Contrary to popular belief, jobs in the restaurant industry are not easy. Restaurant workers face occupational hazards and place themselves at risk of workplace injury during each work shift.
If you are a restaurant employee who sustained an on-the-job injury, you can file a workers’ compensation claim regardless of whether you are a waitress, waiter, cook, dishwasher, cashier, or any other worker. All restaurant workers are covered under Florida’s workers’ compensation laws.
Restaurant owners in Florida are required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance to cover employees in the event they are injured during their work shift. The restaurant industry is a fast-paced environment full of hazards, even if it might not seem so from the point of view of a restaurant guest.
Here’s everything you need to know about the workers’ comp claims process if you are a restaurant worker and were injured while doing your job.
Common Workplace Injuries Among Restaurant Employees
Employees at a restaurant are prone to workplace injuries as working with food, sharp utensils, kitchen tools, spilled liquids, hot surfaces, and other dangerous conditions can lead to an injury. From a waiter who falls down the stairs while carrying a tray or a waitress who slips and falls due to spilled liquid on the floor to a cook who sustains a burn injury due to hot grease in the kitchen, restaurants are full of occupational hazards.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “cuts, lacerations, and punctures” were the leading (17.6%) type of workplace injury among restaurant employees in 2017. However, “sprains, strains, and tears” account for a slightly smaller percentage (17.2%). Other common injuries in the restaurant industry included heat burns (9.1%), bruises and contusions (6.3%), and fractures (5.5%).
Other types of injuries among restaurant workers include:
- Broken bones
- Brain injuries (caused by slip, trips, and falls in restaurants)
- Back injuries (caused by slip and fall accidents and resulting from carrying trays, chairs, and other objects throughout the shift)
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and repetitive motion injury (from repetitive use of hands and arms)
Previously, we discussed common accidents that lead to workplace injuries in grocery stores.
Are Restaurant Workers Eligible to Obtain Workers’ Comp Benefits?
Florida follows a no-fault workers’ compensation system, which means restaurant workers do not need to demonstrate evidence that their employer acted negligently, carelessly, or recklessly to obtain workers’ comp benefits. Thus, you are eligible for benefits as long as your injury:
- occurred in the restaurant while performing your job duties; or
- was otherwise caused by your job.
Restaurant employees who file a workers’ compensation claim may be eligible to obtain the following benefits:
- Temporary disability benefits to compensate for lost wages
- Impairment benefits if you have permanent limitations
- Medical expenses related to treatment, rehabilitation, and other costs
- Vocational rehabilitation (provides assistance in training or education for employees who cannot return to their former job due to the injury)
Filing a Workers’ Comp Claim if You Are an Injured Restaurant Employee
The first step in the workers’ comp claims process is to notify your employer if you sustained a workplace injury in the restaurant. Under Florida’s workers’ comp filing requirements, you must file your accident report within 30 days.
However, if your condition or illness developed over time, you must notify your employer within 30 days of establishing the link between your condition and your job. Failure to meet the notice filing deadlines may result in the loss of some or all of your workers’ compensation benefits.
Your report must contain the following information:
- When and where the restaurant accident happened;
- How you injured yourself; and
- What symptoms you are experiencing after the workplace injury.
This is what is going to happen after a restaurant employee reports his or her on-the-job injury:
- Their employer refers them to an occupational doctor of their choice;
- The employer reports their employee’s claim to the insurance company within seven days (if your employee refuses to file a workers’ comp claim, you can contact the insurer directly or through your attorney);
- The insurance company determines the restaurant worker’s eligibility for benefits through reviewing medical records, ordering a medical examination, and requesting a functional capacity evaluation;
- If the insurer approves your claim, you will start receiving benefits (if the company denies your claim, seek help from a knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney in Florida).
Many restaurant employees who sustain on-the-job injuries are reluctant to report their workplace injury or even seek medical treatment out of fear of retribution or losing their job. Contact a skilled workers’ comp lawyer to help you with your claim. Contact Sternberg | Forsythe, P.A., for a case evaluation. Call at 561-687-5660.