Injured Worker Rights
No one plans for a workplace injury. That’s why employees often scrambled to learn, “What are my rights?” in the aftermath of an on-the-job accident or diagnosis of an occupational illness.
The Ansara Law Firm offers services from experienced Fort Lauderdale work injury lawyers who can help you navigate the process. We recognize that many employers and insurers fail to take responsibility and provide workers’ compensation coverage. We also know it can be difficult to identify and hold accountable potential third-party defendants, as is appropriate when protecting injured worker rights.
In general, workers who have been hurt at work or families of those who were killed on-the-job are entitled to compensation for:
- Medical Expenses
- Lost Wages
- Death Benefits
This may seem straightforward, but there are often many questions that arise. Requesting an initial consultation with a worker injury attorney in Fort Lauderdale can help to address many of those. If you’re just starting out your search, we encourage you to learn more about what rights and obligations you have, and why you may need legal help to ensure your injured worker rights are respected.Reporting the Injury
F.S. 440.185 requires workers to report their workplace injury to their employer as soon as possible, but you only have 30 days to do so, or else you risk your claim being denied.
When your injury is reported, your employer needs to in turn report the injury to the insurance company as soon as possible. However, the company is obligated to report it within one week (7 days) of their knowing about it. The insurance company then has to provide within 3 days a brochure that notifies you of your rights and responsibilities and outlines certain provisions of workers’ compensation law.
If your boss or company refuses to report your injury to the insurance carrier, you do have the right to inform the insurer directly. However, it’s recommended if you go that route that you talk to a lawyer in the Fort Lauderdale area first.Right to Coverage of Medical Treatment
Your injured worker rights include the right to be covered for reasonable and medically necessary care stemming from your workplace injury. That includes any treatment, prescriptions or other related care. Typically, these treatments have to be recommended by a medical provider and authorized by an employer, though in some cases, workers may have to obtain treatment first and seek compensation for that treatment later.
However, all authorized medical bills should be submitted by the medical provider to your company or workers’ compensation insurer for coverage.Right to Recover Lost Wages
Lost wages refers to the loss of income workers incur when they suffer an on-the-job injury and can’t work as a result.
Unfortunately, Florida law does not allow workers to be paid for the first seven days during which one is disabled and unable to work due to an on-the-job accident. However, if you are disabled for longer than 21 days, then those first seven days can be covered.
Generally, workers are going to receive a bi-weekly check that will be for two-thirds of their average weekly wage, as determined with a calculation that considers what you earned in the 91 days immediately before your injury.
The good news is you won’t have to pay income taxes on this money, but if you return to work, you will need to pay taxes on wages you received while working – even if only on light duty and still under your doctor’s supervision.
The first workers’ compensation check should arrive within the first 21 days after a workplace injury is reported and coverage approved, and temporary total and temporary partial disability payments (or some combination of these two) can be received for up to 104 weeks.
If you plan to pursue a third-party lawsuit against a property owner, driver, product manufacturer, etc., those claims will almost certainly take much longer.
You can receive Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (if you are disabled for more than a year and have adequately paid into the system), but be aware that this combined with your workers’ compensation check can’t exceed 80 percent of the average amount you earned per week before you were injured.Protection from Disability Discrimination
You should know your employer is not allowed to fire you on the grounds you have filed for or attempted to file for a workers’ compensation claim. That is considered a protected activity.
Additionally, your employer cannot discriminate against you for being disabled, though you will need to be able to perform the core functions of the job when you return, even if you need some reasonable accommodations to do so.
If you can’t return to the same work you did before your injury, you can get assistance through the state’s reemployment services, which includes vocational counseling, job placement and formal retraining.
Finally, you have the right to consult with a workplace injury lawyer regarding any questions you may have about this process.
Contact Fort Lauderdale Lawyer Richard Ansara at The Ansara Law Firm, by calling (954) 761-4011 for a free consultation.