Workers’ Compensation FAQs

Below is a list of frequently asked questions regarding workers' compensation in Florida. Click on the individual links below to find the answer.

Who Is Eligible For Workers' Compensation In Florida?

What Are Common Injuries Reported In Workers' Compensation Claims?

How Do I File For Workers' Comp Benefits In Florida?

How Is Workers' Comp Calculated?

Do I Have To Pay Income Tax On The Money I Receive Through Benefits?

How Do I Appeal An Adverse Workers' Comp Decision?

How Can A Florida Workers' Comp Attorney Help With My Claim?

Are All Workplace Injuries Covered By Workers' Compensation?

Are On-The-Job Injuries Covered By Workers' Comp In Florida Even If I Was At Fault?

Can An Employee Be Forced To Pay For Workers' Compensation Insurance In Florida?

Is There Any Time When I Can Sue My Employer When I Am Injured On The Job In Florida?

Who Is Eligible For Workers' Compensation In Florida?

Workers' compensation covers employees who suffer an injury or illness caused by their work or working conditions. This includes injuries caused by accidents or illnesses caused by exposure to dangerous materials on the job. You may also get benefits if you travel for business, as well. However, a worker who has a crash during the morning commute likely would not be entitled to benefits.

Employers and workers' compensation insurers often try to raise exceptions in an attempt to deny a valid claim. They may tell you that you are not eligible for compensation, but you shouldn't just take their word for it. Contact an experienced West Palm Beach or Port St. Lucie workers' compensation lawyer from Rosenthal, Levy, Simon & Ryles to discuss your rights and learn how you may be able to pursue accident injury compensation.

What Are Common Injuries Reported In Workers' Compensation Claims?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4,679 workers were killed on the job in 2014. That's more than 13 deaths each day. Meanwhile, the bureau tracked about 3.7 million cases of reported injuries and illnesses among workers across the United States.

In Florida, the Division of Workers' Compensation offers a breakdown of the most common causes of injuries reported in workers' compensation claims in 2015:

  • Strains or sprains: 16,400 cases
  • Fall or slip injuries: 13,454 cases
  • Struck or injured by an object: 6,148 cases
  • Cuts, punctures and scrapes: 2,665 cases
  • Motor vehicle accidents: 2,324 cases
  • Caught in or between (such as with machinery): 1,880 cases
  • Striking against/stepping on: 1,703 cases
  • Burns, scalding, heat or cold exposure: 866 cases

Whether you are pursuing an industrial accident claim, a construction site injury claim or compensation for an injury at the office, the attorneys at Rosenthal, Levy, Simon & Ryles are ready to discuss what happened to you and determine how we can help you get back on your feet.

How Do I File For Workers' Comp Benefits In Florida?

There are several steps you need to take to properly report your injury and start the workers' compensation claims process.

  • First, report your injury or illness to your employer as soon as possible. You must report your workplace accident or illness to your employer within 30 days or your claim may be denied.
  • Second, see the doctor immediately to start documenting your claim. Your employer should give you information about authorized medical professionals you can see in order to seek treatment for your injury or illness. Tell the doctor that your injury is work related, and know that the doctor should submit medical bills pertaining to the injury to your employer's insurance company for payment.
  • Third, be on the lookout for information from the workers' compensation insurance company. Once you report your injury, your employer has seven days to contact the workers' compensation insurer about your claim. The insurance company then has three days to send you information about your rights and responsibilities. The state Division of Workers' Compensation also has that information available on its website in English and in Spanish.
  • If your employer refuses to report the workplace accident injury or illness, contact Florida's Employee Assistance Office at 1-800-342-1741, or contact an experienced Florida workers' compensation attorney for help pursuing your claim.

How Is Workers' Comp Calculated?

Workers who are injured on the job and file a successful workers' compensation claim usually receive benefit checks on a biweekly basis. According to the Florida Division of Workers' Compensation, the compensation is typically calculated as two-thirds of your average weekly wage, capped at a certain amount. Workers who were injured recently can expect that the calculation will be based on their wages earned in the 13 weeks before the injury (not including the actual week you were injured).

Depending on the severity of your injury, the Florida Division of Workers' Compensation offers three types of benefit calculators to give workers an idea of what benefits they may be entitled to. However, every case is unique, and the agency warns that these calculators provide only a guess as to what your benefits may be. You should consult someone with knowledge in this area, such as a Florida workers' compensation attorney, to determine the maximum benefits you may be able to recover in your case.

Here are three calculators to give you a rough estimate of what to expect:

Do I Have To Pay Income Tax On The Money I Receive Through Benefits?

No taxes need to be paid on your benefits. But if you are able to return to work on light or limited duty, even though you are under doctor's supervision, expect to be taxed on the wages earned at work.

How Do I Appeal An Adverse Workers' Comp Decision?

In some cases, an insurance company might refuse to cover your illness or injury. For instance, the company might claim that you are not an "employee," that you did not suffer the injury or illness while on the job, or that you were hurt because you violated company policy or broke the law. In other cases, the insurer may accept the claim but offer benefits that are much less than what you deserve.

If you are facing an adverse decision, an experienced workers' compensation attorney can help you file an appeal and demand full and fair compensation for your injury or illness. There are strict time limits for filing an appeal, though, so it is important to move quickly once you have received an adverse decision.

How Can A Florida Workers' Comp Attorney Help With My Claim?

The workers' compensation system in Florida is complex, and your employer and the insurance company are quite adept at navigating the system and trying to resolve claims in their favor. However, the experienced workers' compensation attorneys at Rosenthal, Levy, Simon & Ryles know this system inside and out, and we have been on both sides of the negotiation table. We know how insurance companies will try to push you around, and we will not back down.

Are All Workplace Injuries Covered By Workers' Compensation?

No. While the vast majority of workplace injuries are covered by workers' compensation insurance, there are some occupational injuries that are not covered, and that can be the subject of a lawsuit against an employer. Keep in mind that these exceptions are few, as Florida's workers' compensation system is designed to promote efficiency and predictability regarding on-the-job injuries suffered by employees. Florida employers are required by law to provide and secure benefits to injured employees in the form of lost wages, medical expenses, and disability and/or death benefits. Therefore, most work-related accidents will be addressed by workers' compensation laws.

There are, however, a number of exceptions, which can expose an employer to liability beyond that limit, which it faces under workers' compensation law. One such exception occurs when an employer commits an intentional tort against an employee, which causes the injury or death of the employee. For obvious reasons, public policy disfavors allowing an employer to intentionally harm an employee and then claim limited liability for the employee's injuries via workers' compensation coverage. An employer may also have to pay an employee in excess of its workers' compensation liability if the employer acts in bad faith when handling the employee's claim for benefits. Additionally, exceptions may exist where the employer and employee share a legal relationship that goes beyond the employee-employer relationship. An example of such a situation may be found where the employer is also the owner of the premises upon which the employee was injured and its negligent maintenance of the premises caused the employee's injury.

Although they often do not involve physical injuries, employees' causes of action arising under the Florida Civil Rights Act for unlawful discrimination, retaliation or harassment based on race, religion, gender or national origin, are in no way barred by workers' compensation laws. An employee may bring such a claim regardless of whether or not he or she also sought workers' compensation benefits.

It is very important to remember that Florida law makes it unlawful for an employer to intimidate, terminate or threaten to terminate an employee because that employee makes a valid claim for workers' compensation benefits. The underlying theory is that injured employees should not be fearful of losing their jobs when considering whether or not to file a claim for workers' compensation benefits. The laws involved when suing your employer can be very complex. As such, if you feel that you have a claim against your employer, it is vital that you contact an attorney who is well-versed in the areas of employment, workers' compensation and personal injury law.

Are On-The-Job Injuries Covered By Workers' Comp In Florida Even If I Was At Fault?

Yes, on-the-job injuries are covered by workers' compensation regardless of who was at fault, or even if there was no at-fault party. Florida utilizes a "no-fault" workers' compensation system, which is designed to promote efficiency and predictability regarding on-the-job injuries suffered by employees. For that reason, the vast majority of workplace injuries are covered by workers' compensation insurance claims, and not by lawsuits. Florida employers are required by law to provide and secure benefits to injured employees in the form of lost wages, medical expenses, and disability and/or death benefits that result from work-related injuries. Therefore, most work-related accidents will be addressed by workers' compensation laws.

Florida's workers' compensation program is a legal quid pro quo. Under it, employees are afforded the guarantee of receiving benefits to cover medical care and lost wages, in exchange for giving up their rights to file lawsuits against their employers for on-the-job injuries. Therefore, while an employee is not usually able to assert fault against his or her employer for an injury suffered, the employer is likewise prevented from defending a claim by asserting that the employee was at fault. It is because of this bargain that the issue of fault does not play a role in the analysis of a claimant's injury.

It is very important to remember that Florida law makes it unlawful for an employer to intimidate, terminate or threaten to terminate an employee because that employee makes a valid claim for workers compensation benefits. The underlying theory is that an injured employee should not be fearful of losing his or her job when considering whether or not to file a claim for workers' compensation benefits. The legal framework surrounding on-the-job injuries and the resulting benefits can be very complex. As such, if you feel that you have a claim against your employer, it is vital that you contact an attorney who is well-versed in the areas of employment, workers' compensation and personal injury law.

Can An Employee Be Forced To Pay For Workers' Compensation Insurance In Florida?

No. The law is very clear that an employee cannot help or assist in the payment of his own workers' compensation benefits. Section 440.105(4)(a)(2), Florida Statues, makes it unlawful for any employer to deduct the pay of any of its covered employees for the purpose of paying any portion of its workers' compensation insurance premium. Florida employers are required by law to provide and secure benefits to employees who suffer on-the-job injuries or illnesses. Those benefits come in the form of lost wages, medical expenses, and disability and/or death benefits incurred by the injured employee.

Florida's "no-fault" workers' compensation program is a legal quid pro quo. Under it, employees are afforded the guarantee of receiving benefits to cover medical care and lost wages, in exchange for giving up their rights to file lawsuits against their employers for on-the-job injuries. It would be contrary to public policy to require a covered employee to give up his or her right to sue, in exchange for guaranteed benefits, while also requiring that same employee to pay for those guaranteed benefits. It is very important to remember that Florida law makes it unlawful for an employer to intimidate, terminate or threaten to terminate an employee because that employee makes a valid claim for workers' compensation benefits. The underlying theory is that an injured employee should not be fearful of losing his or her job when considering whether or not to file a claim for workers' compensation benefits.

If you believe that your employer has unlawfully deducted from your pay, or otherwise charged you, an amount of money to pay for its workers' compensation coverage, you may be entitled to monetary recovery. The legal framework surrounding on-the-job injuries and the resulting benefits can be very complex. As such, it is vital that you contact an attorney who is well-versed in the areas of employment, workers' compensation and personal injury law.

Is There Any Time When I Can Sue My Employer When I Am Injured On The Job In Florida?

The answer is almost certainly, no. Generally, an employee cannot file a lawsuit against the employer for on-the-job injuries because employers have immunity under Florida workers' compensation laws. Under Florida's workers' compensation system, both the employee and his or her employer give up certain rights in order to foster predictable and efficient outcomes resulting from incidents involving on-the-job injuries. Florida employers are required by law to provide, and to secure, payment of benefits to an injured employee, or to his medical providers, for damages, including lost wages, medical expenses, disability, and/or death benefits. Therefore, the vast majority of work-related accidents will be addressed by workers' compensation laws.

There are, however, a number of exceptions which can imperil an employer's workers' compensation immunity. One such exception occurs when an employer commits an intentional tort against the employee which causes the injury or death of the employee. This makes sense, of course, as public policy does not seek to give an employer an "incentive" to intentionally harm its employees, knowing that it won't be liable beyond paying workers' compensation benefits. In the same vein, causes of action which arise under the Florida Civil Rights Act for unlawful discrimination, retaliation or harassment based on race, religion, gender or national origin, are in no way barred by workers' compensation laws, and may be brought by an employee regardless of whether or not workers' compensation benefits are sought. Additional exceptions may exist where the employer and employee share a legal relationship that goes beyond the employee-employer relationship, one such example being instances where the employer is also a landowner and its negligent maintenance of the premises caused the employee's injury. The most common exception, however, arises in situations where an employee has actually made a rightful claim for workers' compensation benefits, and the employer handles that claim in bad faith. Florida's workers' compensation laws specifically seek to prevent employers from retaliating against employees who file claims, but that doesn't always prevent employees from being harassed, demoted or even terminated for doing so.

Florida's public policy strongly supports the idea that employees should not be fearful of losing their jobs when considering whether or not to file a workers' compensation claim. Presenting an injured employee with such a Hobson's choice, is unfair and unethical. The laws involved when suing your employer can be very complex. As such, if you feel that you have a claim against your employer, it is vital that you contact an attorney who is well-versed in both employment law and workers' compensation law.

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