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COVID-19 Phase 1 Challenges Construction Site - Workers' Comp

Covid-19 Phase 1: Worried About Going Back to Work?

As many businesses are opening back up during Phase 1, many employees are worried and nervous to return to work. At Benn, Haro & Isaacs PLLC, we are urging employees to be aware of challenges they may face upon returning to the workforce as shelter in place orders end. 

According to a South Florida Business Journal Article, employees will continue to be cautious and expect the workplace environment to change: 

  • Over 50% of employees will rethink shaking hands and will keep their 6 ft distance with business contacts
  • About 70% hope to have fewer in-person meetings with clients 
  • Many will steer away from common office areas in the office 
  • About 50% of employees will decline in-person business social events/meetings 
  • Over 40% of employees hope to keep the mask mandate and change the office layout to continue to practice social distancing 

COVID-19 Phase 1 Social Distancing Workplace - Workers' Compensation

As viral restrictions begin to lift and people head back into the workforce, employees need to be aware of some obstacles they may face. 

According to the new opening guidelines, social distancing, even in the workplace, must be enforced. This means that some tasks, such as those performed on assembly lines or in warehouses, may end up being completed with fewer workers to ensure there is enough room on the floor for everyone to stay safely separated. As a result, employees may end up performing extra tasks without proper compensation. Their chances of getting injured on the job, as they rush from one task to another, will rise as well.

In addition, companies must keep their workspaces clean and ensure that employees wear proper masks and protective equipment on the job. Failure to do this could lead to new cases of the virus. Masks and gloves getting caught in machinery could also lead to a rise in work-related accidents. 

The law firm of Benn, Haro & Isaacs PLLC wants employees to know that, “As we see many people returning to work, we understand many will face challenges, and we’re here for you” states practicing lawyer partner David Benn. Also, BHI lawyer, William Haro expresses, “It’s important employers are accommodating and flexible with workers returning back to work. If an employee feels they are being overworked or facing other challenges, they should contact our experienced legal team.”  

Even office workers may be affected by these new workplace demands, as they must change their daily routines to include things like cleaning, sanitizing, and distancing their workspaces. These efforts could also cause a spike in on-the-job injuries if the cleaning supplies used causes respiratory issues or skin irritations. 

Even with the new viral restrictions in place, employees are still entitled to certain rights in the workplace. Any employee who suffers a workplace injury as a result of these new guidelines or additional workplaces pressures as the result of reduced staff at a workplace should contact Benn, Haro & Isaacs PLLC in order to protect themselves under workers’ compensation laws. 

For more information about workers’ compensation claims that relate to the new virus restrictions, contact Benn, Haro & Isaacs PLLC

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Work Related Car Accident - Workers' Compensation

Involved in a Car Accident During Work – Can I Sue My Company?

If you are involved in an on-the-job auto accident, does any claim you make fall under workers’ compensation, or is it labeled vicarious liability? What exactly does work-related mean in reference to a car accident? Can you sue your company in the event you are injured in a vehicle accident while at work? Lots of questions arise when a car accident occurs, especially if you were performing a task on behalf of your employer when the incident occurred.

Many employees run errands for their employers on any given day. And, while as an employee, you are using your own car and have your own insurance, if you are in an accident, even if you are at fault, some liability may fall to your employer. Let’s explore the facts.

Errands for Work in Your Personal Vehicle 

If your employer reimburses you for mileage, you are obviously acting within the scope of your employment, but what if you were simply running an errand, like dropping the company mail at the post office? Business errands, just like other acts you perform on behalf of your employer, are nearly always considered acting within the scope of employment. Why? Because acting in the scope of employment means your employer benefits from your activity, even if it is just dropping off the mail. You are still on the job even if you are using your personal vehicle.

Now, on the other hand, if you stop at the post office, and then head elsewhere, you are no longer on the job, which means your employer won’t be liable should you have an accident. Similarly, if you are in an accident traveling to or from work, your employer typically isn’t liable. The exception comes if, as a part of your employment, you make sales calls, inspect onsite projects, pick up orders, or perform other business functions, and are in an accident, your employer may be liable.

Vicarious Liability 

Vicarious liability is applicable when one entity is liable for damages caused by the negligence of another. In this case, the liability is on the employee when the employee is acting in the scope of his or her employment, i.e., while working or traveling for work. The principle includes responsibility for vehicle accidents resulting from employee negligence while using personal vehicles for business activities.

Vicarious liability allows victims to sue employers for injuries and damages caused by their employees while working. For example, if you drive to the post office for your employee and cause an accident, the victim can sue your employer which is generally more lucrative than suing you. It can also protect you, because you were acting on behalf of your employer, vicarious liability means your company is liable even if the incident happened outside of the normal work environment. While it sounds simple, determining if you were truly “on the job” is the key which is often answered by determining if your employer benefitted from your activities.

If you are unsure if your accident was “on the job,” please contact our attorneys for a complimentary case evaluation.

Does Your Car Insurance Have a Role?  

You may be wondering if your car insurance plays a role in an accident that occurs while you are working. The answer is yes, in most cases. Your car insurance will likely cover injuries and damages, but in some cases, where there are multiple victims or expensive vehicles involved, your coverage is not enough.

If this occurs, the victims judgments would fall to your employer and his or her vicarious liability. If your employer is regularly calling on employees to use their personal vehicles for work-related activities, they might consider adding those employees to the company car insurance coverage to help in this scenario. Even so, your personal coverage would still be primary, and then the employer’s coverage would kick in if your coverage falls short.

To get the compensation you deserve, you should contact an experienced attorney who will fight for your rights. Insurance companies won’t fight to get the compensation you deserve for your injuries.

What if You are Injured?

What happens if you are injured in an accident while driving your personal vehicle for work-related activities? In most instances, your vehicle insurance would pay for your injuries up to amount of coverage you have in place, then workers’ compensation would pay for further injuries or lost wages up to the allowed maximum. For a worker’s compensation claim, there is no need to prove “fault,” as you can, in most cases,  collect workers’ compensation benefits even if you are at fault. Of course, you must have been driving as a result of a work-related activity and you must not have been driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.

If you were not at fault in the vehicle accident which occurred while you performed work-related activities, you should file a workers’ compensation claim with your employer as well as a personal injury against the driver who was at fault in the accident.

If you need legal advice as a result of a car accident during work, call on the expert legal team at Benn, Haro, and Isaacs, PLLC. They have offices throughout Florida and offer FREE consultations for you. The team at Benn, Haro, and Isaacs, PLLC is ready to help you, with personalized representation, get the compensation you deserve.

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Workers Comp Denied

Workers’ Comp Denied – What Should I Do?

While nearly all employers in the United States are legally required to provide workers’ compensation insurance, it doesn’t mean that every claim gets paid. Workers’ compensation coverage is designed to protect workers and their families from financial devastation following a work-related injury. Even so, workers’ compensation claims can be denied, and at times, when the claim is paid it is considerably less than the full medical and wage benefits to which you are entitled. Here are some helpful tips on how to proceed if you have been injured and your workers’ compensation claim is denied.

Facts about Workers’ Compensation 

  • Workers’ compensation insurance, in most states, is purchased by employers from private insurance companies.
  • The insurance company handles the claim, approving or denying coverage for wage replacement and medical treatments (surgery and rehabilitation included).
  • In many cases, a physician will be recommended by your employer or the insurance company.
  • You need to take appropriate steps to preserve your rights and get the compensation you deserve:
  • Notify your employer as quickly as possible following your on-the-job injury.
  • Complete and submit the claim form supplied by your employer and keep a copy for your records.
  • The insurance carrier’s representative will contact you regarding your accident.
  • Depending on the rules in your state, you should be eligible for wage benefits replacement in a matter of weeks.
  • Don’t stop your medical treatment until your physician clears you to do so.
  • If you are partially or permanently disabled, you may be entitled vocational services and a settlement for lost future wages.

The Common Claim Denial Reasons

Worker’s compensation rules vary in each state, but every area has deadlines and requirements which must be met in order to avoid a denial by the insurance company. Keep in mind that insurance companies want to keep the cost down, and make a profit, so claims are often scrutinized and may be initially denied. Determining the reason for the denial is your first step. It should be explained in the denial letter from the insurance carrier. Here are some common claim denial reasons.

  • You failed to report your on-the-job injury to your employer promptly. You should notify your employer immediately, or if you suffered a severe injury, as soon as possible. Workers’ compensation coverage doesn’t start until a report is filed. In most states, this deadline is only a matter of days.
  • You did not file your claim on time. Keep in mind that reporting your injury to your employer and filing your workers’ compensation claim are not the same action. They are two different deadlines and either can result in denial. The statute of limitations period is different for each state but in most instances, claims must be filed within 30 days of the injury.
  • You were not injured while on the job. For an injury to be considered for workers’ compensation, it must occur while on the job either at the job site or off-site on an official assignment for work. For example, if you get hurt getting lunch for yourself or even your coworkers, the injury won’t likely be covered, but if you were picking up lunch for a meeting at work at the direction of your boss, your injury should fall under workers’ compensation coverage.
  • Your employer disputes your claim of injury. Your employer can claim the injury is the result of horseplay on the job, it occurred outside of work, that you are faking the injury, or it is the result of a pre-existing condition. You are responsible for proving your injury should be covered by workers’ compensation.
  • You were injured while under the influence. No matter what your job description entails if injured while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, your claim will probably be denied. Even if you weren’t drunk, if drinking or drugs (illegal or prescribed) played any role in your injury, workers’ compensation isn’t likely to cover your injury.
  • You didn’t seek medical treatment. In most instances, if you didn’t feel your injury was serious enough to seek medical treatment, you should expect your claim to be denied. In nearly all instances, medical treatment is required to receive workers’ compensation benefits.

Workers' Compensation Lawyer South Florida

If Your Claim is Denied

If your workers’ compensation claim is denied, regardless of the reason, don’t hesitate! Call on the expert workers’ compensation legal team at Benn, Haro, and Isaacs, PLLC. We have offices throughout South Florida, with Free consultations for you. Whenever you need it, the team at Benn, Haro, and Isaacs, PLLC are ready with personalized representation to help you get the compensation you deserve following your workplace injury.

 

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Workplace Injury Florida Workers' Compensation

Most Common Workplace Injuries and Accidents for Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim in South Florida

After you are injured at work, it is important to know how to protect your rights and get the care and compensation you deserve. Your injury can affect not only you and your ability to earn a living, but can also present a setback for your family. Workers’ Compensation in Florida promises benefits including compensation for wages lost, medical treatment, and other financial assistance to help you and your family following your injury when you file a workers’ compensation claim according to the state’s requirements.

Millions of workers’ compensation injuries occur every year in the United States, and most of those claims are covered by workers’ compensation insurance. Florida, like other states, requires most employers to maintain workers’ compensation insurance coverage for workplace injuries and illnesses.

As a no-fault system, workers’ compensation protects employers from lawsuits and provides benefits to employees. This is designed to streamline the process, though at times, further action is necessary by the injured to get the full lost wages, as well as medical care, training/education for a new type of job, and impairment benefits for permanent limitations.

Let’s explore the most common workers’ compensation injuries in Florida as well as the prevention and compensation.

Common Workers’ Compensation Injuries in South Florida

Reporting your injury is the first step in getting the compensation you deserve, but remember any injury or illness must be reported within 30 days of realizing the condition is work-related. Not only is it important to know how to file for workers’ compensation injuries and illnesses, but also how to prevent workplace incidents so employees can work safer and smarter.

  • Back and Soft-tissue Injuries – Among the most common injuries reported by employees are strains, sprains, and tears to disks, tendons, and muscles. These soft-tissue injuries may require a few days rest or may result in permanent disability. Common among the soft tissue injures are:
    • Overextension results from pushing, lifting, pulling, gripping, or carrying and causes sprains or tears of ligaments, tendons, or muscles.
    • Repetitive Motion Injuries (repetitive stress injuries) are tendon, ligament, nerve, and muscle injuries resulting from motions performed over and over again (typing, hammering, scanning). These often cause pains in the neck, shoulder, arm, wrist (like carpal tunnel syndrome) and vision problems. 
  • Work-related Car Accidents – Traffic accidents result in a number of work-related injuries and deaths annually in the United States. While workers commuting to and from work generally aren’t eligible for workers’ compensation, those who drive as part of their job (delivery, running errands on behalf of their employer, etc.) should fall under workers’ compensation coverage. In many instances of injuries in a work-related vehicle incident, you may want to pursue damage against the other driver alongside your workers’ compensation claim to help with damages to your personal vehicle.
  • Slips, Trips, and Falls – Slips, trips, and falls on the job are also common, often resulting in moderate to severe injuries. Concussions, broken bones, sprained muscles, torn ligaments, head, and spinal cord injuries are often the result of slip and fall accidents while on the job. Often caused by debris, fluids, machine lubricants, equipment, or poorly maintained worksites, slip and fall incidents occur frequently in jobs that require standing, walking, and physical labor. Falls from heights, though not as common, are also in this category, and includes falls down stairways, falls from roofs, equipment, lifts, scaffolding, and ladders.
  • Machinery Accidents/Injuries from Falling Objects – Malfunctioning machinery can result in eye injuries from flying particles/shards, injuries requiring amputation, or electrical, chemical, or thermal burns. Other work related injuries often come from objects falling from inventory and product shelving, ladders, forklifts, pallets, trucks, etc. resulting in head, neck, face, and foot injuries.
  • Violence in the Workplace – With a rise in violent crimes across the country, workplace violence is becoming more common. While employers work to provide a safe work environment, violent crimes – armed robberies, workplace attacks, and random violence – can happen anywhere, even in the workplace.

Workplace Safety Tips

Proper planning and training is the greatest defense against work-related injuries. Employers should always strive to provide a safe working environment which begins with a careful selection of employees who can meet the demands of the position and follows with company-specific checklists, instructions, formal training, and continuing education as needed to prevent on the job injuries. In addition, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also requires employers to follow national safety guidelines.

If You’ve Been Injured on the Job

The first step following an injury at work is seeking medical assistance. Follow-up with medical professionals as needed after your injury. Report your injury and file your workers’ compensation claim as quickly as possible ensuring you meet the stated deadlines for reporting.

If you ever feel your claim is not being handled appropriately or you aren’t getting the compensation you deserve, call on the expert team at Benn, Haro, and Isaacs, PLLC. With offices throughout South Florida, a free consultation and personalized representation are available when you need it in regard to your workers’ compensation claim.

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Workers' Compensation Lawyer South Florida

How to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Florida

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 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 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.

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