Most workers in the state of Florida are aware of the fact that our state has a workers’ compensation program that provides benefits to injured workers. Issues such as how the program works, who pays for it, and how is it is different than personal injury law are less commonly understood, however. Below are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions regarding Florida’s workers’ compensation program. For more information or for specific advice regarding a particular case, you should contact an attorney who practices in workers’ compensation law in your area.
What is Florida’s Workers’ Compensation Program?
Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that is designed to provide benefits to workers who are injured in work-related accidents or who develop occupational illnesses or medical conditions related to their working environment or activities. The way that the program operates is that most employers are required by law to carry workers’ compensation insurance, and injured workers are paid benefits by the insurer when they have a claim.
Workers’ compensation operates as no-fault insurance, which means that people who are injured in on-the-job accidents or who develop work-related illnesses are not required to establish that their injuries were caused by anyone else’s negligence. Because of these guaranteed benefits, workers are usually barred from filing a negligence action against their employers. As such, workers’ compensation is intended to be the exclusive remedy available to injured workers.
Importantly, the compensation an injured worker can obtain through the workers’ compensation program is often significantly less than the compensation that he or she would obtain through a personal injury claim. This is due to the fact that workers’ compensation does not provide benefits for losses such as pain and suffering or loss of quality of life, which are often significant sources of recovery in personal injury cases. For this and many other reasons, individuals who are injured in workplace accidents should always have their case reviewed by an experienced attorney in order to fully explore their options.
What kinds of Benefits are Available?
The following kinds of benefits are available for an injured worker through a Florida workers’ compensation claim:
- Medical benefits – Florida employers are responsible for proving medical treatment through their insurance. The medical expenses which are covered are those associated with medically necessary care and treatment, including doctor’s visits, hospitalization, test, prescriptions drugs, physical therapy, and prosthesis. In addition, you can obtain compensation for your travel to and from doctor’s visits and the pharmacy.
- Temporary total disability (TT) –TT benefits are intended to replace a person’s wages when they are unable to return to work because of a work-related illness.
- Temporary partial disability (TP) – These benefits are available when an injured worker’s doctor says that he or she can return to work with restrictions.
- Impairment benefits (IB) – IB benefits begin when a victim’s physician says that your condition is not likely to improve and that your will likely have permanent work restrictions.
- Permanent total disability benefits – If your doctor determines that you are unlikely to improve and that your medical condition has left you permanently unable to work, you may be eligible to receive permanent total disability benefits.
What kinds of Injuries as Covered by Workers’ Compensation?
Under Florida law, workers’ compensation will cover injuries that are caused by accidents that arise of and in the course of employment. As such, there is no shortage of the kinds of injuries that may result in a valid workers’ compensation claim. Some of the more common injuries sustained by workers who obtain workers’ compensation benefits include the following:
|· Broken bones
· Spinal cord injuries
· Crush injuries
· Soft tissue injuries
· Muscles tears
· Repetitive strain injuries
· Hearing loss
Of course, simply because you do not see your injury on this list does not mean that you are not entitled to benefits. If you have any question as to whether you will be able to obtain benefits, call an attorney today.
What are some Examples of Accidents that often Lead to Workers’ Compensation Claims?
There are many types of workplace accidents that can lead to a successful workers’ compensation claim. Of course, some types of accidents are more common in certain industries than others. For example, while an office worker may be a significant risk of developing conditions related to overuse of the hands, a construction worker may be a similar level of risk for involvement in an accident involving power tools. Some of the more common workplace accidents that often lead to workers’ compensation claims include the following:
|· Slip and fall accidents
· Falls from heights
· Motor vehicle accidents
|· Pedestrian accidents
· Bicycle accidents
· Elevator and escalator accidents
· Falls on stairs
· Accidents involving power tools
Do I need an Attorney to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Many people that have been injured in workplace accidents or who have developed a work-related occupational disease or medical condition wonder whether they should hire an attorney to help them file a claim. Of course, it is perfectly legal for anyone to file a workers’ compensation claim on their own. That being said, people who have been injured at work should understand that the process of obtaining workers’ compensation benefits can be extremely complicated and there are ample opportunities to make a mistake that may significantly delay your claim or even result in a denial.
Fortunately for victims, the assistance of an experienced Tampa Bay personal injury lawyer can often help make the process of obtaining workers’ compensation go as smoothly as possible and avoid any potential issues before they even arise. In addition, in the event that your claim is denied, having an attorney that is already familiar with your case will make the process of filing a Petition for Benefits much easier. For these reasons, it is highly advisable for anyone that has been injured at work or who has developed a work-related injury to retain an attorney familiar with Florida workers’ compensation law as soon as possible after an incident occurs.
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