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Workers’ Compensation FAQs

  1.    How long after an accident or an injury must a report be made to my employer?

If you do not report your claim within 30 days after you are injured, your claim will be denied. In all circumstances, you should report your claim as soon as it is possible to do so.

  1.    When should my employer report my injury to the insurance company?

Your employer should report your injury to the workers’ compensation insurance carrier as soon as possible, and in no event later than seven (7) days after they become aware of your injury. The insurance company is obligated to send you an informational brochure within three (3) days after receiving notice from your employer. The informational brochure explains your rights and responsibilities under Florida’s workers’ compensation statute, and provides additional information about the workers’ compensation law, like the important statute of limitations period.

  1.    What should I do if my employer refuses to report my injury to the insurance carrier?

If your employer refuses to live up to its responsibilities, you also have the right to report your injury to the insurance company. If you need assistance determining who the proper carrier is or with how to inform the carrier of your injury, you can contact the Bureau of Employee Assistance and Ombudsman at (800) 342-1741 or e-mail wceao@myfloridacfo.com.

  1.    What kind of medical treatment can I receive?

The authorized medical provider will provide all necessary medical care, treatment, and prescriptions related to your injury. This can include referrals to other specialists, physical therapy, or other types of treatment. You will be provided with all possible medical treatment to help you recover from your injury or illness.

  1.    Do I have to pay any portion of my medical expenses?

The short answer is a resounding no! All authorized medical bills should be submitted by the authorized medical provider directly to the employer’s workers’ compensation carrier for payment.

  1.    Will I be paid for my lost wages at work?

Florida law does not reimburse you for your first seven days of wages lost to disability, unless the lost time will be longer than 21 days. Other than that, you will be paid some percentage of your lost wages, beginning on the eighth day you miss work due to your injury.

  1.    How much will I be paid to compensate me for my lost wages?

In most cases, you will receive a bi-weekly benefit check which will be 66 2/3 percent of your average weekly wage. Assuming you were injured on or after October 1, 2003, your average weekly wage is calculated by using the wages earned 13 weeks prior to your injury, not counting the week in which you were injured. If you worked less than 75% of the preceding 13 week period, a similar employee in the same employment who has worked 75% of the 13-week period will be used to determine the proper amount of compensation.

  1.    Do I have to pay income tax on my payment for lost wages?

No, you do not. If you return to work on limited or restricted duty, however, and you are still under the care of an authorized workers’ compensation doctor, you will pay taxes on the wages you earn at work.

  1.    When will I receive my first check for workers’ compensation?

Generally speaking, under Florida law you will receive your first check within three weeks (21 days) of reporting your injury to your employer.

  1. If I am only temporarily disabled, for how long can I collect workers’ compensation checks?

No matter the circumstances, you can collect workers’ compensation benefits for a total of two years (104) weeks, in any combination of total or partial disability payments. The amounts collected might vary by week, but you can collect for up to two years.

  1. Can I receive workers’ compensation benefits and social security benefits simultaneously?

You may indeed, however, an offset (reduction) in your workers’ compensation check may be applied. The law states that the two benefits combined cannot exceed 80% of your average weekly wage earned prior to your illness or injury. If you need further information about the interplay between the two, you should call the Social Security Administration at (800() 772-1213.

  1. Can I receive workers’ compensation benefits and reemployment assistance simultaneously?

You may not receive reemployment benefits at the same time you are receiving total or partial disability benefits. This is because you must be medically able and available to work to qualify for unemployment benefits. The Reemployment Assistance website can provide you with additional information on this issue.

  1. What should I do if I am not receiving my benefit check?

If you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits but you are not receiving a check, you should call the insurance carrier as soon as possible, and ask to speak with the insurance claims handler or adjuster. Call the insurance company and ask for the adjuster or claims representative. If you still do not understand why you are no longer receiving checks, you should contact the Bureau of Employee Assistance at (800) 342-1741 or e-mail wceao@myfloridacfo.com.

  1. Does my employer have to hold my job for me if I am unable to return to work until my doctor releases me?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. There is no provision under Florida law requiring an employer to hold a job open for an injured employee.

  1. Can I be fired if I am unable to work and seek workers’ compensation benefits?

It is against Florida law to fire an employee who has filed or is attempting to file a claim for workers’ compensation coverage. If you are fired, you may have a private right of action in civil court against your former employer.

  1. What if I am unable to return to doing the type of work I did before the accident or illness?

Florida law authorizes complimentary reemployment services to help you return to work after an injury severe enough to prevent you from doing your former job. Reemployment services can be vocational counseling, job seeking skills, job placement, transferable skills analysis, on-the-job training, and even formal retraining. If eligible, the law provides, at no cost to you, reemployment services to help you return to work. Services may include vocational counseling, transferable skills analysis, job-seeking skills, job placement, on-the-job training, and formal retraining. The Department of Financial Services, Bureau of Employee Assistance and Ombudsman office that oversees reemployment services, and if you have additional questions, you can follow up by calling them at (800) 342-1741, or by e-mail to wcres@myfloridacfo.com.

  1. What if my claim for workers’ compensation benefits is denied by my employer and the insurance carrier?

It is your decision whether to hire an attorney to help you seek workers’ compensation coverage, although it is more advisable that you do so if your claim is difficult or will be or has been denied. The Employee Assistance Office can help you in filling out and filing your initial Petition for Benefits, however, at no cost.

  1. What is the time limit for filing a petition for workers’ compensation benefits?

There are several important limitation periods to be aware of, beginning with the first important deadline of a 30 day limit, within which you must inform your employer of your illness or injury. After that, there is a two (2) year period to file a Petition. Once benefits begin to be paid, your claim is tolled (meaning the statute of limitations stops running). Once you receive your last benefits check, however, there is only one year within which to bring a legal action, if necessary.

  1. Can I settle my workers’ compensation claim?

Settlements can be made under certain circumstances. Any settlement is voluntary, and is not automatic or mandatory. You must exercise great caution if you intend to settle your claim for workers’ compensation, however. If your condition worsens down the road and you require future medical care or surgeries, you will be responsible for your medical needs if a settlement has already been reached. If you are tempted to settle your claim, it might be advisable to seek the advice of a lawyer before so doing.

  1. What if my pharmacy is giving me trouble with my workers’ compensation medications?

Florida law provides injured workers with the right to select their own pharmacy, and prohibits anyone from interfering with this right. A pharmacy is not required to participate in Florida’s workers’ compensation program, however. You therefore need a pharmacy that will fill your prescriptions. If you are having difficulty working with the pharmacy on the medications needed as a result of your injury for which you are recovering workers’ compensation, you are legally entitled to switch pharmacies at any time.

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