Workers' Compensation

If You Are Injured on the Job in Florida

The most common question I get in workers' compensation cases is, "What am I entitled to get if I am injured on the job?" First, that greatly depends on your date of accident. In general, however, you are entitled to medically necessary and related treatment. You also may be entitled to part of your lost wages.

Your date of accident will greatly impact what medical benefits you are entitled to receive. In general you are entitled to medically necessary and related treatment. This includes specialists, diagnostic studies, and treatments. In fact, if you are injured on the job in Florida, you are entitled to medical benefits for the rest of your life within certain limitations as it relates to your original accident. If you do not like your doctor, you do have the right to see another doctor. Even if your orthopedic surgeon(s) or other specialist feels you do not need further specialized care, you may still be entitled see additional physicians. Your date of accident and whether or not your case is controlled by a managed care arrangement will dictate how many physicians you may be able see.

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Lost Wages

You are also entitled to receive lost wages under certain circumstances. First, if you are temporary and totally disabled, your treating physician has stated  you cannot work.  As such you are elgible for TTD benefits. This equates to 66 2/3's your Average Weekly Wage (AWW), subject to a maximum compensation rate set by the legislature. Your "AWW" is essentially your gross earnings from all employment 13 weeks before the industrial accident, provided that income was subject to workers' compensation benefits. If you did not work "substantially a whole of the 13 weeks before the accident," then your AWW is usually at issue. There is a good chance, even if your are receiving indemnity checks from the Employer/Carrier/Servicing Agent (E/C/SA), you are probably not getting paid correctly, especially if you average more than 40 hours a week.  Other considerations are possible employment with more than one employer or even self employment under certain circumstances.

If your doctor indicated you can work, but cannot engage in certain physical activities (ie, light duty - no lifting more than x pounds, no bending, twisting, etc.), you are temporary partially disabled (TPD).  If you are on light duty, your employer has the option of deciding whether or not they will have work for you. This does not necessarily mean working your old job. Essentially, they can have you do something else, other than your pre-injury job, as long as it is within your doctor's work restrictions. If they have work for you and you do not earn 80% of your AWW, then you may be entitled to receive TPD benefits from the workers' compensation carrier.

TTD/TPD Benefits

You are entitled to TTD or TPD benefits up and to the time your authorized treating physician has placed you at maximum medical improvement (MMI) or has released you to return to work with no restrictions, or you have the statutory maximum number of weeks available to you. Additionally, depending your date of accident TTD/TPD benefits are subject to maximum cap and/or requisite waiting period. At MMI, entitlement to temporary benefits ends. However, you may be entitled to impairment benefits if your treating physician has assigned you a permanent impairment rating. This is compensation owed to you because you have sustained a permanent injury as a result of your industrial accident. Your date of accident will dictate the benefits you may be entitled to receive.

You do not, however, get money or compensation for pain and suffering and/or emotional distress. The legislatures of Florida have created no avenue of recourse against your employer in most instances. There are exceptions, however, to the rule. The only good thing about workers' compensation benefits is that it is a "no-fault" statute. This means, even if you trip, fall and get injured on your own you are still entitled to benefits if it happened in the course and scope of your employment.

Disability Benefits and Petition for Benefits (PFB)

If you are at MMI, and can no longer return to your pre-injury employment, then you may be entitled to additional relief. Depending on your age, education, work history, and permanent work restrictions, you may be entitled to retraining through the State of Florida (rehab TTD), or if you can no longer work, you may be entitled to permanent total disability benefits.

How do you enforce your rights or make the Employer/Carrier/Servicing Agent (E/C/SA) give you a benefit that is rightfully owed? Quite simply, you need to sue. In workers' compensation court we call the complaint a Petition for Benefits (PFB). The E/C/SA does not necessarily have to do anything without a Court Order, and they know that takes time, usually at least 10 months in most jurisdictions.  That is why it is important to seek out a workers' compensation attorney early on to see that the process moves forward as expeditiously as possible.

Settlement or "Washout"?
Can you settle your case? Yes, you can, but that usually means closing your right to receive further medical care and leave your employer in most instances. Unfortunately, you cannot ever force the E/C/SA to settle your workers compensation case for a lump sum, just as the E/C/SA cannot ever force you to settle your workers compensation case. However, before settling, I would strongly encourage you to speak with a workers compensation lawyer. The insurance company has lawyers working on their side who will prepare the Release and papers for the Judge of Compensation Claims to review and sign.  What may seem like a good deal to you may in fact be a bad deal.  Once the Judge of Compensation Claims signs an Order approving the settlement, you cannot later go back and change your mind.

To learn more about your  workers' compensation claim and how I can assist you, or if you have specific questions regarding the application of the workers compensation law to your case, please contact my office for a free consultation in the Orlando area at 407-657-2525, or toll free at 1-888-581-2525, or send me an e-mail regarding your case.

**The hiring of a workers compensation attorney is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements. Before you decide, ask me to send you free written information about my qualifications and experience or click on my biography . This web site is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advise nor the formation of an attorney client relationship.

Common Work Related Injuries

  • Spine Injuries 
  • Fractures
  • Cuts, and Bruises
  • Burns
  • Back Injuries
  • Neck Injuries
  • Knee Injuries
  • Shoulder Injuries
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
  • Brain Injuries
  • Foot and Ankle Injuries
  • Hand and Finger Injuries

© Harvey Law, LLC 2012