Florida Workers' Compensation
Florida workers' compensation or workman's compensation laws require most employers in the state of Florida to provide workers' compensation benefits to employees who are injured or who contract a disease while in the normal course of employment. Workers' compensation laws generally apply to Florida employers who have four or more employees. Agricultural workers generally do have to provide workers' compensation coverage in Florida, but there are exceptions.
Workers' compensation has been created to provide immediate medical benefits and wage loss compensation to qualifying employees, without the injured employee having to file a personal injury claim against the employer and proving the employer's negligence caused their work injury. There are trade-offs for both the employer and the employee. The employee receives immediate compensation, while the employer, although forced to pay for lost wages and medical care, may potentially avoid a lengthy legal battle.
Workers' compensation laws in Florida vary from other state's laws. Some employees may need to contact a Florida workers' compensation lawyer for help, especially if an employer is refusing to make payments or if the employee has suffered a severe physical injury.
Common work injuries covered under Florida workers' compensation law
Not all Florida worker injuries are covered under Florida workman's compensation. If an employee has been injured but they were intoxicated by drugs or alcohol, engaged in horseplay, a voluntary activity or not following their company's policies or procedures, they may not be awarded workman's compensation in Florida.
Work injuries or diseases that are covered are generally a direct result of a worker's job responsibilities. Common work injuries are frequently caused by exposure to toxic chemicals or physical activities that must be performed by a repetitive action. Common Florida work injuries include:
- Slips and falls
- Shoulder injuries
- Psychological disorders
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Head Injuries
- Exposure to toxins
- Neck Injuries
- Traumatic brain injury
- Strokes on the job
- Heart attacks on the job
- Broken bones
- Hearing loss
- Spinal cord injuries
Florida work injuries occur every day, and they can vary depending on a worker's job requirements. Even with increased regulations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration employers throughout the United States must deal with severe work injuries.
Florida Workers Compensation Benefits
Florida workman's compensation may include medical benefits and/or wage loss compensation.
Medical Benefits - Medical benefits are provided to injured workers in Florida. Medical treatment is provided at the expense of the employer and can include treatment by an “authorized treating physician” who is chosen by the insurance company, not the employee. In some cases the selection may be made by the employee from a list supplied by the insurance carrier or the managed care organization.
Under Florida workers' comp law the employee may be allowed to change doctors one time while they are receiving treatment. Contact your employer prior to seeing a doctor for a Florida workers' compensation injury. Other types of compensated medical treatment may include surgeries, hospital stays, medical supplies, prescription medication, MRIs and x-rays.
Types of Lost Wage Compensation - There is a 7 day waiting period to receive lost wage compensation. Workers whose work injury lasts for 21 days may be compensated for the first 7 days of their disability.
- Temporary Total Disability Benefits (TTD) - Temporary total disability benefits may be provided to injured workers who can not return to their job due to their work injury. The treating physician will make the disability determination and the employee will be paid 2/3 of their average weekly wages, up the maximum outlined by Florida workers' compensation law. The TTD payments are made for a maximum of 104 weeks.
- Temporary Partial Disability Benefits (TPD) - Temporary partial disability benefits (TPD) are paid to injured workers who are able to return to work but who are restricted to light or part-time duty and are making less than 80% or their average weekly wage. If the injured employee is entitled to temporary partial disability benefits then they will receive 80% of the difference between their average weekly wage and what the worker earned prior to the work injury. TPD benefits are paid for 104 weeks or until the worker's treating physician determines they have reached their maximum medical improvement level. If the workers reaches their maximum medical improvement, but is unable to work, they may receive permanent impairment benefits.
- Permanent Total Disability Benefits (PTD) - Permanent total disability benefits (PTD) may be offered for workers who are injured or who have an occupational illness and are determined to be permanently disabled and unable to work any type of job, sedentary included, which is within a specified distance from their home. Permanent total disability eterminations will also consider a worker's job experience, work restrictions, training and age. Permanent total disability benefits are 66 2/3 of the injured worker's average weekly wages (up to a pre-determined maximum). Payments may also be made to the employee for permanent disfigurement or scarring.
- Death Benefits - Death benefits may be paid to surviving dependents or spouses of an injured worker. Death benefits can include funeral expenses up to $7,500 and lost wage compensation up to 2/3 of the deceased worker's average weekly wage. The amount paid may vary depending on the type of dependent. Death benefits for a deceased worker can not exceed $150,000.
- Vocational Rehabilitation - Vocational rehabilitation may be offered to employees who are unable to return to their previous job due to a work injury or occupation illness. Vocational rehabilitation services offered will consider the employee's physical and mental abilities, independence and their personality. Counselors can assess the worker's needs and tailor vocational programs to help the work find employment. Not all workers are offered vocational rehabilitation services. Florida workers' compensation lawyers may be able to help you get the care you need through vocational rehabilitation.
Hiring a Florida workers' compensation attorney
Many workers are able to get their own workers' compensation awards without the assistance of a Florida workers' compensation lawyer. Unfortunately, however, there are a percentage of workers who are denied Florida workman's compensation benefits, who have severe or permanent work injuries or who have questions and are not getting the answers they need from their employers. Contact a Florida workers' compensation lawyer for more information about how to get the help you need for your work injury.