Some of the most serious injuries Floridians suffer are those that occur on-the-job, especially in high-risk professions. The issue with many workplace injuries is that they often occur to body parts you are using to do your job, which can incapacitate you from work for an extended period of time. If you are unable to return to work in the same capacity as before, you may have to consider a change in careers or applying for social security disability. Such an injury can change the course of your life.
Understanding Florida Worker’s Compensation Law
Unlike a traditional car accident or slip-and-fall injuries, if you are injured while on the job, you will have to avail yourself to Florida Worker’s Compensation laws. Worker’s Compensation is a type of insurance that an employer must carry to cover its employees who are injured or killed on the job. Worker’s compensation will generally cover your medical expenses and lost wages incurred as a result of the injury, but the cause of the injury must have been at least 50% contributable to the injury suffered in the workplace. For example, if you injured your back while biking on vacation and simply tweaked the injury while at work, you are likely not eligible to receive worker’s compensation benefits. You also may not receive worker’s compensation benefits, or they may be reduced, under the following circumstances:
- The injury was intentionally self-inflicted;
- The injury was caused because the employee was on drugs or intoxicated;
- The injury was intentionally inflicted to obtain worker’s compensation benefits; or
- The employee refused to observe safety rules or use safety equipment.
The issue with worker’s compensation insurance is that you cannot sue your employer for your injuries even if the employer’s negligence caused your injury. For example, if another employee spilled coffee on the floor of the office and it was never cleaned up, even if you slipped on the coffee an injured yourself you cannot then sue your employer in Florida court.
Exceptions to Worker’s Compensation Requirements
You are not entitled to or bound by workers compensation laws for social or recreational activities undertaken at work unless you are required to participate as an employee and the employer is benefited other than by means of improving the health and morale of employees. If you participate in the company softball game, for example, and the purpose is simply to improve morale, if you are injured by the negligence of another employee, your remedy is not with worker’s compensation insurance. If, however, you are injured during a softball game that your employer is sponsoring as a benefit for the children’s hospital substantially for marketing purposes, then you may be entitled to compensation. Further, an employee is not entitled to worker’s compensation benefits if they deviate from the course of their employment during business hours. So if you are injured on a quick coffee run that is not otherwise approved by your employer, you cannot seek worker’s compensation benefits and your remedy will be against the coffee shop.
What Can You Recover After a Workplace Injury?
Under Florida law, you are not permitted to recover for mental injuries that occur on the job as the result of stress, fright, or excitement. Any such injuries must actually be accompanied by a physical injury requiring treatment in order to trigger benefits. You may, however, recover for the following:
- Lost wages up to 80% of those received when the injury occurred;
- Impairment benefits if you cannot make a full recovery;
- Medical treatment; and
- Reemployment services if you are unable to return to your job.
The difference between recovering under worker’s compensation verses in a court of law is that under worker’s compensation you may not recover for your pain and suffering, disability, emotional distress, or punitive damages. The purpose of such is to provide you with quick benefits that can help you return to work, but worker’s compensation can do little more than help break you even for what you have lost.
Workplace Injuries and Your Future
If you suffer a disabling injury while on the job, you may not be able to ever return to work in the same capacity. If you cannot return to work at all for a time, you have 104 weeks of wage benefits to utilize under worker’s compensation, but if you can return to work in a different capacity, you may receive up to 80% of the difference in your wages if you are not able to earn the same salary as before. If you suffer from a catastrophic injury that causes a permanent total disability, then you may be able to receive benefits for the rest of your life. These injuries include:
- Severe spinal cord injuries;
- An amputation;
- Traumatic Brain Injury;
- Motor or communication disturbances;
- Severe neurological disorders;
- Severe burns; and/or
If you have not suffered a catastrophic injury, you may still be able to obtain permanent benefits if you can establish that you cannot even engage in secondary work within at least 50 miles of your residence. This is a difficult standard, however, especially if your injuries do not fall into the catastrophic category. Further, there are instances in which you may still be able to sue under a theory of negligence in order to recover compensation. It is important to contact a Florida worker’s compensation and personal injury attorney to discuss your case.
Contact a New Port Richey Worker’s Compensation and Personal Injury Attorney
If you suffered a disabling injury at work, whether temporary or permanent, contact the Dolman Law Group immediately. Sometimes your worker’s compensation carrier will deny you benefits, which you may need an attorney to fight. There are also times when you may not have to utilize worker’s compensation and may go after those who injured you in Florida courts. The Dolman Law Group’s trained personal injury and worker’s compensation attorneys can analyze your case and help you build the body of evidence you need for litigation. They are your premier personal injury lawyers in New Port Richey. Call them today at (727) 853-6275 or contact them online for a free, no-risk consultation.
Dolman Law Group
5435 Main Street
New Port Richey, FL 34652