The purpose of Florida’s workers compensation program is to provide victims of workplace accidents with medical care and, in some cases, a partial reimbursement for their loss of wages, without having to hire an attorney and wait for months or years until the legal system determines whether or not the employer is responsible for the worker’s injury. In exchange, the worker gives up his right to sue his employer, with the understanding that the worker will not be fully compensated for his losses.
There are several problems with this fundamental idea. The first, and most glaring from our perspective, is that we know that many people will not receive even the minimal compensation that workers compensation envisions without hiring an attorney. Employers are reluctant to submit claims to their insurer because claims often result in a higher insurance premium. Even after they submit a claim, the employer often wants the employee to minimize the injury and get back to work as quickly as possible.
The second issue is that the workers compensation system removes the element of choice. An employee, or an employer for that matter, cannot choose not to participate in the Worker Compensation system in exchange for access to the legal system. (An employer can self-insure in certain circumstances, but the law determines kinds of damages that are allowed and the rates of reimbursement of wage loss).
Finally, the employee has no choice of doctor under workers compensation. You can only go to the medical provider that the employer’s insurer has picked. You may change doctors if you don’t like the doctor’s care, but only once — you are stuck with the second doctor no matter what. As you quickly realize, the doctor and other providers work for the insurance company. There is no doctor-patient confidentiality, and the doctor knows that keeping an employee off work for an extended period can lead to conflict with the insurer.
In all these circumstances, having an experienced Worker compensation attorney involved in your case is all it takes to get your employer and his insurer to give you the care you need. We agree that you should never need our services if the Worker compensation system worked.