According to the National Safety Council, a worker in the U.S. is injured on the job every seven seconds. Work-related injuries are more common in certain industries. But the truth is that anyone can suffer an on-the-job injury, and some injuries are severe enough to affect the victim’s ability to work. That’s why every worker in Florida should know whether or not they are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for their lost wages.
It’s important to note that it’s not always easy to obtain workers’ compensation benefits. For this reason, it’s best to seek legal representation from a Tampa workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible after suffering a work-related injury.
Are You Entitled to Workers’ Compensation Benefits For Lost Wages?
The workers’ compensation system in Florida does compensate injured workers for their lost wages if they are temporarily or permanently unable to work due to their injuries.
The four main types of workers’ compensation benefits for lost wages are:
- Temporary Total Disability
- Temporary Partial Disability
- Impairment Income Benefits
- Permanent Total Disability
The type, amount, and rate you are awarded will vary depending on numerous factors, including the nature of your injury, your work restrictions, and your income.
What Are Temporary Total Disability Benefits?
Your treating physician may determine that you are temporarily unable to work as a result of your injuries. If this happens, you will be awarded temporary total disability (TTD) benefits. These benefits are not awarded for the first seven days of your disability unless you are disabled for a period of at least 21 days.
TTD benefits are typically equal to two-thirds of your regular wages up to the state’s maximum weekly rate. In 2020, the maximum weekly rate in Florida is $971.
However, workers who have sustained certain types of injuries, including the loss of a limb or vision loss, may qualify for TTD benefits that are equal to 80% of their regular wages, up to $700 per week.
You may continue to receive TTD benefits for a maximum of 104 weeks. But if you have suffered a severe injury, you can only receive TTD benefits equal to 80% of your regular wages for up to six months.
What Are Temporary Partial Disability Benefits?
During your recovery, your treating physician may determine that you are capable of returning to work with certain restrictions.
If you are allowed to return to work with restrictions, you may qualify for temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits. But you will only receive these benefits if you are unable to earn 80% of your pre-injury wages due to your restrictions.
For example, your physician may allow you to return to your pre-injury job as long as you work fewer hours so you don’t aggravate your injury. You may not earn as much as you did before your injury due to this reduction in your hours. If your reduced hours cause you to earn less than 80% of what you earned prior to your injury, you qualify for TPD benefits.
The formula that is used to calculate these benefits is complex. For example, say you earned an average of $1000 per week prior to your injury, but now that you have returned to work with restrictions, you are only earning $600 per week. To calculate your TPD benefits, multiply your pre-injury weekly wages by 80%, so ($1000 x 80%)= $800. Then, subtract the wages you are currently earning while working with restrictions, so ($800-$600)=$200. Finally, multiply this number by 80%, so ($200 x 80%)=$160. In this example, your TPD benefits would be $160 per week.
You can continue to receive TPD benefits for up to 104 weeks, until you no longer need to work with restrictions, or until you reach maximum medical improvement, whichever occurs first.
What Are Impairment Income Benefits?
Your treating physician will evaluate you once you have reached maximum medical improvement. If you have suffered from a permanent physical, psychological, or functional impairment due to your injuries, you may qualify for impairment income benefits (IIB).
During the evaluation, your doctor will assign a “permanent impairment rating.” This rating is a measure of what percentage of your body is affected by your work-related permanent disability.
IIB are equal to two-thirds of your average weekly temporary total disability benefits. For example, if you were receiving $800 in TTD benefits per week, you may qualify for $600 in IIB weekly benefits. The length of time that these benefits will continue will depend on the nature of your impairment.
What Are Permanent Total Disability Benefits?
You may qualify for permanent total disability (PTD) benefits if you will never be able to work again as a result of your work-related injuries. This means you will never be able to perform your pre-injury work or any other type of work ever again.
You may qualify for these benefits if you suffer catastrophic injuries such as:
- Spinal cord injuries that lead to paralysis
- Total blindness
- Severe sensory or motor disturbances
- Brain injuries
- Second-degree or third-degree burns that cover at least 25% of the body
- Third-degree burns that cover at least 5% of the face and hands
PTD benefits are equal to two-thirds of your average weekly wages, up to the state’s maximum weekly rate of $971. These benefits will continue for the duration of your permanent disability.
Seek Legal Representation From A Workers’ Comp Attorney in Tampa
If you are injured at work in Florida, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for your lost wages. But these benefits will not cover 100% of the wages you have lost as a result of your injuries, which is why it’s so important to fight for every dollar of compensation you deserve.
Don’t hesitate to seek legal representation from a workers’ compensation attorney immediately after suffering a work-related injury. The skilled workers’ comp lawyers at Carlson Meissner Hart & Hayslett are committed to helping injured workers obtain the benefits they need. Tell us about your situation today so we can start fighting for the workers’ compensation benefits you are entitled to by law.