The workers’ compensation system in Florida was established to provide benefits to workers who suffer job-related injuries. But the workers’ compensation laws in this state are complex, which is why it’s important to learn what injuries are covered and what types of benefits you are entitled for your injuries.
Each case is unique, so it’s best to speak to a Tampa workers’ compensation attorney about your situation to determine whether or not you are entitled to benefits, and if so, what they will cover. But in general, here’s what you should know about the workers’ compensation system in Florida:
What Injuries Are Covered By the Workers’ Compensation System in Florida?
The workers’ compensation system in Florida covers all injuries caused “by accident arising out of and in the course of employment.” The law defines an accident as an unusual and unexpected incident that happens suddenly.
For example, if you suffer a back injury after slipping and falling while working in a warehouse, you would be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. This is because the slip and fall was an accident and your injuries were sustained while you were performing your job duties.
Pre-existing injuries can also be covered by the workers’ compensation system under certain circumstances. If your pre-existing injury was aggravated or accelerated by a workplace accident, you may be entitled to benefits for the aggravation or acceleration of your condition. You won’t be compensated for the injury itself, but rather the worsening of the injury caused by your work.
The workers’ compensation system also covers occupational diseases, which are diseases that result from the nature of a worker’s employment. For example, a worker who is frequently exposed to asbestos on the job may develop mesothelioma, which is a type of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs and abdomen. This worker would be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits since they developed this disease due to the nature of their work.
The laws regarding which injuries are and are not covered by the workers’ compensation system in Florida are complex. If you have been injured, it’s in your best interest to speak to an attorney about your case. Your attorney can review the details of your situation to determine whether or not you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
What Are the Different Types of Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
If your injuries are covered by the workers’ compensation system, you may be awarded several types of benefits, including:
- Medical Benefits
- Lost Wages
- Death Benefits
- Reemployment Benefits
Your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company will cover all of the medical expenses you incur while treating your work-related injuries. This includes the cost of doctor visits, hospital stays, prostheses, physical therapy and rehabilitation, lab tests, prescription drugs, and more. However, these expenses are only covered if the treatments are medically necessary.
After you reach the point of maximum medical improvement, you will be required to pay a $10 co-pay per visit for treatment. Your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company will cover the rest.
Many workers are unable to return to their pre-injury job as a result of their injuries. They may be able to perform alternative work, but in some cases, they may not be able to work at all. If you are unable to work or are earning less while performing alternative work, you are entitled to compensation to cover your lost wages. The four types of benefits for lost wages include:
- Temporary total disability: These are awarded when you are unable to return to any type of work, but have not yet reached maximum medical improvement.
- Temporary partial disability: If you are capable of performing alternative work and have not reached maximum medical improvement, you may receive these benefits. However, these benefits are only awarded if you are earning less than 80% of your pre-injury wage by performing the alternative work.
- Permanent impairment: These benefits are awarded if you have suffered a permanent impairment as a result of your injuries.
- Permanent total disability: These are awarded when you are permanently unable to work as a result of your injuries.
Lost wage benefits are typically equal to two-thirds of your pre-injury average weekly wage, up to the state’s average weekly wage, which is $970.58 per week as of January 1, 2020. There are some exceptions to this rule, though. For example, you may be entitled to up to 80% of your average weekly wage if you suffered certain severe injuries.
If your loved one suffers a fatal work-related injury, you and your family may be awarded death benefits through the workers’ compensation system. Eligible families may be awarded up to $150,000 in death benefits.
Death benefits will cover funeral expenses up to $7,500 and compensate dependents for their loss of financial support. In some cases, the victim’s surviving spouse may be awarded educational benefits so they can acquire new skills, find employment, and support their family.
If you will never be able to return to your pre-injury job as a result of your injuries, you may be awarded reemployment benefits. The workers’ compensation system offers a number of reemployment services to permanently disabled workers, including:
- Vocational counseling
- Resume writing assistance
- Assistance with finding a new job
- Skills analysis
- Training and education
These benefits are awarded to help permanently disabled individuals learn new skills that they can use to find new employment.
Let Our Attorneys Protect Your Rights After A Workplace Injury
Sadly, many injured workers are denied the workers’ compensation benefits they deserve. Don’t let this happen to you.
If you have suffered a work-related injury or if your claim for benefits has been denied, seek legal representation from our workers’ compensation attorneys as soon as possible. We will aggressively protect your rights and work tirelessly to ensure you are fully compensated for your workplace injuries.