When you have been unable to work due to a job-related injury, you and your family may be counting on receiving workers’ compensation benefits to make ends meet until you can return to work. If you rely on workers’ comp benefits, it is important to understand what circumstances may result in your benefits to be terminated sooner than you may expect. Our Tampa, FL worker’s compensation law firm receives many questions about worker’s comp benefits in Florida – here are some possible answers that may help you understand your options.
How Long Can I Receive Worker’s Comp Benefits in Tampa, FL?
According to the Florida Division of Worker’s Compensation, the maximum length of time a worker can receive benefits depends on the severity of their injuries. Those who have a temporary partial disability or a temporary total disability will receive benefits for a maximum of 104 weeks.
If a physician determines that a worker has reached a point of maximum medical improvement and is able to return to work, benefits will likely be suspended. Alternatively, if the worker is unable to return to their position and their condition will not improve with time, the doctor may assign a permanent disability rating, which may make the worker eligible for permanent disability benefits.
What Are Some Reasons That May Cause Florida Workers’ Comp Benefits to Be Terminated?
The most common reason for worker’s compensation benefits to end is when an employee is able to return to work. However, other circumstances may result in early termination of benefits. Those include a worker refusing to follow requirements for a medical examination or non-compliance with the medical treatment prescribed by the worker’s comp doctor.
Other reasons such as failing to complete and return the required employment verification form to the insurer, being arrested and convicted of a crime, or filing a fraudulent worker’s comp claim in which you exaggerate the severity of your injuries, to name a few examples. If your employer or the insurance company is questioning the validity of your claim, a judge may examine the facts and determine whether your benefits should continue or not.
Will I Get a Notification in Case Someone Files a Request to End My Benefits?
If, for any reason, a request to end or modify your benefits is filed by your employer or by the worker’s comp insurer, you can expect to receive a notice by mail called a Petition to Modify, Terminate or Suspend.
There are usually strict deadlines for responding, and you may be required to attend a hearing. In this case, it may be in your best interest to be prepared and hire an attorney to represent you at the hearing.
What Should I Do if I Believe My Worker’s Comp Benefits Are Being Terminated in Bad Faith?
In most cases, employers or insurers may attempt to show that you have healed enough to return to work on light duty (even if you are still healing from your accident), or may offer you a light duty position that does not match your current restrictions only to claim later that you refused a reasonable offer to return to work on light duty. If you disagree with their opinion about your current ability to work or believe you are being treated unfairly, you may be able to file a complaint with the Florida Division of Worker’s Compensation, but you may also want to consult an attorney who has the knowledge and experience to handle all aspects of your worker’s compensation case. If you are having difficulty reaching an agreement with your employer or negotiating with the insurance company, contact the Carlson, Meissner, Hart & Hayslett Tampa office and request a free consultation to learn your options.