Workers’ Compensation

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“As long as I have any choice, I will stay only in a country where political liberty, toleration, and equality of all citizens before the law are the rule.” – Albert Einstein

workers-compensationIf you have been injured at your workplace, you could be eligible for benefits under the Florida Workers’ Compensation Act.  While the workers’ compensation eligibility criteria and law seem clear, employers and insurance companies are generally very strict on eligibility, and the regulations and process for obtaining workers’ compensation benefits in Florida can be very complicated.  The knowledgeable, experienced attorneys at Lancaster & Eure will help you navigate the system, protect your rights, and greatly increase the likelihood of your receiving the maximum benefits allowed under the law.

Lancaster & Eure will give your case the time and attention it deserves.  First, we’ll make sure you understand basic workers’ compensation eligibility guidelines and your rights under the law.  That is, you should be eligible for compensation if your job-related accident, injury, illness or disease was caused by unsafe work conditions, repetitive injury or repetitive work that resulted in an injury, willful or serious misconduct by your employer or a co-worker, or an accident you unintentionally caused. Second, we will make sure your claim is completed accurately and filed on time. The Florida Workers’ Compensation Act allows two years from the date of your accident, injury, or onset of your illness or disease to file a Petition for Benefits; however, if your employer has provided medical treatment as a result of your job injury or if you are able to continue working following your injury, this deadline is extended. Third, we will investigate and fight for the maximum benefits allowable under the Florida Workers’ Compensation Act, since your employer or insurance company might not voluntarily provide all of the benefits you are entitled to.

If your employer or the insurance carrier denies any part of your claim, we are well prepared to provide expert representation at a hearing. In Florida, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if you aggravate or exacerbate a pre-existing condition on the job. This area of the Workers’ Compensation Law is probably the reason for most denials of benefits by an employer and/or insurance carrier.  The process for getting the benefits you are entitled to can be very complicated, but the experienced attorneys at Lancaster & Eure have spent many years litigating this particular issue and can successfully guide you through the process.  In many other cases, workers’ compensation disputes are settled prior to trial, or the parties are able to resolve the issues without proceeding to a trial. In those cases, we will protect your rights and force your employer and its insurance carrier to comply with their legal obligations.

Florida’s workers’ compensation laws are designed to provide you with medical and lost wage benefits, regardless of fault. However, insurance companies often refuse to provide the benefits the law requires. The experienced attorneys of Lancaster & Eure specialize in workers’ compensation law and are committed to helping you receive fair, maximum compensation for your injuries and claims.

With over 70 years of combined experience in trial practice, litigation, and Workers’ Compensation hearings, our expert attorneys will provide exceptional legal guidance and fight for your rights.  Contact Lancaster & Eure today for a free consultation and evaluation of your claim.

Understanding types of injuries, Florida Workers’ Compensation Laws, and your rights as an injured worker is helpful when deciding to pursue your workers’ compensation claim.  The following information is provided to help you become more knowledgeable in these areas.

Catastrophic Injuries

Any workplace accident that causes serious or permanent damage to an employee is considered a catastrophic workplace injury.  Some professions pose a higher risk of personal injury than others. For example, construction is one of the more dangerous industries in the country and is a cause of numerous catastrophic injuries every year.  Whenever a workplace accident that is not a direct result an employee’s recklessness or negligence causes a catastrophic injury, he or she should consult with a Florida Workers’ Compensation lawyer and file a workers’ compensation claim with the employer.

There are many different kinds of injuries that can be considered catastrophic. Burn injuries that cause permanent scarring or muscle damage are considered catastrophic, but most catastrophic injuries are a result of head and neck injuries, back injuries, or traumatic events. One example is Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) caused by a strong blow to the head, which can cause amnesia, loss of brain capacity, or even a coma. Another type of catastrophic injury is a spinal cord injury, which can cause partial or complete paralysis.  If you or a family member has suffered from a catastrophic workplace injury such as burns, traumatic brain injuries, or spinal cord injuries, you should consult with a Workers’ Compensation attorney at Lancaster & Eure right away and seek compensation before you end up paying for your expensive treatment out of pocket.

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), also known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), is an extremely painful and serious condition. Symptoms associated with CRPS include burning, throbbing, hypersensitivity to touch, discoloration, stiffness, and lack of mobility. CRPS can be caused by a work injury. Insurance companies frequently refuse to pay for treatment associated with CRPS because the treatment can be extremely expensive. If you suffer from CRPS symptoms related to a workplace injury, you should consult with an experienced Workers’ Compensation attorney at Lancaster & Eure to get the medical and legal assistance you need.

Your Rights as an Injured Worker

When it comes to workers’ compensation, employers can be hesitant or even refuse to provide full compensation for your work-related injury.  Should this happen, you should know your rights.  Anyone who is injured because of circumstances outside of their control should not be required to pay for medical and other expenses related to the injury. The experienced Workers’ Compensation attorneys at Lancaster & Eure can help you understand and fight for your rights as an injured worker.

Your employer may attempt to convince you to settle for less compensation than you request, so you should never sign any documents or agreements without first consulting with a Florida Workers’ Compensation attorney. If you end up paying for your medical bills and treatment yourself, you may end up facing financial hardship from the expense. To avoid this situation, learn the steps you can take to get what you deserve by contacting the experienced Workers’ Compensation attorneys at Lancaster & Eure.

In Florida, the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Carrier has the right to select your doctor. You are not permitted to see a doctor on your own or treat with a doctor who is not authorized by the Workers’ Compensation Carrier. However, there are a couple of exceptions. When you are initially injured not only do you have an obligation to report your accident, but if you want to see a physician or obtain medical care, you must first ask the Workers’ Compensation Carrier and/or your Employer to authorize a medical provider. If they refuse to do so, or if they deny your claim, you can seek care and treatment on your own. You should keep copies of any and all statements and payments that you make to the physician that was not authorized by the Workers’ Compensation Carrier. The experienced Workers’ Compensation attorneys at Lancaster & Eure can help you get reimbursed if the claim is ultimately accepted or found to be compensable.

An emergency situation is also an exception to the rule that the Employer/Carrier can choose your physician. Emergencies are not specifically defined in the statute but case law has helped us to understand what the Courts consider an emergency. An emergency may occur immediately following the accident or if your condition greatly worsens and you must seek immediate care. Again, it is important that you keep copies of your bills, receipts and any information provided by the emergency provider.

Under Florida Workers’ Compensation law, you are entitled to a one-time change of physician from the doctor authorized by the Workers’ Compensation Carrier. However, you must request authorization of the one-time change and the Carrier has the right to select the doctor that you change to. They have five (5) days from the receipt of your request, which must be in writing, in which to provide you with a change. If they do not, then you have the right to select your own physician. Your Lancaster & Eure Workers’ Compensation lawyer will help you with the change request as well as help direct your care.

 

Types of Workers’ Compensation Benefits

There are four different types of workers’ compensation benefits.  The type for which you may be eligible depends on the unique circumstances surrounding your workplace injury or illness.

  • Temporary Partial Disability – Paid as a percentage of your prior earnings, this type of disability benefit is payable in cases when you are released by your doctor to return to work with restrictions and are unable to do your regular job or your employer does not have a position available for you.
  • Temporary Total Disability – This type of disability benefit is paid when you are unable to return to work in any capacity for a period of time.

 

Both temporary partial disability and temporary total disability benefits are limited to a combined 104 weeks paid out from the date of the accident.

  • Impairment Benefits – The type of disability benefit is paid when you are impaired due to a workplace injury.  Once you have reached maximum medical improvement and your doctor assigns a permanent impairment rating, an additional, although minimum, payment may be owed, depending on the percentage of impairment.
  • Permanent, Total Disability – This type of benefit is paid when you are permanently and totally disabled because of injuries sustained at work. Permanent and total disability benefits are payable to age 75.
  • Death Benefits – This type of benefit is payable when an employee is killed in a work-related accident.  His or her dependents are eligible for compensation.

 

Florida Workers’ Compensation Laws

According to Florida State law, every employer must post information about an injured worker’s rights to compensation as well as the name of the insurance company who must provide benefits. As an injured employee, you have every right to inform your employer about your work related injury right away and request compensation. Your employer is obligated to report your claim to their insurance company and that company may be obligated to provide compensation for both wages and medical expenses, or they may choose to deny your claim. If this happens, you have the right to file a Petition for Benefits

Once you file a Petition for Benefits, Florida law requires that a mediation be held.  You will want representation at the mediation.  Lancaster & Eure has handled thousands of mediations over the years and we can advise and guide you through the process.  If the issues are not resolved or the claim is not settled, the Florida Workers’ Compensation statute requires that a hearing be set before a Judge of Compensation Claims. Appeals from the Judge of Compensation Claims are taken to the First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee.  If issues are not resolved there, claims end up at the Supreme Court of the State of Florida.   This is rare, but the experienced Workers’ Compensation attorneys at Lancaster & Eure are committed to taking your claim as far as necessary to make sure you receive the compensation you deserve. We are here to help.  Please call (941) 365-7575 to speak with an attorney today.

 

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