Common Reasons For The Denial Of Workers’ Compensation Claims In Florida
Among the most prevalent challenges that workers’ compensation claimants encounter in Florida are denials or disputes concerning the validity of their claims. Two key areas that often lead to these challenges lie in claim reporting and assessing the necessity of treatment.
Issue #1: Claim Reporting
In my experience, employers sometimes fall short when it comes to reporting accidents or injuries in a timely manner. They may wait to report incidents to their carriers in an attempt to minimize their premium costs, hoping that the situation will be resolved without a formal process.
If there is any doubt regarding whether your employer has reported your claim, it becomes crucial for you to have a documented trail that clearly shows that you’ve done your part by informing your employer of the injury. Having this evidence can prove instrumental in countering claims of untimely reporting.
Issue #2: Medical Necessity
Another recurring cause for claim disputes revolves around the link between the need for treatment and the initial accident. Employers may try to attribute your treatment needs to a pre-existing condition, unrelated issues, or even non-physical factors like progressive diseases or degenerative conditions.
Addressing these complexities often demands comprehensive medical testimony to untangle the intricacies. This underscores the pivotal role that legal professionals play in assisting claimants. Whether it’s facilitating the selection of the employee’s doctor at the right moment or securing an independent medical examiner, your goal should be to bridge any relevant medical aspects for the judge’s consideration.
In navigating these challenges, employees are well-served by seeking legal support that aligns with the multifaceted nature of workers’ compensation claims. By understanding the nuances of timely reporting, the relevancy of treatment needs, and the intricacies of medical testimonies, you can fortify your case and safeguard your rights within the legal framework.
Weapons That Can Be Used Against You
It’s incredibly common for both carriers and employers to subject a claimant’s medical history to intense scrutiny as they evaluate the viability of a workers’ compensation claim. While there are instances where the connection between a new, separate, and independent trauma, such as a nail piercing through a hand, is abundantly clear, many cases require more intricate analysis, often hinging on detailed medical opinions.
Take, for instance, someone who has intermittently experienced back pain over time. When this person lifts something heavy and their pain is exacerbated, the situation becomes a battleground for determining what part of the injury is pre-existing and what isn’t. This type of situation is a hallmark of many workers’ compensation claims, especially in the nuanced arena of bodily injury.
In these cases, employees face the task of demonstrating that the accident or injury is the primary contributing factor to their ongoing treatment needs. Navigating this requires transparency – openly sharing your past medical history as well as the mechanism and context of the accident provides doctors with the necessary tools to make fair and reasonable determinations about your claim. This not only assists medical professionals in making informed decisions but also demonstrates your commitment to an honest presentation of your case.
Recorded statements are a common practice within the workers’ compensation world. As such, it’s essential to approach such situations thoughtfully, focusing on ensuring accuracy and protecting your rights.
When an employer or their carrier requests a recorded statement, it’s often in your best interest to seek legal representation first. A lawyer can play a crucial role in not only preparing you for the statement but also in ensuring its accuracy and preventing it from being twisted and used against you later.
In Florida, the law stipulates severe repercussions for anyone found to have provided a false or misleading statement during the course of a workers’ compensation claim. Such actions can lead not only to claim denial, but also result in felony charges in the criminal justice system. Consequently, the utmost caution and honesty are crucial when making any statements in connection with a workers’ compensation claim.
Insurance companies frequently use surveillance when investigating claims made by injured workers. Their goal? To find inconsistencies between what an employee tells their employer, the insurance company, and their doctors regarding what they can do. As such, knowing how this surveillance works and what it means can be very helpful in dealing with such situations effectively.
In most cases, if an employee finds themselves in a place where they can be observed by others, especially in a public setting where a reasonable expectation of privacy doesn’t apply, insurance companies have the legal right to obtain surveillance footage of an individual.
In this process, insurance companies pay close attention to any differences between what an employee says about their abilities and what they observe through surveillance. For example, if an employee claims they can’t stand for very long due to their injury, but surveillance shows them standing for longer periods of time, it raises major red flags.
Returning To Work
The decision of whether or not to return to work following an injury carries a degree of nuance and is largely contingent on your individual circumstances. In most instances, it’s prudent for employees to resume work if they feel that they can comfortably operate within prescribed restrictions and if the employer has made appropriate provisions to accommodate them.
Several compelling reasons support this approach. Firstly, the law stipulates that if an employer extends an offer of work within an employee’s limitations and the employee declines this opportunity, the concept of deemed earnings comes into play. This means that even if the employee is not actively working and earning, they can be treated as if they were, financially speaking. Additionally, employers are within their rights to, in good faith, terminate employees — even those with active workers’ compensation claims — if the employee voluntarily turns down available work that the employer genuinely requires. As such, going back to work can protect the employee against potential legal challenges regarding termination.
What cannot be overstated is that returning to work following an injury doesn’t negatively impact an employee’s standing. In fact, it can have the opposite effect. This is why I always encourage employees to return to work to the extent that they can, even with restrictions, to maximize what they’re still recovering and to ensure their ongoing employability to whatever extent is reasonable.
Insurance Companies’ Delay Tactics In The Denial Of Workers’ Compensation Claims In Florida
While it’s rare for insurance companies to openly admit to unnecessary delays or denial of workers’ compensation claims in Florida, the real-world impact on injured employees simply can’t be ignored or overstated. In fact, even in an ideal scenario, an injured employee stands to earn at least a third less in gross income than they did before the accident — a circumstance that adds significant pressure to an already challenging situation.
In practice, I often witness employers and carriers leaning on relatively weak defenses to justify their decision not to pay or to prolong the resolution of a claim. This strategy tends to stretch the issue out, leaving it pending while awaiting a judge’s intervention. From their perspective, the underlying hope is that the employee’s economic distress will force them into a more expedient settlement, even if it’s less favorable, due to their mounting hardship. Understanding these dynamics is pivotal for anyone navigating a claim, ensuring they’re equipped to address not only the physical repercussions of an injury but also the financial and legal challenges it entails.
For more information on The Denial Of Workers’ Compensation Claims In FL, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (386) 388-6260 today.