Workers’ compensation protects most Florida workers. If they are injured or develop an illness due to their job, they can recover benefits to help pay for the costs of the injury or illness.
However, what happens if you quit your job? Will you still be eligible for benefits?
Navigating workers’ compensation claims in Florida can be confusing and challenging. Working with experienced Florida workers’ compensation attorneys is the best way to know your rights and options.
The first step is to contact our office and schedule a free consultation. You can also learn more about your rights here.
The Basics of Florida Workers’ Compensation System
Understanding Florida’s Workers’ Compensation Program is crucial for employers and employees. The program is designed to protect workers who suffer job-related injuries or illnesses and employers from potential lawsuits.
In Florida, most employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. According to Florida Statutes Section 440.02(17), employers in the construction industry with one or more employees and non-construction employers with four or more employees must provide workers’ compensation coverage. Failure to do so can result in severe penalties, including fines and criminal charges.
Under Florida Statute 440.15, workers are entitled to various types of benefits depending on the nature and severity of the injury. These can include:
- Medical Benefits: Cover medical expenses related to the injury
- Temporary Total Disability: Compensation for lost wages if you’re unable to work
- Permanent Partial Disability: Payments if you suffer a permanent impairment
Reporting and Filing Deadlines
Timing is crucial in workers’ compensation claims. Florida Statute 440.185 mandates that workers must report any job-related injury to their employer within 30 days of its occurrence. Failure to do so can result in denial of benefits. Once reported, employers have seven days to inform their insurance carrier.
If there’s a dispute between an employer and an employee regarding a claim, the issue can be settled through the Office of the Judges of Compensation Claims. Specific procedures for this are outlined in Florida Statute 440.25.
Now that you understand the basics of Florida’s workers’ compensation system, you can explore more complex issues, like whether you can receive benefits after quitting your job.
The timing of your work injury in relation to when you quit your job plays a crucial role in determining your eligibility for filing a workers’ compensation claim.
Injury Before Quitting
If you were injured before you quit your job, you generally have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim, provided that you meet other eligibility criteria. You usually have up to two years from the date of the injury to file a claim in Florida.
Injury After Quitting
On the other hand, if the injury occurs after you quit, it becomes complicated. Such cases often require the expertise of a Florida workers’ compensation attorney to navigate the legal maze effectively.
What If I Quit Because of the Injury?
Many wonder if quitting due to an injury affects their work injury rights. The answer is nuanced. If you quit your job because the injury made it impossible for you to continue working, you would generally still be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. However, you must properly document the injury and the reasons for your departure for a valid claim.
Also, many insurers are suspicious of people who quit and then file a workers’ compensation claim. They may believe it is fraud, making it difficult to recover benefits in many situations. A workers’ compensation attorney is recommended in this situation.
Documentation is Key
Whether you’re employed or have quit, maintaining thorough documentation is crucial for a successful claim. This includes:
- Medical Records: These documents contain vital information about your diagnosis, treatment, and progress, proving your work-related injury or illness. Accurate medical records are essential for substantiating your workers’ compensation claim and determining your eligible benefits.
- Incident Reports: Completed immediately after a workplace accident, incident reports detail what happened, how it happened, and who was involved. This form provides a foundational account of the event and is often the first piece of evidence in a workers’ compensation claim.
- Correspondence with Your Employer: Emails, memos, or letters between you and your employer regarding your work injury can be important evidence. This correspondence can help establish timelines and validate the facts of the case, supporting your eligibility for benefits.
- Pay Stubs: These documents verify your employment status, earnings, and work hours. Pay stubs are crucial for calculating the compensation you might receive for lost wages, especially if you’re temporarily unable to work due to your injury.
Consult a Florida workers’ compensation attorney to ensure you have all the necessary documents. They can guide you through the process, making it more streamlined and efficient.
Possible Barriers to Your Claim
Even if you’ve quit your job, some barriers can jeopardize your claim:
- Late Reporting: If you didn’t report the injury before quitting, it could complicate matters.
- Incomplete Documentation: Lack of sufficient proof can be a stumbling block.
- Employer Disputes: Employers might contest your claim, especially if you’ve left the company.
Consult a Florida Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Dealing with a workers’ compensation claim after you’ve quit your job is more complex. To ensure you get what you’re entitled to, consult a Florida workers’ compensation attorney. They can assess your situation, provide personalized advice, and guide you through the legal complexities of filing a claim post-departure.
Understanding Your Rights to Receive Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Quitting your job doesn’t necessarily mean forfeiting your work injury rights in Florida. You can still file a workers’ compensation claim if you meet certain criteria and act within specific timelines.
However, these cases often involve a variety of complexities that are best navigated with the assistance of an experienced Florida workers’ compensation attorney. At Sternberg | Forsythe, P.A., we can help you recover the benefits you deserve if you believe you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.