1) What is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ Compensation is a system designed to help injured workers obtain benefits for on-the-job injuries. Under Florida’s Workers’ Compensation statute benefits are available to the injured worker regardless of fault. Most workers are eligible for benefits under the Workers’ Compensation statute; these benefits include all reasonable and necessary medical treatment and wage loss benefits.
2) What should I do if I am injured on the job?
You must do two things. First, you must notify your employer, your immediate supervisor or someone higher if possible. You can notify them orally but preferably in writing. You should request that your employer complete a notice of injury the day of the accident if possible. Secondly, you should seek medical treatment. Go to the on-site doctor if there is one, or go to your own doctor, but seek medical treatment as soon after the accident as possible. The longer you wait the harder it will be to obtain benefits from your Workers’ Compensation Carrier. You should always report any on-the-job injury immediately, even if you do not consider it serious, because later your symptoms may worsen and it might be too late to report the injury then. Typically, you have only 30 days to report your injury.
3) If I pursue a Workers’ Compensation claim, does that mean I am suing my employer?
No. Workers’ Compensation is not a lawsuit against your employer. It is merely a claim against the insurance policy that most employers in Florida have to purchase. By virtue of having this Workers’ Compensation Insurance Policy employers are protected from lawsuits by employees.
4) Can I choose my own doctor?
Although there are some exceptions, you do not have the right to choose your own doctor in Workers’ Compensation. In most instances, the insurance carrier will select the doctor. You do however have the right to request a one-time change of doctor. This gives the insurance carrier five days to select a new doctor for you; if they do not do so within five days, then you have the right to seek treatment with a doctor of your choice. But you must be very careful when choosing to ask for a one-time change of doctor since you only get to do this once during your case.
5) My doctor has said that I have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) does that mean I cannot see the doctor anymore?
No. Under the Florida Workers’ Compensation statute you must see a Workers’ Compensation doctor at least once a year in order to keep your case active, otherwise the statute of limitations will run on your case and you will not be eligible for any more benefits of any kind under the statute.
6) How are attorney fees paid?
If we obtain a lump sum settlement for you, our attorney fees are paid from the settlement. Under some circumstances, the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Carrier may also be responsible for payment of our attorney fees based upon an hourly rate. In our Workers’ Compensation system, all attorney fees and costs must be approved by the Judges of Compensation Claims.
7) Are Workers’ Compensation benefits taxable?
Workers’ Compensation benefits in Florida are NOT taxable.
8) If my doctor releases me back to work either light duty or full duty what should I do?
If the doctor releases you back to work full duty, you must return to work. If you are released back to work under light duty restrictions and your employer has light duty work available for you, you must return to work. However, if your employer does not have light duty work available, you do not have t o return to work and the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Carrier is then responsible for paying part of your wages pursuant to the statute. Typically, you would be paid two thirds of your normal pay.
9) How long can I receive wage loss benefits under Workers’ Compensation?
You are eligible to receive wage loss benefits under the Florida Workers Compensation statute while you are either on a no work status or you have light duty work restrictions in place and your employer does not have light duty available. You can receive a maximum of 104 weeks of benefits. If your disability were to exceed 104 weeks then you may be eligible for permanent total disability benefits. PTD benefits are typically paid until you reach the age of 75.
10) Am I entitled to transportation to and from my doctor?
If you do not have transportation, the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Carrier must provide transportation for you. If you do have transportation, you are entitled to be reimbursed for your mileage.
11) Can my employer fire me because of the Workers’ Compensation claim?
No. An employer will face civil liability if they fire someone solely for filing a Workers’ Compensation claim. If your employer fires you because you have a Workers’ Compensation claim, you can sue them for wrongful termination.