Have you been injured on the job in Doral? As reported by the National Safety Council, a worker in the U.S. is injured on the job every seven seconds, resulting in more than two million employer reports of injuries and illnesses in 2017 alone. If you’ve suffered a workplace accident or illness, you may have questions about the process of filing a workers’ compensation claim. An attorney with experience in such claims can help you.
A By-the-Numbers Look at Workers’ Comp
Ever wonder what the most dangerous job in the United States is, or how many workplace injuries there are each year? The United States Department of Labor has statistics based on 2017 numbers:
- 2.8 Million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported by U.S. private industry employers in 2017.
- 45,800 fewer workplace injuries and illnesses were reported in 2017, compared to one year earlier.
- 882,730 occupational injuries and illnesses in private industry resulted in missed days from work.
- The median days away from work in the manufacturing industry was 8. This represented one fewer missed day from work than in 2016.
- 4 occupational groups represented 67 percent of the workplace injuries and illnesses requiring days away from work. Those groups included: other production workers, metal and plastic workers, material moving workers, and assemblers or fabricators.
- 34 percent of the days away from work in manufacturing involved musculoskeletal disorders.
- 23,570 days away from work cases were reported in the healthcare field.
- 11,140 days away from work cases were reported in the administrative and support services industry due to slips, trips, and falls.
Florida’s Workers’ Comp Laws
According to information provided by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, here are some of the features of the state’s workers’ compensation laws:
- Most employers are required to provide workers’ compensation to their employees. The benefits serve as a wage replacement for employees who have suffered a workplace injury or illness.
- There are three types of benefits available in addition to medical care coverage: temporary total disability (TTD), temporary partial disability (TPD), and impairment benefits. TTD benefits pay 66 2/3 percent of your weekly wage. TPD is 80 percent of the difference between the wages an individual received before the injury and what they’re able to earn now.
- With some exceptions, workers’ compensation claims must be made within 30 days. The hard deadline for filing petitions for benefits is two years.
- Claimants are limited to benefits equaling no more than 100 percent of the statewide average weekly wage, or 66 2/3 percent of your weekly wages.
- Benefits begin on day 8 if your injury results in less than 22 days missed from work.
- For disabilities lasting more than 21 days, benefits begin on day 1.
- Individuals may only receive benefits for psychiatric claims that stem from physical injuries for 6 months.
- If a minor is legally employed and injured at the workplace, the damages that they are eligible to receive are double that of a claim from a legally employed adult.
- Workers’ compensation claimants are required to see only doctors that are authorized by the workers’ compensation insurance company.
- If your benefits are denied, you may still be able to receive compensation by filing a lawsuit against the workers’ compensation insurance company. An experienced workers’ comp attorney can assist you.
Common Workplace Injuries
Workplace injuries vary widely, depending on what industry the injured individual was working in. However, here is a list of some of the injuries we’ve seen with our workers’ compensation clients:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome: Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition affecting the hand and wrist. It is generally caused by repetitive or awkward hand movements. It also can be caused by strong gripping, mechanical stress on the palm, and vibration.
- Back and neck injuries: Back and neck injuries are among the most common workplace injuries. These injuries include spinal cord injuries and bulging or herniated discs. It is important to report symptoms such as pain, numbness, and tingling in one or both arms promptly, in order to ensure that the right diagnostic tests are performed.
- Head and brain injuries: Head and brain injuries on the job may be caused by an object striking an employee in the head. These types of injuries are particularly common in the construction industry. Landscaping occupations also pose a high risk of head or brain injuries, due to falling from a higher level or having items dropped from a higher level onto the head.
- Hip and leg injuries: Employees may acquire injuries to their legs and hips due to a fall. Another cause of hip and leg injuries in the workplace is having objects fall on the legs or work that requires a twisting of the legs in an unnatural manner.
- Rotator cuff and shoulder injuries: Although rotator cuff and shoulder injuries are more common with jobs that require heavy lifting, we have seen these injuries occur in office settings, as well. These types of injuries often don’t show up on an X-ray.
- Catastrophic workplace injuries: A catastrophic work injury, according to law, is one that leaves the employee totally and permanently disabled. The benefits available for Permanent Total Disability are generally significant, with compensation easily climbing into hundreds of thousands of dollars. Some examples of injuries that could results in permanent total disability include: spinal cord injuries involving paralysis of the arms, legs, or trunk; amputation of an arm, hand, or leg; severe brain injury that results in significant disturbances to the sensory, motor, speech, or cerebral function, severe neurological disorders, or other consequences that are equally severe as those outlined here; second or third degree burns over at least 25 percent of the body or third-degree burns over at least five percent of the face or hands; or total or industrial blindness.
- Work-related deaths: When an employee dies due to a workplace injury or illness, his or her family may be eligible to receive benefits, including up to $7,500 for funeral expenses, and monetary benefits based on the deceased’s average weekly wage. The benefits received may not exceed $150,000.
Should I Settle?
Sometimes, depending on the circumstances of the case, an employee who is eligible to receive benefits can do so in a single lump sum payment rather than in continuous payments. This lump sum is called a settlement. While this is a preferable way to receive benefits for many workers, it isn’t without it’s down side, and a knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney can help you understand the downsides so that you can make the best decision possible in your situation.
One of the bad things about accepting a settlement is that you give up the right to pursue additional compensation in the future. If you do decide to settle, you will want an attorney to negotiate on your behalf in order to help you receive an amount of compensation that can meet your needs for the foreseeable future. If you are offered a settlement that is less than you and your attorney believe that your claim is worth, you do have the option to decline the offer.
Frequently Asked Questions About Workers’ Comp
Q: What happens if I fail to report my injury to my employer within 30 days?
A: While there are plenty of exceptions to the 30 day window in which to report a workplace injury, you should definitely try to meet the deadline and report the injury as soon as possible as a failure to do so could result in a denial of coverage.
Q: Is my employer required to carry workers’ compensation coverage?
A: More than likely, yes. In Florida, employers with at least four employees are required to provide workers’ compensation coverage. Construction companies, due to the high incidence of injuries in that industry, are required to carry the coverage if they have more than one employee. This number includes subcontractors.
Q: What happens if my employer doesn’t carry workers’ compensation coverage?
A: Even if you are unable to receive workers’ compensation benefits from your employer due to the employer not providing proper coverage or your claim being denied, you may still be eligible for compensation that you can pursue by filing a legal claim.
Q: How does a workers’ compensation case begin?
A: The first step in initiating a claim for workers’ compensation benefits is to file a Petition for Benefits (PFB). A PFB is much like a complaint in a civil litigation matter in that it lists specific benefits that the claimant is entitled to, including lost wages, medical expenses, prescription medications, mileage for trips to and from the authorized medical provider, physical therapy, and more. The insurance carrier has 14 days after the submission of a PFB to either pay the requested benefits or file a response to the claimant.
Q: Is it possible for me to collect workers’ comp benefits and still file a lawsuit for compensation?
A: Yes. It is not uncommon for employees who have been injured due to the negligent or reckless actions of a coworker or even a manager to obtain workers’ comp benefits from their employer and also seek compensation via a personal injury lawsuit. An attorney who is well versed in both workers’ compensation and personal injury can help you determine if this is an option for you.
Q: Can the insurance carrier force me to get a second opinion on my diagnosis?
A: When your diagnosis is the subject of a workers’ compensation case, yes they can. The second opinion is called an Independent Medical Examination (IME), and if you refuse to get one when your employer’s insurance carrier requests it, it could result in the denial of your case. There are several reasons why a carrier would request an IME, including disagreeing with the initial diagnosis, the failure of the initial doctor to treat your condition fast enough, or to collect evidence in order to resolve controversy about the claim.
Spotlight on Workers’ Comp in Florida
According to a post from Orlando Weekly, businesses across the state are expected to see a decrease in workers’ compensation rates in 2019. The decrease is in line with the trends in other states, as improvements in loss experience offset moderate increases in claim severity. Regulators approved a 13.8 percent decrease for 2019. This follows a 9.5 percent average rate reduction in 2018.
As reported by the Florida Watchdog in December, 2018, Florida lawmakers are looking at implementing an independent medical review process that could potentially reduce costs and accelerate resolutions with disputed claims. The process, which California implemented in 2012, would rely on asking doctors, rather than legal professionals, to resolve disputed claims. The change in how these cases are handled could shrink the time it takes to resolve these matters from around six months under the current system to less than 30 days. Further, implementing an independent medical review process could save businesses around $22.6 million annually, the report states.
An article from Business Insurance stated that the average weekly wage paid to injured workers by employers increased to $929 at the start of 2019, which represents a 2.4 percent increase over the average weekly wage set for 2018. The increase is in line with Florida law, which calls for the weekly wage compensation to equal 100 percent of the statewide average weekly wage. The average weekly wage is determined each year on June 30.
How We Can Help With Your Doral Workers’ Comp Claim
It is not unusual for employees filing a workers’ compensation claim in Florida to encounter challenges and complications in the process. For guidance throughout the entire process, the experienced workers’ comp lawyers at Sibley Dolman are ready to lend a hand as soon as possible. We understand workers’ compensation laws and procedures and can provide information to help you determine the benefits you’re eligible to receive, can represent you in the process of filing the claim, and can even provide you with advice as to whether or not an additional personal injury claim would be a viable and helpful resolution to your case.
For a free consultation and case review with a Doral workers’ comp attorney, contact Sibley Dolman online or by calling (305) 930-7688.
Sibley Dolman Accident Injury Lawyers, LLP
8400 NW 36th St.
Doral, FL, 33166
What Our Clients Have to Say:
“My experience with this law firm has been extremely pleasant. After being involved in an accident where I was injured, I was able to seek treatment from the best doctors in the area. I was lucky to have a team that assisted in scheduling my appointments that worked around both my full time work schedule and my demanding grad school schedule. Even with a move out of state to New York, I was able to remain with this law firm and continue treatment in south Florida while remaining under the care of the doctors that I felt most comfortable with. Even though I suffered injuries and experienced difficulties in that aspect, the team here was able to make sure that I was able to continue work and stay on track with grad school all while I moved to a new state.”
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