Experienced Workers Compensation Lawyer
Workers’ compensation lawyers help prove your work injury claims, negotiate compensation with your employer’s insurance company, and represent you at claims hearings. The Florida workers’ compensation system is designed to compensate employees who were injured on the job or suffer job-related illnesses. Although the system is supposed to work smoothly, it is actually very confusing, and it can make it hard for the injured worker to receive the benefits to which they’re entitled. That’s when injured workers call our Pensacola, Florida workers compensation lawyers.
How Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Help Your Case
The aggressive Pensacola workers’ compensation lawyers at the Law Office of J.J. Talbott can help guide you through the system and fight to get you all the benefits you deserve.
Workers’ compensation attorneys will
Collect medical evidence of your work injury
Arrange recommended medical treatment
Represent you at workers compensation hearings and depositions
Depose medical experts
Collect evidence of your injuries from family and friends
Collect evidence of your employer’s safety records
Reporting a Workers’ Compensation Claim
It is important that you act quickly to report all work-related injuries. If you fail to timely report these injuries, it can negatively impact your claim and your ability to receive medical benefits and disability benefits/money. Generally, you have thirty days to report a work-related injury.
Getting Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Under Florida law, 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. The injury resulting from the accident may make it easy to prove their claim (e.g a broken leg). In other work injury cases, it is much harder (e.g. back injury) to prove. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney is helpful in proving your case.
Types of Workers’ Compensation Benefits
An injured employee is generally entitled to two types of workers’ compensation benefits: medical benefits, and money benefits.
Under medical benefits, the employer is required to provide all medically necessary treatment, including :
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.
When a workers’ compensation doctor determines that an injured employee cannot perform his or her duties at work (temporarily), the employee may be entitled to specific monetary benefits, which include:
TTD benefits are typically paid every two weeks for an amount equal to two-thirds of the worker’s pre-injury Average Weekly Wage (AWW).
If an injured employee’s doctor determines that he or she can return to work, but with restrictions, then the worker may qualify for Temporary Partial Disability benefits (TPD) as long as he or she is earning less than 80% of his or her pre-injury average weekly wages. Like temporary total disability benefits, the workers’ compensation payments for temporary partial disability cannot exceed 66.66% of the injured workers’ average weekly wage.
When an employee’s work-related injuries are deemed permanent, the worker is entitled to receive either Impairment benefits (IBs) or Permanent Total Disability benefits. IBs are based on the permanent impairment rating assigned by the worker’s doctor.
IBs are paid at the rate of 75% of the employee’s average weekly TTD benefits for the following periods: two weeks for each percentage point of impairment up to 10%; three weeks for each percentage point of impairment from 11% up to 15%; four weeks for each percentage point of impairment from 16% up to 20%; and six weeks for each percentage point of impairment from 21% and higher.
However, if the employee has returned to his pre-injury earning capability, then they only receive IB benefits at the rate of 50% of the employee’s average weekly TTD benefits.
Vocational Retraining benefits
If the employee has achieved the level of maximum medical improvement and is unable to earn at least 80% of his/her compensation rate (the equivalent of 2/3rds of their average weekly wage) they may be eligible for vocational retraining services through the Division of Workers’ Compensation.
If the employee is not able to return to ANY gainful employment on a permanent basis, then the employee may be entitled to Permanent Total Disability (PTD) benefits. PTD benefits are paid at the rate of 66 2/3% of your AWW, plus you receive supplemental benefits which are an additional 3% per week (times the number of years since the accident).
Unfortunately, payments for workers’ compensation benefits do not include compensation for the employees’ pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, or similar personal damages as these are not permitted under the Act.
If you have questions as to what money benefits you are owed, call the Pensacola workers’ compensation attorneys at the Law Office of J.J. Talbott and JJ can help.
Our Workers’ Compensation Clients
A Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Can Help You Fight the Insurance Company
If the employer denies your workers’ compensation claim, refuses to authorize treatment, or refuses to provide your benefits, contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney immediately.
Your workers’ compensation lawyer may help to get the insurance company to rescind their denial of benefits. Also, 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”. The threat of attorney fees is a strong deterrent.
Filing a Petition for Benefits
If the insurance company still denies your benefits, your attorney 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. If they fail to respond, it will be deemed a denial of the claim for benefits. The OJCC then assigns a case number and the case is assigned to a judge,
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. 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.
Pensacola, Florida Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Prepare You for Hearings
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 and sending a request for production of documents. It also includes obtaining medical records, and even obtaining your own independent medical examiner.
The Mediation Process
Before you go to the final hearing, the parties review the petition for benefits with a mediator. The State of Florida provides a mediator at no cost. However, the parties have the option to pay for a private mediator. At the mediation, the parties attempt to resolve the outstanding issues, or settle the case.
There is no requirement for the insurance company to settle with you. There is also no requirement for you to settle with the insurance company. Any settlement of your case must be agreed upon by both sides.
The Final Hearing Alongside Your Pensacola Workers’ Compensation Lawyers
If the issues are not resolved at mediation, the parties proceed to the final hearing. This hearing is usually in the office of the Judge of Compensation Claims, either here in Pensacola or in Panama City, FL. At the hearing, your workers’ compensation attorney will present witnesses and evidence, as will the insurance company. In about thirty (30) days, the judge will issue a written opinion.
Can I Appeal the OJCC Decision?
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 is more complicated and could take more than a year. The Court of Appeals may confirm the OJCC’s decision. Or they may overturn the decision, or send the case back to the OJCC for more findings.
Book a Free Workers’ Compensation Case Review
If you’ve been hurt on the job in Florida, call the Pensacola, FL workers’ compensation attorneys at the Law Office of J.J. Talbott for your free consultation. You can also contact us online or call our Pensacola 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.