Legal Toolkit Florida Workers Compensation

What to Know About Workers Compensation

a

Worker’s Compensation laws

are designed to financially aid workers injured while on the job by replacing lost wages and providing the injured worker with medical treatment related to the on the job injury without forcing the employee to sue their employer for the funds. Ordinarily, employees cannot sue their employers for injury if the employer is covered by Worker’s Compensation, however there are some exceptions. Injuries that can qualify for Worker’s Compensation can include accident injuries experienced by workers in the scope of their employment; repetitive motion occupational diseases like carpal tunnel or back problems; and diseases like asbestosis or black lung disease that were contracted after on-the-job exposure to toxic materials. Other injuries and situations can also qualify but worker’s compensation benefits may not cover on-the-job injuries that were caused when an employee was intoxicated. Railroad Workers coverage comes from a different program, FELA (Federal Employers Liability Act) with different rules. A worker’s compensation attorney can advise you of options regarding your particular situation.

b

Employer requirements:

All employers in Florida have to carry Worker’s Compensation coverage if they employ four or more employees. 

c

Workplace injury:

As soon as a workplace injury has occurred, an employee should immediately inform their employer of the accident or injury and seek medical attention. Ignoring a workplace injury is unwise because of the possibility of longer term medical issues related to the injury. Your employer should file a Notice of Injury within 7 days of being put on notice of the injury.  The employer and/or insurance carrier should arrange medical assistance for you. At the medical location where you are treated, the healthcare workers will likely file a DWC-25) form for Worker’s Compensation which should outline your work restrictions and any additional recommendations they have for you. Be sure to keep a copy of the DWC-25, the Notice of Injury, and any other paperwork generated related to your injury. Injured employees should be cautious and non-threatening in their immediate reaction to an accident or injury, especially if a safety violation by the employer may be the cause of the injury. Speaking to a Worker’s Compensation attorney immediately about your injury can clarify appropriate courses of action and the experienced attorney can often procure better worker’s compensation for the worker.

d

OSHA:

the federal Department of Labor has developed regulations to insure workplace safety. Collectively, these regulations are referred to as the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). The government has the power to investigate and cite employers who violate these regulations, and it may also pursue claims on behalf of employees who are injured or die as a result of violations or who are retaliated against for participating in an investigation. OSHA citations can be steep, and, as a result, employers should fully understand the implications before paying a fine or negotiating what they think appears to be a fair settlement. Companies should consult with employment attorneys experienced in OSHA cases.

e

Time to file a claim:

The rule of thumb is to file Worker’s Compensation claims as soon as possible. You should notify your employer immediately of any injury. The statute of limitations for filing a claim due to a workplace injury is a firm two years after date the injury occurred or one year from the date an injured worker last received medical treatment. The time limits for claims related to repetitive occupational disease are slightly less specific, depending on when the injury is legally recognized. A worker’s compensation attorney can assess your case, timing of the injury, and advise you about the best course of action.