In Florida, employers must provide Workers’ Compensation insurance to protect any employees who sustain serious injuries on the job. Sometimes, however, employers may fail to provide the legally required benefits or the insurance company may deny a valid claim.
If you are struggling to get the benefits you deserve, the Law Firm of Anidjar & Levine can help with your claim.
Does My Employer Have Workers’ Compensation Coverage?
Florida statute 440.02(16)(a) defines an employer as “every person carrying on any employment.” This includes government agencies and municipalities, public and private companies, and employment agencies. While the statutes do make some exceptions, virtually all companies with four or more full- or part-time employees must provide Workers’ Compensation coverage for their workers.
Unfortunately, some companies allow their policies to lapse or they fail to pay their premiums. Although the law may require that your company carry this insurance, that does not always ensure that you have coverage.
The Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) Employee Assistance Office offers a helpful information page that lets you check the status of your employer’s workers compensation coverage. This resource also lets you check to see if the law requires your company to provide coverage and provides an option to report an employer’s non-compliance.
If your employer failed to maintain coverage, leaving you without a way to get medical treatment for an injury, our Jacksonville Workers’ Compensation attorneys can help. Contact us today.
Am I Eligible for Workers’ Compensation?
State law excludes some categories of workers from coverage, including domestic workers in someone’s home, some seasonal agricultural labor, certain small farm laborers, professional athletes, people performing community service, and independent contractors not employed in the construction industry.
The independent contractor exception triggers many legal challenges every year, as employers sometimes abuse this exception to save money on Workers’ Compensation insurance premiums. The presence of an independent contractor agreement is often insufficient to make this legal argument, if the individual in question does not meet the statutory criteria of an independent contractor.
If your employer refuses to provide coverage on the basis that you are not truly an employee, we can determine whether you have a right to this coverage.
Does My Injury Qualify for Workers’ Compensation?
Under state law, your employer must provide Workers’ Compensation coverage for any “compensable” accidental injury or death you experience in the course of performing your job.
Your employer does not have to offer coverage for preexisting conditions, injuries sustained while you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or injuries that occurred during the commission of a criminal act. If you were not using required safety equipment when your injury occurred, you may not have coverage.
Carriers may also deny your claim if you contributed to your injuries by behaving in an irresponsible way. For example, if you and a co-worker were goofing off or roughhousing and one of you sustained an injury as a result, the insurance company may deny your claim.
You may also have coverage for any life-threatening or chronic illness you developed after exposure to a hazardous substance on the job. If your employer’s Workers’ Compensation insurance is refusing to cover your injury, contact us as soon as possible to preserve your legal rights and get the benefits you need.
What Benefits Can I Get?
Our attorneys can help explain the benefits you qualify for after a workplace injury. In general, Workers’ Compensation will pay medical and wage replacement benefits to injured workers.
Medical benefits pay for authorized, medically necessary treatment and care for a compensable injury or illness. This typically includes your doctor visits, testing, required hospital stays and procedures, physical therapy, medication, and related costs. These benefits only cover services from authorized doctors and providers, however.
Wage replacement benefits help when your injury prevents you from returning to work for more than seven days.
This benefit compensates you for two-thirds of your weekly wages—or up to 80 percent of your wages for severe injuries—but not more than the average weekly wage in Florida. For 2017, the maximum benefit is $886 per week.
Once your doctor releases you to return to work with restrictions, wage compensation converts to a partial payment. You also have access to Workers’ Compensation disability benefits, should your injury prevent you from ever returning to work, as well as death benefits, if a spouse or parent died because of their work-related injuries.
How Do I File a Claim?
“Reporting any injury to your employer immediately is important for protecting your legal rights.”
Although the statutes allow you 30 days from the date of injury to report an incident, reporting any injury to your employer immediately is important for protecting your legal rights. Likewise, seeking medical attention promptly will also help avoid further complications.
Your supervisor or your employer’s human resources department can help you locate an approved medical provider. However, if you sustain a serious injury, Workers’ Compensation will allow you to seek treatment from an emergency room or urgent care provider in most cases.
Our attorneys can help you understand medical treatment laws so you can get the benefits you need to recover from your injuries. We will help you collect the funds you need to pay your bills while you are out of work.
How Can a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Help Me?
What neither your employer nor their carrier will tell you is that you have other options for compensation for a work-related injury, especially if the insurance company refuses to cover your injury or provide adequate care.
The attorneys at the Law Firm of Anidjar & Levine can assemble important evidence to support your claim, including accident and safety reports, photographs or videos of the accident scene, witness statements, and testimony from medical experts. Using this information, we can negotiate with the insurance company to obtain the compensation you deserve.
In some cases, we may also be able to sue your employer, if the employer’s gross negligence led to or contributed to your injuries. We can also file a personal injury lawsuit if the company attempted to cover up any important facts or interfere with your ability to collect benefits.