- Injured employees in Florida may be eligible for retraining or job placement assistance.
- Employers are not obligated to hold a job open indefinitely for an injured worker, but anti-retaliation laws protect employees from discrimination.
- Seeking legal advice is recommended for injured workers whose claims have been denied. Additionally, it is important to seek medical guidance before settling a workers’ compensation claim to ensure fair compensation for future medical benefits.
Navigating the complex and technical process of workers’ compensation claims in Florida can be overwhelming and confusing, but seeking the guidance of an experienced attorney can provide the support and reassurance needed to ensure fair compensation for injured workers.
When Does My Employer Need To Report The Injury To Their Insurance Company?
In Florida, employers have a legal obligation to report any workplace accidents or injuries within seven days of becoming aware of them. This includes both direct reports from employees and any other information obtained from any other source. Even if an employee does not actively request workers’ compensation benefits, if the employer is aware of the injury, they must report it to their carrier within seven days.
What Kind Of Medical Treatment Can I Get With Workers’ Compensation Benefits? How Can I Afford My Medical Bills While I Wait?
The standard in Florida is that all reasonable and medically necessary care is payable entirely by the employer, with the exception of a $10 co-payment after maximum medical improvement. Employers are expected to provide prompt and remedial care, but this does not always happen in a timely manner.
The law in Florida generally allows for workers’ compensation judges to order employers to pay for past treatment in emergency situations that threaten the employee’s health, safety, or welfare.
It is best practice for employees to seek assistance from an attorney if the employer and their carrier are not providing timely care. Care and treatment that is not authorized by the employer and their carrier is not guaranteed to be compensable. Therefore, it is important for employees to request care and treatment as soon as possible and not wait to incur expenses for medical care on their own.
It is worth noting that the workers’ compensation system in Florida is designed to work effectively without the need for legal assistance, but if the employee is not being provided with timely care and treatment, it is better to act sooner rather than later to avoid being responsible for unpaid medical bills.
Will I Be Paid If I Lose Time From Work? How Much Will I Be Paid?
If an employee is unable to work due to an injury, they are entitled to receive two-thirds of their average weekly wage as compensation. The most common method for determining the average weekly wage is to take the employee’s earnings from the 13 weeks prior to the injury and divide it by 13.
If the employee has not worked for substantially the whole of the 13 weeks, alternate methods can be used, such as the contract of hire or potentially a similarly situated employee who was working the 13 weeks in a similar capacity to the injured worker.
If the worker has work limitations that lower their pre-injury earnings below 80% of what they earned prior to the injury, the employer and carrier are responsible for paying 80 cents on the dollar for any earnings below 80%.
Finally, workers who are determined to be permanently and totally disabled and unable to return to work in any meaningful capacity after maximum medical improvement are paid two-thirds of their pre-injury wages plus a supplemental increase annually up to either age 75 or for employees injured on or after their 70th birthday for a period of five years post-injury.
Can I Receive Social Security Or Other Benefits As Well As Workers’ Compensation Benefits At The Same Time?
In Florida, an employee can receive both unemployment benefits and workers’ compensation benefits in certain circumstances. The tricky part about receiving both benefits is that an employee must represent to the state that they are ready, willing, and able to work, even if they have some restrictions.
For example, a construction worker who has a substantial lifting restriction that prevents them from working in their previous capacity can represent in good faith to the unemployment office that they are able to work in some other capacity. In this case, the worker could collect both unemployment benefits and workers’ compensation benefits.
It is worth noting that there is an offset provided to the carrier in this situation so that the employee does not receive more compensation than they would have without the injury and missed time.
Similarly, for social security benefits, if an employee is unable to return to work on a full-time basis and is deemed permanently and totally disabled, they can represent to the government that they cannot reasonably work.
In this case, there is an offset formula that ensures the employee does not receive more benefits in total than either benefit would provide individually, but not necessarily the total of what both would be available if they were pursued individually rather than together.
If I’m Unable To Return To Work Until My Doctor Releases Me, Does My Employer Have To Hold My Job For Me?
In Florida, there is an anti-retaliation provision in the law (Florida statute 440.205) that prohibits employers from discriminating against an employee because of an injury. However, it should be noted that this law does not require employers to provide employees with favorable or preferential treatment.
For example, if a small business has a four-man crew on a landscaping truck and one employee is legitimately injured and rendered incapable of working, the employer can replace the employee without being held responsible for retaliatory conduct. The employee is not guaranteed a placeholder or a job indefinitely with the employer.
The decision to replace an employee is based on the totality of the circumstances and the employer’s good faith demonstration that the economic reality was that the employee’s job still needed to be completed in a timely manner and the injured employee could not do it. Unfortunately, in Florida, employers are not required to indefinitely hold a job open for an injured worker.
Can My Employer Fire Me If I’m Receiving Workers’ Compensation Benefits And Unable To Work Because Of An Injury?
In Florida, an employer can terminate an employee’s employment while they are receiving workers’ compensation benefits if the employer has a bona fide economic need to have the employee’s work completed for the ongoing success of the business. In practice, many employers tend to be sympathetic to injured workers and try to return them to work. However, it’s important to note that the employer is not required to guarantee the employee’s place of employment or keep the job open indefinitely.
What Can I Do If I’m Unable To Return To The Type Of Work I Did Before I Was Injured?
Employees who are unable to return to the same type of work they did prior to an injury in Florida may be entitled to retraining or job placement assistance if they can demonstrate they are unable to reasonably find work making at least 80% of their pre-injury wages.
These employees may be eligible for up to two years of retraining or job placement assistance. If the employee enrolls in a retraining program, they may also be eligible for an additional year of workers’ compensation benefits while completing the program.
My Employer And The Insurance Company Have Denied My Claim For Workers’ Compensation Benefits. Do I Need Legal Representation To Get My Benefits?
The workers’ compensation law in Florida is designed to be self-executing, meaning that it is intended to be implemented and followed without the need for intervention from the courts. However, if an employer and the carrier deny an employee’s claim for workers’ compensation benefits, it is possible for the employee to litigate their claim without the assistance of a lawyer.
In practice, however, the technical requirements of the evidence code and the complex procedural rules of the office of the judge of compensation claims make it advisable for an injured worker who has been denied benefits to seek the advice and counsel of an attorney. This can help them prepare their case and navigate the process of resolving their claim before an administrative law judge.
Who’s Going To Pay For My Future Medical Care If I Settle My Claim And My Condition Worsens?
In Florida, if a workers’ compensation claim is settled, and the employee’s condition worsens, they will no longer be able to receive medical benefits from the employer or carrier. It is important for the employee to seek medical guidance before settling a claim to ensure they receive fair compensation for future medical expenses. Once a case is settled, it is difficult to re-open and make the employer or carrier responsible for medical care again. For more information on Reporting A Worker’s Injury To Employer’s Insurance, an initial consultation is your next best step.