The purpose of workers’ compensation insurance in Florida is to provide a financial safety net to Florida workers who are injured or become ill on the job. To accomplish this, benefits in Florida can include income replacement benefits, permanent or partial disability benefits, and reimbursement for medical treatment and other expenses related to your injury or illness. Florida workers’ compensation claims must be submitted to the Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation within a strict time period to preserve your right to receive benefits.
The Process for filing a Florida Workers’ Compensation Claims
The following steps must be followed in Florida by those wishing to file a Florida workers’ compensation claim. First, you must notify your supervisor, manager, or business owner of your injury or illness as soon as you are able to, but in any event must be within 30 days of the date the accident occurred. Not doing this can result in your inability to receive workers’ compensation benefits, or at least a delay in receiving them. Second, once you are injured you should seek immediate medical attention. The medical provider should be informed that your illness or injury is connected to your employment. Next, you must submit your workers’ compensation claim, to the Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation, as quickly as possible after you become injured or ill. All claims with the Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation must be filed within two years of your injury or illness. Failure to do this jeopardizes your income replacement benefits and healthcare benefits.
Do You Need a Florida Workers’ Compensation Attorney to Help you File a Claim?
In many cases, you do not need to hire an attorney to help you file your workers’ compensation claim. Sometimes hiring an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can be very useful, however, especially those who specialize in recovering benefits for those employees stricken with occupational diseases or injured on the job. If you are having any difficulties characterizing the nature and extent of your injuries, or if you are fighting an uncooperative employer or insurance company, you may wish to retain legal counsel. A good rule of thumb is that the more complicated the case is, the more likely you are to need an attorney to represent your interests. That said, at the earliest stages you can proceed alone, and it could be that you do not need to hire an attorney, if your claim is approved and there are no legal issues between you and your employer.
What is a Major Contributing Cause Under Florida Law?
If the injury or illness you suffered as a result of working is not considered to be the major contributing cause of the disability for which you are seeking coverage, then you will not qualify for workers’ compensation. Therefore, if you are suffering from a non-work related illness, you must show that the workplace injury is the major contributing cause of your current disability.
It is therefore very important to understand the principal of major contributing cause on
Florida Workers’ compensation claims. To qualify for coverage in spite of a pre-existing injury, you must be able to prove:
- That your work-related injury is more than 50 percent responsible for your condition, in comparison to all other causes combined.
- The doctrine of major contributing cause is sometimes used as a defense against paying a claim. For example, if you suffered a work-related injury or condition which exacerbates an older condition, your claim for pain is not eligible for coverage.
Before you may receive compensation or benefits under the workers’ compensation system, you must prove the occurrence of an occupational illness, accidental injury or death arising out of work performed in the scope and course of employment. The doctrine of major contributing cause does not apply in circumstances where there is no pre-existing illness or injury. It is not always as simple as this, however.