Workers’ compensation benefits provide individuals in Florida who are injured on the job with medical treatment and compensation for lost wages if work is missed during recovery. However, an injured employee is not required to miss work in order to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.
Even if an injury is not bad enough that an employee has to take time off work, they still may require significant medical treatment for their injuries. For example, if an employee slips and falls at work and fractures their ankle, they may not have to miss work if they have a desk job that does not require them to move around or be on their feet all day. They will, however, require medical attention, diagnostic testing, and medical equipment such as a brace, boot, or crutches in order to move around and protect their injured ankle. In such a situation, an employee should not hesitate to file a claim for medical benefits despite the fact they are not missing work.
There Are Benefits of Returning To Work As Soon As Possible
Even though missing work may sound like a nice break, especially if an employee is in pain from their injury, there are often benefits to returning to work as soon as possible after an accident and injury. As long as an employee can perform their job duties, they should not think they need to miss more work than is absolutely necessary.
In addition, the wage replacement benefits under the workers’ compensation program does not compensate an injured worker for the full amount of wages they lose when they miss work. Instead, under Florida law, a worker receiving temporary benefits will receive 66 ⅔ percent of their regular wages. If wages vary, the benefit amount will be based on a weekly average. This means that the more work an individual misses, the more income they will lose as a result. Therefore, if a person has the ability to return to work after an injury, it is generally a financially sound decision to do so.
Some people worry that, once they return to work, they will have a difficult time receiving benefits if they have to miss work again in the future for reasons related to the injury. A worker can discuss the fact that they may have to miss some time in the future with their employer, the insurance company, and the Division of Workers’ Compensation in Florida if necessary. They may find out they will qualify for benefits for “intermittent lost time” and may still receive benefits for any wages lost during missed work.
Even after returning to work, an injured employee still has the opportunity to file a petition for workers’ compensation benefits for two years following the date of the injury. The statute of limitations for benefits does not expire simply because an employee returned to work.
Missing More Work Than Necessary May Cause Complications
If an employee appears to be missing more work than needed, it can arouse suspicion on the part of their employer or the workers’ compensation insurance company that the employee is exaggerating their injuries and trying to take advantage of the workers’ compensation system. This can lead to a cancellation of benefits, significant reduction in benefits, or even adverse action when the employee returns to work. Dealing with months of complications regarding benefits is likely not worth a few extra days off work when they are not actually necessary.
Do Not Return To Work Before You Are Ready
None of this information should be taken as the suggestion that every employee should rush back to work shortly following an injury. Some injuries sustained in workplace accidents can be extremely serious and can require extensive recovery time. Some injuries such as a traumatic brain injury (TBI) are known as “silent” injuries because the severity of the symptoms is not outwardly obvious. However, this does not mean that TBI victims do not require both physical and cognitive rest to avoid additional damage to brain tissue or other complications. Workers who have been injured should discuss when to return to work with a medical professional and should not return before they are in the proper physical and mental condition to do so.