What is my workers' compensation case worth?
There are many factors that come into play in every case, all of which can change the value of the case. Items to consider are age, the injury, wages, educational level, type of job, medical care needed, etc. All have a great impact on the value of the case. Because of the complexity of the law, it is essential to have help to obtain the maximum value on the case.
Does the law allow me to sue my employer for the accident?
When employers properly obtain workers' compensation insurance for their employees, the law allows them almost complete immunity from law suits brought by their employees against them. An employee can only sue his employer if that employee can prove in court that the employer has engaged in any intentional act that causes harm or is certain to result in injury or death to the employee (Florida Statute 440.11). Most employers are required by law to participate in the workers' compensation system. Benefits under workers' compensation are limited and provide partial wage replacement and all medically necessary treatment. We always consider the possibility of alternative actions to maximize recovery.
What benefits am I entitled to under the workers' compensation law?
Under Florida law, injured workers are able to recover lost wages (2/3 of gross wages subject to a statutory maximum) for a very limited period of time before reaching medical maximum improvement by their treating doctor. Once they reach maximum medical improvement (MMI), the insurance company is only required to pay a small amount of benefits called impairment income benefits. This is based on a permanent impairment rating that the treating doctor assigns. If the injury results in the death of an employee, Florida Law provides benefits to the surviving family members. It also allows for virtually unlimited medical care for the treatment of the injury such as attendant care, mileage, prescription medication, surgery, physical therapy and diagnostic studies. The difficulty in these claims is often due to the discrepancy between each side's idea of what benefits are due. Requesting and receiving medical benefits under the workers compensation law can be very confusing and frustrating, requiring the assistance of an experienced and qualified attorney.
I've received benefits for a back injury for years, then last month these were stopped. Can my employer do this?
Theoretically, an employer is not allowed to stop your benefits without an agreement that is signed by you or without a court order by a judge authorizing the employer to stop your benefits. In the event this happens, however, it is typically necessary to begin litigation and even go to trial to reinstate benefits.
Can I quit my job?
Leaving your employment while treating with an authorized workers' compensation doctor could affect your rights to receive certain types of lost wage benefits. If you are being treated by an authorized workers' compensation doctor, and that doctor has released you to work with restrictions, it is important that you attempt to return to work for the employer within those restrictions. Failure to do so could result in the workers' compensation insurance carrier discontinuing the payment of lost wage benefits. The law is quite complicated on this issue. As such, it is generally a fact-specific determination.
What happens if I get fired from my job?
The law states that no employer can fire an employee because that employee has filed a valid workers' compensation claim. Effective January 1, 1994, an injured worker who has been wrongfully fired by the employer due to his workers' compensation injury can bring a civil action against the employer. In order to recover damages under this statutory provision it is necessary to prove that the reason the employer fired the injured worker was due to the injured worker filing a workers compensation claim.
How can I get a new doctor?
After October 1, 2003, the Workers’ Compensation Law significantly limits an injured worker’s ability to change physicians. This represents a significant departure from the way Florida employers and workers’ compensation insurance companies had delivered workers’ compensation medical care in the past. Although it has become increasingly difficult and confusing to obtain medical treatment in a workers’ compensation case, injured workers are in fact allowed a one time change in their authorized treating physician pursuant to Florida Statute 440.134 or 440.13(2)(f). Before seeking a change in physicians, it is recommended you contact us first.
How can I hire an attorney if I am not working and have no money?
If we file a claim on your behalf, you do not have to pay anything until we recover benefits for you. If we are successful, the attorney fee will be deducted from the benefits that are recovered. The fee in most cases is less than twenty percent of the amount recovered.
How much must an injured worker who is out of work be paid in workers' compensation?
The amount of the workers' compensation benefits that a workers' compensation insurance carrier is obligated to pay an injured worker while that injured worker is physically unable to return to his or her job is governed by Florida Statute 440.14. This is an area of the law that can be very confusing and often results in injured workers not receiving the correct amount of benefits to which they are lawfully entitled. Basically, a workers' compensation insurance company is required to pay an injured worker 2/3 of the amount the injured worker was earning at the time of the injury. If an injured worker is working two jobs at the time of the injury, workers' compensation law provides that the injured worker be paid on the basis of the earnings at both jobs; this is assuming that both jobs were subject to workers' compensation coverage and benefits. Many issues come from whether the workers' compensation insurance carrier is paying an injured worker the correct amount of benefits. Issues such as the inclusion of tips, the value of housing provided to employees, the earnings at a second job, and the value of group health insurance often arise during a workers' compensation claim and require an attorney's involvement to insure that an injured worker is paid the correct amount of benefits he or she is entitled to under law.
Can a judge force the workers' compensation insurance company to settle my case?
No. Any settlement of workers' compensation benefits under Florida Workers' Compensation Law is a completely voluntary exercise. A workers' compensation insurance company cannot force an injured worker to accept any settlement at all. Conversely, an injured worker cannot force or require the workers' compensation insurance carrier for a certain amount of money to settle his or her claim. Most settlements of workers' compensation claims in Florida occur as a result of the mediation process. Mediation is a process where by the injured worker and the workers' compensation insurance carrier and their attorneys' attend a meeting in an attempt to settle the issues or the entire case with the help of a mediator. All settlements under Florida Workers' compensation Law are required to be signed by all parties and approved by a Judge of Workers' Compensation Claims.
Can I apply for and receive Social Security Benefits if I am receiving workers' compensation benefits?
Yes. You can receive both benefits simultaneously. However, the employer is entitled to offset your workers' compensation benefits by a percentage of the net amount of Social Security benefits you receive. You should consult an attorney to determine if it is in your best interest to receive Social Security benefits or wait until your workers' compensation case is resolved.