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Common Workers Compensation Myths

Before we address what we have come to understand as common myths within Florida’s Worker’s Compensation system, we want to provide a basic summary describing what Worker’s Compensation in Florida is:

Worker’s Compensation laws were enacted by Florida’s State Legislature for the purpose of protecting an injured worker from loss of income and to provide for payment of medical bills.  The enacted laws are known as Florida’s Worker’s Compensation Act.  The statutory laws governing worker’s compensation claims are codified under Florida Statute chapter 440. [1] The legislative intent of the Act is to make worker’s compensation insurance companies responsible for the injuries of the employees sustained by the employer’s they’re providing worker’s compensation coverage for.  The Act provides injured employees with full compensation for medical bills and partial compensation for lost wages if you sustain an injury while engaged in conduct in furtherance of your employer’s business.  The Act compensates injured employees for any permanent disability or lasting physical impairment resulting from the workplace accident.

The rules and regulations governing claims under the Florida Worker’s Compensation Act are complex.  However, we believe it is important to provide at least a basic understanding of what Florida’s Worker’s Compensation Act was intended to provide.  Worker’s Compensation is a no fault system.  That means you don’t have to show your employer did any wrong in connection with causing your injury.  You simply need to show you were in the course and scope of your employment at the time your accident occurred.

The following is a list of common misunderstandings and myths we encounter on behalf of those injured on the job.  The list is by no means a complete list of every myth, misconception, or misunderstanding.  If you’re uncertain whether you’re receiving accurate information from the worker’s compensation carrier, your employer, or simply want to be sure of your rights, we encourage you to contact our office for a free consultation.  We have offices in the following locations to better serve you:  New Port Richey, St. Petersburg, and Clearwater.  We can be reached by calling our office at 727-451-6900 or www.dolmanlaw.com.

COMMON  MYTHS AND MISUNDERSTANDINGS:

  1. My employer will file all necessary forms and documents to protect my claim and eligibility for worker’s compensation benefits.

Your employer is required to file a first report of injury / illness with the State of Florida.  The form in and of itself DOES NOT protect your rights under Florida’s Worker’s Compensation laws.  In addition, we have encountered plenty of circumstances where the Petition for Benefits we file on behalf of our clients is the first time the worker’s compensation insurance company is made aware of accident occurring on the job.

  1. Worker’s Compensation laws require that I file a lawsuit against my employer.

This statement is simply NOT TRUE.  If you are not receiving benefits you’re entitled to receive, a Petition for Benefits is filed against the worker’s compensation insurance company obligated to provide you with such worker’s compensation benefits.   There is no lawsuit against your employer.  Worker’s Compensation claims are handled through an administrative hearing process and are not the subject of civil litigation.  The Florida Office of the Judges of Compensation Claims is the judicial body that hears motions and determines your eligibility to benefits.  There is no right to a trial by jury in worker’s compensation claims.

  1. I am entitled to recover damages for pain and suffering.

Although we do not agree with the legislature in this regard, you are NOT ENTITLED TO RECOVER for pain and suffering endured as a result of your work related injuries or conditions.  The Act considers pain and suffering to be non – economic damages that are not recoverable.   The only benefits you’re eligible to recover under Florida’s worker’s compensation law is for lost wages, medical treatment, impairment benefits, and penalties and interest on any unpaid or underpaid amounts that are determined to have either not been provided at all, or not provided timely.

Pain and suffering are non – economic damages that can be recovered in an injury case that is not governed by worker’s compensation laws.  Our firm handles many area of law in addition to worker’s compensation.  Please visit the legal services section of our website for an overview of the different types of accidents and injuries we handle.

  1. I was told that because the accident is my fault, I am not entitled to worker’s compensation benefits.

This is entirely UNTRUE.   The accident could be entirely your fault and you would remain eligible for the full amount of worker’s compensation benefits.  As explained above, Florida’s Worker’s Compensation Act is one that does not take fault into account.  The only exceptions pertain to an accident that occurred as a result of your employer’s deliberate attempt to injure you; or your employer engaging in conduct that was virtually certain to result in your injury or death.  Successfully proving that your employer engaged in conduct sufficient to meet either of the above referenced criteria is highly unlikely.  The courts currently favor what is called, “employer immunity,” in regard to attempts to sue employers for any deliberate attempts to injure employees, or engaging in conduct virtually certain to result in injury or death to their employee.  Employer immunity means that an employer is immune from suit by an employee.  In order to be entitled to immunity from suit, the employer must secure worker’s compensation coverage that is in effect on the date of accident relevant to your work accident and resulting injuries.

The above noted myths and misunderstandings are simply a few of the many we come across in handling claims on behalf of those injured on the job.  As explained in the beginning of the article, the list is by no means intended to be a complete list of every misunderstanding that exists in the minds of those injured on the job.  More often than note, worker’s compensation carriers are not going to be a resource for you to inquire what your rights are or what you’re entitled to.  Not only are the worker’s compensation insurance company’s interests completely opposite from yours, not every adjuster is as well informed as we are in regard to the benefits you’re entitled to.  Contacting the Dolman Law Group’s offices for a free consultation is of no obligation to you. Please call us at 727-451-6900.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765
727-451-6900

https://www.dolmanlaw.com/legal-services/workers-compensation-attorneys/

References:

[1] http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0400-0499/0440/0440.html