Work-related injuries can happen in an instant and can have lingering consequences. Here is an overview of the Florida workers' compensation claims procedure so you know what to do in the event of a work-related injury:
Filing a Claim:
* Under Florida law, you must give your employer notice of your injury (First Report of Injury) as soon as possible after the injury, but no later than thirty days after the injury occurs. If you wait longer than the maximum thirty days to tell your employer about your injury, your claim may be denied.
* Your employer is required to report your injury to their insurance company within seven days after you notifiy them of your injury. If your employer refuses to report the injury to their insurance company, you have the right to report it yourself under Section 440.185 of the Florida Statutes.
* Your employer should have the forms that are needed for filing Florida worker's compensation claims, but you can also obtain the forms on your own from the Employee Assistance Office of the Florida Department of Worker's Compensation. When filing a claim, you'll need to include medical documentation of your injury.If your employer refuses to fill out and submit the First Report of Injury, you can do it yourself directly with the workers compensation insurance company.
* Workers comp has a list of authorized medical providers. The workers compensation insurance company chooses the doctors for your treatment from its list. Unfortunately, you do not get to choose your own doctors.
* You can change your physician only once so exercise this right carefully.
Keep In Mind:
* Under Florida law, you are not paid for the first seven days of disability. If your disability continues past 21 days, the insurance company is required to pay you for the first seven (7) days of disability.
* Florida law does not require your employer to hold your job open for you until the doctor releases you to work again, however you may be protected under the Family Medical Leave Act.
* If you can not return to the type of work you did before you were injured, you may be entitled to vocational counseling, transferable skills analysis, job-seeking skills, job placement, on-the-job training, and formal retraining at no cost to you.
Appealing a Denied Claim:
* When Florida worker's compensation claims are denied, a Petition for Benefits (PFB) needs to be filed.
* Once a PFB is filed, the State automatically sends the claim to mediation and sets a final hearing date.
* Mediation allows you to negotiate with the workers comp insurance company any issues which are in dispute in your claim. This is also the time you may have an opportunity to discuss settling your claim for a lump sum of money. However, keep in mind that if you settle your claim for medical benefits with the insurance company and your condition gets worse later, you are responsible for your future medical needs after your claim has been settled.
* If you and the insurance company can't reach an agreement during mediation, your case will be set for a final hearing. A final hearing is similar to a trial and takes place in front of a judge who will decide whether you should get the benefits that have been denied.
Hiring An Attorney:
* Don't rely on your employer or their insurance company to be "on your side". They will want to settle your claim for as little money as possible and will be looking out for themselves, not for you!
* You have the right to hire an attorney to help look out for you. If you do hire a lawyer, make sure you hire one that has extensive experience with Florida workers' compensation claims. They must be very familiar with the Florida workers compensation laws because these laws are complex and are amended by the Florida Legislature annually.
For more information about Florida workers compensation claims, contact Florida work accident compensation lawyer Joseph M. Maus at 1-866-556-5529, logon to his website at www.mauslawfirm.com, or email him today.
Joseph M. Maus
South Florida Attorney Joseph M. Maus and Associates has been helping victims of injuries and accidents for close to 16 years. The firm prides itself on having the resources and experience of the largest state-wide law firms, yet providing individualized attention to each and every client.