The labor pool in Bradenton is over a million strong, with workers reporting to jobs across all industries each day. One thing that most of those workers have in common is that their employers provide them with workers’ compensation, as required by law. If you were injured in a workplace accident in Bradenton and are seeking compensation to help with medical expenses and lost wages, this coverage is in place to provide you with compensation. read on to learn more from the Bradenton Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, P.A. Read on for more information about this required coverage, what it provides, and what you need to know about filing a workers’ compensation claim. And don’t hesitate to call our Bradenton Workers’ Compensation Lawyers for help in filing your claim or fighting an unreasonable delay, denial, or reduction in benefits.
Workers’ Compensation in Bradenton
Workers’ compensation is a state-required insurance policy that employers purchase for their workers. The Florida workers’ compensation program provides coverage of medical expenses and lost wages resulting from a workplace injury or work-related illness, regardless of fault. The program requires the coverage of all types of occupational injuries or illnesses that arise out of the course and scope of employment, including diseases and infections that result from your work-related injury. Florida was later than many states in coming to the table with a workers’ compensation program. This was because the state had a smaller workforce that featured no manufacturing, which was the industry responsible for many of the early workers’ compensation claims around the country. During the Great Depression, the state saw an influx of wealth seekers who were hoping to make their fortune while enjoying the Florida sunshine. Increased industrial development in the state pushed lawmakers to enact the first workers’ compensation laws, with the blessing of employers who saw the program’s requirement to purchase insurance as a tradeoff to being sued by injured workers. Few major changes came to the requirements between 1935, when the legislature enacted Florida’s workers’ compensation laws, and the mid-1970s. However, in 1978, the law was reformed, changing the program from a fixed benefit to a benefit based on the severity and type of injury relating to a fixed schedule of benefits. Most businesses in Florida must provide this coverage, including:
- Businesses within industries, other than construction, who have four or more employees. The employees can be full-time or part-time.
- Employers in the construction industry who have at least one employee.
- Employers within the state and local government.
- Farmers with five or more regular employees and/or at least 12 seasonal employees who are employed for more than 30 days.
Sub-contractors hired to perform work under a general contractor are required to provide workers’ compensation coverage for their own employees, and contractors are required to ensure that this has been done before hiring the sub-contractor. However, if the sub-contractor fails to provide coverage and the contractor fails to check this coverage, the contractor may be responsible for the injuries of subcontracted employees. Those who are exempt from the workers’ compensation program are employers who provide a different type of compensation for workers who suffer an illness or injury at the workplace, including federal agencies, longshoremen, harbor workers, railroad workers, and defense contractors. The benefits covered by workers’ compensation in Florida include:
- Medical benefits, including payment of expenses related to visits to an authorized primary doctor and specialists, when medically necessary. This includes hospitalization, physical therapy, medical tests, prescription drugs, prostheses, and attendant care.
- Lost wages and other compensation, based on injury severity. Claimants can receive payments related to temporary total disability, meaning they temporarily cannot work; temporary partial disability, which means the employee is on restricted work duty; impairment benefits, which are based at the level of disability that the worker still possesses even after reaching maximum medical improvement; or permanent total disability, which means the level of the worker’s injury or illness has deemed him or her unable to ever work again.
- Death benefits, which include a maximum of $150,000 with up to $7,500 for funeral expenses as well as compensation for dependents, and educational benefits for the surviving spouse.
- Re-employment benefits, if you can’t return to the job you performed before the accident. These benefits include vocational counseling, transferable skills analysis, job-seeking skills, job placement, on-the-job training, and formal retraining.
- An insurance company can be ordered to provide double compensation for injuries that occur to a minor child who was injured while employed in violation of the state’s labor laws.
If a worker became injured after refusing to use safety appliances or failing to observe the company’s safety policies, he or she can still collect benefits. However, the workers’ comp insurance company may reduce benefits if it can prove the employee knew about the safety policies before the accident took place. Temporary total and temporary partial disability benefits can only be received for 104 weeks after the injury. After that time, if you are still can’t work, you can apply for permanent disability or impairment benefits. It is possible to obtain both workers’ compensation and social security disability benefits at the same time. However, doing so can cause a reduction in the amount of workers’ compensation benefits you are eligible to receive, as the combination of these two types of compensation must not equal more than 80 percent of the average weekly wage you were earning before the accident took place. While most mental ailments are not covered by workers’ compensation, there are benefits paid to first responders suffering from work-related post-traumatic stress disorder. To qualify, the first responder must be a firefighter, police officer, emergency medical technician, or paramedic who has directly witnessed a qualifying event, including the wrongful death of a minor, a homicide, or a death of a particularly grievous nature which shocks the conscience. To obtain workers’ compensation benefits, the first responder must notify his or her employer that he or she is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder within one year after experiencing the qualifying event. Workers’ compensation benefits are not taxable. However, if you are obtaining benefits while on temporary partial disability, the income you earn for the hours you can work is still subject to income tax.
Top Workplace Injuries at a Glance
According to the National Safety Council, a worker is injured on the job every 7 seconds in the United States. This equals 510 injured workers every hour, and around 4.6 million every year. In Florida, in one year’s time, injuried employees filed more than 54,000 workers’ compensation cases, with payouts to injured or ill workers equating to more than $850 million. The top three workplace events that result in lost time due to injury include:
- Overexertion, which can include lifting and lowering as well as repetitive motion involved in a work-related task.
- Contact with objects and equipment, including the worker striking his or her body against objects or equipment, becoming caught or compressed by objects or equipment, or being struck, caught, or crushed in a collapsing structure, equipment, or material.
- Slips, trips, and falls either from the same level or from a height.
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
The industries with a significant amount of claims for injuries resulting in lost time at work include:
- Service, including firefighters and police
- Installation, maintenance, and repair
- Construction accidents
Bradenton Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Near Me 833-552-7274
How You File a Claim
If you were injured on the job, you must report your injury to your employer as soon as possible. The law allows up to 30 days to do this. After 30 days have passed, it is unlikely that your expenses will be covered if you have not reported them to your employer. Note that it is against the law for an employer to fire you for reporting an injury or to encourage you not to file a workers’ compensation claim. If your injury requires emergency department treatment, you should seek that treatment immediately. However, you must inform the physician who treated you that it is a work-related injury. For injuries not requiring emergency room treatment, you must seek the services of a provider who has been authorized by the employer and/or the insurance company. You should not receive bills for this treatment, as long as you seek the services of an authorized provider. Once you have reported your injury to your employer, the employer has up to 7 days to report the injury to the insurance company that provides the company’s workers’ compensation coverage. If your employer does not report your injury within this time limit, you may either report the injury to the insurance provider yourself or seek assistance from the state workers’ compensation program’s Employee Assistance Office by calling (800) 342-1741. Within three days of obtaining notice of your injury, the insurance company must provide you with an informational brochure regarding your right to benefits under the workers’ compensation program. You are not paid for the first seven days of disability unless your disability lasts for at least 21 days. You should receive your wage checks each week and the amount of the check is generally 66.67 percent of your average weekly wage during the 91 days before the injury. The first check should arrive within 21 days after reporting your injury to your employer.
For a free legal consultation with a workers’ compensation lawyer serving Bradenton, call 833-552-7274
We Help When Workers’ Compensation Claims Get Denied
Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance coverage. Insurance companies typically avoid paying out coverage unless required and may try to avoid workers’ compensation payouts. Some of the common reasons why the insurance company might deny your workers’ compensation claim include:
- You failed to report the injury to your employer within 30 days as required.
- You did not seek medical care from an authorized provider, or failed to inform the physician who treated you at the emergency department that your injury was work-related.
- Your injury was not job-related. For an injury to be considered job-related, you must be on the clock when the injury occurred and you must be doing an employment-related task. If you become injured while running personal errands on your lunch hour, your injury will not be covered under workers’ compensation.
- Your employer has reason to believe that you intentionally caused your own injury to obtain benefits.
- You were impaired by drugs or alcohol when the injury took place. Usually, if someone suffers a workplace injury, a blood test will be administered as part of your initial treatment for the injury to determine if you were impaired when you became injured. If your benefits are denied as a result of a positive drug or alcohol test, you can request a retest, within 180 days after the positive test results were revealed.
- The details in the medical report are different from what you reported to your employer.
- Your employer disputes your account of how the injury occurred or whether you were actually injured at work.
- There were no eyewitnesses to your accident. Although eyewitness accounts are not required, employers might use the absence of eyewitnesses as a reason to dispute your claim.
If your workers’ compensation claim is denied for any reason, you should seek the guidance of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. You have the right to appeal a claim denial, but the process of doing so is complex and better left in the hands of a legal professional with experience in such matters.
Bradenton Workers’ Compensation FAQ
More than a million workers in the Bradenton area represent a wide array of industries, including advanced manufacturing, aviation and aerospace defense, life sciences, logistics and distribution, sports performance, and tech. All of these jobs contain a risk of injury or illness. If you have suffered an injury or illness at a Bradenton workplace, you probably have questions about the process of obtaining compensation through the state’s workers’ compensation program. Here are some of the questions clients and prospective clients ask most frequently regarding workers’ compensation.
What is workers’ compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a state-required insurance program that provides medical and wage benefits to employees who have suffered a workplace injury or work-related illness.
How do I know if I am covered by workers’ compensation?
Most employers in Florida are required to provide this coverage for their employees, including:
- Those in the construction industry who have at least one employee.
- Those in non-construction industries who have four or more employees.
- Farmers with at least 6 regular employees, or at least 12 seasonal employees who perform work for more than 30 consecutive days in a season, but no more than 45 calendar days per year.
- State and local governmental agencies.
Subcontractors are required to provide coverage for their employees. But, if they fail to do so and the contractor fails to ensure that there is a workers’ compensation policy in place, the contractor becomes responsible for injuries suffered at the job site. Most employers for the federal government, railroad operations, longshoremen, and harbor workers are exempt from state-mandated workers’ compensation programs, as their employees are covered by other compensation programs.
What benefits does workers’ compensation provide?
Workers’ compensation provides the following benefits:
- Medical benefits: Workers’ compensation will provide payment of medically necessary expenses related to the workplace injury. This includes physician’s services, hospitalization, surgical services, physical therapy, prescription medications, diagnostic testing, prostheses, and attendant care.
- Wage benefits: Injured workers may receive compensation for wages lost due to an incapacity to work or missing work to attend medical appointments related to the injury. The amount that can be received depends on the severity and type of injury.
- Death benefits: Workers’ compensation will provide benefits to a deceased person’s spouse after a workplace injury or illness that leads to death. This includes $7,500 for funeral expenses as well as support benefits to dependents and educational benefits to spouses.
- Re-employment benefits: In some cases in which an injured person can still work, but not at the same job he or she had before the injury, re-employment benefits including vocational training can be provided at no cost to the claimant.
Do I have to pay a deductible to obtain coverage of medical expenses?
Workers’ compensation coverage is provided without requiring a deductible, and you will not receive medical bills for the necessary medical treatment you receive. However, if you do receive a medical bill in error, contact the insurance company or call the state’s Employee Assistance Office at (800) 342-1741—and call our Bradenton workers’ comp lawyers if you need help resolving the claim.
Does workers’ compensation cover my family after an injury?
Insurance coverage through workers’ compensation exclusively covers the injured worker, and solely applies to injuries suffered at the workplace. Family members can only obtain workers’ compensation benefits if your injury results in death.
What are the most common types of injuries that result in a workers’ compensation claim?
Some injuries that commonly result in a workers’ compensation claim include:
- Slips, trips, and falls either from a height or on the same level.
- Muscle strains from overexertion caused by heavy lifting or repetitive motion.
- Being struck by or compressed between equipment or objects.
- Transportation accidents that either take place on the job site or during the normal course of a person’s employment.
- Lacerations caused by the use of office equipment or power tools on the job.
- Inhalation of toxic fumes by workers who work with hazardous chemicals.
- Exposure to loud noises.
- Workplace violence.
If I was injured at work, who should I tell?
You should report your injury to your employer as soon as possible, and no later than 30 days after you incurred the injury. Your employer then has 7 days to report your injury to the insurance company that provides the coverage. The insurance company must then provide you with an informational brochure about the program within three days.
My employer has not yet reported my injury to the insurance company. What can I do?
You have a right to report your own injury to the insurance company. If you need assistance in doing so, your workers’ compensation attorney can assist you or you can obtain assistance through the state’s workers’ compensation program’s Employee Assistance Office.
Is my employer required to hold my job for me until I can work again?
No, your employer does not have to hold your job for you if you can’t work due to your injury.
How long will it be before I start receiving compensation for my work-related disability?
You should receive your first benefit check within 21 days after you report your injury to your employer. You will not be paid for your first seven days of disability unless the disability extends past 21 days.
What are some reasons why a workers’ compensation claim would be denied?
A workers’ compensation insurance company claim could deny a claim for many invalid reasons. You can dispute a denied claim through the appeals process. Some reasons for denial include:
- Failure to inform your employer within 30 days of your injury.
- Failure to seek medical care for your injury.
- You were impaired by alcohol or drugs when the injury took place. Most of the time, when you seek treatment for your injury, a blood test will be administered to test for drug or alcohol impairment.
- Your employer has reason to believe that your injury was self-inflicted to fraudulently obtain benefits.
- The information you provided when you reported your injury to your employer does not match the information documented in your medical report.
- There were no eyewitnesses to your accident. Do note that it is not a requirement that a workplace accident, resulting in injury, have an eyewitness for you to be eligible for benefits. However, it is often a reason employers use to dispute your claim.
- The injury resulted from your refusal to wear safety equipment or to follow safety protocols that you knew before the accident took place. While you may still qualify for benefits, your benefits could be reduced if you fail to follow the safety procedures as trained.
- Your employer disputes your report of the injury for any reason.
What are some tips to help avoid having my workers’ compensation claim denied?
Report your injury to your employer as soon as possible. If your injury constitutes a medical emergency, seek treatment at an emergency department and let the healthcare provider know that the injury is work-related. If the injury is not an emergency, seek treatment from a physician who is authorized by your employer and/or your employer’s insurance company. Provide a detailed accounting of your injury and that the details listed in the medical report match those you reported to your employer.
What is maximum medical improvement?
Maximum medical improvement is a term often used in discussions about work-related injuries. It refers to the point in which your doctor believes, to a degree of medical probability, that you will not show further recovery from your injuries regardless of any additional treatment. Maximum medical improvement is generally the benchmark used to determine the level of impairment when assigning a rating to calculate impairment benefits.
How long can I collect benefits?
If you are on temporary total or temporary partial disability, you can collect benefits for up to 104 weeks (two years).
Can I obtain workers’ compensation benefits and social security disability benefits at the same time?
Yes, you are allowed to collect both workers’ compensation benefits and social security disability benefits at the same time. However, your workers’ compensation checks can be reduced due to a provision in the law that allows these types of wage-replacement programs to only provide up to 80 percent of your average weekly wage, as evidenced by your previous three months of employment before the injury.
If my claim was denied, is there a process to appeal the decision?
Yes. If you were denied, you can appeal the decision and there are several layers of appellate actions that could take place. Our experienced Bradenton workers’ compensation attorneys can explain the process to you and provide additional guidance.
I suffered PTSD as a result of my job. Am I entitled to workers’ compensation benefits?
Only if you are a first responder. First responders—including police officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and paramedics—can file a workers’ compensation claim for post-traumatic stress disorder within one year of suffering a qualifying event. Qualifying events include:
- Witnessing the death of a minor or performing medical work on a minor who dies before reaching the hospital.
- Witnessing a homicide, suicide, or any death of a grievous nature that shocks the conscience.
I am afraid that if I report my injury, my boss will fire me. Can that happen?
It is against the law for an employer to fire or otherwise punish an employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim. However, employers can use other reasons to terminate a person’s employment. If you feel you were wrongfully terminated due to your workers’ compensation claim, your attorney can provide further guidance.
Can I sue my employer for the injury I suffered at work?
Workers’ compensation removes the ability of an injured worker to sue the employer in the event of an injury or illness. However, if the injury was caused by a third party—who is not an employer or a co-worker—a lawsuit could be filed against that person. An example of this would be a delivery driver who was injured in a car accident that resulted from another driver’s negligence or recklessness during the normal scope of his or her duties.
Will I have to pay taxes on my workers’ compensation benefits?
No, workers’ compensation benefits are not taxable. However, if you are receiving benefits for a temporary partial disability—meaning you can work but your duties must be restricted to accommodate your injury—the money you earn from the hours you work is subject to taxation.
Why would I need a workers’ compensation attorney?
Like most legal matters, workers’ compensation claims make you go through statutory requirements and other formalities that the average person is not expected to understand. Hiring an attorney who is familiar with the process of disputing the denial of claims can place that knowledge and experience on your side, and can help you avoid errors that could result in a processing delay or denial of your claim. Further, the insurance providers that offer workers’ compensation coverage often use the same tactics as the providers of other types of insurance: they may try to avoid paying claims if possible. Some of the common tactics used by insurance companies with workers’ compensation claims include claiming that the injury did not take place at work, or that the injured person had a pre-existing injury or an injury that is not as serious as he or she claims. An experienced attorney could recognize these tactics and identify the ways to refute them.
Let Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA’s Bradenton Workers’ Compensation Attorneys Help
If you have suffered a work-related accident or illness and you were denied workers’ compensation coverage, talk to our experienced Bradenton personal injury attorneys as soon as possible. Your attorney can provide services, including:
- Ensuring that an appeal is filed properly, within the correct jurisdiction and required time limit.
- Gathering evidence that could help prove your claim.
- Representation during your appeal hearing.
- Careful attention to the details of your case to determine if any third-party liability exists. You cannot file a personal injury lawsuit against your employer or coworkers. However, if a third party was involved in the accident that caused your injuries, you may file a personal injury claim against that individual or company. This could allow you to claim damages not otherwise covered by workers’ compensation, including physical pain and suffering or emotional distress.
With offices across both Florida coasts, you can easily reach Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA at (941) 961-8841 or contact us online for guidance through the workers’ compensation process. Bradenton Office 6703 14th Street West Suite 207 Bradenton, FL 34207 Phone: (941) 961-8841
“AMAZING and understanding attorneys! Did great on my case and I highly recommend Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA for anyone that has been injured in an accident!” Rating: 5/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Koralis R. Jan 2020 Read more reviews on Google!