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What types of work injuries are covered by workers’ compensation?
Florida law requires most employers to provide workers’ compensation benefits to employees who are injured at work. While the state’s no-fault system benefits employees, the system is complex, and it can be challenging to recover full compensation for your losses.
If you have been injured at work, it is often in your best interests to get in touch with a Florida workers’ compensation lawyer. At Hoskins, Turco, Lloyd & Lloyd, we have the knowledge and resources needed to help you build a strong case for yourself and your recovery. To start to understand your rights and options, let us take a look at common on-the-job injuries.
Common Workers’ Compensation Injuries
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2.7 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported in 2020. Millions of employees suffered from intense pain, disability, permanent disfigurement, stress, anxiety, and more. Some of the most common injuries include the following:
- Muscles sprains, strains, and tears
- Broken bones
- Repetitive stress injuries
- Cuts, punctures, and lacerations
- Slips, trips, and falls
In instances where injuries were fatal, which totaled over 5,300, the most common causes were electrocution, falls, being struck by an object or equipment, or getting crushed or stuck between objects.
As a result of workplace accidents, injured employees often receive medical care and take time off from work. It does not take long for the bills to start piling up, which is why accident victims need to seek workers’ compensation benefits.
While many on-the-job injuries result from sudden accidents, workers’ compensation also offers benefits for illnesses or diseases that employees develop over time as the result of exposure. These are referred to as occupational illnesses. Some of the most common include black lung disease, mesothelioma, and asbestosis.
It can be challenging to prove a work connection when an illness is considered an ordinary disease of life, meaning that many people develop the same diseases throughout their lives for various reasons. However, for an injured worker, it is crucial to have strong medical evidence that workplace exposure caused or contributed to the condition.
How to Qualify for Workers’ Compensation in Florida
To submit a successful workers’ compensation claim, you need to be able to link your medical condition to your job clearly. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) considers an illness or injury work-related if an accident or exposure at work led to the condition or aggravated a pre-existing condition.
Establishing a clear connection is often straightforward when an accident occurs on a job site. For example, if a construction worker was struck by a piece of equipment another worker was using incorrectly, the link is easily identified. However, the situation may be more complex if the person seeking benefits discovers an illness years after employment or if they were in an accident while working outside of the office.
In Florida, eligible workers may receive benefits for the following:
- Temporary disability benefits
- Impairment benefits
- Reasonable and necessary medical care
- Vocational rehabilitation
If you have been in an accident at work, you need to notify your employer within 30 days. When you file your report, be sure to include when the accident happened, how you hurt yourself, and what symptoms you are experiencing. Once you report the injury, your employer should send you to an occupational doctor. In Florida, your employer gets to choose your physician unless you need emergency medical care.
Once you report your injury, your employer’s job is to report the claim to its insurance company within seven days. The insurance company will review medical records, work experience, education, wages, and the physician’s assessment. If there are questions about your injuries, you could also be sent for a functional capacity evaluation. If your claim is approved, you will start receiving benefits. If it is denied, you have the option to file an appeal.
If you receive compensation, most benefit checks are paid bi-weekly and are 66.6% of your average weekly wage. The average weekly age is calculated using wages earned 13 weeks prior to your injury, not including the week you were injured. In the best-case scenario, injured workers are compensated with their first check within 21 days after reporting their injury to their employer.
Injuries Not Covered Under Workers’ Compensation
Unfortunately, not all injuries are covered under workers’ compensation. Such injuries are those where the employee or a third party acted outside the scope of employment. It may be advisable to pursue a civil lawsuit against the person responsible for the accident in those instances.
Examples of situations not covered under workers’ comp include the following:
- A self-inflicted injury
- When an employee under the influence of drugs or alcohol caused the accident
- The injured employee was engaged in criminal activities
- The injured employee ignored safety rules or company policy
- One party intentionally inflict harm on another
- The employee was not on company time when the accident occurred
In addition to those scenarios, workers’ compensation is generally not available for contractors or subcontractors. Benefits are only available for employees. There are also instances where it may be more beneficial to pursue a civil suit against a third party instead of or in addition to workers’ compensation benefits. This may be the case if a third party, like a building owner, property owner, or equipment manufacturer, is liable in some way.
Maximize Your Recovery With a Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Getting injured on the job is often stressful and overwhelming. When you add seeking workers’ comp benefits to the mix, the situations can become significantly more complex. Fortunately, the Florida workers’ compensation lawyers from Hoskins, Turco, Lloyd & Lloyd are here to fight on your behalf to ensure you have the best possible chance at recovery.
The sooner you get in touch with our lawyer first after your accident, the better. Upon meeting, we will review what you have been through and determine how best to proceed based on your unique circumstances. Call us at (866) 460-1990 or contact us online to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.
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