Workers’ Compensation Law in Florida and Alabama Questions Answered by Pensacola Attorneys
Workers’ compensation is a complicated area of law, and it can be difficult to know all the proper steps to take to secure your rights to compensation for an on-the-job injury. Below are answers to some frequently asked questions encountered by the attorneys at the Law Offices of J.J. Talbott as we help people like you who have been injured on the job in southern Alabama and the Florida panhandle. For immediate assistance with a workers’ compensation claim or benefits denial, contact our office for a free case review with one of our lawyers.
What happens after I file a claim?
You should receive information about the claims process from your employer’s insurance carrier that will tell you what to do. Your employer is required to inform the carrier about your claim within seven days after you report it. If you don’t hear from the insurance carrier or suspect that your employer did not notify them, you can contact them directly. Contact information for the company’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier should be posted in the break room or elsewhere in the workplace. If not, contact the Employee Assistance and Ombudsman Office or contact a workers’ compensation attorney for advice and assistance.
What if my benefits are denied?
You have the right to challenge that denial in an administrative hearing before an administrative law judge, and that decision can be further appealed to court. If you haven’t yet contacted an attorney to help you through the claims process, you will certainly want legal advice and representation to challenge or appeal a denial.
Can I see my own doctor for treatment?
Initially, you are required to see a doctor designated by your employer, or more specifically, by your employer’s workers’ comp insurance carrier. If unhappy with the doctor, in Florida you are allowed to make a written request for a different doctor, but you can only do this one time. If the carrier doesn’t respond to your request within five days, you can choose your own lawyer to treat you. In Alabama, if unhappy with your doctor, you can select another doctor from a panel of four doctors provided to you.
When the doctor you see is chosen by and works for the insurance company, you may feel like they are biased, and this may be so to a certain extent. You are not prohibited from getting a second opinion from a doctor you trust. This will be at your own expense, but it may help you in your case to receive benefits and the proper treatment. Ask your attorney if unsure what to do.
What does the law mean about “medically necessary treatment?”
A medically necessary treatment is any medical service or medical supply which is used to identify or treat an illness or injury, is appropriate to your diagnosis and status of recovery, and is consistent with the location of service, the level of care provided, and applicable practice parameters. Such treatment should be widely accepted among health care providers and not be experimental in nature.
As you can see, terms like “medically necessary treatment” have both medical and legal components to them. See an approved doctor for your diagnosis and treatment, but see an experienced workers’ compensation attorney when filing your claim or appealing a denial of benefits.
Can I sue for damages instead of filing a workers’ compensation claim?
In most cases, filing a workers’ compensation claim is your exclusive recourse for an on-the-job injury. Although you cannot sue for damages such as pain and suffering, there is a benefit in not having to go to court and prove negligence or fault in order to recover, provided you have the help of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to guide you through the process.
There are limited instances where you can sue, however. For instance, if your employer engaged in willful or intentional misconduct which could be said to lead with a virtual certainty to an employee injury or death, you may be able to sue for the injuries caused. You might also be able to sue if your employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance. Additionally, you may have a cause of action against a negligent third party if you were injured by a defective product, in a car accident or on another’s dangerous property, even if you were working at the time.
Do you still have questions? Call us today at 850.437.9600 for a free consultation.