Workers’ Compensation: Is It Available From My Employer?

In Florida, most employers must carry workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. The insurance covers their employee’s work-related injuries or illnesses. If you are injured or experiencing an occupational disease, you can file a workers’ comp claim for compensation. However, you need the support and guidance of employment lawyers in Tampa.

Workers’ comp is provided by a third-party insurance carrier or self-insured program. It protects against medical expenses and employee lawsuits related to work injuries. If your employer doesn’t have this insurance, you can file a personal injury lawsuit. You can also report your employer for non-compliance.

Work injury claims can be complex. If you are injured or sick at work, you are entitled to financial benefits. You should seek immediate medical treatment and file a work injury claim. Your worker’s comp benefits help you recover faster and return to work at a reasonable cost to your employer.

Understanding Tampa, Florida Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation insurance coverage is required for almost every business with more than four employees. The insurance covers medical costs and lost wages. Workers’ comp is not just a legal requirement. It helps to safeguard an employer’s business. The policy also creates a safer and more productive work environment.

It is beneficial for employers to make this policy available to their employees. Where an employee is injured or sick, an employer incurs certain expenses. This includes hospital or ongoing medical costs, disability benefits, ambulance costs, etc. The employer doesn’t have to pay for these benefits out of pocket as their insurance provider will handle it.

Are There Workers’ Compensation Exemptions in Tampa, Florida?

As already established, businesses in Florida must provide worker’s comp coverage for their employees. However, some companies qualify for an exemption to provide workers’ comp insurance coverage. Also, an employer can file an exemption to exclude themselves in specific situations.

If your employer’s business is not exempted and fails to provide coverage, they will face heavy fines. The following are required to provide workers’ compensation insurance coverage in Florida:

  • Sole Proprietors and Partners

In Florida, a business owner is considered an employee if they are a corporation or a limited liability company. Therefore, sole proprietors/partners are typically exempted from workers’ comp law.

However, they can still purchase insurance coverage by filing for an election of coverage using Form DWC-251. The latter means that they agree to be defined as an employee. As a result, they also become eligible for workers’ comp.

  • Construction Businesses

All construction companies must have workers’ comp coverage for every employee, including contractors. In addition, the company can exempt up to three corporate officers if each owns a minimum of 10% stock.

  • Non-Construction Businesses

Non-construction businesses are only required to carry insurance coverage if they employ four or more workers. The workers may be part-time or full-time.

  • Agricultural Businesses

Agricultural businesses with six or more employees must carry workers’ comp coverage. In addition, companies with 12 or more seasonal employees that work for more than 30 days must also do so.

Contact a workers ‘ comp attorney if you don’t know the category your employer belongs to.

Workers’ Compensation Exemptions in Florida

Generally, businesses with less than four workers are exempt from workers’ comp coverage. However, the Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation allows employers to apply for exemption from workers’ compensation. For example, a construction company can file to exempt independent contractors they hire for a project.

When the contractor sustains an injury or sickness, workers’ comp will not be available to such workers. Employers use these tactics to save money. The reason is that the more employees a company has, the higher the premium paid to the insurance company. Unfortunately, most employers are not straightforward when you sustain a work-related injury or disease.

They will not inform you if they have worker’s compensation coverage. You’ll only find out after a work accident. However, you can check if your employer has workers’ compensation through the Florida Department of Financial Services Database.

Workers' Compensation

What Are the Penalties if My Employer Fails To Carry Workers’ Compensation?

Failure to comply with Florida’s workers’ compensation rules attracts civil penalties. Penalties include hefty fines, jail time, or stop-work orders. In addition, under Florida Statute 440.105, the following activities are considered criminal violations of the law:

  • Failure to secure workers’ compensation insurance coverage.
  • Presenting any false or fraudulent oral or written statement as evidence of compliance.
  • Knowingly concealing or misrepresenting payroll or information regarding the employer’s loss history.
  • Misclassifying employees to pay lower premiums.
  • Submitting a false exemption certificate.
  • Knowingly violating a stop-work order issued by the department, etc.

The following are the penalties for non-compliance:

  • Fine and Fees

Employers are required to comply with state employment laws. State investigators are permitted to conduct job site inspections when they deem fit. The investigation is to ensure employer compliance.

Where the investigator determines that your employer violates the workers’ compensation law, they can issue fines. The penalty equals twice the amount your employer would have paid for the preceding two-year period.

  • Stop Work Orders

These are written statements, orders, or directives to ensure your employer complies with workers’ coverage requirements. It states the reason for the order and conditions under which the work will be permitted to resume.

In addition, there is a penalty of $1,000 per day for an employer who violates the order. This can be detrimental to an employer as it ceases business operations.  Hence, your employer needs to make workers’ comp available to the workers.

  • Civil Lawsuit

Usually, you file a workers’ comp claim when you are injured or sick because of work. The amount you receive for your wound or disease will be determined by state law. If your employer fails to make workers’ comp available, you can institute a civil lawsuit.

When you file a personal injury claim, the court determines the financial compensation you get. In most cases, you get a higher amount than you would have received in the workers’ comp process. In addition, your employer pays your attorney’s fees.

What Does Workers’ Compensation in Tampa, Florida Cover?

As stated earlier, workers’ comp helps pay for expenses incurred from workplace accident injuries or illnesses. The insurance coverage covers the following:

  • Medical costs
  • Employees wages
  • Income benefits
  • Short term or long term disabilities
  • Death benefits
  • Funeral expenses

Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney in Tampa, Florida

Workers’ comp claims can be complicated. Employers and insurance providers fight every day to deny or limit your work injury claim. However, if you are hurt or sick on the job, you are entitled to full financial compensation benefits. Also, knowing whether your employer is covered can help you seek the compensation you deserve.

At Florida 360 Lawyers, we can help you navigate the challenges of workers’ comp insurance. We will help you get the maximum benefits. Contact us today to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney in Tampa, Florida.

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