One of the most commonly miscalculated and continuing issues with worker’s compensation claims is the receipt of what are called . In representing those injured on the job, absolutely every effort must be made to ensure the injured employee is receiving every benefit they’re entitled to. are codified under . Within the complexities existing in that body of statutory law, are all the rights an injured employee has within Florida’s worker’s compensation system. While not everyone will experience an insurance company denying their lost wage payments, or paying them less than their entitled to, the practice is so common that we handle claims with the presumption that an error either has been or will be made, from the very beginning.
To explain the calculation and payment of lost wages in laymen’s terms, the amount of your average weekly wage (AWW) determine the rate at which you will receive payments from the worker’s compensation insurance company. Your AWW is calculated by taking an average of the 13 weeks you worked before your accident. There are two other time periods to be aware of when it comes to the receipt of lost wage payments. First is a 7-day waiting period. You will not be paid for the first seven days you are out of work. The second is a 21-day period. If you remain out of work due to the disability caused by your work accident, then you will be paid for the first 7-day period. You will receive your lost wages every two weeks. In some cases, Florida’s injured employees will receive a check every two weeks representing two weeks’ worth of lost wage payments. In other cases, the injured worker receives a debit card. The insurance company transfers money to the debit card every two weeks representing the amount of that employee’s lost wages.
Why would lost wage payments be an area wherein insurance companies take advantage of those injured on the job so often? Because most people injured on the job do not know the ins and outs of Florida’s worker’s compensation laws. They don’t know what they’re entitled to, in what amount, or how often. That lack of knowledge is completely understandable. Knowledge and experience with respect to job-related injuries or illnesses are not something anyone knows about unless there has been a genuine opportunity to immerse oneself in the laws that apply. More often than not, people receive a check every two weeks and never question whether they’re receiving the full amount they’re entitled to. There is a tendency to have a blind trust for the adjuster to do her job correctly. If the adjuster tends to be polite on the phone, there’s all the more reason for the injured employee to maintain a false sense of security.
Why would insurance companies make lost wage payments in incorrect amounts? In reading this, you can probably guess the answer – doing so saves them money in paying out benefits on the claim. Unless the injured worker retains a , there is little chance that he or she will ever question the amount they are receiving every two weeks.
What are the penalties for an insurance company paying me incorrectly? If a worker’s compensation insurance company is paying an injured employee less than their entitled to in lost wages, their worker’s compensation attorney will file what is called a Petition for Benefits. Lost wages are just one of the many worker’s compensation benefits that a Petition can be filed for. If 30 days go by after receipt of the Petition by the insurance company, the injured worker can receive an additional 20% penalty on top of all their underpaid or unpaid lost wages payments. Attorney fees are not deducted from any amount of any benefit you receive through worker’s compensation. The insurance company at fault for failing to provide you with the correct amount of benefits in a timely manner is liable for your attorney fees and costs.
The laws concerning the recovery of attorney fees and costs for obtaining past due benefits on behalf of injured workers is such that your attorney and the worker’s compensation carrier must come to an agreement to resolve the amount of attorney fees and costs owed. The reasoning is that the worker’s compensation laws are supposed to be self – executing. Meaning, you are not supposed to have to go to the trouble of hiring an attorney to recover benefits the insurance company had the obligation to pay you in the first place.
If you have questions about whether you’re receiving the correct amount of lost wage payments, or any other benefit, medical or impairment, is being denied or delayed, contact our office for a free consultation. Call 727-451-6900 or visit