Workplace injuries are more common than a lot of people think. Accidents can occur in any job. When you are injured at work, you have certain rights that protect you if you lose income or incur medical expenses related to your work injury. Your employer in Florida is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance if they are in the construction industry and have at least one employee, or if they are in a non-construction business and have at least four employees.
The laws around Florida’s workers’ compensation system can be complicated, so having a lawyer help you through the workers’ compensation claim process in Clearwater is very important. To make sure that you get all the benefits under the law, you should consult with one of our experienced workers’ compensation attorneys in Clearwater, FL at Florida Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Coalition. We have represented hundreds of workers who were injured on the job, and we can help you get the maximum amount that you are entitled to under the law.
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How Can I Know if My Injury Will Be Covered By a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
The Florida Workers’ Compensation statutes state that if you are hurt when you are doing work during the course and scope of your employment, your injuries or illness are compensable. In the U.S., the most common injuries that received coverage from workers’ compensation include:
- Sprains and strains (e.g. back injuries, repetitive motion injuries, slips, and falls, etc.)
- Lacerations and cuts (e.g. from industrial accidents, machinery, etc.)
- Contusions (e.g. getting struck by a falling object)
- Burns (e.g. from fires or chemical burns)
- Bone fractures (e.g. from slips and falls)
Other injuries and illnesses can also be covered. If your work environment is unhealthy because it is polluted by toxic fumes, emissions, particulates, etc., and you became ill from working in this environment, your illness is compensable if your doctor attributes your illness to exposure to these harmful elements in your work environment.
If you have an old injury, but your work aggravated your old injury which made working very painful, you can be covered even though the original injury pre-existed.
Your injury at work might not be covered if:
- You were intoxicated or were misusing a controlled substance
- You were fighting with another worker
- You were engaging in activities that were considered misconduct (e.g. you played a practical joke that went wrong)
- You were trying to harm yourself on purpose
Your lunch hour and break time are not considered work time. So, if you are injured during those times, your injury is most likely not compensable. However, if you were doing a work-related errand during your lunch hour and you got hurt, you might be covered.
Interpreting whether or not your injury is compensable can get tricky. When in doubt, don’t assume that you are not covered. Contact us and we can help you sort out your situation. You might be entitled to benefits that you did not realize.
How Long Do You Have to File a Workers’ Comp Claim in Florida?
In Florida, you legally have 30 days from the date of your accident, or the date when your doctor determined that you have an illness caused by your job, to report this to your employer. You should contact your manager or your human resources representative. Even though you have 30 days, you should not delay and should report it as soon as you are able. There is no advantage to delaying this report. The sooner you report it, the sooner you can receive compensation. Your employer has seven days to report your injury to the workers’ compensation insurance agency. Within three days after that, the insurance company will send you a packet of information about your claim.
If there are any delays on the part of your employer or the insurance company to start your claim, contact us, and we will work with your employer and the insurance company to move things along.
How To File The Workers’ Compensation Claim in Florida
The first thing you need to do is to report your work-related injury or illness to your employer without delay. It is your employer’s obligation to notify the workers’ compensation insurance company and to start the claim process. Then, it is the insurance company’s responsibility to send you the necessary forms in a timely manner to process your claim. Among these should be a copy of the First Report of Injury or Illness that your employer filed with the insurer and information that explains your rights.
Once it is determined that you qualify for benefits, 21 days after your injury was reported, you should start receiving a check in the mail every two weeks. If you do not, or if your claim is challenged, Florida law requires you to first try to resolve this with your employer and insurance company in good faith. You can contact the Employee Assistance and Ombudsman Office in Florida for help.
After doing what you can in getting your benefits, if you are not satisfied with the outcome, or if you feel your employer is not being cooperative, you can file a Petition for Workers’ Compensation Benefits. Before you do so, call us for a complimentary consultation. We can advise you on how to fill out the petition.
The Petition does require you to supply a tremendous amount of information including what your normal job responsibilities are and what you were doing when you were injured, a description of the accident and how you were hurt, the wages that you lost, the medical bills that you incurred, other benefits that you feel you are entitled to, any interest on the benefits that are owed to you, and attorney fees.
You have two years to file this Petition with the Office of the Judges of Compensation Claims.
Hire Us To Represent You During the Workers’ Compensation Claim Process in Clearwater
You can see that filing for workers’ compensation benefits yourself can be quite an ordeal. If you are physically compromised and are trying to recover, trying to tackle this legal paperwork can create a lot of stress for you. If it becomes complicated, call the Florida Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Coalition in Clearwater, FL, at (954) 448-7355 and let us handle your case. We will negotiate on your behalf and fight for the compensation that you justly deserve.