Filing a Florida Workers’ Compensation Claim:  Your How-To-Guide

Getting injured on the job comes with many complex issues, both physical and mental.  If you have been injured at work, then you can understand how stressful it can be.

The Physical and Mental Toll of a Workplace Injury

First and foremost, you may have sustained an injury that keeps you out of work, and you are likely in pain. Physically, you can’t do the same things you used to do before the injury.  Basic tasks like showering, which you took for granted, now become challenging and time-consuming tasks.  There are also doctor’s visits where you need to have your body examined, which may exacerbate the pain you are already feeling.

In addition, you are dealing with plenty of mental stress and anxiety.  If your doctor indicates that you are not cleared to return to work, then you begin to worry about how long you will be unable to work and be productive for yourself and your family.  Further, you may worry about your injuries, and how serious they are or may become.

Finally, you are under the mental stress of how you are going to interact with your employer.  You like your job, you were doing well, and you now worry that your employer will somehow hold the work injury against you.  You worry that somehow you will suffer negative consequences for filing a workers’ compensation claim, even though the injury was not your fault.

Perhaps you were up for a promotion, and you now are worried that you employer will look at you differently.  You may fear that your possible promotion is now in serious jeopardy.

In sum, the need for workers’ compensation for a work injury is not a vacation from work.  It comes with a lot of tension, uncertainty, and stress.  That is why, if you are covered by the Florida Workers’ Compensation Act, you need to know your rights and know what to expect from the workers’ compensation process.  It can take time and can be very difficult for someone who does not often deal with a workers’ compensation system.

That is why, ultimately, getting an attorney will help you through the process, and likely save you money in the long run.  In that vein, we welcome you to call us at Doolittle & Tucker, P.A.  Our mission is to make sure that you get the compensation you deserve, while minimizing stress from your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier.  Call today at 904-396-1734.

How Does Workers’ Compensation Work in the State of Florida?

As you may know, workers’ compensation pays benefits to you if you are injured on the job.  Depending on your injury, the benefits can include medical treatment and doctor’s visits, loss of wages compensation, and other monetary assistance.  To receive compensation, you must meet certain requirements, including various reporting requirements.

In Florida, the workers’ compensation system you likely fall under is the Florida Workers’ Compensation Act.  Under the Act, employers are required to purchase a workers’ compensation policy from an insurance company (or they also may self-insure, with the State’s permission).

The administration of the Florida Workers’ Compensation Act is handled by the Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC).  Similar to the rest of the states in the United States, Florida’s workers’ compensation system is a no-fault system.  That means that you do not need to show that your employer did anything wrong, or was somehow negligent, to receive benefits.  Provided that you were injured while doing work activities you will normally be immediately eligible for benefits.

What Do I Do When an Injury Occurs?

The most important rule regarding any workers’ compensation system when you are injured on the job is to not keep it a secret.  The first step in making a claim is to report the injury to your employer within 30 days.  If it takes time for you to realize that a particular injury is related to your work, such as hearing loss or respiratory problems, then that 30-day clock begins to run on the day you discovered the connection between your injury and your work.

In notifying your employer, always err on the side of more detail.  Include the who-what-when-where of the situation, with information such as:

  • What happened that caused the accident;
  • When the accident occurred;
  • How you are injured;
  • Where the incident occurred; and
  • What your symptoms are.

Upon reporting an injury, your employer should send you to a doctor.  In Florida, unfortunately, the employer gets to choose the doctor who will be treating you.  Be sure to be accurate with all of the information you give your doctor every time you visit him or her.

You’ve Now Made a Claim, What Next?

Upon receiving your notice of the injury, the employer has some obligations.  It must report your claim to its workers’ compensation insurance carrier within seven days.  If your employer does not do so, then you can report it to the insurance carrier directly.

Then, the insurance carrier will conduct an investigation to determine whether you are eligible for workers’ comp benefits.  In performing the investigation, the carrier will likely:

  • Go over the relevant medical records;
  • Look at your work experience and salary;
  • Ask for a medical evaluation to get a full picture of your medical condition;
  • Assess your ability to perform your work duties.

The Florida Workers’ Compensation Act requires that insurance carriers promptly accept or deny your claim for workers’ comp benefits.  If you are approved, then you will begin receiving benefits.  If you are denied, which insurance companies do fairly often, then you can appeal.

How Do You Appeal a Denied Workers’ Comp Claim?

If your claim is denied, then you can appeal by filing a Petition for Benefits with the DWC within either two years of your injury, or one year of your last wage loss or medical payment, whichever is later.

You then should consider hiring a workers’ compensation attorney.  Most workers’ compensation claims are not simple, and you will end up saving a lot of time and frustration by having an experienced workers’ compensation attorney in Florida handle your case.

Doolittle & Tucker, P.A. has been practicing in Florida for years.  Our attorneys know the Florida Workers’ Compensation Act, and we can help you with your workers’ comp appeal.  Call us for more information at Doolittle & Tucker, 904-396-1734.