Being injured on the job is something no one wants to deal with. However, this is something that occurs daily in industries across the country.
For Florida workers, being injured on the job can cause them to miss time at work, lose wages, and suffer financial hardship. However, the workers’ compensation system was established to help overcome these challenges and ensure injured workers have the means necessary to heal, recover, and return to work.
However, workers’ compensation law can be confusing and complex. Understanding your rights isn’t always easy. Here, you can learn more about the Florida workers’ compensation system and how to recover the benefits you are entitled to as an injured worker.
Florida Workers’ Compensation is a No-Fault System
Most employers in the state of Florida are required (by law) to provide workers with workers’ compensation benefits if they are injured on the job. This insurance coverage replaces an employee’s lost wages and medical costs.
The amount of money you receive depends on the extent of your injury and the impact the injury has had on your ability to work.
As an injured worker, you do not have to prove that the employer caused your injury. The only proof required is that the injury occurred while you were performing your work duties.
Almost all occupational diseases and accidental injuries will be covered if they occur because of your job. While this is true, mental illnesses are only covered if they directly link to a physical injury or occupational disease.
Related Article: Florida’s Workers’ Compensation Law: Here’s what you should Know
Workers’ Compensation Requirements for Employers
As mentioned above, most Florida employers must carry workers’ compensation insurance for workers (most, not all). The following employers are required to have this coverage:
- Any non-construction industry employer with at least four full or part-time employees.
- Any construction industry employer with at least one full or part-time employee.
- All agriculture and farming industry employers with at least six regular workers.
- All agriculture and farming industry employers with at least 12 or more seasonal workers who work for a minimum of 30 days.
It is worth noting that the law applies to public entities, private companies, employment agencies, and governmental agencies.
While the law requires these employers to have workers’ compensation insurance coverage, many companies do not.
It is possible to determine if an employer has the required coverage online. To do this, visit the EAO (Employee Assistance Office) on the Division of Workers’ Compensation website and search for “Proof of Coverage.” Search your employer’s name and city. You can discover their compliance with this law in just a few seconds.
Employees Who Qualify for Workers’ Compensation Benefits
In Florida, most part- and full-time workers will qualify for workers’ compensation benefits if they experience injuries. However, there are some categories of workers who may not qualify to receive these benefits, which include the following:
- Domestic workers
- Independent contractors
- Workers who are performing ordered or mandated community service
- Seasonal farmworkers who are employed for fewer than 30 days
- Professional athletes
In some situations, even when an employee should (by way of the requirements above) qualify to receive workers’ compensation benefits, their employer or their employer’s insurance company will try to use the exclusions to deny their coverage. If you find yourself in this situation, it is best to immediately contact an experienced Florida workers’ compensation lawyer.
Related Article: How Does a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Help Me?
Workers’ Compensation Benefits Are Not Equal to Your Normal Pay
The Florida workers’ compensation law limits what you can receive. There is a maximum amount you can receive weekly, which is 100% of the average weekly wage in the state. As of January 1, 2022, the maximum benefit amount is $1,099.
Injured workers also need to understand that based on Florida laws for workers’ compensation benefits, all disability benefits are paid as a percentage based on your total disability.
Along with coverage for accident and injury-related medical costs, there are three types of benefits you can receive from the Florida workers’ compensation system, which include the following:
- Temporary total disability (TTD): With these benefits, you receive approximately 66% of your total regular wage (in most situations).
- Temporary partial disability (TPD): For situations where you are not completely disabled, but you are unable to return to the job you performed before your injury, TPD benefits provide 80% of the difference between your pre-accident wages and post-accident wages.
- Impairment benefits: If your injury results in a permanent disability, you can receive impairment benefits.
Related Article: When Can I File a Lawsuit Outside of Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Accidents Covered by Florida Workers’ Compensation Benefits
The work-related conditions that Florida workers’ compensation will cover include:
- Accidental injuries
If your illness or injury was caused while you were on the job, you should receive workers’ compensation benefits in Florida. While this is true, your employer’s insurance carrier may try to deny your benefits. Situations when they often try to do this are those when they have proof that when the incident occurred, you:
- Were engaging in dangerous or unsafe behavior
- Had some type of preexisting condition
- Violated the established company safety rules
- Were high or drunk
- Violated the established company policies or procedures
- Broke the law
An example of when your claim for benefits may be denied includes if you and a co-worker were engaging in “horseplay,” and these actions resulted in you falling and breaking your wrist. In this situation, your claim for benefits will likely be denied.
However, if your injury occurred while you were following the established company policy, it means you have a valid claim.
Related Article: Do You Need a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer?
On-the-Job Injury Reporting Requirements
In Florida, you must report your at-work injury within 30 days of when it happens to your employer. It is best to submit this report in writing.
If you experience an injury that takes more time to develop and discover, you have 30 days to report it from the date of discovery.
It is also required that you file a petition for benefits within two years of the injury occurring or of discovering the existence of the work-related injury or illness.
While you have 30 days to report the incident, it is not recommended that you wait for this amount of time to act. If you wait too long, the insurance company may claim your injury was not work-related or that it was not as serious as you claim it to be.
Related Article: Do I Need a Lawyer to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
A Florida Workers’ Compensation Attorney Will Help You Recover the Benefits You Are Entitled To
There are several rules you must follow to receive workers’ compensation benefits in Florida. Because of this, it is a good idea to hire an experienced and reputable attorney if you are injured on the job.
Even though workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, there is a possibility that your claim will be denied. Having an attorney representing your interests will help you recover the benefits you are entitled to.
Remember, on-the-job injuries and illnesses happen. If you are in this situation, don’t wait to report the injury; seek medical attention, and contact a legal professional to help with your case. These actions can help you protect your right to benefits.
Related Article: When Should You Hire a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer?
Lawyer Bio: Scott J. Sternberg has provided competent and aggressive representation for clients injured on the job in Florida for more than twenty years. With an extensive background in the law realm, injured workers can count on this legal services provider to help them recover the benefits they are entitled to.