According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 3 million individuals in the United States suffered work-related injuries and illnesses in 2014, as reported by private employers. Individuals who have sustained an injury or illness in the workplace often have the right to receive benefits that cover their medical expenses and lost wages through the Florida State Workers’ Compensation Program. Unfortunately, it is not always that easy and in many situations injured workers meet challenges and complications when trying to receive those benefits.
If you have suffered a workplace injury or illness, you may have questions regarding workers’ compensation (sometimes called workman’s comp or worker’s comp) benefits and the process by which you can obtain them. The best way to obtain the answers to your questions, and other guidance throughout the worker’s comp process, is to consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. A lawyer who understands workers’ compensation laws and procedures in Florida can advise you about all of your options and provide clarification in helping you receive the full amount of benefits you deserve.
Please call the Dolman Law Group at 727-451-6900 as soon as possible to schedule your free consultation.
The following are brief answers to some commonly asked questions by injured workers.
*Please note however, that it’s important to have an experienced lawyer evaluate your individual case.*
The simple answer is thirty (30) days, but you should report you injury as soon as possible in order to prevent any grounds for denial of coverage. You employer then has no more than seven (7) days to report the injury to their insurance company. After that, you should receive an information brochure within three (3) days.
If non-invasive treatments (i.e. injections, physical therapy, low-impact exercise, etc.) have not solved your medical issue, you may be referred to a specialist to determine whether surgery is a viable option for your case. If the specialist recommends that you undergo a surgical procedure, you may not be automatically scheduled for surgery. Medical situations that require surgery are often complex and can involve many different options and variables. If surgery is recommended, you may either choose not to proceed or you may want to discuss all your other options. Surgery can be a major undertaking, and it is not always the best route to take. Sometimes, it is the only option. We can explain the best way to handle a scenario where you are uncertain about proceeding with surgery including your many alternative options.
The following are different scenarios that can occur following a surgical recommendation:
If this is the case, you have the option to proceed with the recommended surgery. However, you will want to ensure that you will receive benefits that both, cover the medical cost of the procedure and the payment of lost wages during your period of recovery. Although this is the ideal situation, many workers face circumstances that are not this straightforward.
This second opinion is known as an Independent Medical Examination (IME). Although you may think that you don’t need to see another specialist for a second opinion, you are obligated to do so under Florida workers’ compensation law. If you refuse, the insurer may stop all benefits. It is best to speak with us before you make a decision regarding refusal to see another specialist. We can discuss what options are available to you in such a circumstance, allowing you to determine how best to proceed.
Several circumstances may cause the insurance company to request that you receive an IME:
Doctors hired to perform IMEs are usually paid by the same insurance company handling your claim. In most cases, the insurance company chooses the doctor you will be required to see. As mentioned above, you are required to receive an IME and failure to do so could result in a denial of your claim.
In such a situation, you should immediately contact an experienced attorney to help you file a Petition for Benefits requesting authorization for the surgery. A Petition of Benefits requires specific documentation and specific content, so the assistance of a skilled lawyer is imperative. The insurance company may deny you surgery because questions arose over three things: if the proposed surgery is reasonable, if it is necessary, or if it is related to your work injury. Again, at this point hey have the legal right to get an IME before deciding whether to approve the surgery.
In many situations, especially in cases of spinal cord surgery, you may not want to undergo what can be an invasive procedure carrying an extensive recovery time and risk of further complications. While you always have the right to control your own medical treatment, refusing surgery can affect your workers’ compensation benefits. For example, if you choose not to accept the recommended surgical treatment, the insurer may hold you responsible for any future issues related to your injury which may have been corrected by the surgery. Therefore, your benefits may decrease significantly or even stop altogether. For this reason, you should never immediately refuse surgery, but instead take time to think about it and discuss your case with our office. We can help you to explore your options in this type of situation, such as discussing a settlement with the insurer.
In some cases, an injured or ill worker may wish to stop receiving continuous benefits and instead receive a lump sum to cover their losses. This lump sum is known as a settlement. While receiving a settlement can be a favorable option in many cases, there are some important exceptions to consider. If you are thinking about settling, it is always best to discuss your situation with a knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney. This way, someone with experience of different outcomes can help to determine the best course of action for your case. A settlement means that you give up the right to all future benefits related to your injury or illness, even if unforeseen complications develop in the future.
If you do decide to settle, you should always have an experienced lawyer negotiating the settlement on your behalf. Negotiations are initiated by making a demand to the insurance carrier who will then reply with a counteroffer. An attorney can fight for your right to obtain the highest possible settlement. Note also, that if you are not happy with any of the settlement offers, you can always refuse them. Settling on a claim is an entirely voluntary situation for both you and the insurance carrier.
Though seeking a settlement is often be the best option for many injured workers, reaching a favorable agreement can be difficult. After all, as the injured party, you will want to receive the most compensation possible. And of course, the insurance carrier’s job is to offer the lowest amount possible. An experienced attorney will know how to use your case’s specific details to negotiate the best possible settlement. We will also be there for you to best represent your interests throughout the entire process.
All employers in Florida with four (4) or more employees are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance in the event a worker gets injured or ill. Moreover, because construction is one of the most dangerous industries when it comes to injuries, all construction employers with at least one (1) worker must provide workers’ compensation coverage, including subcontractors. If you work for a subcontractor, you should be able to trust that you are covered by a workers’ compensation policy. In fact, subcontractors are required to prove to the entity that contracted them that they are covered. You may ask for proof yourself. Unfortunately, many subcontractors unlawfully fail to obtain workers’ compensation coverage, and even lie to both workers and the general contractor about it.
For a list of what is considered a construction job, see this webpage.
Unfortunately, you may not realize that your employer does not have proper coverage until after you have been injured on the job. Fortunately, there are still ways for you to obtain benefits and compensation. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you “go up the ladder” to receive benefits from the general contractor’s workers’ compensation insurer. If this unlawful situation applies to you, contact our office to discuss your case as soon as possible.
Many injured workers are hesitant to consult with a lawyer for many reasons. Some may be concerned about being pressured (we will not pressure you), concerned about cost (our consultations are absolutely free and we do not get paid if you don’t), or they think their case isn’t important enough (your health is always important). Rest assured that speaking with someone in our law office will only make the process of obtaining benefits easier for you—not more difficult. The following are some FAQs regarding attorney representation:
Do some research. Check out Google reviews to see what our past clients have to say about us. Also, check out some trusted attorney ranking websites to see how we compare. The end of this article has links to the more trusted sites for this purpose. These websites will also list some of our firm’s awards and honors. If possible, ask someone who has worked with us in the past to see what they thought about our service and outcome. We are also proud to say that throughout the entire process, you will be in contact with your attorney. As a courtesy to free and open communication, you will have their personal cell phone number. We are happy to stand up to any scrutiny so that you are comfortable knowing that you made a good decision.
In-person or over-the-phone consultations with a highly experienced workers’ compensation attorney are absolutely free. The key word here is attorney. At large settlement mills, clients almost never meet with an actual attorney. At Dolman Law, we value your business and want to speak with you directly. Call us as soon as possible following a workplace injury or illness. You should never hesitate to pursue the compensation you deserve.
Many injured workers are physically unable to come in to one of our office in Clearwater, St. Petersburg, or New Port Richie for a consultation. We completely understand. For this reason, we are happy to consult with you over the phone. We are also willing to handle whatever we can for your case via traditional mail, fax, or email, if necessary. We will also gladly send a colleague to your home for our free consultation if your situation prevents you from leaving the house. We have been working with injured victims for years and completely understand the intricacies and sensitivities of such a situation.
You always have the right to seek new representation. If you feel your current attorney is not handling your case appropriately—or any other reason—you are not obligated to see the case through with their firm. We will gladly help you in the process of changing lawyers as we welcome the opportunity to prove our exceptional client service and aggressive representation.
You always have the choice to handle your workers’ compensation case on your own. It is most definitely your right. However, most people choose to hire an attorney for a few major reasons: (1) an injury or illness can make all the research, running around, and phone calls more difficult and tiring; (2) the process—even without an attorney—is law-based, including what can be complicated processes and forms; (3) the insurance company will most definitely have attorneys working for them, so most people like to level the playing field; (4) settlement negotiations without an attorney can be risky with lowball results. Insurers often try to take advantage of unrepresented parties by persuading or tricking them into accepting an offer that is far too low. Most people don’t deal with workers’ compensation claims every day (if ever), but the insurance adjusters definitely do. Often, they will try to make a claimant feel as if they have no other options, which is almost never the case. At Dolman Law, we welcome the opportunity to go toe-to-toe with the insurance companies in order to fight for the injured.
At the Dolman Law Group, we understand that dealing with a work-related injury or illness is never easy. For this reason, our legal team always strives to make the process as easy and stress-free as possible for you and your family. We have extensive knowledge of the Florida workers’ compensation process and will always use every possible resource to make sure that you receive the full amount of benefits that you deserve. Whether you choose to settle your case or not, we will be there to help. Even if you think you will handle your case on your own, it never hurts to get the opinion of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. Call us to find out how much we can help you.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a situation regarding this topic, Dolman Law Group offers a completely free consultation and case evaluation. That means that we will: personally sit down with you, hear your case, inform you of your rights, let you know of any possible courses of action, and offer you our most suited attorney to handle your situation; all completely free of charge. We also offer a confident “No Recovery, No Fee” promise to our clients, enabling you peace-of-mind knowing that you aren’t obligated to pay us anything until we achieve a payout for you.
Our offices in Clearwater, St. Petersburg, and New Port Richey ensure easy access from any location in the Tampa Bay area. Should you decide our firm is ideal for your situation, we will also advocate for anyone in the state of Florida. We aim for client satisfaction from start to finish and have no doubts about achieving this goal. Contact Dolman Law Group today and we’ll get started on your case quickly and confidentially.
Dolman Law Group was founded in 2009 by Matthew Dolman, Esq., who is now the president and equity partner of the firm. Matt attended Stetson University where he majored in trial advocacy; one of the highest rated trial advocacy programs in the nation. Matt has been selected for Florida Rising Stars in 2013–2016, a prestigious title given by Super Lawyers rating service to outstanding candidates under 40. Matt was also selected as a “National Top 100 Trial Lawyer” and as a “Top 40 under 40” by NTL (National Trial Lawyers Organization). He also scores a perfect 10.0 rating on Avvo.com, a respected online legal directory. In 2013, he became a lifelong member of the Million and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for his largest claim settlements.
Our firm focuses on personal injury law, representing many practice areas, including: those who have been injured in car or motorcycle accidents, wrongful death, traumatic brain injury, slip and fall accidents, distracted or drunk driving, and many more.
At Dolman Law, we’re on your side. Being home to seven different experienced, successful, and professional attorneys makes having our team fighting for you a wise choice. We also provide an important gateway for success by providing our clients with the personal cell phone number of the attorney dealing with their case, enabling real relationships and connections. We’ve been ‘in it to win it’ since 2009 and we hope you are as well.
Contact us with our easy Online Form which will email us directly.
Other helpful articles and blog posts:
Florida Statutes on Workers’ Compensation
Florida Division of Worker Compensation-FAQ
Helpful Habits to Help Protect Your Case
Reality vs Intent
Common WC Myths
Will my WC case go to trial?