A work injury can be painful, can cause unexpected expenses and loss of income, result in tension between you and your employer, and interfere with your daily life for a long period of time.
If you have been injured at work, the workers’ compensation process may allow you to recover from your injuries and lost wages. Workers’ compensation laws are in place to protect workers and compensate injury victims for the risks adherent to their jobs.
Workers’ compensation is designed to compensate victims who have suffered an injury at work. It is a state-regulated insurance program that covers employees who are injured while performing the tasks and duties for which they are employed. There are many types of work injuries: falls from a ladder or scaffolding, burn injuries, power tool or mechanical machinery accidents, and injuries from a serious fall are just a few examples.
In Florida, workers’ compensation is regulated by the Division of Workers’ Compensation. Florida’s workers’ compensation laws require businesses with four or more employees to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Any construction company with at least one employee must be covered, while any agricultural company with six regular employees and/or twelve seasonal employees must be covered. In some cases, an employer may be exempt from having coverage and will need to file an exemption form with the state. If you find that your employer does not carry the required insurance, a knowledgeable Orlando worker’s compensation lawyer can help.
There are several types of workers’ compensation benefits available in Florida:
In Florida, workers are not paid for the first seven days of disability; however, they may be paid for those seven days if their disability extends beyond 21 days. In most cases, workers will receive two-thirds of their average weekly wage in benefits. Note that it is illegal for your employer to fire you because you are collecting or have applied for workers’ compensation benefits.
In order to qualify for workers’ compensation in Florida, you must have been injured on the job, while you were engaged in the general course of your job duties.
There are some things that may disqualify you from receiving workers’ compensation benefits. For example, you may be disqualified if you were intoxicated or under the influence of drugs when you suffered your injury, or if your injury was self-inflicted. You may also be disqualified if you fail to file your claim within the statute of limitations, which is generally two years from the date of your injury. You might also have an issue if you disregarded safety rules or failed to use the safety equipment provided.
Note, however, that even if the injury was partially your fault, you might be able to recover. A worker’s compensation attorney in Orlando can help decipher the benefits you are entitled to, and make an effective claim on your behalf.
The first thing you should do if you are injured on the job is to seek medical treatment. Even if you don’t believe you are seriously injured, you should be seen by a medical professional in order to take care of your injuries, as well as to obtain necessary medical documentation. The medical provider you use must be approved by your employer and the workers’ compensation insurance carrier. You should also consider consulting with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney in Florida, who can help you navigate the complex process of recovery.
You should report your injury to your employer as soon as possible, and no later than 30 days after it happens. Within seven days of receiving notice of your injuries, your employer must report them to their insurance company. Within three days of receiving notice from your employer, the insurance company must send an informational brochure to the injured party. Generally, workers should receive their first benefit check within 21 days after reporting their injury.
While workers’ compensation claims are sometimes settled quickly, benefiting everyone, at other times, serious disputes can arise. The two most common disputes regarding workers’ compensation are:
There are many factors that can complicate a work injury matter. Workers’ compensation laws and policies, industry regulations, and other work safety laws may play a role in how you proceed with your claim. Multiple parties and insurers involved can also complicate matters, as can difficulty in accessing employer documentation.
Because these disputes can be substantial and complex, it is in your best interest to contact a knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney in Orlando to help. Typically, when there is a dispute between the parties regarding worker’s compensation benefits, a petition must be filed with the Office of the Judges of Compensation Claims. The dispute often goes to mediation, where the parties may attempt to work out a resolution. If that does not happen, the claim will proceed to a hearing, where the JCC will issue its final decision. If a party still does not agree with that decision, they may file an appeal with the court.
Because work injury cases are difficult to navigate, we recommend that you at least consult with a personal injury lawyer before you decide how to move forward. Our Orlando workers’ compensation lawyers at FVF are well-versed in workplace injury law and can help you understand your rights, options, and likely outcomes in your case. Contact us today to learn more.
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