Panama City Workers’ Compensation Injuries
The workers’ compensation law in Florida is designed to compensate employees who were injured on the job or who suffered job-related illnesses. Although the workers’ comp system is supposed to work smoothly, it is actually very confusing and can make it difficult for an injured worker to receive their benefits. The aggressive Panama City workers’ compensation lawyers at the Law Office of J.J. Talbott are here to help guide you through the system and fight to get you all the benefits you deserve. If you have questions concerning your rights call us at (850) 437-9600 or contact us for your free consultation. As always, there are no fees or cost unless you recover.
Reporting a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Generally, you have thirty days to report a work-related injury. Therefore, it is important that you act quickly to report all work-related injuries or it can negatively impact your ability to receive medical benefits and disability benefits. If you have difficulty reporting your workers’ compensation accident, then call the aggressive Panama City Workers’ Compensation lawyers at the Law Office of J.J. Talbott to help you.
Getting Workers’ Compensation Benefits
To establish a compensable workers’ compensation claim, the employee must prove that they had a (1) accident at work; (2) that they suffered an injury; (3) that the injury arose from their employment; and (4) that the injury was the major contributing cause of the need for care. While the mechanism of the accident may make it easy to prove their claim (e.g broken leg), in other situations it is much harder (e.g. back injury). An experienced workers’ compensation attorney is helpful in proving your case.
An injured employee is generally entitled to two types of workers’ compensation benefits, medical benefits,, and money benefits.
First, with regard to the employer is required to provide all medically necessary treatment, including surgeries, physical therapy, prescribed medications, mileage to medical appointments, and any medical devices ordered by the workers’ comp doctor. Florida Statutes, 440.13. Unfortunately, the employer selects the treating doctors, but the employee is entitled to a one-time change of physician.
Second, the employee could also be entitled to monetary benefits if he is taken off work or provided work restrictions from the authorized treating doctor. These money benefits include Temporary Total Disability benefits, Temporary Partial Disability benefits, Impairment benefits, Vocational Retraining benefits, and Permanent Total Disability benefits. The workers’ compensation attorneys at the Law Office of J.J. Talbott can help explain these different type of benefits and fight for you.
Workers’ Compensation Settlements
Workers’ compensation lump-sum settlements are not mandatory but represent a voluntary agreement between the injured employee and the work-comp insurance carrier. However, if an injured worker obtains a lump-sum settlement, the worker then assumes responsibility for all future medical expenses related to his or her job-related accident or illness.
There are no provisions under the work-comp laws that require your employer to hold your job until you are able to return to work. Existing workers’ compensation laws do, however, prevent your employer from firing you because you have filed or may be attempting to file a workers’ compensation claim for work-related injuries or illness.
If you have any questions concerning your entitlement to workers’ compensation benefits, please feel free to contact the experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at the Law Office of J.J. Talbott for a free consultation.
Fighting The Insurance Company’s Denial of Your Claim or Benefits
If the employer denies your workers’ compensation claim, refuses to authorize treatment, or refuses to provide you with your benefits, you should immediately contact the workers compensation lawyers at the Law Office of J.J. Talbott. Since the workers’ compensation statute can require the insurance company to pay your attorney fees, sometimes getting an attorney involved early can keep the insurance “in check”, as the threat of attorney fees is a strong deterrent.
If the insurance company still denies your benefits, we can file a Petition for Benefits with the Judges of Compensation Claims (OJCC). The petition must provide very specific detail of your accident, your injuries, and the benefits that you claim. The insurance carrier must either pay your claim or respond to the OJCC within 14 days.
After the case is assigned to a judge, the clerk will schedule the Petition for Benefits for mediation and a final hearing. These dates are flexible, so the parties can change the dates to accommodate scheduling issues. However, the final hearing must be held within 210 days of the date that the petition was filed. During this time, your attorney will have an opportunity to gather information from the insurance company, your employer, your doctors, etc. which is necessary to prove your case. This includes taking depositions, sending a request for production of documents, obtaining medical records, and even obtaining your own independent medical examiner.
Before you go to the final hearing, the parties are required to mediate your petition for benefits with a mediator. The State of Florida provides a mediator at no cost, but the parties have the option to pay for a private mediator. At the mediation, the parties attempt to resolve the outstanding issues, or they can settle the entire case. Please note that there is no requirement for the insurance company to settle with you and there is no requirement for you to settle with the insurance company. Any settlement of your case must be agreed upon by both sides.
If the issues are not resolved at mediation, then the parties will proceed to the final hearing. The final hearing is usually in the office of the Judge of Compensation Claims, whether here in Pensacola or in Panama City. At the hearing, your attorney will present witnesses and evidence on your behalf, as will the insurance company. In about thirty (30) days, the judge will issue a written opinion. If you don’t agree with the judge’s decision, you have 30 days to appeal to the First District Court of Appeals. This step of the appeal process will be even more complicated and could take more than a year. The Court of Appeals may confirm the OJCC’s decision, overturn the decision, or send the case back to the OJCC for more findings.
If you’ve been hurt on the job in Florida, call the Panama City workers‘ compensation lawyers at the Law Office of J.J. Talbott for your free consultation. You can also contact us online or call our office directly at (850) 437-9600 to schedule your free consultation. We proudly serve Florida residents including all of Pensacola, Fort Walton Beach, Crestview, Panama City, and Tallahassee