If you are injured at work in Florida, your first step should be to hire a workers’ compensation attorney. This is because dealing with a workers’ compensation claim on your own can be nerve-racking and may leave you feeling helpless and frustrated.
It is common for workers’ compensation adjusters and employers to violate your rights and get away with handing you unfair compensation. However, with the right workplace accident lawyer, it is only a matter of time before you get your fair settlement and have all your medical bills paid off.
Protecting Your Worker’s Comp Rights
The first step towards protecting your workplace rights is to report your accident as soon as it occurs. Securing your chances at a decent settlement is a race against time. As worker’s compensation disputes are time-sensitive, it is advisable to proceed quickly. Make sure you file a worker’s compensation claim with the court and have your lawyer look into the issue as soon as possible.
Never let your employer threaten or persuade you not to file a compensation claim. Also, never be afraid to notify your lawyer if your employer tries to fire you or treats you unfairly as a result of your decision to file a claim. Such conduct by your employer is illegal under the law. You have the right to sue them for unlawful dismissal.
What are Your Rights Following a Workplace Injury?
Employees’ rights are protected under Florida law in the event of an accident at work. Regardless of your employment contract, the following are some of your rights following a workplace injury:
Right to File A Worker’s Comp Claim
If you sustain any injury at your workplace, the law allows you to file a worker’s comp claim against your employer. In most cases, the worker’s comp claim only covers the medical bills related to the workplace injury.
Do not let your employer convince or bully you into paying your medical bills using your medical insurance.
Right to Medical Attention
You have the right to seek medical attention as soon as your injury occurs. Regardless of the time or your shift, you have the right to leave your workplace and tend to your injuries.
In the event of an emergency where you require immediate medical attention, you should go to the nearest emergency facility. If your injury is not life-threatening, you can see a doctor approved by your employer.
If your employer makes it difficult for you to get medical attention following an injury, you have the right to take legal action against them.
Right to Appeal Your Compensation
If your worker’s comp claim has been processed and you are not entirely content with its outcome, the law allows you to petition the court’s or your employer’s decision.
With the help of a good worker’s compensation lawyer, you can appeal the court’s decision and get a more favorable decision.
Right To Return To Work
You have the right to return to work as soon as you recover and your doctor gives you the clearance to start working. Ensure that you are in proper physical and mental health by the time you return to work.
If your employer frustrates your efforts to get back to work, you can take legal action against them.
Right to Seek Legal Representation
All employees have a right to get a workplace accident lawyer to represent them. It doesn’t matter whether your boss doesn’t want lawyers involved; you are within your rights when you hire one.
The benefit of hiring a lawyer is that they will see through any attempts by your employer to take advantage of you. A good lawyer will also highlight all your rights and ensure that you receive your worker’s comp without any delays.
Right to Request Lighter Duties
During your recovery, you have a right to receive lighter duties that will not interfere with your healing process. This particularly applies to employees who work in sectors that involve hard physical labor.
For instance, if you work in the construction industry and are healing from a severe spinal injury, your employer needs to give you work in a field that will not worsen your pain or overall health.
Right to Recuperation Leave
The right to recovery time is one that most employers tend to violate. Some employers will give you a day off after your injury and expect you back to work the next day. If that happens to you, do not hesitate to contact your work injury lawyer.
Worker’s compensation laws dictate that your employer give you ample recovery time, so you don’t worsen your injuries or pose a safety threat to your fellow workers.
Right To Record The Case Details
You need to report your injury as soon as possible to the relevant authority at your workplace. Once you do that, it is your right to keep a record of your signed statement for future use.
You have a right to retain any supporting documents for your case. At the same time, ensure you provide copies of the relevant documents to your employer for them to follow up on the claim. Consult your lawyer about what documents you can freely share with your employer.
How You May Lose Your Worker’s Comp Rights
While the state protects your right to get compensation for your work injury, there are instances whereby your employer may legally deny your compensation.
Here are the three main reasons you may lose your rights in a worker’s compensation case.
Suppose you sustained an injury while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. You will legally lose your right to compensation. In most cases, your employer will have you take a toxicology test to establish your sobriety after a workplace injury.
The law requires injured workers to report their injuries to their employers promptly. Failure to report the injury and file a claim in good time may lead to a denied worker’s comp claim. So if you ever get injured on the job, your first step (after getting medical care) should be to report the incident.
You may also lose your worker’s comp rights if you cease working for your employer before settling the claim. If, for instance, you quit or get laid off, your employer may be exempted from compensating you.
In such cases, however, you may need to involve a workers’ compensation attorney. If you feel that your employer unfairly dismissed you due to your decision to file a workers’ comp claim, then it’s time to involve your lawyer. That kind of dismissal may be grounds for another lawsuit altogether.
Work Unrelated Injuries
You may lose your right to workers’ comp if your employer proves that your injury was not work-related. The same applies if your injury was a result of your misconduct. For instance, if you disregard the safety protocol in your workplace, your employer’s insurance may have grounds for denying the compensation claim.
That is why gathering all the details surrounding your case, even the ones that seem minute, is essential. They will help you prove your case if need be.
What Workers’ Comp Benefits Are You Entitled To?
Your worker’s compensation will vary depending on how strong your legal team is, the severity of your injuries, and the long-term impact the injury has on your life. The typical compensation you may receive includes; medical care, permanent disability benefits, and temporary disability benefits. If you are lucky enough, your worker’s comp can fully cover all medical care related to your accident.
In some circumstances, you may have to supplement your workers’ comp with your medical insurance. A great lawyer, however, may get you a healthy settlement that includes compensation for lost wages and a settlement for all the trouble you have incurred.
If you lost your loved one at their workplace or they died from their injuries, you can file for death benefits and funeral expenses. In such cases, you may have to be vigilant and let your workplace accident lawyer take the lead in the settlement negotiations.
Remember that you must be a spouse or dependent to receive benefits if your loved one dies due to a work injury.
What About Third Party Companies?
Assume you were hurt at work, and your employer later discovered that the machine that caused your injuries was defective. This case may not be totally a workers’ compensation claim. Instead, you could file a civil action against the company that made the faulty machine.
However, suppose the employer was aware of the defect but chose to disregard it by allowing its employees to use the faulty machinery. Your workplace accident lawyer may file a lawsuit against the at-fault corporation and your negligent employer.
Let Us Fight For You!
When torn between your loyalty to your boss and your rights as an employee, you need a voice of reason to do things right. At Sternberg | Forsythe, P.A., we have the experience and expertise to handle your case.
Our workplace accident lawyer has the proper credentials and always has the client’s wellbeing in mind. You do not have to deal with your employer and their lawyers by yourself! Contact us today to ease your burden!