The state of Florida has one of the most diverse populations in the country. Many people who call this state home are immigrants—it’s estimated that one in five Florida residents was born in another country. Many of these immigrants are authorized to be in the United States, whereas others are not. In fact, in 2016, Pew Research Center reported that there were over 775,000 unauthorized immigrants living in the state of Florida.
These unauthorized immigrants—often called undocumented workers—perform various types of jobs in the U.S. The majority of undocumented workers work in the food production, food processing, food retail, food distribution, and construction industries. These workers could suffer an on-the-job injury at any moment, which is why it’s so important for them to understand their rights to workers’ compensation.
Can undocumented workers obtain workers’ compensation benefits in Florida? How can a workers’ compensation attorney help? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and more.
Who is Covered By Workers’ Compensation Insurance in Florida?
Each state has its own laws that require certain employers to obtain workers’ compensation insurance coverage for their employees. In Florida, most employers with at least four employees are required to obtain this insurance coverage. This is true regardless of whether the employees are part-time, full-time, or both.
However, there are certain exceptions to this law. For example, the rules are different for employers in the construction industry in Florida. Employers in the construction industry are required to obtain workers’ compensation coverage if they have one or more employee.
The rules are different for farmers in Florida, too. Farmers are required to obtain workers’ compensation coverage if they have five regular employees and/or 12 or more seasonal workers that work at least 30 days or more.
All state and local government employers in Florida are required to obtain workers’ compensation coverage for their employees, regardless of how many employees they may have.
Employee vs. Independent Contractor: Who’s Covered By Workers’ Compensation?
It’s important to note that the law only requires employers to provide workers’ compensation insurance coverage to their employees. In other words, if you are classified as an independent contractor, your employer is not required to provide workers’ compensation insurance coverage for you.
This does not mean that an employer can classify you as an independent contractor just so they don’t have to obtain coverage for you. If you have been misclassified as an independent contractor, you may still be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for your work-related illnesses and injuries.
Will Your Immigration Status Affect Your Eligibility For Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Many undocumented workers who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses aren’t sure whether or not they qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. If you are an undocumented worker, it’s important to understand that your immigration status will not affect your right to benefits. To put it simply, undocumented workers can obtain workers’ compensation benefits if they suffer work-related injuries or illnesses.
What Should You Do After Suffering A Work-Related Injury?
If you are an undocumented worker, there are certain steps you will need to take after suffering a work-related injury to protect your right to workers’ compensation benefits.
Your first priority immediately after an injury should be seeking medical attention. If your injury is serious or life-threatening, visit the closest emergency room for medical treatment. Be sure to tell the emergency room staff that you were injured at work. You should also be prepared to provide the hospital with your employer’s contact information.
If your injuries are not serious or life-threatening, notify your employer right away. Your employer is required to provide you with the name of a physician who is authorized to treat you. This is the physician that you must see for medical attention immediately after suffering an injury.
Once your employer has been notified, they must report your injuries to their workers’ compensation insurance company within seven days. Notifying your employer—and their insurance company—is the first step in the process of filing a workers’ compensation claim.
If your employer has failed to report your injuries to their insurance company within seven days, don’t be afraid to contact the insurance company to file a claim on your own. It’s best if you do this with the help of an experienced attorney.
Regardless of the severity of your injuries, it’s crucial that you follow your doctor’s orders. This means you should attend follow-up appointments, undergo recommended testing and treatments, and take all medications as prescribed.
You should also listen to your doctor regarding your return to work. If your doctor says you can return to work with restrictions, for example, you must follow this order. If you believe your injuries are getting worse as a result of your return to work, schedule an appointment with your physician to discuss these concerns. Do not stop going to work unless instructed to do so by your doctor.
Failing to follow the doctor’s orders regarding your treatment or return to work could cost you. If you are accused of not following your physician’s orders, you could lose the right to workers’ compensation benefits.
Seek Legal Representation From Our Workers’ Compensation Attorneys Today
If you have suffered a work-related injury or illness, there’s no time to waste. It’s in your best interest to contact the skilled workers’ compensation attorneys at Carlson Meissner Hart & Hayslett as soon as possible to discuss your case. Since 1971, our attorneys have been committed to representing injured workers throughout the greater Tampa Bay area. Our team has over 125 years of combined legal experience, so we know what it takes to win. Let us put our vast legal resources and knowledge to work for you.
Contact our law office now to schedule a free consultation regarding your workers’ compensation case.