What happens if you are hurt at your job in Florida? Who is eligible for workers’ compensation? Will you need to be represented and advised by a Tampa workers’ compensation attorney? Keep reading, because every working person in Florida needs the answers to these questions.
Most employers who do business in Florida are required to provide workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. Is your own employer required to provide workers’ compensation insurance? Probably, but it depends on the type of business and the number of employees.
Workers’ compensation is a special insurance system for employees who are injured on the job. It was created and is managed by the state of Florida. Employers purchase and maintain workers’ compensation insurance on behalf of their employees.
Who’s Covered by Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
Job-related injuries happen in every type of work. Some work, such as construction, is clearly more hazardous than other work, but any worker can be briefly or even permanently thrown out of work by a job-related injury. If you’re injured on the job, the law in Florida is on your side.
Almost all Florida employers who have at least four or more full- or part-time employees must provide workers’ compensation insurance coverage under Florida law.
Agricultural employers in Florida with six or more employees and/or twelve or more other seasonal employees are also required to provide workers’ compensation insurance.
How Are Florida’s Construction Workers Protected?
Employers in the Florida construction industry who have one or more employees are required to provide workers’ compensation coverage. All construction workers in Florida must be covered by workers’ compensation insurance.
The Florida Workers’ Compensation Act does not allow independent contractors to operate in this state’s construction industry. By law, a construction worker in Florida is either a business owner or the employee of a business.
Is There Workers’ Compensation Coverage for Independent Contractors?
Outside of the construction industry, specific provisions of the Florida Workers’ Compensation Act spell out who is and is not an “independent contractor” in this state.
Independent contractors in Florida aren’t considered legal employees and therefore are not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. The Florida Workers’ Compensation Act exempts employers in this state from any obligation to provide coverage for independent contractors.
How Does Workers’ Compensation Help Injured Employees?
Employers in Florida should never operate without workers’ compensation insurance coverage. Strict penalties may be imposed if an employer does business in Florida without adequate workers’ compensation insurance. The workers’ compensation system in this state:
- ensures that Florida’s workers don’t have to pay personally for medical bills resulting from workplace injuries
- partially compensates injured employees for their lost income
- compensates employees who have been permanently disabled
Although you are probably “entitled by law” to workers’ compensation payments if you sustain a job-related injury, the truth is that most Florida workers will face considerable obstacles when they apply for workers’ compensation benefits.
Which Injuries Are Covered by Workers’ Compensation?
Any significant injury or injuries that you suffer at work or while engaged in job-related activities will be covered by the workers’ compensation system. This includes injuries that are sustained in workplace accidents. For example, if you suffer an injury in a slip and fall in the workplace, your injuries would most likely be covered by the workers’ compensation system.
The workers’ compensation system also covers occupational diseases, which are diseases that result from the nature of your work.
Injuries that happen while commuting, injuries that happen away from the job during lunch, and injuries that are the result of horseplay, violence, or drug or alcohol abuse are not paid for or covered by workers’ compensation insurance.
When is the Time to Contact A Workers’ Compensation Attorney?
Injured workers are given thirty days to inform employers about workplace injuries, but don’t wait – report any injuries immediately. You should contact a workers’ compensation attorney immediately after you have been examined and/or treated by a healthcare professional.
Without a good lawyer’s advice, you may have difficulty acquiring workers’ compensation benefits, but an attorney will ensure that your claim is thorough, accurate, and that no errors or misunderstandings on your part will hold up your benefits.
Insurance companies and employers may reject your claim or otherwise attempt to deny you the benefits that injured employees are entitled to. An insurance provider or employer, for example, might allege that your injury happened away from the job or that it is not as serious as you claim.
Can You Appeal A Denial of Benefits?
Florida allows you to appeal denials of workers’ compensation benefits, but the process of appealing a decision is complex and involves meeting strict deadlines. If you appeal a denial of workers’ compensation benefits, a lawyer’s help is imperative.
Workers’ compensation attorneys handle difficult appeals, so the right workers’ comp lawyer will know how to prove that you are entitled to benefits, but you’ll need some patience. The appeals process can take several months.
If your workers’ compensation benefit claim is denied, a lawyer can file an appeal on your behalf with the Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation. Your attorney can also schedule an exam for you with an independent physician who can provide a second opinion.
Do Injured Workers Have Other Legal Options?
If a party other than your employer may be responsible for your injury or injuries, you may be able to file a personal injury claim. Most workers’ compensation attorneys also handle personal injury cases. The right lawyer can discuss your options and suggest the best way to proceed.
The important thing to remember is this: If you are injured on the job, exercise your legal rights at once. Several deadlines apply to workers’ compensation claims. If you fail to meet a deadline, you will not receive benefits, and no lawyer will be able to help.
Applying for workers’ compensation benefits is time-consuming and frustrating. That can’t be avoided. A good attorney can make the process easier and will guide you through it step-by-step until you receive the payments you need and deserve.