of the injury or knowledge of the illness. The Florida workers’ compensation system offers several types of benefits including income replacement, reimbursement for medical treatment and other expenses, as well as temporary and permanent disability, vocational rehabilitation, impairment benefits, and expenses for reasonable and necessary medical care. If you do not file your Tampa workers’ compensation claim within this time, you risk losing these income replacement as well as healthcare and other workers’ compensation-related benefits.
Consult with a Tampa Workers’ Compensation Attorney Today
Unless your claim is simple and straight-forward, with only a few days off from work, you should consider hiring a knowledgeable Tampa workers’ compensation attorney right away. The insurance company will have a team of lawyers on their side fighting to deny your benefits, so you should have legal representatives advocating on your side. Reach out to us today to have one of our experienced lawyers evaluate your case.