Workers’ comp, also referred to as workman’s comp or workers compensation, is a type of insurance that provides financial and medical benefits to those hurt while employed. This includes:
- Occupational illnesses like mesothelioma from asbestos exposure
- Physical injuries caused by accidents at work
- Repetitive stress injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome
- Mental health conditions related to workplace stress or trauma
- Diseases contracted through contact with hazardous materials on the job site
Workman’s comp laws are designed to protect both employers and employees by:
- Ensuring that a worker who has been hurt on the job receives suitable medical care, as well as monetary compensation for lost wages
- Helping employers avoid costly litigation due to workplace injuries
Knowing your rights and understanding the workers’ compensation process is essential to protecting yourself from any further harm or financial loss.
What Are Your Employer’s Responsibilities?
Employers are required to take reasonable steps to ensure the workplace is free from hazards that could cause injury or illness. They must also investigate workplace injuries thoroughly and report them to the relevant government agency.
Failure to observe these responsibilities may result in penalties ranging from fines, suspension of operations, and in some instances, even criminal charges, depending on the level of carelessness. To ensure their employees’ safety and financial security, employers must be cognizant of the legal requirements related to workers’ compensation.
What Are Your Rights as an Employee?
Employees have certain rights when it comes to workplace injuries, and understanding them can help protect you should you become injured or sick.
- Compensation. Employees who file a successful claim for workers’ compensation benefits are entitled to receive medical care and wage replacement benefits while they recover from their injury.
- Retaliation Protection. By law, employers cannot retaliate against employees who file a workers’ compensation claim. This includes termination or demotion as well as any other type of discrimination based on filing a claim for workers’ comp benefits. If this occurs, you have legal options, including back pay and the reinstatement of your job position prior to filing the claim.
What Are Typical Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
In Florida, workers’ compensation benefits provide financial assistance to employees who have been injured or become ill due to their work, including:
- Medical Benefits. These benefits cover the cost of medical care related to an injury or illness that is sustained while on the job, including:
- Doctor visits
- Hospital stays
- Physical therapy
- Disability Payments. Disability payments may be available for those who are unable to either temporarily or permanently return to work due to their injuries or illnesses. The amount paid out is contingent on the severity of the injury, as well as whether it is lasting or temporary in nature.
- Temporary disability payments typically equate to two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly wage prior to injury or illness. These payments stop once an employee is healthy again.
- Permanent partial disability payments occur when a person is permanently disabled, and returns to work in a different position that accommodates their new disability, but at a lesser pay rate. The amount paid makes up for some of the difference between the 2 compensation rates.
- Death Benefits. If an employee passes away due to a work-related injury or illness, surviving family members may be eligible for death benefits in certain cases, which help offset funeral expenses and lost wages from the deceased individual’s income stream.
To receive workers’ compensation benefits in West Palm Beach, FL you must file a claim with your employer’s insurance company within 30 days after sustaining an injury at work (or becoming aware that you are suffering from an occupational illness). Be sure to fill out all forms correctly and keep copies for your own records.
Your employer should also submit all relevant documents including accident reports and medical bills, so make sure they do this too if possible.
And lastly, do not forget about deadlines, since failure to meet them could result in the denial of your claim altogether.
What Are Third-Party Claims? And How Do They Factor into a Workers Compensation Claim?
Third-party claims are a type of legal action taken when an individual sustains an injury in the workplace due to someone else’s negligence. These types of claims differ from workers’ compensation in that they allow for damages beyond what is covered by an employer’s insurance policy. In certain scenarios, a third-party claim may be brought against another worker, or even an entity not related to the place of injury.
The first step in pursuing a third-party claim is determining who can be held liable for your injuries. This may include individuals or companies whose negligence caused or contributed to your accident and resulting injuries.
Once the liable parties have been identified, it is essential to promptly contact an attorney with expertise in workplace accidents and personal injury law to collect evidence before it becomes unavailable or outdated. Your lawyer will also need to assess whether filing suit would result in sufficient damages being awarded, since there are often caps on how much money can be recovered through this type of litigation.
When seeking damages through a third-party claim, you must prove both liability (that someone was negligent) and causation (that their actions were directly responsible for your injuries). To do this, your attorney may call upon experts such as medical professionals and safety engineers to testify about what happened leading up to the incident and its aftermath.
Additionally, they will review relevant documents such as:
- Contracts between employers/employees
- Health & safety reports
- Police records
- Eyewitness accounts
This documentation will be critical in helping to establish fault with regards to your case.
Understanding Your Rights After Sustaining an Injury in the Workplace in West Palm Beach, Florida
Sustaining an injury in the workplace can be stressful and overwhelming. If you have been injured on the job in West Palm Beach, Florida, it is important to know your rights under workers’ compensation law. For example, your employer:
- Is required to provide certain benefits like medical attention, disability benefits, and compensation for lost wages
- Cannot punish you for filing a workers’ comp claim
At the end of the day, knowledge is power, and you should be knowledgeable about workers’ compensation benefits, including:
- How to go about seeking medical treatment
- How to report injuries
- What to do in the aftermath of an injury or illness
You do not need to become an expert. But knowing the foundational basics will serve you well.
Choose an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Lawyer in West Palm Beach
At Sternberg | Forsythe PA, we understand that being injured on the job can be overwhelming.
Having a West Palm Beach workers compensation lawyer on your side can help ensure that you receive fair treatment from your employer.
A competent attorney can provide you with a rundown of your options, as well as assist you in collecting what is due to you under Florida statutes. Do not hesitate to contact one of qualified experienced attorneys if you have been injured while working in the area.
Let Sternberg | Forsythe, P.A., a West Palm Beach workers compensation law firm with years of experience and success, help you navigate the complex legal process to get the best outcome for your case. Contact us today to discuss how we can assist you with your workers compensation claim.