Landscape contractors work daily with herbicides, pesticides, power tools, and complex machinery. Each of these items has the potential to cause serious injury or illness.
Being hurt on the job as a landscape contractor can take on many forms, which is why it’s important to know your rights and options for workers’ compensation benefits.
If you have questions about your legal rights after an on-the-job accident as a landscape contractor, our legal team at Sternberg | Forsythe, P.A. can help. We have helped countless landscape contractors recover the benefits they are entitled to after an injury or illness developed during their employment.
Common Injuries Experienced by Florida Landscape Contractors
To better understand the potential dangers and risks you face, here are some of the most common landscaping hazards that result in injuries ranging from minor to serious:
- Amputations and cuts: These can occur from the equipment used or from plants.
- Hearing loss: Being around loud equipment regularly can result in gradual hearing loss.
- Cold and heat stress: Landscape contractors must work outside in all weather conditions, including extreme cold and heat, which can lead to injury or illness.
- Overexertion: Lifting heavy equipment, plants, and other materials can lead to muscle strains and sprains, along with other overexertion injuries.
- Overexposure to harmful chemicals: The pesticides and herbicides used in landscaping can lead to poisoning, cancer, and other illnesses.
- Contact with equipment: The use of equipment and machinery by landscaping contractors can result in struck-by or struck-against injuries.
- Electrocution: It isn’t unusual for landscape contractors to trim trees and bushes around power lines, which can lead to electrocution accidents.
- Injuries caused by falls: Landscape contractors must use ladders and work from elevations for their job and may fall, leading to serious injuries.
- Transportation-related injuries: Part of most landscapers’ jobs is traveling to clients’ locations. They may experience accidents and injuries traveling to the job. It may also occur when taking tools or machinery to a job site.
This is not a comprehensive list; however, these are some of the most common injuries landscaping contractors experience.
Steps to Take After an On-the-Job Accident and Injury
If you are injured while working as a landscaping contractor in Florida, taking the right steps to protect your right to receive workers’ compensation benefits is important. These steps include the following:
Seek Medical Treatment
Don’t wait to get evaluated by a doctor after a landscape-related injury. Make sure the doctor knows your injury occurred while you were working.
There are a few reasons it is important to seek treatment immediately. One is to ensure that all your injuries are found and treated. Also, by seeking medical treatment right after the incident, you have documentation of what happened and proof it happened while you were on the job. If you wait to seek this treatment, the workers’ compensation insurance company or your employer may claim you were not injured or that your injury did not occur on the job.
Be sure to keep all your medical appointments and follow your doctor’s instructions.
Report the Accident to Your Employer
Let your employer know you were injured, even if you believe the injury was minor. If you cannot report the incident yourself, ask a family member, friend, or lawyer to do so on your behalf.
It is important to note that Florida law mandates that you report the accident and injury within 30 days. Your claim may be denied if you do not meet this time limit. Once you report the incident to your employer, they must submit the claim to their insurance carrier within seven days.
It is important to be aware that to have workers’ compensation benefits cover your medical treatment, you must go to an approved doctor. Your employer can provide you with a list of the physicians included. If you fail to seek treatment from one of these doctors, your treatment will not be covered.
Gather Evidence (if Possible)
After a workplace accident and injury, it is important to gather evidence about what happened. One part of the evidence is witness contact information. If your employer or the insurance company denies your claim, having their information can be helpful and prove what happened.
It is also recommended that you take photos of the equipment or tools you used during the accident. If you have visible injuries, photograph them to have evidence of what happened.
Your Options for Recovering Monetary Compensation After a Landscaping-Related Injury
If you are injured working as a landscaping contractor, you can recover monetary compensation. These include the following:
File a Workers’ Compensation Claim
As mentioned above, filing a workers’ compensation claim may be possible if you work as an employee for a landscaping company. Unfortunately, this isn’t typically an option if you work as an independent contractor.
It doesn’t matter where you were when your accident and injury occurred. It is still possible to file a workers’ compensation claim if your attorney proves that your job directly contributed to your injuries.
It is not necessary to prove the employer was negligent or that they did something wrong that contributed to your injuries. This is because Florida has a no-fault workers’ compensation system. Even if you were at fault for your injuries, you might be able to receive these benefits.
Workers’ compensation benefits are designed to cover your medical bills. They will also ensure that any permanent impairments don’t result in serious financial hardship for you and your family.
Under workers’ compensation benefits, you can have your accident-related bills paid in full. You can also have your lost wages replaced and receive disability loss benefits if you must take time away from work to recover.
Sue a Third Party
If you are unable to file a workers’ compensation claim, you may be able to pursue another avenue for compensation. If a third party or non-employer was at-fault for your accident and injuries, you could file a lawsuit against them.
It is up to your workers’ comp attorney to prove that the third party in question owed you a duty of care and that it was breached, which resulted in your accident and injuries. If this is proven, you may be entitled to compensation or damages.
Protecting Your Rights After an On-the-Job Accident in the Landscaping Industry
You have rights if you have experienced an injury or illness as a landscaping contractor. One right is to recover benefits if you are an employee.
Unfortunately, many employers and insurance companies will deny valid claims. If this happens to you, it is necessary to contact a Florida workers’ compensation attorney from Sternberg | Forsythe, P.A. for assistance. Our legal team has represented thousands of clients and helped them recover the benefits they are entitled to.
Remember, on-the-job accidents can impact your life and financial situation in many ways. Because of this, you shouldn’t wait to call our office. We provide free consultations to all new clients to discuss their situation. Call today to talk to us about your workers’ compensation claim.