In most cases, an employee’s remedies for workplace injuries have to come through Florida’s Workers’ Compensation law. It’s a “no-fault” law. The benefits an injured employee can get have nothing to do fault. Moreover, the benefits are strictly economic. They cover medical and rehab expenses. The benchmark income benefit is two-thirds of lost wages. The money comes from the employer’s workers’ comp insurance carrier. There’s a claim process with lots of red tape.
WORKPLACE INJURIES AND COMPENSATION
Insurance companies, of course, prefer rejecting claims. They don’t want to pay. They’ll use anything to avoid it. Employees making claims have to make sure to use the right forms. They must cross the “t”s and dot the “i”s. They must get care only from certain doctors.
Another tactic is disputing whether the accident was “covered” under the law. Some kinds of employee conduct may be grounds for arguing the accident isn’t covered. That’s why, for example, carriers want drug testing done right after an accident. Florida’s Drug-Free Workplace Program, codified at Fla. Stat. §440.102, requires post-accident drug testing upon “reasonable suspicion” of employee drug use. Carriers will also look for evidence that the accident happened as the result of pranking or horseplay.
Thus, making a worker’s comp claim is like running an obstacle course. It doesn’t normally go through the courts. However, it can end up in court if a carrier denies or limits a claim. The State meant the process to be one any adult could manage alone. In fact, the playing field isn’t level.
As previously noted, some workplace injuries aren’t covered by workers’ compensation. Does the employer have fewer than 4 employees? Is it not in the construction industry? Meeting these two conditions exempts the business. There are other exemptions as well. Personal injury claims are the only option for work injuries in exempt businesses.
Some cases allow personal injury claims alongside workers’ comp. As noted above, workers’ comp does not provide damages for pain and suffering. But suppose the employer did something clearly meant to cause serious injury or death? Those are grounds for a personal injury claim. Personal injury law does allow damages for pain and suffering. These damages can be substantial.
Boca Raton attorneys and others never charge fees for personal injury cases unless they win money for the client. In contrast, legal help with workers’ comp is on a fee basis. These fees are limited by law. Anyone hurt on the job -even with stress injury- should call for Silver & Silver’s free consultation to review the options.