Florida Workers' Compensation Claims Information
No one goes to work expecting to be injured, but work accidents happen in the blink of an eye. They may cause injuries and problems that can last for years. When an accident happens, it can be difficult to know what to do next. This article provides an overview of the procedures required to file Florida workers' compensation claims. Step 1 - File A Claim:
Florida law requires you to give your employer a First Report of Injury as soon as possible after the injury happens, but no later than thirty days after the accident occurs. You risk denial of your claim if you wait longer than the thirty day maximum to tell your employer about your injury.
Your employer must report your injury to their insurance company within seven days after you file a First Report of Injury. Occasionally an employer may refuse to report the injury to their insurance company - in that case, you have the right to report it yourself under Florida Statutes (Section 440.185).
It is likely that your employer has the forms that are needed for filing Florida worker's compensation claims, but if they don't, you can get the forms on your own through the Employee Assistance Office of the Florida Department of Worker's Compensation.
If your employer delays or refuses to complete and turn in the First Report of Injury, you can do it yourself through the workers compensation insurance company. (If you file your own claim, you willl need to provide medical documentation of your injury.)
Step 2 - Seek Medical Care:
Under the terms of Workers Compensation, you can not choose your own doctors. Workers Compensation maintains a list of authorized medical providers and will choose the doctors for your treatment from this list.
You are only allowed to change your physician once so be very sure to exercise this right carefully!
Things To Remember:
Under the Florida Workers Comp laws, you will not be paid for the first seven days of your disability. The insurance company must pay you for those first seven (7) days of disability only if your disability extends beyond 21 days.
Under Florida law, your employer is not required to hold your job for you until you are released to work again, but you may be protected under the Family Medical Leave Act.
If your injury is such that you can't return to the type of work you did before you were hurt, you may be entitled to vocational counseling, transferable skills analysis, job-seeking skills, job placement, on-the-job training, and/or formal retraining at no cost to you.
If Your Claim Is Denied:
If your Florida worker's compensation claims are denied, you must file a Petition for Benefits (PFB).
The State automatically sends your claim to mediation and sets a final hearing date once a Petition For Benefits form is filed.
The mediation process will allow you to negotiate the disputed issues of your claim with the workers comp insurance company. Mediation is also the time when you may discuss settling your injury claim for a lump sum of money. Remember though, if you settle your claim and get a lump sum of money from the insurance company, you will be responsible for paying for your future medical needs if your condition gets worse after your claim has been settled.
If mediation does not bring a resolution, your case will be set for a final hearing. A final hearing takes place before a judge, similar to a trial. The judge will decide whether you should get the benefits that have been denied.
You Have The Right To Hire An Attorney To Help Look Out For You:
If you do hire a lawyer, make sure you hire one that has extensive experience with Florida workers' compensation claims. They must be extremely familiar with the complex Florida workers compensation laws which are amended annually by the Florida Legislature.
Remember that your employer and their insurance company are not "on your side"! They want to settle your claim for as little money as possible and will be looking out for themselves, not for you!