What is the Workers’ Compensation Program?

In the U.S., one of the most widely accessed entitlement programs is Workers’ Compensation. Workers’ compensation is a series of benefits that are paid to employees that are injured or become ill during and as a result of the performance of their jobs. Employers are required by law to provide this benefit to their employees and typically do so through a workers’ compensation insurance policy provided by a private carrier. Virtually every employee is covered by the Workers’ Compensation Act and benefits are paid to the employee regardless of who is at fault for the accident and/or injury.

The actual procedure for filing a workers’ compensation claim is generally straightforward and can be done by the injured party. However, the system has definite filing requirements and depending upon circumstances and documentation requirements, preparing the claim can become a complicated process and should not be attempted without a worker’s compensation attorney. States and cities may also have individual requirements regarding workers’ compensation, so it is important when choosing a worker’s compensation attorney to have representation from the proper state or jurisdiction. Attorneys who do not specialize in workers’ compensation law and are from outside the jurisdiction likely will not be able to properly represent your claim.

A workers’ compensation claim is similar to a claim against an auto or homeowner’s insurance company. It is a claim filed against the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier and is not a law suit directed at the employer. In fact, the law provides that: (1) injured workers cannot sue employers for accidents occurring on the job and, (2) it is also illegal for employers to terminate workers for filing a workers’ compensation claim.

Under workers’ compensation, the main benefit categories are, but not limited to:

Payment of related medical bills;
Benefits paid when the worker temporarily cannot work due to the injury or illness. This is titled Temporary Total Disability (TTD) and is likely a series of ongoing payments until the worker can return to work.
Benefits paid when the worker is injured to the point that he/she cannot return to work at all. This is called Permanent Disability (PD). Based on the nature and extent of the injury, PD benefits are, very often, a lump sum settlement.
It must be understood that all insurance companies are actively reviewing cases for legitimacy and to minimize fraudulent claims and their cost of claims. Depending on circumstances and for any number of reasons, a worker’s compensation insurance carrier may deny benefit payments at the beginning of the claim or may be terminate compensation after initial benefits have been paid. Questions and positions regarding TTD and PD also are often contested as are charges of illegal firing due to the injury. Since the insurance company will employ experts in the workers’ compensation arena, in these situations, it is crucial to have an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who will advocate for you to get your legal benefits restored and the settlements to which you are entitled.

Navigating through the workers’ compensation benefit system can be a difficult task, especially if there are contested issues and/or special circumstances. It is a wise decision to engage the services of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney early in the claim to guide you and represent you through the process.

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5 Critical Things You Should Know About Florida Workers’ Compensation

Florida is a magnet for tourists. It has never-ending beaches, beautiful weather, and tons of attractions for all ages. So, while the rest of the country looks at Florida as a great getaway from the workaday world, us Floridians know that it takes a lot of workers to keep Florida’s tourist industry humming along.

Whether you spend your days welcoming guests as a princess in a magic kingdom or loading tankers at a Florida port, you need to be protected if an injury occurs. Florida’s workers’ compensation laws exist to give Florida workers that protection. However, it is not always an easy process to get the compensation you need or deserve.

If you were, or a loved one was, injured on the job, then you should make sure you retain the services of a qualified Florida workers’ compensation attorney to help you. Doolittle & Tucker, P.A. is a firm that specializes in Florida workers’ compensation cases. Let us help you get the relief you are entitled to under Florida workers’ compensation law. Call today at 904.396.1734 to schedule a free consultation with one of our Doolittle & Tucker legal professionals. Don’t go it alone. Let Doolittle & Tucker’s Florida workers’ compensation lawyers help you.

Here are 5 important facts of Florida’s workers’ compensation law that will help you begin your workers’ compensation journey.

FACT 1: Florida Workers’ Compensation Does Not Require a Finding of Fault

Florida law requires most employers to provide workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. If you are injured, the insurance paid to you serves to replace the wages lost by your inability to work.

The amount you receive in benefits depends upon the extent of your injury and how much your ability to work has been curtailed by the injury. Significantly, an injured employee does not need to prove that the employer was at fault for the injury. Accordingly, the only proof needed is that the injury occurred in the course of your job duties.

Virtually all accidental injuries and occupational diseases occurring during the course of your employment are covered. Note well, however, that mental or nervous ailments are not typically covered unless they stem from a physical injury.

FACT 2: You Will Likely Not Get Benefits Equal to Your Regular Wages

Regardless of your wage amount, under Florida’s workers’ compensation law, disability compensation is limited to 100% of the statewide average weekly wage. That means that the maximum benefit you could receive is somewhere around $863 per week. That, however, is not quite the end of the story because disability benefits are paid in percentages based on your disability.

In addition to medical coverage for an injury, three types of workers’ compensation benefits are available:

Temporary total disability (TTD) – The TTD benefits available to you are equal to around 66% of your regular wage in most cases
Temporary partial disability (TPD) – If you are not totally disabled but cannot do the job that you were doing prior to the injury, the TPD benefits will pay you 80% of the difference between 80% of your wages before the injury and what you are currently able to earn.
Impairment benefits – These benefits pay you for a permanent disability that flows from your injury.
FACT 3: You Need To Report Your Injury As Soon As Possible
Typically, you must report a work injury to your employer within 30 days of the date of injury. With injuries that take a long time to discover (such as lung damage from long-term exposure to some type of pollutant), you have 30 days from the date of discovery of the injury to report it to your employer.

In addition, within two years of the date of the injury, or discovery of the injury, you must file a petition for benefits.

Remember, you should not wait to report an injury to your employer or to the State of Florida. If you do, you may lose the ability to obtain benefits entirely, even though you have a legitimate work-related injury.

FACT 4: You May Need to Wait For Workers’ Compensation Benefits to Kick In

Under Florida law, the date your benefits start depends on how long your disability remains. If you are disabled for less than 22 days, then your benefits do not begin payment until the eighth day of your disability. If, however, you are disabled for longer than 21 days, then you may receive benefits dating back to the first day of your disability.

For TTD and TPD benefits, you are allowed to receive such benefits for up to 2 years (104 weeks). If you are receiving 80% of your regular wages because of critical injury, however, the amount of time you are allowed to receive benefits is only 6 months.

FACT 5: You May Have Limits on Choice of Doctor, and You May Not Have a Job When You Are Ready to go Back to Work

Florida workers’ compensation law puts some restrictive limits on injured employees. First, the workers’ compensation insurance company your employer chooses must authorize your treating doctor. So, you may not be able to go to your regular doctor for medical treatment under Florida workers’ compensation law. In addition, the State of Florida does not require your employer to keep your job open for you while you are out on disability. Your employer may do so for you, but it is not required to do so.

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