Can a Voluntary Dismissal of PreTrial Hearing & Final Hearing be filed without my consent or knowledge?
Also, if there is a permanent injury with an impairment rating shouldn't I receive Impairment benefits? If I am not what do I need to do?
Also can't I get a copy of all papers that have been filed regarding my case? I called the Judge's office today & they said I cannot have them. Even though I offered to pay for copies and come down to pick them up.
Workers' Compensation Lawyer
Regarding the Voluntary Dismissal, normally those are for entire claims, not for events. If the attorney resolved the issues that would have been heard at trial, s/he is obliged by rule to notify the court in writing. That notification would cause the court to cancel the mediation, pre-trial conference, and the final hearing. As for your consent or knowledge, the attorney would normally have discussed the issues with you before agreeing to a resolution. Sometimes, though, no discussion is needed (for example, if the issue claimed is an orthopedic referral, and the carrier offers an orthopedic doctor, that's it, issue resolved).
As for impairment benefits, these are to be paid automatically at time of MMI, unless you are permanently and totally disabled. If the carrier is late in paying IIBs, then you should petition to get them paid.
All orders in your case are publicly available online through the JCC's webpage on the DOAH site. All of the others can be accessed though a password-protected site that your attorney will have access to. The attorney can download whatever you want and put it on a disc for you, e-mail it to you, or print it for you.
If you are not represented but are looking for counsel, please let me know and I can direct you to a good attorney in your area.
Workers' Compensation Lawyer
Kenneth is correct about obtaining copies from the website which you can find at:
More importantly, when a voluntary dismissal is filed by a lawyer, there can be at least 2 reasons: (1) You've gotten all the benefits that you're entitled to at the present time, or;
(2) The lawyer was not ready for trial and needed more time to prepare. Both reasons raise a red flag in my mind. In either case, it is important that you speak to your lawyer to find out the exact reason for the dismissal. Normally, under the Florida Workers Comp law, there are small cases and big cases, with very few in between. Small cases are for injured workers who get a specific permanent impairment from the doctor(s), but they can return to some kind of work, even if its' light duty. Big cases (worth a lot of money) are reserved ONLY for workers who cannot return to any work at all, not even light or sedentary work. For these "big" cases, it is important that the lawyer work to document all of the physical and mental limitations by getting the worker examined by different specialist doctors who give opinions on your work limitations. Even a psychiatrist or psychologist can give limitations, such as inability to concentrate, poor memory, inability to get along with others due to pain, etc. I cannot tell if you have a serious injury which may prevent you from finding another job if you get fired or terminated from your past employer (they don't really want to re-employ injured workers but the insurance company tells employers to offer them light duty to prove that they are not disabled.) You are free to get another opinion on your case from Kenneth, from me or any other lawyer who specializes in representing injured workers in Florida. You should know what the lawyers' strategy is and what goal the lawyer is working toward. Experienced claimant lawyers can tell you the approximate worth of your claim or at least give you a range of values if this or that happens.
Feel free to email me if you have questions,
Workers' Compensation Lawyer
A request for voluntary dismissal of the pending claims does not necessarily require the claimant's permission although this is certainly something the lawyer handling the case would usually discuss with the client before filing anything. If your lawyer filed this withu out consulting you first you should ask for an explanation. Also, if the same calims that were dismissed are refiled be very careful that they are not dismissed a second time unless they are resolved because the second voluntary dismissal could be with prejudice which means you can't refile them again. In other words, you could lose your right to proceed on those specific claims.
Another explanation for cancellation of the pretrial and FH date is that you did not appear for the mandatory state mediation and did not responond to a letter from the mediator aking for an explanation for the failure to appear of the Judge issued an Order to Show Cause for failure to Appear and no response was filed.
If you have an impairment rating and all of the doctors treating you through WC have placed you at maximum medical improvement (MMI) the your entitlement to impairment benefits is automatic. However, you have to be at overall MMI which means that all doctors currently treating you have placed you at MMI. For example, If your orthopedist placed you at MMI with a 3% permanenent impairment rating but your pain management physician has not placed you at MMI you are not yet entitled to impairment benefits. However, in this situation you could still be entitled to temporary indemnity benefits (temporary total or temporary partial disability) until you reach overall MMI if the doctor that has not yet placed you at MMI but has assigned work restrictions and work within those restrictions is not available.
As mentioned in the answers above, you can get some of your court records online. A lawyer can get all of them. If you don't have a lawyer you should get one. There are several qualified workers' compensation lawyers in Fort Myers. Feel free to call or email me if you need help finding one.
Try this link to the Division of Workers' Cmpensation's injured worker help page for more information: http://www.myfloridacfo.com/WC/employee/index.htm