Suffering an injury on the job can leave you unable to work. In Florida, your employer has a legal obligation to provide workers’ compensation insurance to protect you in the event you do get hurt. But what if the insurance company tries to find reasons not to pay your claim?
If you find yourself unable to pay your bills or get the treatment you need to get better, a West Palm Beach workers’ compensation lawyer can help you. Your lawyer will ensure the protection of your legal rights and fight on your behalf for the financial compensation you are due. Call the West Palm Beach personal injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine for a free consultation.
Is My Employer Obligated To Provide Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
Chapter 440 of the Florida Statutes indicates that every company must provide workers’ compensation (WC) coverage, as long as they meet one of the following criteria:
- Non-construction industry: employs four or more workers, part- or full-time
- Construction industry: employs one or more workers, part- or full-time
- Farm/agriculture industry: employs five or more workers, employs 12 or more seasonal workers for 30 days or longer
The law applies to both private and public companies, government offices and agencies, and employment agencies.
However, just because an employer has a legal obligation to provide WC coverage does not mean it actually does so. The Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine can protect your rights in such a situation.
Am I Covered by Workers’ Compensation?
You can check to see if your employer has to provide coverage — and verify that coverage is in force — on the proof of coverage search page of the Florida Employee Assistance Office (EAO), sponsored by the state Division of Workers’ Compensation.
If you have already sustained a serious injury on the job and you discover your employer does not have valid WC coverage, you should consider speaking with a workers’ compensation lawyer in Palm Beach as soon as possible. A lawyer can explain your legal rights and help you determine what to do next.
Do I Qualify for Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
If your employer has a legal obligation to carry WC insurance — and if the company classifies you as an employee — you should qualify for benefits if you sustain an on-the-job injury.
Some workers who do not legally qualify for WC benefits in Florida include:
- Seasonal agricultural laborers (who work less than 30 days)
- Small farm laborers
- Professional athletes
- Domestic workers (home-based)
- Incarcerated persons
- Persons performing community service
- Independent contractors
The Florida legal standard for independent contractor status requires meeting certain criteria, which may include the following:
- Receives compensation per project
- Maintains their own business location
- Provides the tools and materials necessary to complete their work
- Holds professional licensure
- Bills for services
- Has a bank account for their business
- Has a federal or state tax ID number for the business
- Works without direct oversight
- Sets their own hours
- Does not take direction or supervision
Sometimes, however, employers wrongfully classify employees as independent contractors to avoid paying taxes, benefits, and workers’ comp.
If your employer currently classifies you as an independent contractor, you do not have WC coverage.
If you do not believe your work arrangement falls under the independent contractor classification, a workers’ comp lawyer in West Palm Beach may be able to help. The team at the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine can help you determine whether you have a legal entitlement to WC coverage with your current employer.
Will Workers’ Compensation Cover Your Injury?
The Florida Statutes obligate employers to provide insurance that covers:
- Work-related illnesses
- Accidental injuries
- Death of employees
If you developed an illness related to your job, or if you sustained an injury while performing your job, WC insurance should cover you.
Certain factors may disallow your claim, however.
Some circumstances under which the insurance company may deny your claim include preexisting conditions and injuries sustained while you were:
- Violating the law
- Intoxicated on drugs or alcohol
- Violating safety regulations
- Violating company policies or procedures
- Engaging in unsafe behavior (i.e., horseplay)
If your company requires that you wear a hard hat and steel-toe boots on the job for safety, WC insurance may deny your claim if you sustained a head or foot injury while not wearing the required gear.
As long as you were in compliance with the law, safety rules, and company’s policies when you sustained your work-related injury, however, your employer’s WC insurance should cover you.
If your employer or the insurance company tells you otherwise, a workers’ compensation lawyer in West Palm Beach can help you pursue your claim. The Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine has helped many workers just like you recover fair benefits.
What Benefits Does Workers’ Compensation Provide?
Workers’ comp is designed to help injured workers cover their expenses and get the treatment necessary to enable their timely recovery. Here are the benefits you can expect to receive if your claim is approved:
Workers’ compensation insurance covers medical treatment for your work-related injuries. It also pays you disability benefits if your injury prevents you from working.
This means that WC insurance covers any necessary emergency care, doctor’s appointments, therapy, medication, testing, or medical procedures, as long as you go to an authorized medical provider or facility.
While you are unable to work, workers’ compensation will cover up to two-thirds of your regular wage. This benefit kicks in once you have missed more than seven days of work, and you can continue to receive such compensation until your doctor declares you fit to return to regular duty.
If you cannot return to work for more than seven days, workers’ compensation coverage will compensate you for your first seven days off from work, at a rate of two-thirds of your standard weekly salary or hourly wage up to the statutory maximum (Florida’s average weekly wage).
Disability and Death
You can collect partial disability if your doctor only allows you to return to work with restrictions. If you cannot return to work at all, workers’ compensation will pay you long-term disability benefits. Death benefits are also available to family members in the event of a fatal injury.
If the insurance company refuses to pay for your medical care or disability benefits, the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine can pursue your claim.
What Is the Process for Filing a Florida Workers’ Compensation Claim?
To secure workers’ compensation benefits, you should:
The Process Starts by Considering Your Legal Options
Before you submit your accident report, you can consult with a workers’ compensation lawyer.
A lawyer from the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine can protect your rights throughout the claims process. We can also refer you to another doctor for a second medical evaluation. This will be especially important if the insurance company attempts to deny your claim.
Report the Accident
The first step in filing a claim is reporting your accident and injury to your employer and seeking medical attention. Florida law gives you a maximum of 30 days to report the incident. You or your employer must then file an accident report with the insurance company. This must occur within seven days.
Take extra care when preparing the report because the insurance company may use it to try to find some way to minimize its payout.
Get Medical Attention
The insurance company will likely refer you for an independent medical evaluation (IME) with a doctor of its choosing. Based on the results of the IME, the insurance company will decide what benefits it will provide.
Unfortunately, the IME doctor may attempt to minimize the seriousness of your injury, allowing the insurance company to pay out a smaller amount of money. It’s also important to note that, if you see a doctor outside of your insurer’s care network, the insurer may not pay for those expenses.
Argue Your Case
Sometimes, your employer or their insurance company will refuse to pay you fair benefits, even if you deserve them. In such cases, you may have several options for compelling them to offer the money you need.
One of our workers’ compensation attorneys can meet with your employer or their insurer on your behalf. At these meetings, we can present evidence showing that you are entitled to compensation. Supporting information in your case may comprise:
- Medical records
- Eyewitness accounts of the accident
- Paystubs and tax filings
- Official documentation
- Expert opinions regarding the accident or your injury
Armed with such evidence, we can negotiate with the other side for the compensation you need.
Appeal Your Case
If your employer or their insurer still refuses to accept your claim, we may file an appeal through the proper legal channels. This process can be quite time-intensive, especially if you’ve never filed a claim or lawsuit before.
The Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine can represent you in any sort of dispute over workers’ compensation benefits, no matter how long it takes or how many steps we must go through.
Is Applying for Workers’ Compensation Difficult in South Florida?
Applying for workers’ compensation benefits is fairly straightforward, so long as your employer and their insurer accept your claim and do not:
- Say your accident happened elsewhere
- Assert that your injury is not compensable or as serious as you claim
- Deny you treatment
- Make you go back to work too soon
Since there is no guarantee that your case will go smoothly, it can be beneficial to consult with our injury law firm. The Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine can guide you through each of the steps associated with seeking workers’ compensation in Florida.
Talking to a Workers’ Comp Lawyer Can Help Protect Your Rights
If your employer or WC insurance company has denied your injury or disability claim, you can hire a workers’ comp lawyer to help you pursue the compensation you deserve.
A workers’ compensation lawyer can be a powerful ally and advocate. We can help by:
- Protecting your legal rights
- Preparing and submitting important claim documents
- Helping you obtain a second opinion
- Building a strong case for your claim
- Negotiating with the insurance company
- Providing counsel and support
- Fighting for the compensation you deserve
If the insurance company will not negotiate in good faith, your lawyer can file legal action and take your case to court.
Our Lawyers Care About Your Workers’ Compensation Claim
We are devoted to providing the best possible, personalized service to all clients. This means making sure we accommodate your needs by:
- Giving you your lawyer’s phone number
- Responding to all queries in a timely manner
- Advising you about the best options available to you
- Updating you on your case’s progress
Start Your Workers’ Compensation Case Today
If you would like to meet with a workers’ compensation lawyer in West Palm Beach at no cost to you, contact the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine today. We offer free case reviews to help you better understand your rights as an injured worker. While you focus on recovery, we take care of everything else.
We Can Help.