Workers’ Compensation Claims
Employees who are injured on the job are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if their injuries arose out of their employment. Both the Florida Workers’ Compensation law and the Alabama Workers’ Compensation law outline specific benefits to which you may be entitled. Since injured employees often have options as to what State they want to seek workers’ compensation benefits, it is important to have a workers’ compensation attorney who can advise you of your rights under the different laws. J.J. Talbott is an experienced workers’ compensation attorney and is licensed to practice in both the State of Alabama and Florida. If you have questions concerning your rights, whether under Florida or Alabama law, call the Law Office of J.J. Talbott for your free consultation.
Workers’ compensation benefits are intended to compensate employees who were injured on the job or became ill due to circumstances of his or her job. When an employer has four or more (part-time or full-time) employees, the worker compensation laws require that your employer provide workers’ compensation insurance.
Filing Requirements for Injured Workers
Under Florida’s workers’ compensation laws, an injured worker is generally entitled to one of two types of work compensation benefits. First, the injured worker can seek the recovery of payments for medically necessary treatment, to include prescribed medications and any medical devices ordered by the workers’ comp doctor. The second category of workers’ compensation benefits includes payment of money and indemnity benefits. 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.
It is important that you act quickly to report all work related injuries as the failure to report these injuries can negatively impact your claim and your ability to receive medical benefits and disability benefits/money. A workers’ compensation claim must be filed within two years from the date of the employee’s accident or one year from the date of the injured workers’ last payment for authorized medical care, whichever is later.
The extensive procedures to follow when filing a workers’ compensation claim can intimidate any injured worker, just adding to his or her frustration especially when they are trying to focus on recovering from the injury. The workers’ compensation attorneys at the Law Office of J.J. Talbott can guide you through these procedures, taking the burden off your shoulders, so that you can concentrate on getting better.
Disability Benefits and Workers’ Compensation
When a workers’ compensation doctor determines that an injured employee cannot perform his or her duties at work (permanently or temporarily), then the employee may be entitled to Temporary Total Disability benefits (TTD). The TTD benefits are typically paid every two weeks for an amount equal to two-thirds of the workers’ 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. Under Florida’s workers’ compensation laws, you are not paid for the first seven days of either type of work-comp disability. However, when the employee’s temporary and/or partial disability extends beyond 21 days, the workers’ compensation insurance company will reimburse payments for the initial seven days following the work accident.
What is Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI)?
A combined workers’ compensation from temporary total disability and temporary partial disability payments are only paid to a maximum of 104 weeks after the work accident or until the work comp doctor determines the injured employee has reached maximum medical improvement. Once an injured employee has reached the limits for maximum medical improvement, he or she may qualify for Impairment Benefits (IB). When an employee’s work-related injuries are deemed permanent, the worker is entitled to receive IBs based on the permanent impairment rating assigned by the workers’ 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 as the rate of 50% of the employee’s average weekly TTD benefits.
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.