Florida Workers' Compensation
This guide provides readers with the basics in what every injured worker in Florida should know about the law.
Reporting the InjuryMake sure to report your injury immediately to your employer and ask if there is a specific primary care doctor the employer wants you to visit. If there is not a specific medical provider or you are starting to feel pain while off work on a weekend or in the evening, go straight to your nearest urgent care to receive initial treatment. Make sure to mention ALL body parts injured in your work accident as it can be very difficult to add a body parts later.
Loss Wages - Indemnity for No Work StatusWhen an injured worker's medical condition results in the worker being out of work, they are entitled to loss wages called temporary total disability (TTD), which is payable at a rate of 66 2/3% of the worker's average weekly wage (there is a cap to the amount payable for high earners). The average weekly wage is based on the average of income earned in the 13 weeks immediately preceding the work injury date. The first 7 days off work won't be paid unless the worker is out for over 21 days. Keep in mind that this rate includes concurrent wages, meaning if a person had more than one job prior to their injury, the lost wages from the secondary employer is also included in the calculation, along with all fringe benefits received.
Loss Wages - Indemnity for Light Duty Return to Work StatusWhen an injured worker is returned to work with conditions (light duty) by the medical provider, the carrier will pay the injured worker temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits if the worker is not earning at least 80% of the worker's average weekly wage; if the employer does not have work for the injured worker in the light duty capacity, the TPD will be equal to the TTD benefits paid when the worker was off work completely (See section on No Work Status). An employer may seek to have the employee undergo vocational rehabilitation or offer a job to an employee elsewhere during this time. There are requirements as to the job provided so if this occurs, seek legal counsel to make sure your benefits are being provided properly and your are not denied rights.
Legal HelpI have been practicing workers' compensation in Florida for over 17 years and I find that an injured worker is always better served within the system if they are represented. When an attorney is on the case, the injured worker is generally moved to an insurance adjuster with less clients to manage and their case is given more attention in that the carrier has only 30 days to provide benefits sought by an attorney in a petition before the carrier owes the attorney fees and costs. Workers' compensation attorneys work on contingency and never have I ever sought money directly from an injured worker - attorneys like me earn our income through either a percentage of the settlement of a workers' compensation case or in instances when the insurance carrier fails to given benefits timely and in that case the insurance carrier pays my fees, not the client. Legal help is important and I always recommend an injured worker get legal help immediately. Workers' compensation attorneys work throughout the state so you are not limited to selecting an attorney in your town as most of us take clients from anywhere in Florida.