What Is Workers’ Compensation Law In Florida? What Are An Employee’s Rights?
Workers’ Compensation matters in Florida are governed by Chapter 440 of the Florida Statutes. Under this statutory scheme, when workers are injured on the job and in the course and scope of their employment, they are entitled to two distinct categories of benefits.
For time missed from work, indemnity benefits are intended to replace wages missed by the injured worker. These benefits come in two forms:
- Temporary total disability benefits are payable to the injured worker when they are entirely unable to work. Benefits are paid at 66 2/3% of the injured worker’s average earnings over the immediately preceding 13 weeks of wages.
- Temporary partial disability benefits are payable when the injured worker has not fully returned to work or makes a reduced wage. Temporary partial disability benefits are paid at 80% of the difference between the injured worker’s current earnings and 80% of the average wages for the 13 weeks immediately preceding the injury.
- Indemnity benefits are available for maximum of 104 weeks.
- If an injured worker is found to have sustained a permanent injury as a result of the work-related accident, their treating physician will assign a permanent impairment rating and the injured employee is entitled to money benefits based on the specific percentage of impairment.
- If the injuries sustained in the on-the-job accident or have such severity that the injured worker is unable to return to any work, permanent total disability benefits are payable. These benefits are payable for a minimum of five years or until the injured worker attains 75 years of age.
In addition to the indemnity (money) benefits, injured workers are eligible for medical treatment for any injuries sustained in the course and scope of their employment and for which the work-related injury is the major contributing cause of their need for treatment. Medical treatment that is performed on conditions for which the workplace accident is the major contributing cause of the need for a treatment is provided at no cost to the injured worker.
This often-complex system is intended to provide immediate medical and wage benefits for injured workers. The reality, however, is significantly different and rates that employees are entitled to receive under the statute are often denied to them.
What Is A Compensable Injury Under Florida’s Workers Comp Laws?
Under Florida Workers’ Compensation, almost any injuries sustained while an employee is working can be a compensable injury. It is important for workers to understand, however, that insurance carriers are incentivized to deny claims and disallow medical treatment. Injuries, particularly specific, traumatic events are the most common. These might include a fall from a ladder, or an injury caused by lifting something heavy. What is significantly more complex is an injury that is both work related yet also part of a progressive, age-related or degenerative medical condition. It takes a skilled questioning of the treating physician to ensure that injuries of this type are compensable.
When Do I Need To Hire A Florida Workers Compensation Attorney?
You should hire a Florida Worker’s Compensation attorney to assist you with your case at your earliest opportunity. Far too often, by waiting until you are aware of a problem, waiting until a medical procedure is denied, or waiting until an indemnity check is delayed or discontinued, you will find yourself at a significant disadvantage as the insurance company has an enormous head start in their efforts to deny your benefits.
In nearly every instance, Florida Workers’ Compensation attorneys are handling cases on a contingency basis allowing for an injured worker to secure the services of an experienced, qualified attorney with no out-of-pocket expenses. When engaging legal representation, it is always better undertaken early rather than later.
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