Fort Lauderdale Workers Compensation Attorney
Every year, close to 400 people in Florida were killed in jobsite work accidents. In addition to those killed on the job, more than 60,000 workers in Florida every year are injured on the job and had to pursue work accident compensation under Florida’s Workers Compensation Statutes with the help of a Fort Lauderdale workers compensation attorney. Victims of work accidents are entitled to work accident compensation for both medical care and wage benefits.
Get The Compensation You Deserve for Your Work Injury
Florida’s work injury compensation laws have strict timelines which establish when and to whom an employee is required to report an on the job injury claim, how and when an injured employee can obtain medical treatment, when they are required to provide information to the employer or their insurance company, and many other rules which govern what medical or money benefits may be provided.
Protect Your Rights with the Help of a Fort Lauderdale Workers Compensation Attorney
Victims of work accidents are entitled to compensation for medical care and wage benefits.
Work accident compensation is an area of law which can be extremely confusing and frustrating. The attorneys at The Maus Law Firm have been fighting for work accident compensation for their clients since 1993.
Our Fort Lauderdale workers compensation attorneys have helped thousands of injured workers obtain the medical treatment and money benefits they deserve. This includes obtaining a settlement once the injured worker has received all the other benefits they are entitled to.
Are Florida Employers Required to Offer Workers Compensation Coverage?
The short answer is “Yes” – as long as an employer has 4 or more employees, the employer is required by the State of Florida to carry workers compensation coverage. However, some companies are required to carry workers compensation coverage in Florida even if they don’t have four or more employees.
The next time you interview for a new job, apart from requesting a fair wage and other benefits, you should always make sure that the employer has workers’ compensation insurance. Employers in Florida are required to post a sign at the work place informing employees of the name and contact information of the workers compensation insurance company, and what to do if you are injured at work. Accidents happen far too often to ignore this issue. These “signs” are usually in the form of a poster given to the employer by its workers compensation insurance company. Beware of any employer that does not have one of these signs posted.
Here’s a quick review of common job settings where workers’ compensation coverage must be provided.
Florida Employers Who Must Offer Workers’ Compensation Coverage
- Agricultural positions. When employers have “four or more regular employees and/or 12 or more seasonal employees, who work for more than 30 days, [they] must . . .” offer this benefit to employees;
- Construction jobs. Anyone in this industry who hires “one or more part- or full-time employees must offer workers’ compensation to them. Construction industry contractors who subcontract all or part of their work must also obtain proof of workers’ compensation insurance or a Certificate of Election to be exempt from all sub-contractors, prior to work being done.”
Obviously, problems can develop when a subcontractor isn’t covered or exempt. When this happens, the subcontractor’s employees shall become the employees of the contractor. The employee may then seek workers compensation benefits through the general contractor.
Florida state and local government jobs. All of these employers are legally required to offer workers’ compensation coverage;
- Other positions outside of agricultural, government or construction work. An employer in one of these other areas must offer workers’ compensation when “four or more part-time or full-time workers have been hired;”
- Out-of-state employers. Basically, “any construction industry employer having one or more part- or full-time employees performing work in Florida is required to obtain a Florida policy through a Florida-licensed insurance company. Furthermore, if the construction industry employer has an out-of-state policy, the insurance company must be licensed in Florida.
Be sure to talk with a Fort Lauderdale workers’ compensation attorney about any of your insurance coverage questions. After all, employers can make mistakes about properly protecting their workers.
What Types of Accidents and Injuries are Covered by Workers’ Compensation in Florida?
A key aspect of Florida’s workers’ compensation statute is that it entitles eligible employees to “no-fault” benefits. Contrary to popular belief, this does not mean that you have to prove the absence of fault in order to file a successful claim. Rather, it means that your employer is required to cover your benefit claim regardless of your employer’s role (or lack thereof) in the accident that led to your injury. Another way to think about this is that workers’ compensation is a “no fault” system. In other words, if you have been injured on the job, fault is irrelevant to your claim for benefits (except in very limited circumstances).
With this in mind, as long as you are eligible for coverage, you can file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits after almost any type of workplace accident. This includes accidents such as:
- Vehicle collisions
- Slips and trips
- Falls from heights
- Lifting, lowering, twisting and reaching accidents
- Forklift and heavy machinery accidents
- Hand tool and power tool accidents
- Injuries at construction sites
- Ladder and scaffolding accidents
- Being struck by falling or flying objects or debris
- Accidents caused by inadequate safety precautions
If you have been injured in any of these types of accidents (or any other type of accident) on the job in South Florida, we encourage you to contact us promptly to speak with a Fort Lauderdale workers’ compensation attorney about your claim for benefits. We represent workers who have suffered injuries including:
- Back and spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones
- Concussions and other traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Eye, ear, nose and facial injuries
- Inhalation and other toxic exposure injuries
- Repetitive stress injuries
- Soft tissue injuries (sprains, strains and tears)
A Fort Lauderdale Workers Compensation Attorney Will Help You Establish Eligibility
In Florida, not all workers are eligible to file for workers’ compensation benefits. In particular, certain small businesses are not required to provide workers’ compensation coverage (although they may still provide coverage voluntarily); and, in order to be eligible, you must be working as an “employee” rather than an “independent contractor.”
Many employers will attempt to classify its workers as independent contractors rather than employees to avoid having to pay for workers’ compensation coverage and payroll taxes. However, Florida Statutes Sec. 440.02 establishes several factors that courts use to determine whether a person is working as an employee or as an independent contractor. Those factors include:
- The independent contractor performs or agrees to perform specific services or work for a specific amount of money and controls the means of performing the services or work
- The independent contractor incurs the principal expenses related to the service or work that he or she performs or agrees to perform
- The independent contractor is responsible for the satisfactory completion of the work or services that he or she performs or agrees to perform
- The independent contractor receives compensation for work or services performed for a commission or on a per-job basis and not on any other basis
- The independent contractor may realize a profit or suffer a loss in connection with performing work or services
- The independent contractor has continuing or recurring business liabilities or obligations
- The success or failure of the independent contractor’s business depends on the relationship of business receipts to expenditures
When you contact our firm about your on-the-job injury, our lawyers will gather the information required to determine whether you are eligible to file for workers’ compensation benefits. If you are eligible, your Fort Lauderdale workers’ compensation lawyer at Maus Law Firm will begin working on your claim immediately. If you are not eligible to file for benefits (either because your employer is not subject to Florida’s workers’ compensation law or you work as an independent contractor), your lawyer will determine whether you have any grounds to pursue fault-based compensation.
Importantly, even if you are eligible for workers’ compensation, we will still assess whether you have grounds to pursue a fault-based claim. This is because the benefits available through workers’ compensation are limited, as discussed in greater detail below. Examples of potential fault-based claims arising out of job-related accidents include claims against:
- Third-party contractors and subcontractors
- Building owners
- Negligent drivers
- Product manufacturers
What Disability Benefits Can You Receive if You are Hurt on the Job in Florida?
Medical care and rehabilitation, and wage benefits are some of the benefits typically awarded in workers comp claims. Compensation is often two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly wage, subject to a maximum amount.
Compensation Available as Part of Florida’s Workers Comp
You can receive medical care and rehabilitation, and wage benefits.
- Permanent Partial Disability:Compensation is payable for the permanent loss or loss of use of certain parts or functions of the body, such as the loss of the arm, hand, fingers, leg, foot, toes, hearing or vision.
- Temporary Partial and Permanent Partial Disability:Compensation is two-thirds of the employee’s weekly wage loss or loss of wage-earning capacity.
- Permanent Partial Disability for Retirees:If a worker suffers the onset of a latent occupational disease after retirement, compensation is two-thirds of the National Average Weekly Wage (NAWW) multiplied by the percentage of impairment resulting from the disease.
- Death benefits:Paid to a widow, children or parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents and grand-children who were dependent on the employee.
What To Do If You Are Injured on the Job
Take immediate action if you are injured.
- NOTIFY your employer immediately. If you need medical treatment, ask your employer for a Form LS-1, which authorizes treatment by a doctor of your choice.
- OBTAIN medical treatment as soon as possible.
- GIVE written notice of your injury within 30 days to your employer on Form LS-201. Notice of death must also be given within 30 days.
- FILE a written claim for compensation within one year after the date of injury or last payment of compensation, whichever is later. A claim for survivor benefits must be filed within one year after the date of death. The time for filing claims in certain occupational disease cases has been extended to two years.
- CALL OUR WORKERS COMPENSATION LAW FIRM FOR A FREE, NO OBLIGATION CONSULTATION.
Do You Need to Hire a Lawyer for Your Workers’ Compensation Claim in Florida?
If you have been injured at work, one question you may have is whether you need to hire a lawyer. Since your employer is required to pay regardless of fault, can’t you just file a claim on your own? If you hire a lawyer, won’t your legal fees reduce the amount of compensation you receive for your injury? While these are valid questions, the truth of the matter is that there are several reasons why it will be beneficial to hire an experienced Fort Lauderdale workers’ compensation attorney to represent you.
1. Collecting Workers’ Compensation Benefits Isn’t Easy
First, even though workers’ compensation is a “no fault” system, employers and their insurance companies still regularly deny injured workers’ claims. While one option is to try to file your claim on your own and then hire a lawyer later if your claim is denied, it will be far more efficient to hire a lawyer up front. Additionally, attorneys’ fees for workers’ compensation cases are capped by law in Florida; so, even when you factor in your attorneys’ fees, you will still likely collect far more with legal representation.
2. There are Costly Mistakes You Need to Avoid
Second, there are some specific requirements for filing a workers’ compensation claim in Florida. While some mistakes can be corrected, others cannot. For example, if you wait too long to notify your employer of your injury (or if you do not provide “adequate” notification), then you may lose your right to benefits. By contacting an attorney promptly, you can make sure that you do everything necessary in order to protect your legal rights.
3. You Cannot Afford to Leave Benefits on the Table
Third, calculating the amount of your benefits can be challenging. If you do not miss time from work, then you are only entitled to medical benefits, and your employer (or its insurance company) should simply cover your injury-related medical expenses. However, if you are entitled to disability benefits as well, then you will want to work with a Fort Lauderdale workers’ compensation attorney to make sure you are seeking the full benefits to which you are entitled under Florida law.
4. Failing to Secure Workers’ Compensation Benefits Can Have Long-Term Consequences
Fourth, failing to secure the benefits to which you are legally entitled can have significant ramifications for you and your family. If you are out of work and unable to pay your bills, failing to successfully file for benefits could leave you in debt and without a source of income for weeks, months or years to come.
5. You May Have a “Third-Party” Claim
Finally, as we mentioned above, you may be entitled to a financial recovery outside of workers’ compensation; and, if you are, you will need to hire an attorney to file a claim on your behalf. Workers’ compensation benefits do not cover all of the costs associated with job-related injuries, and filing a “third-party” claim could be your best (and only) option for fully recovering your losses.