When injured on the job, certain circumstances will entitle you to wage loss benefits. If the injury results in you being placed on a no work status, you are entitled to temporary total disability benefits (TTD). TTD benefits are equivalent to 66 2/3 of your average weekly wage (AWW)1. The amount of this disability benefit is determined by multiplying your Average Weekly Wage, times 66 2/3% (.6667). The benefit is limited to 104 weeks, or until the injured worker reaches the date of maximum medical improvement (MMI), whichever occurs sooner. Temporary Total Disability benefits for injuries that resulted in the loss of a limb, or a total loss of eyesight shall be paid at the rate of 80% percent of the injured worker’s AWW for a period of six months from the date of the work related accident. Your AWW is determined by adding your gross earnings during the 13 weeks before the date of your work related accident or illness, excluding the week during which the accident or illness occurred2. By Florida law, wages earned must have been reported for federal income tax purposes to qualify in the calculation of AWW.
Another common type of wage loss benefit is referred to as temporary total disability benefits (TPD). If you are not able to return to work with the restrictions resulting from the accident and you are not earning wages, salary, or other remuneration, temporary partial disability benefits shall be paid no later than the last day of each biweekly period. TPD benefits are slightly less than TTD benefits due to a different formula being used in calculating what you’re entitled to. If you call our office for a free consultation, we’re happy to determine if you’re being paid the full amount you’re owed. If you return to work, you must notify the insurance company within 5 business days. Failure to notify the carrier of the establishment of an earning capacity in the required time shall result in a suspension or nonpayment of temporary partial disability benefits until the proper notification is provided.
Regardless of whether you are entitled to TTD or TPD benefits, the carrier must pay them timely. Section 440.20(6), Florida Statutes3, governs penalties on late payment of compensation benefits. See Serv. Mgmt. Sys. v. Hood, 790 So.2d 578, 580 (Fla. 1st DCA 2001) (applying section 440.20(6)); E. Indus., Inc. v. Burnham, 750 So.2d 748, 749 -52 (Fla. 1st DCA 2000) (same). Florida Statute Section 440.20(6) provides that a carrier who pays an installment of compensation (wage loss benefit) more than seven days after it becomes due “shall” also pay a penalty of 20% of the unpaid installment; unless such nonpayment results from conditions over which the employer or carrier had no control. Meaning, if you were entitled to $600.00 per week in TTD benefits, and payment of your benefits was late, you would be entitled to $720.00 per week as a result of applying the 20% penalty to the “unpaid installment.” The use of the word “shall,” means the carrier does not have a choice. The carrier must pay the additional penalty. In order to avoid payment of the penalty, the carrier would have to show that their delay to pay timely was due to circumstances over which they had no control. When you have representation in a worker’s compensation claim, we can address payment of wage loss benefits with the worker’s compensation carrier on your behalf. We often find that people we speak to are not being paid the correct amount of lost wages. A free consultation with our office will allow you to ask any questions about aspect of your claim, wages or otherwise.
440.20(6), Fla. Stat. (2012) (emphasis added); Pupo v. City of Hialeah, 91 So. 3d 925, 926 -27 (Fla. 1st DCA 2012); Jones v. City of St. Petersburg, 46 So.3d 637 (Fla. 1st DCA 2010) (holding penalties should be excused where untimely payment resulted from conditions over which the E/C had no control).
Another penalty applied to late payments is that of interest. A carrier who does not pay your wage loss benefits timely shall pay interest thereon at the rate of 12 percent per year from the date the installment becomes due until it is paid. The interest payment shall be the greater of the amount of interest due or $5. See § 440.20(8), Fla. Stat. (2012). This subsection is not conditioned on whether the nonpayment results from conditions over which the E/C had no control. See Pupo, 91 So. 3d at 927.
Much of the laws that govern worker’s compensation can be complex, confusing, and frustrating. Whether we undertake representation of you or not, our willingness to speak with you in a free consultation is sincere. Call the Dolman Law Group at (727) 853-6275.
Dolman Law Group
5435 Main Street
New Port Richey, FL 34652