Workers comp settlements can be quite large, depending on the situation. One of the things about social media is that it has made a lot of people think that they’re experts on workers compensation law. If you’ve recently been injured at work, you probably have friends and family telling you what you are and aren’t entitled to. Some of them may tell you your case will settle for millions of dollars while others tell you you’ll never see a dime. The truth is that most cases fall much closer to the lower end of that spectrum. Our Tampa injuries attorneys have represented hundreds of workers comp victims over the years and very few of them received $1,000,000 settlements. However, it is true that most of these cases settle at some point before trial. Trials are expensive and time consuming and you never know what will happen if you go before a judge. Since both sides are at risk, it usually makes a lot more sense to negotiate a settlement that’s fair to both parties.
Not Everybody Qualifies for Workers Compensation
Before you worry about whether your case will settle, you have to worry about whether you’ll qualify for workers compensation in the first place. There are certain criteria you must meet to receive workers compensation in Florida. These requirements are the same as they are in most other states, and they include the following:
- Your injury must take place on company property and on company time. Of course, if you work remotely or you’re someone who works on the road, there are exceptions to this rule. In these cases, your workers compensation attorney in Tampa must show that you were acting within the scope of your employment at the time of your injury.
- You also have to demonstrate that your injuries are not the result of something that happened on personal time. While this burden does not rest with you as a claimant, if your employer accuses you of attributing a personal injury to a workplace accident, you’ll have to overcome that challenge.
- You have to agree to be treated by state-approved workers compensation doctor. Every state has a certain team of about 6 to 10 doctors that have been certified to treat comp workers compensation cases. If you see a doctor that’s not approved, your medical care will not be covered by workers compensation.
- You must not be under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of your workplace accident. Almost every employer in the State of Florida is going to have you submit to a drug test prior to receiving medical treatment. Since they are the ones who will be providing coverage for your medical injuries, that have a right to know whether you were impaired at the time of your workplace accident.
- You must comply with your doctor’s treatment plan. If you refuse to participate in your own treatment, such as physical therapy or occupational therapy, your benefits may be terminated.
- You must report your injury immediately to your manager or your human resources department. While technically you have 30 days to do this, it is in your best interest to report it the same day, if not the same hour, as your workplace accident. The longer it takes for you to report your injury, the easier it is for your employer to argue that something other than your job caused your injuries.
Once you’ve proved that you meet the qualifications for workers compensation, your Tampa injury attorneys will then have to prove what type of benefits you’re entitled to in a settlement.
You May Only Be Entitled to Short-Term Benefits
Most people who get hurt on the job are only out of work for a couple of weeks or maybe months. During this time, you’re entitled to two main types of benefits. The first type of benefit is medical care. Any medical treatment you receive in relation to your workplace accident will be covered by workers compensation.
The second type of benefit you’ll receive will be replacement wages. While you’re out of work, you’ll receive weekly benefits equal to 2/3 of your average weekly wages. In Florida, you’re only allowed to receive these benefits for up to 104 weeks. This comes out to be two years. If you still have lingering injuries beyond the two years, that’s when your workers compensation attorney in Tampa will have to make a demand for permanent disability benefits.
Your Tampa Injury Attorneys Can Demand Settlement Compensation for Permanent Disabilities
For your benefits to end, one of two things must happen. Either the 104 weeks’ worth of benefits will expire, or your doctor will determine that you have reached maximum medical improvement. This just means that further treatment is not going to improve your condition at all. At this point, your Tampa injury attorneys will have you meet with an independent doctor to determine if any of your injuries are permanent.
If you are left with permanent partial or total disability, your attorney will demand additional compensation from your employer. This compensation will come in the form of additional weekly benefits based on the part of your body that is disabled. Not surprisingly, certain body parts are entitled to more weeks than others. For example, if your doctor determines that you’re 50% permanently disabled in your back, you’ll be entitled to a certain number of weeks at the same weekly rate you were receiving your replacement wages.
There is a Good Chance Your Workers Compensation Case Will Settle
In most cases that involve any permanent disability, your workers compensation attorney in Tampa will negotiate a settlement of your claim. Rather than sit back and get small payments every week, it makes more sense to settle for a lump sum. This works out better for both you and your employer. You can walk away with a lump sum of money and can either go back to your old job in a different position or move on to another company. By the same token, your employer’s insurance company will pay one lump sum, usually for much less than the full demand, and be able to close the claim. Once you settle your workers compensation claim, you will typically not be allowed to pursue your employer for further damages down the road.
First, You Need to Speak with an Experienced Tampa Injury Attorney
In order to determine what permanent benefits you might be entitled to, you need to meet with one of our Tampa injury attorneys. They can review your case and reach out to your employer and find out what their position is. They will also make sure that you’re not forced to return to work before you’re ready. Finally, they’ll make sure that you’re paid a fair settlement for any permanent total or partial disability you suffer. You can always call our office and schedule your free, initial consultation and meet with one of our experienced workers compensation attorneys in Tampa.