Florida employers are required to carry workers' compensation coverage, which provides benefits for their employees if they sustain a serious injury while on the job. Submitting a claim and recovering benefits, however, can be a complex process fraught with pitfalls and red tape that can keep even deserving workers from receiving the relief they deserve.
If you or a loved one has seriously been hurt while at work, our team at Syfrett, Dykes & Furr is ready to speak with you. Our knowledgeable, experienced Panama City worker's compensation attorneys are dedicated to helping Florida workers who need an advocate during this unforgiving process. We have compiled some frequently asked questions below—but if you need further answers, we are ready to hear your story.
You do not have to face the intimidating process without a proven legal counselor by your side. Request a free consultation today.
"IF I'M INJURED AT WORK, WHAT SHOULD I DO FIRST?"
Also, there may be evidence that needs to be preserved that will help you prove your claim. Reporting your accident as soon as it happens, or as soon as possible thereafter, helps eliminate problems later on. Once you have reported your accident to your supervisor, your Employer will send notice of the injury to its Workers’ Compensation Insurance Company (Carrier).
"WHAT IF MY EMPLOYER FAILED TO NOTIFY OUR INSURANCE PROVIDER ABOUT MY INJURY?"
"MY INJURY SEEMS MINOR—DO I NEED TO SEE A DOCTOR?"
Should you not be required to go to a doctor by your employer, you should seek medical care through your employer as soon as you think it might be necessary. It is better to have the initial examination as close to the injury date as possible to document your symptoms and what injuries the work accident has caused.
"WHAT IF THERE WAS NO ACCIDENT, BUT I DEVELOPED AN ILLNESS AT WORK?"
"DO I GET TO CHOOSE THE DOCTOR THAT TREATS ME FOR MY WORK INJURY?"
While there are ways to request a one-time change of doctors, the employer or the insurance company will choose the replacement doctor, as well. It is strongly recommended you only request a change of doctor do with the help of an experienced Panama City workers' comp attorney who understands the state laws and can give you advice about the replacement doctors available in your area. Often, unrepresented injured workers request a change of doctor and end up in a worse situation.
"WHO PAYS THE MEDICAL BILLS RESULTING FROM MY WORK INJURY?"
However, there is sometimes confusion about this and you may receive a bill. If this happens, you should contact the doctor or facility to let them know your treatment was for a work injury and the billing should be submitted to your Employer or workers’ comp insurance company. If billing to you continues you should consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney for advice about what can be done. If you have paid for any authorized medical bills or prescriptions out of pocket, you should submit your expenses to your Employer or work comp insurance company for reimbursement.
"WHAT IF I CANNOT MANAGE TRANSPORTATION FOR MEDICAL TREATMENT?"
Reimbursement will be based on the mileage to and from the appointment and can be requested by you with the use of a Medical Mileage Claim Form. It is very important to put exact mileage amounts on the claim form because your mileage reimbursement request amounts will be verified using computer programs that let the insurance company know the shortest distance to and from your home (or another point of origin) and the medical facility. An incorrect mileage reimbursement claim form can cause a lot of problems in your case.
"IF I CANNOT WORK, HOW MUCH WILL I RECEIVE IN BENEFITS?"
Your work comp check is based on how much money you were making at the time of your accident. In most cases, you will receive 2/3 of your average weekly wage calculated on your 13-week wage history immediately preceding your date of the accident. Keep in mind – There are exceptions to this rule. If your check is not at least 2/3 of your normal gross wages (before taxes & deductions), you should get advice from an experienced workers’ compensation attorney about whether you are being paid properly based on your circumstances.
"WHAT IS 'LIGHT DUTY?' CAN IT INTERFERE WITH MY BENEFITS?"
If your employer does not have “light duty” or “modified duty” work available, then your workers’ comp insurance company should send you a check for the timer period you are out of work until it is decided you have reached maximum medical improvement with regards to your work injury. This type of check is called temporary partial disability and the amount will be slightly less than the temporary total disability check you receive when the doctor has you completely out of work.
"CAN MY EMPLOYER FIRE ME WHILE I'M ON WORKERS' COMP?"
However, if you are fired for another reason that does not violate this law or another state or federal law, then there may not be anything you can do. You may wish to consult with an experienced attorney about this issue if you are fired following the reporting of a work injury.
"DOES MY EMPLOYER HAVE TO HOLD MY JOB FOR ME WHILE I RECOVER?"
"IF I AM FIRED WHILE ON WORKERS' COMP, CAN I THEN RECEIVE UNEMPLOYMENT?"
"HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO FILE A WORKERS' COMP CLAIM?"
Additionally, once a claim has been accepted and medical treatment has been authorized, you must treat once with an authorized doctor every 365 calendar days. If a claim has previously been accepted and disability benefits were subsequently terminated, you must file a claim for reinstatement of the disability benefits within one year of the date of termination. Regardless, the statute of limitations, and its exceptions is a very technical area of the law with exceptions that may help your case. It is highly recommended that you seek the assistance of a workers’ compensation attorney.
"IS A SETTLEMENT POSSIBLE? CAN I JUST RECEIVE A LUMP SUM?"
It is customary for the entire work comp case to be settled at one time. This is called a washout settlement. Many times the employer and/or the insurance company will require a resignation of your employment if you still work for the employer.
If you wish to settle your workers’ compensation claim, it is very important to seek the advice of an experienced attorney to help make sure the proper language is in the settlement paperwork to protect you both now and in the future. For instance, if you have a separate claim against your employer, you may unknowingly and unintentionally waive your rights to this separate claim by settling your workers’ compensation case. Also, you may be asked to sign settlement paperwork that prevents you from receiving Social Security disability benefits, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment or other need-based benefits. It is extremely important to have an attorney that is experienced in both workers’ compensation and Social Security issues help you with your work comp settlement.
"ARE WORKER'S COMP SETTLEMENTS TAXABLE?"
Are you ready to pursue a workers' comp claims? Syfrett, Dykes & Furr can help. Contact us to request a free consultation today.