Worker’s Compensation Laws in Tampa, Florida
Hurt at work?
You only have 30 days to file a workers’ compensation claim after an injury.
You need to call a workers comp lawyer now! If you were injured at work and looking for the best workers’ compensation attorney to handle your claim, call Armando Personal Injury Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation at (813) 906-1151 or request an appointment online.
There Are Many Workers Compensation Lawyers In The Tampa Bay Area, So Why Should You Hire Us?
Armando Edmiston is a former US Marine with over a decade of experience as a workers’ compensation attorney in Tampa, Florida. You know he will fight hard to negotiate the best workers’ compensation payout possible so your family is taken care of and you can focus on getting better. Our Spanish speaking workers compensation lawyers and law firm staff handle claims across the greater Tampa, Lackland and Hillsborough County area.
What Type Of Lawyer Do I Need?
If your employer subscribes to workers’ compensation insurance, you need a workers comp attorney. If they do not, you need a work injury lawyer to file a personal injury claim for medical bills, pain and suffering, and other damages.
We can help you with either claim and consultations are free, give us a call.
Work Injury Statistics In The US And Florida
- At least 13 people die from work-related injuries in the U.S. every day according to the Bureau of Labor & Statistics (BLS).
- In 2015 alone 4,836 people died after getting injured at work.
- 272 people died from work related injury or illness in Florida in 2015.
- 9 million private sector workers suffered a non-fatal work-related injury or illness in 2015.
Examples Of Workers Comp Eligible Injuries
A work-related injury can occur in many different settings. A data-entry worker may develop carpal tunnel syndrome due to repetitive action of the wrist. A delivery person may be injured in a car accident when traveling from the place of business to the delivery destination. Commercial truck drivers are injured in auto accidents and while securing and delivering loads. Employees may become ill due to toxic fumes used in the workplace.
If the workplace is responsible for the injury or illness, workers’ comp should provide benefits.
How Does Workers’ Compensation Work?
Workers’ compensation is designed to allow workers who are injured on the job to collect damages from their employers without needing to prove the employer was negligent. In turn, employers are prevented from denying compensation by alleging the accident was the fault of the employee’s own negligence.
It sounds good in theory, but there are often problems.
Problems with Workers Compensation
No insurance policy is perfect, and workers’ compensation insurance has several problems that applicants will find difficult to navigate.
- There are stringent reporting requirements.
- Claims may be denied or reduced for various unwarranted reasons.
- Damages under workers’ comp are limited to a percentage of an employee’s wage.
- There is no compensation for pain and suffering or other damages.
However, in some cases a third party may be responsible for your injury. If that is the case, you can file a private lawsuit for negligence against the third party. That means you could be eligible for additional compensation.
For all of these reasons, if you suffer from a work-related injury or illness you need the assistance of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. Contact the Armando Personal Injury law firm for more information and a free consultation.
What’s the Difference Between Personal Injury Lawsuits and Workers’ Compensation Claims?
There are some clear differences in a personal injury lawsuit and workers’ compensation claims. Contrary to what most people believe, workers’ compensation is designed to protect employers from financial liability when workers are injured. Employees injured at work whose employers subscribe to workers’ compensation insurance will probably not be able to recover as much compensation as those with employers who don’t subscribe to worker’s comp or that have fake comp.
The main differences between filing a personal injury claim and workers’ compensation claim in Florida are:
Requirement of proof. Personal injury lawsuits require the plaintiff to prove the defendant was negligent. Workers’ comp is a no-fault system.
Employees collect for their medical expenses and lost wages without having to prove their employer was at fault.
Collection of lost wages. In personal injury lawsuits, plaintiffs may collect all the wages lost due to their injury. Workers’ comp benefits only reimburse employees with two-thirds of their gross wages.
Damages for pain and suffering. Financial compensation, or damages, are available to plaintiffs in personal injury lawsuits. Damages are not available for workers’ compensation claims, only reimbursement (sometimes partial) for medical bills and time off work if you are lucky.
Although employees may not file a personal injury claim against their employer, there are situations when employees may be able to file personal injury claims against third parties whose negligence was a cause of the injury.
Third Party Lawsuits and Workers’ Comp?
Although employees cannot file a personal injury lawsuit against their employer, they may have a reason to file such a lawsuit against a third party. Some examples include:
- An employee injured at work due to a malfunction of a defective product may file a personal injury product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer and distributor of the defective product.
- An employee may be driving on a work-related mission when he or she is hit by a negligent driver. The employee may collect from the employer and also file a suit for personal injury against the negligent driver.
- If an employee is assaulted by a co-worker, the employee may file a personal injury lawsuit against the assaulting worker.
- In cases where workers have been injured due to a toxic substance being released into the air, they have been able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the manufacturer of the substance.
- If the employer knew the employees were being exposed to a toxic substance and failed to warn them, or take proper protective measures, the employees may file a personal injury lawsuit against their employer.
When employees receive compensation as a result of a personal injury lawsuit, they may be required to reimburse the workers’ compensation insurer for some of the damages. A workers’ compensation attorney will assist with this.
Types Of Injuries And Accidents That Qualify For Workers’ Comp Benefits
Any time employees are injured on the job or while working on behalf of their employer, they are entitled to workers’ comp benefits. Some of the most common types of injuries that qualify for benefits include:
- Heavy Lifting & Strain Injuries
- Fall Injuries
- Trip Injuries
- Construction Injury
- Exposure to Dangerous Substances
- Equipment & Machinery Accidents
Lifting injuries caused by heavy lifting, pushing, pulling and shoving are covered by workers’ comp insurance. These are often muscle sprains and strains, but may also include back and spinal injuries like lumbar disc herniation, disc separation, and ruptured discs.
Falls from heights can cause serious spinal and long bone injuries including spinal fracture, femur fracture, paralysis, brain injury, neck injury, hip dislocation, and broken hip. Injuries are likely when someone falls from any height, but generally falls from high levels such as ladders, roofs, cranes, buckets, and scaffoldings can cause devastating injuries.
Trip and falls at work, offshore, or on a job site are typically caused by improperly maintained facilities or poorly marked trip hazards. Examples include electrical cords left sprawling across walkways, spills that cause people to slip and fall, and uneven ground at a drilling site or construction site that has not been properly covered with ground leveling material.
Assault injuries by coworkers and strangers are more common than you think. According to OSHA, approximately 2 million workers every year report they are injured when they are assaulted in the workplace. Many more instances are not reported. In addition to a claim for workers’ compensation, the injured party may also file a third party personal injury case against the attacker. An attorney specialized in workers’ comp benefit negotiation is your best asset if you want to pursue both claims after suffering an assault injury at work.
Construction injuries occur everyday in the US. These are often very severe and result in life-changing, catastrophic, and disabling injuries. Construction site injuries include broken bones, crane injuries, electrocution, and spinal injuries resulting in quadriplegia.
What Type of Workers’ Compensation Payments are Available?
When employees are injured at work, they incur medical expenses at the same time they are losing wages. It can be an incredibly stressful time. When their claim for workers’ compensation benefits is approved, they may be able to collect the following types of payments:
- Medical expense reimbursement for treatments related to the work-related injury.
- Wage and pay reimbursement lost from time off work for medical treatment and recovery. The first check should arrive within three weeks of the date the claim was submitted.
- Temporary partial disability (TPD). This compensates workers who cannot return to their normal work, but can return on a modified basis. Compensation will depend on how much the worker is able to earn on the modified status.
- Temporary total disability (TTB). Temporary total disability workers comp benefits are pay employees who cannot return to work for a period of time, but that are expected to be able to return at some defined time in the future.
- Permanent impairment benefits (PIB). When a physician determines the worker has improved as much as possible, temporary benefits end and permanent benefits click in.
- Permanent disability benefits (PDB). These are awarded when the injured employee is unable to perform even sedentary work within 50 miles of his or her home.
- Death benefits. Workers compensation death benefits are awarded to the deceased workers’ family.
Attorneys experienced in workers’ compensation law can be a big help in obtaining all the money you deserve after getting hurt at work.
Construction Injuries and Workers Comp
Some industries, like the construction industry, are more dangerous than others and have higher injury and death rates. One in five of all workers killed in 2015 worked in the construction industry. Construction injury workers’ comp claims are among the highest in the nation. OSHA refers to the “fatal four” causes of death for construction workers:
- Falls caused 38.8% of construction worker deaths.
- 9.6% of construction worker deaths occurred after a worker was struck by an object.
- Electrocution caused 8.6% of construction worker deaths.
- 7.2% of construction worker deaths occur when workers become stuck between objects or machinery.
Most Dangerous Jobs With High Rates Of Workers’ Comp Claims
Some of the most dangerous jobs that employees file workers’ comp claims for include fish farmers, nurses, law enforcement, firefighters, manufacturing and assembly line workers, oil and gas extraction workers, steel fabricators, and veterinary workers. The top 10 industries with the most non-fatal injuries or illnesses in 2015 were, according to the BLS:
- Aquaculture. The breeding of plants and animals in a water environment is surprisingly dangerous and is number one on the list of industries in this category. Jobs in aquaculture include shellfish farmers and fish farmers.
- Nursing and residential care facilities. Nurses get injured and become ill because of their jobs more often than people think.
- Police protection.
- Manufacture of household furniture.
- Mobile home manufacturing.
- Fire protection. The fire protection industry includes firefighters but also people who manufacture fireproofing materials like insulation, wallboard, and other fireproof materials that may contain asbestos (which initially became popular because of its fireproofing capabilities).
- Veterinary services.
- Steel foundries. Examples of steel foundry jobs include steel fabrication, steel mill workers, sheet metal fabricators, and metallurgists.
- Travel trailer and camper manufacturing.
Worker’s Comp Applications, Denials and Appeals
With only a few exceptions, Florida employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance to cover their employees who are injured or become ill in work-related incidents. Please not, a workers comp claim for must be filed with the employer within 30 days of the injury. The basic application process for workers compensation claims includes four but sometimes five steps.
Workers’ Compensation Claim Process
- File the workers comp claim application with your employer, including specific details about the accident like the date, time and location of the incident. Any witnesses to the event should be listed.
- Get medical attention and treatment. When necessary, the injured worker should seek emergency medical attention. If it is not an emergency, the worker should seek medical attention soon after the injury and is required to see the medical care practitioner chosen by the employer.
- Get an Independent Medical Evaluation. Injured workers filing a workers compensation claim are required to consent to an independent medical evaluation (IME) to determine the extent of their injuries. This is often a crucial stage of the process and one that often results in either a denial of the claim or a reduction in the amount of damages.
- Next the claim is either accepted or denied.
- If the workers comp claim is denied, your attorney can help you appeal the denial.
Unfortunately, denials of claims are not uncommon. The most common reasons for denials include the employer or workers compensation insurer claiming:
- The injury did not occur at work or was not related to work.
- The injury is not as severe as the employee claims.
- The suffering by the employee is due to a pre-existing condition and not due to the injury.
- Accusations against the employee of insurance fraud.
- Notice of the injury was not properly given.
- The statute of limitations has expired.
Appealing a Workers’ Compensation Denial
Injured employees may appeal the denial of a workers’ compensation claim. A hearing will be scheduled where both sides present evidence to support their position
Throughout the claims process, workers who are represented by an experienced workers’ compensation appeal attorney achieve greater success than those who go it alone or that hire lawyers without experience appealing denied claims.
Bad Faith Workers Comp Denials
There are times when the denial of a workers’ compensation claim was made by the insurer in bad faith. Examples of bad faith workers comp denials include:
- Insurer refuses to pay valid claims.
- Insurer delays payment without any justification.
- Insurer underpays valid claims.
- Denies or underpays claims without conducting an adequate investigation.
Bad faith on the part of the insurer can give rise to a bad faith lawsuit against the insurer.
How a Workers’ Compensation Attorney Can Help
Employers often discourage workers from consulting with attorneys. This is unfortunate. If you were injured on the job, one of our workers’ compensation attorneys at Armando Personal Injury will assist you with filing your initial claim and represent you through the appeal process if necessary.
We make sure you receive all the compensation to which you are entitled and maximize your benefits. If a settlement is in your best interest, we are experienced negotiators. If trial is necessary, you will be pleased to have us on your side in the courtroom
If a loved one died due to a workplace injury or illness, we will pursue a wrongful death claim on your behalf. There are time limits on filing workers comp claims and work injury lawsuits. Contact us as soon as possible for a free consultation.