Ideally, the process of pursuing benefits through the workers’ compensation claim after a workplace illness or injury should be simple. The process itself sounds easy enough. If you get hurt or fall ill on the job and become unable to work, all you need to do is file a claim for benefits and wait for adequate compensation. This compensation may include time off, financial compensation for medical care, and even disability benefits.
Unfortunately, all too often, ill and injured employees in Clearwater face an uphill battle when it comes to pursuing workers’ comp. This straightforward process quickly becomes muddled when those responsible for compensation attempt to dodge their legal duty. Many victims in workers’ compensation cases require the assistance of a seasoned Clearwater workers’ comp lawyer to achieve the compensation that they deserve.
Let Us Help You—Seasoned, Professional Workers’ Compensation Attorneys
The Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA’s personal injury team boasts a stellar team of knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorneys who assist numerous clients on a daily basis. Our lawyers understand how difficult it can be to untangle the complex web of laws that surround workers’ comp—and we want to help you pursue the compensation that you deserve.
If you or a loved one have sustained an illness or injury in the workplace, you have the right to take full advantage of Florida’s workers’ compensation system. Anybody who tells you otherwise—be it your employer or another party—is only seeking to keep you from the assistance that you deserve. If you believe that you may be entitled to further compensation for a workplace injury or illness, contact our offices today.
We offer prospective clients a FREE initial consultation. This allows you to get to know our team, our attorneys to become more familiar with your case, and a legal professional to determine whether we’ll make the best partner for your unique case. Claims are also litigated on a contingency fee basis—that means that you won’t owe us a cent unless your case wins or settles.
Florida’s Workers’ Compensation Laws
Florida State’s Workers’ Compensation Program is meant to serve as an avenue through which injured or ill employees (who sustained injury or illness in the workplace) may pursue and receive benefits. These benefits are explicitly intended to account for any medical expenses or lost wages caused by the injury or illness in question.
There are several laws that victims of workplace illness and injury should keep in mind as they wade into the workers’ compensation system. Unfortunately, the system was designed to benefit the state and employers within it. The good news is that a skilled attorney can assist you in pursuing compensation regardless of unfortunate circumstances such as:
- The insurance company’s freedom to select your doctor
- Insurance companies intentionally select employer-friendly doctors
- You may receive inadequate or incomplete care to force you to return to work sooner
- Time limits on reporting
- You only have thirty days following your date of injury to report the incident
- Time limits on receiving workers’ compensation checks
- The state wants to get you back to work—not to help you feel better. You can only collect workers’ compensation benefits until your doctor releases you to work (which is, again, often far too soon)
- A lack of job protection guarantee
- Your employer does not have to give you your job back when you return to work
Am I at Risk of Workplace Illness or Injury?
Yes. Whether you believe it or not, any individual in any occupation has the potential to experience workplace illness or injury. Even the most sedentary desk jockey could slip on a wet floor on their way out of an employee restroom or experience heavy work materials falling on their heads. It’s undeniable that some occupations pose less risk of injury than others, but no position should be discounted.
There are, of course, some fields of employment that present an obvious increased risk for employees. These include oil and natural gas production, construction, and other physically-demanding and dangerous jobs. It’s tough to deny that the average warehouse worker faces more danger at work than the average paralegal, but remember—any individual can be injured at work, and every injured individual deserves appropriate compensation.
Workers’ compensation does not just assist employees who have been injured in the workplace. The system is also designed to compensate workers for occupational illnesses. Examples of these illnesses, which stem from on-the-job exposure, include:
- Black lung disease (associated with exposure to coal dust)
- Asbestosis (caused by exposure to asbestos)
- Chemical poisoning
- AIDS or HIV (often encountered by medical or other staff)
Industries Linked to High Frequencies of Injuries and Illness
Some private industries are well-known for carrying a particular risk of injury and illness to their employees. In many cases, occupations within these industries present unique dangers to the individuals who perform them. Ten industry occupations topped the charts with the largest number of injuries and illnesses; in fact, they accounted for more than a third of total national claims:
- Laborers and freight, stock, and material movers | These individuals accounted for 68,470 illness and injury reports; that’s 7.6 percent of total reports across all occupations
- Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers | Truck drivers pursued 49,700 workers’ compensation claims, which made up 5.5 percent of total claims
- Janitors and cleaners | Some of any industry’s most selfless employees are, unfortunately, the most frequent victims of workplace illness and injury. 35,620 janitors and cleaners pursued workers’ compensation—they accounted for 4.0 percent of total reports
- Nursing assistants | 33,430 nursing assistants filed illness or injury reports through the workers’ compensation system
- General maintenance and repair workers | Due to risks presented by heights and unique circumstances, general maintenance and repair workers are often injured on the job. They filed a total of 29,370 claims in 2018
The other five occupations, in order from highest to lowest association with workers’ compensation claims, are:
- Retail salespersons
- Stock clerks and order fillers
- Registered nurses
- Light truck and delivery service drivers
- Construction laborers
Promptly Reporting Your Injury
One of the most crucial aspects of any workers’ compensation case lies in the victim’s timeliness. Unlike some types of claims, which victims may bring years after an incident, workplace injuries must be reported within thirty days. It’s important to keep in mind that the earlier you report your accident, the greater your chances are of receiving adequate coverage for medical bills and wages.
Your employer should have full working knowledge of federal and state workers’ compensation laws. If they remain uneducated on the subject, or refuse to share information with you, you need to understand THEIR responsibilities in your claim. After you report your injury, your employer has no more than seven days to report your injury to their insurance company. If your employer tells you otherwise, you’ll be well-served by seeking the counsel of a trustworthy workers’ compensation attorney.
Workers’ Compensation Injury Areas
The potential injury areas that may breed a workers’ compensation case are virtually limitless. Depending on your workplace’s individual location, the nature of your job, and a myriad of other factors, you may never come close to receiving one injury and be at constant risk of sustaining another.
Understand the unique and individualized risks that your specific position creates. This will allow you to better protect yourself from harm and more clearly understand injuries or illnesses that you do sustain at work. Some injuries are well-known for their frequent occurrence in workers’ compensation cases. These include:
- Hip and leg injuries | These injuries are particularly common due to how easy they are to incur. If, for example, an employee slips, trips, or falls, it’s very likely that he or she will sustain some injury to their hips or legs. Their leg may be twisted as they fall; they may land on their hip and cause a fracture. Many of these injuries can be easily traced to defective work tools or footwear, improper facility maintenance, and slippery flooring
- Catastrophic injuries | This umbrella concept extends to include a wide variety of injuries. Any injury which leaves an individual permanently and totally disabled (or PTD) qualifies as a catastrophic injury in the realm of workers’ compensation law. In most cases, victims in workers’ compensation cases may pursue significant compensation for injuries of this nature. Examples of catastrophic injuries include spinal cord damage that leads to some paralysis, amputation of appendages, and severe brain injuries
- Carpal tunnel syndrome | Carpal tunnel syndrome is a prevalent condition regardless of one’s employment status—in fact, more than 3 million cases of carpal tunnel syndrome are diagnosed each year. This statistic may cause some employees to second-guess the validity of bringing a claim related to the injury, but make no mistake—carpal tunnel syndrome acquired in the workplace can have serious consequences. Victims may experience numbness, pain, and tingling throughout the impacted hand and arm; some cases may even require surgery
- Back and neck injuries| With an increasing percentage of the population performing some form of manual labor in the workplace, it’s easy to see why back and neck injuries are especially common foci of workers’ compensation cases. You don’t have to work a physical job to injure your back or neck at work, but it does place individuals at a greater risk of injury. Improper lifting techniques, falls, and excessive physical activity can all result in damage to the neck and back.
What if a Specialist Recommends Surgery?
Many victims of workplace illness and injury dread to hear these words from their care providers. The idea that surgery may be required to heal your injury can be a tough pill to swallow—so what should you do when a doctor tells you that it may be your only option?
The first step is to consider whether your care provider has exhausted every option for non-invasive treatment. These treatments may range from shots (containing painkillers, steroids, or other medication) to basic physical therapy or low-impact exercise at home. If you feel that you may have an opportunity to try another form of non-invasive treatment before surgery, bring this up with your care provider.
Keep in mind that even if your doctor determines that you should undergo surgery, the decision is never immediate. You can always elect to bypass any medical or surgical procedure. It’s also very unlikely that your surgery will be scheduled right away; the medical system, and the surgical system, in particular, is complicated and reliant on many moving parts. Your doctor may need to wait for the appropriate facilities, staff, or tooling to be available before considering sending you in for surgery.
Florida’s Workers’ Compensation Benefits
You may be wondering what, exactly, your legally granted workers’ compensation benefits should help you recover. Each state’s laws vary slightly and grant workplace illness and injury victims different benefits. Some of the most notable benefits under Florida workers’ compensation law include:
- Up to 104 weeks of temporary disability benefits | This includes temporary total and partial disability benefits
- Medical care | Any component of a workplace illness or injury victims’ medical care related to their claim can and should be compensated. This includes doctors’ visits, medical tests and treatments, hospitalization, prescription drugs, and physical therapy
- Impairment benefits
- Permanent total disability benefits
- Death benefits
The Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA: Your Clearwater Workers’ Compensation Partner
Some legal professionals elect to turn their noses when individuals from certain occupations reach out with claims concerning workers’ compensation. At The Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, our team will never turn away clients based on their industry of employment. We proudly serve employees from a broad range of sectors.
If you or a loved one require legal assistance with a workers’ compensation claim, get in touch with our offices or call us at 833-552-7274. Each new client can take advantage of a free initial consultation. This meeting helps the Dolman team determine whether our lawyers will be the best and most advantageous fit for your case. We’re more interested in your success than ours—we never take on a case unless we believe that our attorneys can help. Contact us today to learn more about what we can do to help you following a workplace injury.
800 N Belcher Rd
Clearwater, FL 33765