Workers Compensation Process In Florida
The workers’ compensation process in Florida can be a complicated one. There are specific paperwork, deadlines, and stipulations that must be followed in order to have the best possible chance to get your entitled worker compensation benefits.
Report The Injury To Your Employer
If an employee has been injured on the job, then the first thing he or she should do is report the injury to their employer. Work-related injuries that are not reported within the first 30 days may not be entitled to workers comp benefits. Failure to report an injury within 120 days will result in an injured worker not being able to collect any type of benefits. The report can be oral or in writing. In many cases, employers have proper procedures for reporting workplace injuries.
Seek Immediate Medical Attention
An employee should seek medical attention immediately following a work-related injury. It is important to notify the treating physician that the injury was due to a work-related incident. In the case that an employee needs to prove that the injury was work-related, evidence provided by the treating doctor will be useful.
Submit A Workers Compensation Claim
A claim should be filed with the Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation as soon as possible. If a claim is not filed within two years of the work-related injury, then all workers’ comp benefits may be lost.
Workers Compensation Benefits
Workers compensation benefits were created to compensate a worker for losses experienced due to a work-related injury. When applying for workers compensation benefits in Florida, an injured worker is protected by law from losing their job. An injured worker can be eligible for benefits like temporary disability benefits, permanent impairment benefits, and permanent total disability benefits.
Temporary Disability Benefits
Temporary disability benefits provide two-thirds of an injured worker’s average weekly wage, up to a legal maximum. These benefits are not available for the first seven days off unless the injury keeps the injured worker from working for more than 21 days. Temporary disability benefits last until one of three events take place:
- A doctor gives the all clear to return back to work.
- A doctor says the medical condition will not improve.
- The maximum amount of time for temporary disability benefits has been reached.
Permanent Impairment Benefits
Permanent impairment benefits are provided to injured workers who are able to work to some extent, but have an impairment due to the work-related injury. After medical treatment is completed or six weeks before the temporary disability benefits are set to end, a doctor will examine the injured worker to determine if he or she has a lasting medication condition or loss of function as a result of the injury.
If there is an impairment, the doctor will give a rating and calculations will be done determining how long the impairment benefits should last. The amount in weekly benefits will be 75% of your temporary total disability rate.
Permanent Total Disability Benefits
If a doctor determines that an injured worker has an impairment that doesn’t allow them to do any type of work, then permanent total disability benefits are available. Certain severe injuries like an amputation or severe brain injury automatically qualify an injured worker for permanent total disability benefits. The permanent total disability benefit amounts will be the same amount as the total disability benefits. These benefits usually end when a person is 75 years old.
Additional Workers Comp Benefits
In some cases, injured workers are not able to return to their normal job due to the severity of their injury. Workers comp can offer placement services, vocational counseling, and other help to find new employment opportunities. If additional training or education is needed in order to obtain a suitable job, workers comp may pay for that education, but only for a period of 26 or 52 weeks.
In extreme cases, when a loved one has a fatal work-related accident or contracts a fatal illness due to their employment, there are death benefits available to their immediate family members like a spouse, children, or other dependent relatives. The amount of the death benefit depends on how many dependents there are, but it cannot be more than two-thirds of the worker’s average weekly earnings or $150,000 in total. Other death benefits include funeral and burial expenses of up to $7,500.
Workers Compensation Limitations
There are workers compensation limitations that injured workers should be aware of. The majority of workers compensation insurance policies are created with the minimum limits required by the state of Florida. The employers’ liability limits are:
- $100,000 per occurrence for bodily injury
- $100,000 per employee for bodily injury by disease
- $500,000 policy limit for bodily injury by disease
Insured persons have the option of increasing their coverage to $500,000 or $1 million, depending on the insurance company.
The limit of how much an injured worker can receive in benefits directly relates to their weekly wage and the severity of their injury. In that state of Florida, workers’ comp payouts are equal to two-thirds of an injured workers average weekly wage. If an injury is considered severe causing an amputation, blindness or paralysis, then an injured worker will be paid 80% of their regular wages for the first six months. Workers comp benefits cannot exceed a maximum amount set by the state of Florida, which, in 2018, was $917.