Workplace Accidents: What should I do if I am injured at work?
Millions of workplace accidents happen every year from the office to the construction site. If you’ve suffered a work-related injury, it’s in your best interest to know your state’s (in this case, Florida) workers’ compensation process, requirements, and the benefits to which injured workers are entitled.
Depending on the facts of your case, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits available to injured employees. Continue reading to learn everything you need to know about workplace injuries and workers comp claims.
What is a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
A successful workers’ compensation claim provides injured workers with compensation (i.e., workers’ compensation benefits) for medical bills, lost wages, disability benefits, and the cost of rehabilitation. Further, it may also pay death benefits to family members of employees who are killed at work.
It’s important to note that workers’ comp is only available to employees (if their employer is covered under workers’ comp) who become injured or suffer an illness in the course and scope of their position.
Steps to Take After A Workplace Injury – How to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Suppose you’ve suffered injuries resulting from an accident at work. In that case, you can take steps to increase your chances of receiving the treatment, financial compensation, and disability benefits (if applicable) you deserve.
Listed below is a brief overview of the steps to take after a workplace injury in Florida:
- Collect evidence and record the details
- Seek Immediate Medical Treatment
- Report Your Work Injury To Your Employer (Follow-Up)
- File a report within 30 days of the accident (this is the first step when you file a claim)
- Maintain daily notes about your work-related injuries, medical treatment, and recovery
- Resolve any disputes with your job or insurance company (if applicable)
- File an appeal (if necessary)
In the case of severe or long-term injuries, we recommend consulting a workers’ compensation attorney very early in the process.
Your lawyer will understand worker employment rights and the law. Further, a lawyer can speak with the insurance companies on your behalf, help you value your injuries, represent you in a personal injury case (if required), and fight for a fair settlement to cover the financial, physical, and/or mental damages sustained from a serious workplace accident.
In many cases, working with an attorney can significantly increase your chances of a successful workers’ compensation claim.
Benefits of Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
According to the Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation, there are three categories of benefits available to a worker who is injured on the job, they include:
An employer is responsible for providing injured workers with medical treatment through their insurance company. That includes medical appointments, medically necessary care, mileage reimbursement for medically-related travel, and more.
Lost Wages and Other Monetary Compensation
The rate, compensation amount, and duration of workers’ compensation benefits vary. However, depending on the case, you may be eligible for the following:
- Temporary Total Disability (TTD)
- Temporary Partial Disability (TPD)
- Impairment Income Benefits (IIB)
- Permanent Total Disability (PTD)
Contact a workplace injury lawyer for help determining your max medical improvement (MMI) and the workers’ comp benefits you’re owed.
In rare cases, a work-related death occurs. Families of individuals who have suffered workplace accidents resulting in death within 365 days of the date of the accident or within five years of continuous disability may be able to recoup the following benefits:
- Funeral expenses (up to $7,500)
- Workers’ compensation payments to dependents
- Educational benefits available to a surviving spouse
Factors That May Prevent You From Receiving Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Before you consider filing a workers’ compensation claim, you should know the types of injuries and scenarios Workers comp covers. Generally, when a workers’ compensation claim is denied (legitimately), it’s typically due to one or more of the following reasons:
- You intentionally caused your injury
- You ignored workplace safety rules and/or didn’t use required (and available) equipment.
- You had alcohol, drugs, or other intoxicants in your system at the time of the injuries.
- You didn’t file your workers’ comp claim within enough time
- At least 50 percent of the injury wasn’t sustained on the job
- Your employer doesn’t qualify for workers’ compensation insurance
If you’re an injured employee who’s unsure whether your injury falls under Florida workers’ compensation laws, we recommend consulting a workplace injury lawyer as soon as possible. That’s especially true if you’ve received pushback from your employer or its insurance company about their lack of legal liability and/or the validity of your workers’ compensation claim.
What If My Workers’ Compensation Claim is Denied?
In many cases, employers and insurance companies find ways to deny legitimate claims. However, if they do, it doesn’t automatically mean that you’re not eligible or covered under workers’ compensation laws.
Your workers’ compensation attorney could file an appeal, and you may still be able to win the benefits you deserve. Generally, when a workers’ compensation claim is denied, there are three steps in the process. They include:
- Notification of Denial
- Appealing Denied Claims
If the employer, insurance company, and injured employee can’t reach a fair settlement agreement during mediation, your case can be heard again by a Judge of Compensation Claims (JCC). In many cases, your attorneys can even appeal this decision if you’ve received an unfavorable outcome.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)About Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
From collecting detailed medical records to when you should hire an attorney, understanding workers’ compensation laws, procedures, and requirements is a full-time job. If you’re considering filing a workers’ compensation claim, we’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions about workers’ compensation claims.
If you have questions not answered in this section, contact the workers’ compensation attorneys at Ziegler Diamond Law for a free consultation.
Why Hire An Attorney For a Workplace Accident?
Generally, it’s recommended you consult a workplace injury lawyer as soon as possible after sustaining a severe injury. However, in rare cases, you may be able to represent yourself.
Scenarios, where self-representation is more likely, can include: You suffered a minor injury (i.e., cuts, bruises, scrapes, etc.), you missed very little work or none at all, and/or your employer claims liability for your injuries.
In most other cases, you should strongly consider hiring an experienced workplace injury attorney because they:
- Have knowledge of the law and the workers’ compensation benefits you’re entitled to
- Know how to value your case and typically negotiate better settlement offers
- Can effectively argue your case if you have pre-existing injuries in the part of your body injured on the job
- Can handle third-party personal injury claims against your employer or another party
In many cases, the best workers comp lawyers offer you the best chances of a successful outcome in your case. That’s especially true if your employer doesn’t accept liability, the insurer makes a lowball settlement offer, or you have pre-existing health conditions.
Do All Workplace Accidents Need to be Reported?
Employers must report all work injuries that may be covered under workers’ compensation insurance. That means that an employer must report minor and major injuries alike. Neglecting to do so can lead to adverse legal and financial ramifications. Further, employees should also report minor injuries to employers. Doing so ensures they have appropriate documentation and evidence if the injury develops into something more serious.
What Are The Main Causes of Accidents in The Workplace?
Every workplace injury is different. However, the leading causes of accidents in the workplace include but are not limited to the following:
- Slips, trips, and falls
- Overexertion and muscle strains
- Employees struck by workers, equipment, or falling objects
- Stress-related injuries
- Vehicle accidents
- Exposure to harmful substances
- Explosions and fire
If you’re an injured employee, it’s in your best interest to seek legal help and medical treatment as soon as possible.
How Many Accidents Happen in the Workplace Each Year?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 2.7 million nonfatal workplace injuries were reported in a recent calendar year (2020). The occupations with the highest incidence rates resulting in days missed from work include nurses, nursing assistants, laborers, maintenance/repair workers, and retail workers.
What Are Direct Costs For Workplace Accidents?
Workplace injuries and illnesses affect society, injured workers, and employers. According to OSHA, employers pay nearly $52 billion yearly for direct workers’ compensation costs. These direct costs include workers’ compensation benefits payments, the cost of medical treatment, and the cost of legal services.
Consult A Workers’ Compensation Attorney at Ziegler Diamond Law Today
Similar to personal injury cases, workers’ compensation claims are notoriously complicated. Even if your employer admits liability, they may not agree to pay sufficient settlement amounts or suddenly reduce your benefits.
An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help file a workers’ compensation claim on your behalf and ensure your rights are protected after a severe or life-changing workplace injury.
If you’ve been injured while at work, the workplace injury lawyers at Ziegler Diamond Law are here to help. Our attorneys will analyze the facts of your workplace accident and determine whether filing a workers’ compensation claim or pursuing litigation is in your best interest.
Additionally, our attorneys will negotiate with your employer’s workers’ comp insurance company to ensure you get the full value of the benefits you’re entitled to. Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation with a proven workplace injury lawyer in Florida.