When employees suffer injuries on the job, and their employer has workers’ compensation coverage, there’s usually an assumption that benefits begin automatically. Unfortunately, that is not true. An injured worker is required to file a workers’ compensation claim to be entitled to payments.
Workers’ Compensation in Florida aims to offer compensation and benefits to people injured in their workplace. Although many individuals consider Florida as a great place to vacation, there is no denying that it takes many workers to render high-quality services to those tourists.
With a couple of exceptions, Workers’ Compensation policies adequately cover a majority of workers in Florida provided by their employers.
Workers’ compensation benefits in Florida are essentially a type of wage replacement. The amount you’re entitled to get depends mainly on how much your injury impacts your ability to perform your job. Fortunately, in Florida, employees do not have to prove that their employer was at fault for their injury, just that they suffered the injury while working.
If you have specific questions about filing a claim under the Florida Workers’ Compensation Act, you should contact an experience workers’ compensation attorney. At Doolittle & Tucker, we can help you make sure you maximize your compensation. Call us today at 904-396-1734.
Now, how does workers’ compensation work in Florida? Let’s take a look.
- Report Your Injury to Your Employer
You must have a work-related illness or injury to be eligible for a workers’ compensation claim in Florida. Note that a variety of injuries can qualify, like developing cancer because of exposure to toxic substances or chemicals in the workplace or slipping on a wet, icy patch in your business parking lot.
If you do not report your work injury to the employer within thirty days after knowing you’ve suffered a job-related illness or injury, your workers’ compensation claim could be barred.
- Obtain the Relevant Paperwork from Your Employer
Your employer will provide you the following:
- The relevant reporting forms for the workers’ compensation insurance provider.
- Information on your rights and workers’ compensation benefits.
- Information about your return to work.
- Before Filing the Petition, Try to Resolve the Dispute
You will receive a copy of your First Report of Injury or Illness. Your employer would have filed it with the insurance company along with a brochure explaining all your rights. If the insurer has not issued any checks or correspondence, or some dispute has come up regarding your workers’ comp benefits, then you should try your best to resolve it first by carefully discussing it either with your employer or their carrier.
Your employer is under an obligation to get in touch with their workers’ comp insurer within seven days of your report.
It is worth mentioning that Florida law requires employees to make a “good faith effort” for resolving the dispute.
- Hire an Attorney
In case your efforts at resolving the dispute have not been fruitful, the next step is to file a petition with the help of a lawyer. Click here to see what the Petition looks like.
- Fill Out Your Petition
Note that you have to provide a good deal of information in the petition, such as:
- A listing of the injured body parts
- A detailed description of the accident
- Your contact information
- Contact information for your employer and their workers’ comp carrier
- A list of all medical and other benefits (such as lost-wage) you claim are “due and owing” to you
- Your job responsibilities (in summarized form) and what you’re doing on the day your injury arose
- Claim for attorney fees and other costs
- Claim for penalties and interest on unpaid benefits
Bear in mind that your claim could be invalid if you do not furnish the required information. Denied claims are quite common in Florida. A primary reason to involve effective legal counsel before filing a Florida workers’ comp claim is ensuring you file for benefits correctly the very first time. While you could file another petition, you will risk missing a crucial deadline.
- File Your Petition
To initiate the petition process, you have to file a form called Petition for Benefits with the Office of Judges of Compensation Claims. Remember that the Workers’ Compensation appeals process is usually successful, but could involve a lengthy delay.
If a competent lawyer represents you, they will file the Petition through the OJCC’s electronic filing system.
- The Insurer Will Grant or Deny Your Claim
Once you file the claim, a determination will be made. The insurer will get in touch with you for payment detail if your claim is approved. On the other hand, if the insurer believes that the claim does not qualify for workers’ comp benefits, it will be denied.
- You May Have to Go Through Mediation
It is likely that within 130 days after you file the Petition, the authorities will mediate your case. It is worth mentioning that in many cases, mediation is not necessary, and a case will go straight to a final hearing. Your case will proceed to a pre-trial hearing if no settlement or agreement is possible through mediation. You will then go to a final hearing before a Judge of Compensation Claims (JCC).
- File an Appeal
The JCC would issue a decision within thirty days after the final hearing. If you do not agree with this decision, your lawyer has the right to file an appeal with the First District Court of Appeal within thirty days of the decision.
- Return to Work
You must notify both your employer as well as the insurance company through written notice when you have recovered sufficiently and wish to resume work. The insurance company might continue to pay disability benefits depending on the severity of your injury.
Do not go on assumptions if you suffer an injury at work. You should file your claim, follow up on it, and hold both your employer and the insurance provider accountable for all the injuries you have sustained.
Again, call the experts in Florida workers’ compensation law, Doolittle & Tucker. We are here in Jacksonville, FL ready to serve you. Call us for a free case review at 904-396-1734.