Florida Workers’ Compensation Laws

January 29, 2021
Workers' Comp Our Pharmacy Network

Everyone knows the term worker’s comp and employees often jokingly say that if they slip and fall, they are sure to be taken care of. But how much do we really know about Florida’s workers’ compensation laws? In this blog, we will give you an overview of Florida Workers Compensation Requirements and Laws, and explain who qualifies for coverage under Florida Workers Compensation laws.

Florida workers generally assume that if they are injured while working then they will immediately be covered by workers’ compensation insurance. Our common belief is that they will then start receiving workers’ comp benefits and compensation for their injury. However, based on Florida workers’ compensation laws, not every worker is automatically covered. If you have been injured while at work it is paramount that you find out if you are covered by workers’ compensation before trying to file for benefits. We would even go as far as recommending that employees educate themselves on the requirements for obtaining workers’ compensation in Florida before they need it.

Who is Covered by Florida Workers’ Compensation?

The short answer is most workers are covered, however, there are some exemptions. Florida’s workers’ compensation laws establishments requirements that stipulate that the majority of employers – generally, anyone outside the construction or agriculture industries – maintain workers’ compensation coverage if they have at least 4 employees.

Who needs Workers’ Compensation Coverage?

  • Construction Employers who have 1 or more employees, including any non-exempt business owners. Construction workers are classified as anyone performing tasks associated with building, renovating, and demolition of any building, roadway, parking, or any other structure. The term is broad-based and generic, and most workers are primarily described by the type of work they perform i.e., Mason, Plumber, Carpenter, Tiler, and Electrician, etc.
  • Non-Construction Employers who have 4 or more employees including any non-exempt business owners
  • Agriculture – when there are 6 regular employees and/or 12 seasonal workers who work more than 30 days during a season but no more than a total of 45 days in a calendar year

If you are an out-of-state employer but you have staff who work within the state of Florida then you are required to also carry workers’ compensation that complies with Florida’s state Workers’ Compensation laws. This can be accomplished by either obtaining a Florida workers’ compensation policy or contacting your current workers’ compensation provider and requesting a rider to your current policy. It is often the case that companies only have to inform their insurer that they have staff stationed in Florida and they will update the company’s coverage.

But why is workers’ compensation even necessary? Florida’s public workers’ compensation policy was put in place to ensure that everyone who is entitled to be covered is actually covered, and will be able to receive the required benefits needed to cover their expenses if they are ever injured while on the job.

What are Workers’ Compensation Codes in Florida?         

Florida uses the NCCI classification system. NCCI stands for The National Council on Compensation Insurance. Florida is under the state jurisdiction of NCCI, and uses NCCI’s Statistical Plan for Workers Compensation and Employers Liability Insurance. Workers’ compensation insurance in Florida uses a system of class codes to determine the level of risks for different categories of employees. Each code has a different rate that is determined by the likelihood of workplace injury of each category. For example, the classification code for an office administrator is vastly lower than that of a roofer electrician due to the fact that the likelihood of workplace injury is lower for the admin staff than it is for the other two professions. 

What are The Provisions for Managing Occupational Diseases and Job-Related Injuries?

A core function of Florida’s workers’ compensation laws was designed to provide medical care for workers who sustain an on-the-job injury or contract a disease during the course of carrying out their job functions. In order to qualify for Florida workers’ compensation benefits, employees who are injured while on the job must provide their employer notice within 30 days. Employees who receive workers’ compensation benefits to cover medical treatment for their injuries agree to waive any rights or claims and waive their right to sue their employer or to seek additional benefits. As a benefit under workers’ compensation, the injured worker does not have any out-of-pocket expenses related to their injury as workers’ compensation covers their medical bills.

What About My Non-medical Expenses?

While you are out of work from being injured your non-medical bills will continue to accrue. To alleviate the financial fallout Florida workers comp has a provision that covers lost wages. In most cases, you are able to receive lost wage benefits in addition to medical bills being covered. That said, these benefits are based on and tied to the severity of your injury. It is not an unending benefit, in fact, the benefits will cease upon your injury reaching what Florida workers’ compensation law calls maximum medical improvement (MMI). MMI is described as the point that your injury or disease has reached a point where medical science can no longer do anything to treat, alleviate, or cure the issue. At this juncture, you are said to have reached the MMI and your Florida Workers’ Comp -benefits will end.

Do I Qualify For Workers’’ Comp If I Contract Covid-19 at Work in Florida?

Theoretically, there is no real reason to oppose granting workers’ comp to persons who have contracted COVID-19 during the commission of their job functions. The sticking point is that it is difficult if not impossible to determine exactly where a virus like COVID-19 or other airborne disease was contracted. We come into contact with multiple people, make contact with multiple surfaces and visit various places in the time it takes for a virus to show up in your system so narrowing the point of infection to a singular time and place is often difficult. On the other hand, occupational diseases and disorders such as Asthma, COPD, Dermatitis, hearing, and vision loss are easier to associate with workplace conditions and extended conditions. For example, if a person works in a mill, foundry, or petroleum refinery and are exposed to particulate matter they can receive compensation if they are diagnosed with COPD or if someone worked in a shipyard, industrial plant or are a firefighter with a high risk of asbestos exposure develops malignant mesothelioma disease, they are eligible for workers’ compensation.

At the time of publication of this blog, the state of Florida has limited workers’ compensation coverage to only a select subset of “essential workers” deemed as “frontline state employees” who are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 based on the nature of their jobs. These jobs include Doctors, Nurses, Fire and Rescue, Paramedics and other first responders, police officers, department of corrections officers, and state employees working in healthcare fields. This designation leaves many workers without a guarantee of coverage in the event of contracting a disease like COVID-19. This is where the team of attorneys affiliated with Our Professional Network comes into play. They will go to work on your behalf to get you the necessary Florida workers’ compensation you deserve.  If you need more answers concerning Florida workers’ compensation that weren’t provided to you here, feel free to call us today at  844.238.9313 or visit our contact page.

 

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