Any injury sustained by an employee while performing duties related to their job is considered work-related. These can include a sudden accident or repetitive trauma; for instance, a typist developing carpal tunnel syndrome, or any illness stemming from the nature of an individual's work.
Under Florida statutes, workers' compensation is payable regardless of fault or cause of injury. The exception to this rule is if an employee's injury was caused by any form of intoxication on the job or with willful intent to harm oneself.
It is against the law for an individual to be fired for filing a worker's compensation claim. This is called retaliatory discharge and it would result in another potential cause of action. However, Florida is a right-to-work state, so an employer can fire an employee for any non-discriminatory reason or for no reason at all.
Workers' compensation is an exclusive remedy, meaning an employee cannot bring an injury or negligence claim against their employer. An employee can, however, file suit against a third party believed to have contributed to an accident and injury. It is important to note that there are no damages for pain and suffering in the workers compensation system.
An injury should be reported directly to an employer within 30 days. Not only do you have an obligation to report your injury, but you must also request that your employer furnish you with authorize medical care. Failing to do this in a timely manner may prevent you from recovering any benefits.
An injured worker has a two-year window to file a workers' compensation claim. If the claim is not filed within those two years, it is forever barred. There are some exceptions to this rule, so ask us if it has been over two years since your injury happened and you have not treated with an authorized doctor for more than 1 year.
An employer is required to pay for necessary medical treatments, testing, rehabilitation, and prescription drugs associated with a work injury. Death benefits, payment for missed work time, and compensation for permanent disability may also be available. Medical and lost wage benefits are the only two classifications of benefits available, there is no compensation for pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life.
An individual receiving workers' compensation is entitled to two-thirds of their gross wages from time lost if they are on a no work status. If they are released to work but are unable to earn at least 80% of their pre-injury earnings as a result of the injury, they are entitled to temporary partial disability benefits which are calculated at 80% of the difference between the earnings and 80% of the average weekly wage. Temporary disability benefits are payable for only 104 weeks or two years, but this issue is currently on appeal to the Florida Supreme Court.
A worker's first check is typically received within 21 days of reporting their injury to an employer. The carrier does not have to pay the first week of lost wages until the injured worker is out for at least a week. If benefits are paid more than 14 days from the date they are due, the carrier must pay penalties and interest.
A claimant has the right to report their injury directly to their employer's insurance company. If you cannot determine who the insurance company is, you should seek legal counsel quickly so that the injury is reported within 30 days.
For further information, please call our office today! There were drastic changes in workers' compensation laws in 1990, 1994, and 2003 resulting in reductions in the amount and duration of workers' compensation benefits available to injured workers. Sharon Jorgensen and Lynn Gibbons are dedicated to helping injured employees receive every benefit possible for their injuries to maximize their recovery.