When you experience injury at your workplace, you are likely to receive a lot of advice and suggestions from your family, friends and work colleagues. While their intentions may be pure, the information is sometimes contradictory and could leave you confused as to what your options are.
Worse still, if you are unfortunate to work for an unscrupulous employer, they could offer ‘facts’ to you that are not in your best interest but are instead meant to protect the company. Understanding the basics of workers’ compensation is therefore vital if you want to be on the right track from the get go. To remove all doubt, get in touch with an experienced Jacksonville workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as you can.
Workers’ compensation is insurance cover that an employer takes to compensate workers injured in the course of duty. It caters for lost wages and medical expenses. The goal is to provide a cushion for employees as well as facilitate their return to gainful employment. In Florida, workers’ compensation is regulated by the Office of the Judges of Compensation Claims (JCC) and the Department of Financial Services.
What Injuries Qualify?
For an injury to qualify for compensation, it must have happened within the scope of the employee’s routine job tasks, at the workplace (not on their way to or from work), during work-related travel (such as a business trip) and not while deviating from duty (such as playing games on company time). Injured workers qualify for several benefits including medical bills, ambulance services, medical travel expense, rehabilitation, prescriptions, retraining, re-education and death benefits.
The first thing you must do is file a report of illness or injury with your employer. You can fill out the form or otherwise have a documented conversation with your employer. This must happen no more than 30 days after the date of the injury to avoid being time barred. Florida recognizes a verbal employee-to-employer notification of injury but to be on a sure footing from the start, a written notification is ideal.
There is no restriction on the doctor you should go to for treatment. Nevertheless, the law prohibits claimants from changing their doctors often while pursuing compensation. If you already have a personal or family doctor that you regularly see, it would probably be best to go with them. Your doctor of choice will subsequently bill the insurer directly for your treatment expenses.
To receive compensation for lost wages, you will be required to fill a Wage Statement form. If your injury has led to a permanent or temporary disability, you may be paid. However, if the assessment determines that you can continue working while healing from the injury, no benefit will be paid. The more serious the disability (e.g. paralysis or limb amputation), the higher the lost wages benefits.
Let’s look at a less common scenario. Suppose you’re involved in a car accident while traveling as part of the job. If you were traveling under the authorization of your employer, you are still considered to be working and would therefore qualify for compensation from two sources: personal injury protection (PIP) insurance and workers’ compensation. The PIP benefits will take precedence and if inadequate to cover the bills, worker’s compensation will pick up the slack.
Whereas it is vital that you vigorously pursue your right to compensation, it is equally important that any information you provide as part of your claim is truthful. Due to the growing number of fraudulent claims and the fact that insurance companies seek to pay you only what they have to, you could come under the surveillance of private detectives. The detectives’ goal is to obtain videos or pictures that would demonstrate you are not as injured as you claim to be. Judges will consider this evidence as they make a determination on your case.
Get in Touch an Experienced Jacksonville Workers’ Compensation attorney Today
Contacting a Jacksonville workers’ compensation attorney should be one of the first things you must do when you experience an injury in the course of doing your job. With many years’ experience representing clients in Florida, our team at Hardesty, Tyde, Green & Ashton P.A. is well versed in the key issues that arise in workers’ compensation claims. Do not wait. Call us today.