While workers’ compensation benefits are based on a simple concept – make sure that employers have insurance to immediately address an employee’s work-related injury – the mechanics of workers’ compensation can get complicated. As they always say, “the devil is in the details.” When it comes to Florida’s Workers’ Compensation Act, there are a lot of small details that are written into the Act to account for any unusual circumstances.
In the general workers’ compensation case, an injured employee on disability will want to keep his or her job while recuperating. Particularly if the employee is still working with the employer but in a lesser capacity to account for the injury. However, circumstances do arise when an employee needs to leave the employer, or is ready to retire. If that person is receiving workers’ compensation benefits when he or she decides to leave, then certain rules of the Florida Worker’s Compensation Act kick in. This article will discuss those circumstances.
Remember though, if you have a need for guidance on how to navigate all of the “rules of the road” when it comes to Florida’s workers’ compensation law, then you need the help of a trusted, experienced Florida workers’ compensation attorney. You should turn to the experts at Doolittle & Tucker, P.A.
The highly skilled attorneys at Doolittle & Tucker are laser focused on one type of practice – providing relief to injured individuals. There is nothing worse, or more unfair, than legitimate claims being denied because an insurance company failed to understand the true nature of your injuries. For over 25 years, we at Doolittle & Tucker have developed an excellent reputation for aggressively advocating for our clients, all the while maintaining our professional standards. Finally, we value the rapport we establish with each and every client. Call us at 904.396.1734 to learn more about how we can help you.
Voluntary Limitation of Income – What Is It?
“Voluntary limitation of income” is a defense that Florida workers’ compensation insurance companies commonly use to limit or eliminate their obligation to pay compensation to an injured worker.
As the phrase suggests, the insurance company uses it as a defense to indicate that the injured worker purposely limited his or her own income, and that the insurance company should not have to pay for the injured worker’s choices. Typically, the defense will arise when a Florida worker is temporarily partially disabled due to a work injury and is working in a light duty capacity.
The Definition of Temporary Partial Disability
The phrase “temporary partial disability” is an important concept in this context. If you are classified as being on temporary partial disability, then it is considered temporary because you are expected to fully recover to “maximum medical improvement.” It is partial because your injury does not stop you from working entirely. And, it is considered “disability” because the limitations from your work injury results in you earning less than 80% of your wages.
How Insurance Companies May Use the Voluntary Limitation of Income Defense
You would typically prove that you are entitled to temporary partial disability benefits by demonstrating that your injuries were work-related, and that they stop you from doing your normal job duties. Also, you need to show that you are following the restrictions given to you by your doctor, and that – most importantly – no other work within those restrictions has been offered to you that you refused.
The workers’ compensation insurance company, then, may try to use the voluntary limitation of income defense, in which it must show the following:
- You knew your employer had a job available within your health restrictions; or
- Your employer found other work with another employer, and that work was made available to you and you refused to accept it; or
- You knew that you should be looking for work, and that you would have found something if you looked.
In essence, this comes down to you claiming that you are on temporary partial disability and must work on light duty. Then, the insurance company turning around to say that you could have found work that would allow you earn more money, but you refused to take it. The conclusion for the insurance company is that it should not have to pay for the difference of income for the job you could have done but did not accept.
At the end of the day, the insurance company can deny your workers compensation claim based on the voluntary limitation of income defense.
Quitting or Retiring? The Defense May Also Be Used
Aside from temporary partial disability, the defense of voluntary limitation of income also comes to the fore if you choose to leave your job. If you quit your job while receiving workers’ compensation benefits and your choice to quit is not related to the injury for which you are receiving benefits, then the insurance company will also try to use the voluntary limitation of income defense.
There is a potential that the insurance company will terminate your benefits based on the defense. Similarly, if you retire while receiving benefits, the insurance company will likely raise the same limitation defense in that instance as well.
However, if you are required to quit your job or retire, and those requirements are because of your work-related injury, then you need to make clear to the workers’ compensation insurance company that you quit or retired because of your work-related injury.
Protect Yourself With A Seasoned Florida Workers’ Compensation Attorney
The best way to deal with the details of any workers’ compensation case is to get the help of an experienced Florida workers’ compensation lawyer. At Doolittle & Tucker, we handle cases involving the Florida Workers’ Compensation Act all of the time. In fact, we specialize in making sure that we maximize the benefits that go to our clients who are operating under the Florida Workers’ Compensation Act. Go with the best, most informed lawyers in the field. Call Doolittle & Tucker at 904.396.1734 today.