When you are injured at work, it can be the beginning of a major setback for you, as well as your family. Not only can the injury affect your ability to work and earn a living, but it also affects your physical and, often, your psychological health.
Workers’ Compensation in Florida offers benefits which may include compensation for wages lost, medical treatment, and other financial assistance to help you following your injury and during your recovery.
To obtain the benefits to which you are entitled following a work-related injury, you must file a workers’ compensation claim, following the state of Florida’s requirements. While at first, filing a claim may seem straightforward, but that isn’t always the case. In fact, injured workers are often taken by surprise, when they find their claim held up or even denied. Here are some tips to help you file a workers’ compensation claim in Florida and why you should hire a worker’s compensation lawyer in South Florida.
Understanding the Florida Workers’ Compensation System
Workers’ compensation in each state is unique, but in Florida, most employers are required to have workers’ compensation coverage. Coverage is provided through the purchase of private workers’ compensation insurance or state certification to self-insure. All workers’ compensation claims are managed by The Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation.
Florida’s workers’ compensation system is known as no-fault, which means if injured, you do not have to show your employer acted negligently in order to obtain benefits, but only that your injury occurred at work or was caused by job activities. If eligible, benefits include:
- Medical care
- Training/education for a new type job
- Impairment benefits for permanent limitations
It is also important to note, that you cannot be fired because you filed a workers’ compensation claim. If you believe your employer retaliated against you in this way, it is in your best interest to call on a qualified workers’ compensation attorney to protect your rights and assist you going forward.
Reporting Your Injury
When you are injured at work or during a work-related activity, the first step in your workers’ compensation claim is notification of your employer. Injuries must be reported within 30 days of the incident, while illnesses/conditions should be reported within 30 days of realizing the illness or condition is work related. Missing these deadlines can mean forfeiture of some or all of the workers’ compensation benefits to which you are eligible.
You should always report a work incident, even if you feel you weren’t injured as a result. Some types of injuries aren’t obvious right away, and may manifest later on, which can make it difficult to file a claim if there was no report of the original accident.
When reporting your injury to your employer, you must provide details of how the injury/illness/condition occurred, when they occurred, and your symptoms. Once reported, your employer will send you to the occupational physician of its choice, unless you need emergency care. The doctor chosen must be well-qualified (education, training, etc.) to treat your injury specifically. Be sure to give the doctor all the details regarding your injury and symptoms.
After Your Initial Report, What Comes Next?
After you notify your employer and begin treatment, your employer is required to report your claim to the insurer within seven days. Should your employer refuse, you should contact a workers’ compensation attorney to handle your case while you rest.
Once reported, the insurer will determine your eligibility through an investigation of your medical records and potentially sending you for additional examinations/testing; analysis of your experience, education, wages; and ordering an evaluation of your work-related abilities.
The insurer is required to act promptly in approving or denying your claim to workers’ compensation benefits. If approved, you will begin receipt of payments and other benefits to which you are entitled. If denied, which is often the case, you will need to begin the process of appealing your workers’ compensation claim.
Appealing Your Denied Claim
If your claim is denied, you will need to file a petition for benefits with the Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation. This filing must be completed withing one year of your last medical payment or wage loss, or within two years of your injury.
If you need to file an appeal, it may be in your best interest to call on the team at Benn, Haro, and Isaacs, PLLC to help with your workers’ compensation appeal. Keep in mind, the insurance company will have an attorney, and if you are without, you could be at a disadvantage when your appeal is considered. Often your health, as well as your financial security is at stake, and a well-qualified workers’ compensation attorney can help you get the benefits you deserve.
With offices throughout South Florida, our expert team at Benn, Haro, and Isaacs, PLLC can provide the personalized representation you need when you appeal your workers’ compensation claim. Call now for your free consultation.