Florida Workers Comp Laws: What Are They?

Florida, the Sunshine State, is a beautiful place to work and live in. From its lovely weather, business-friendly government, and friendly work environment, you’ll love having a job here. However, this doesn’t mean that you’re immune from occupational illnesses and work-related accidents. Situations may arise when you need worker’s compensation lawyers in Tampa to handle your case.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 275 Florida workplace fatalities in 2020. The report states that men accounted for 88% of the work-related fatalities in the state. Meanwhile, the construction and extraction industries accounted for most of these casualties. Transportation incidents, slip and falls, harmful substances and workplace violence were mostly responsible for the fatal injuries.

Due to the rate of on-the-job accidents, Florida’s government mandates employers to insure employees against work-related injuries. This ensures that injured workers receive financial compensation to cater to their health in such circumstances. It also protects the employers from personal injury lawsuits from the affected staff.

As a Florida employee, it’s essential to understand your rights and obligations under its workers’ compensation laws. So we’ve written this article to let you in on all you must know about Florida’s work comp laws.

Who Must Have Florida Workers Comp Insurance?

The first thing to note about Florida’s work comp insurance laws is that it is mandatory for most businesses. These are firms with four or more part-time/full-time workers.  Any eligible business without workers’ compensation insurance coverage in the state is at risk of severe sanctions.

First, they may receive a stop-work order. This order requires such erring businesses to close and stop operations until they comply with Florida’s work comp rules.

They are also at risk of huge penalties and personal injury lawsuits from injured employees. Even after getting insurance coverage, employees who commit workers’ compensation fraud are at risk of criminal charges.

Florida exempts businesses with fewer than four employees, independent contractors, sole proprietors, and partners from mandatory work comp insurance. However, there are special considerations for employees in construction and agriculture:

  • Employees in construction industries must carry workers’ comp insurance for every employee, even if they’re fewer than four. This includes contractors who must ensure that their subcontractors have work comp coverage.
  • Also, construction industries can exempt up to three corporate officers from work comp insurance. But first, they must show that the exempted officers have at least 10% ownership of the business.
  • Workers’ comp insurance is compulsory for agricultural businesses with at least six regular workers or 12 seasonal employees. This applies if they work more than 30 days during the season and 45 days or less in a calendar year.

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What Categories of Benefits Are Available to Injured Workers in Florida?

As an injured Florida employee, you’re entitled to the following benefits under the Florida work comp law:

  • Temporary Total Disability (TTD) Benefits

You’re entitled to temporary total disability benefits when your work injury temporarily takes you off your job. Workers in this category will not receive benefits for the first seven days of disability. The exception is if the disability lasts at least 21 days.

Again, temporary disability benefits cannot exceed 104 weeks and comprise two-thirds of your pre-accident weekly wages. It cannot also exceed specific annually-adjusted monetary sums. You’ll stop receiving these benefits when you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI).

  • Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) Benefits

You’re eligible for TPD benefits if your injuries allow you to resume work under specific restrictions. These restrictions must prevent you from earning less than 80% of your pre-injury wages. Unfortunately, temporary partial disability benefits are quite complex to calculate.

First, you must calculate the difference between 80% of your pre-injury average weekly wages and your current wages. Then, your TPD benefits will be 80% of the subtracted sum above.

  • Permanent Disability Benefits

You will often recover from your work-related injuries and get back on your job. But unfortunately, this is not always the case. Some injuries can result in permanent impairments or disability. In such cases, you’ll be eligible for permanent disability benefits.

There are two types of permanent disability compensation — permanent partial impairment and permanent total disability benefits. Permanent partial impairment benefits are available to employees who can still work despite a disability. However, they cannot return to their previous employment.

Meanwhile, permanent total disability benefits are for workers who cannot do any work. Again, your work comp attorney can help you determine your injury category.

  • Additional Benefits

Additional work comp benefits available to injured workers include medical benefits, vocational rehabilitation, etc. It will consist of death benefits if the affected employee dies due to a work-related injury.

Exceptions to Workers’ Compensation Laws

There are exceptions to the general Florida work comp rule that insured employees cannot file lawsuits against their employers:

  • Intentional Torts

Florida’s work comp laws do not cover an employer’s intentional tort. This means that when an employer harms a worker intentionally, the employee can seek compensation outside the work comp system.

  • Gross Negligence

Ordinarily, injured workers cannot sue their co-employees for ordinary negligence. However, when the erring worker’s carelessness is extreme, you can take legal action against them.

  • Third-Party Lawsuits

If a party other than your employer or co-workers caused your work-related injuries, you could file a lawsuit against them. An example is when an equipment’s manufacturing defect caused your injury. You can file a product liability claim against the manufacturers.

Statute of Limitations for Workers’ Compensation Claims

As an injured Florida worker, you have two years after an on-the-job injury to file your work comp claims. Time starts counting from the date of the injury or when you first discovered it. If the two-year period expires and you haven’t filed for compensation, you may lose your right to do so.

However, there are exceptions to Florida’s Statute of Limitations. Your work comp lawyer will let you know if you fall under any.

Contact Experienced Florida Work Comp Lawyers Immediately

It isn’t just enough to file a workers’ compensation claim after an on-the-job injury. You must also understand Florida’s work comp laws and leverage your knowledge to get your deserved benefits. However, every case is different. As such, it’s wise to hire experienced attorneys who will provide you with personalized legal advice.

Our experienced workers’ compensation lawyers will provide you with all the help you need. We are always dedicated to ensuring that you get justice no matter how complicated your case is. Contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation today. A competent Tampa personal injury attorney will attend to your questions and concerns.

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