If you’re injured at work in Florida, you may be eligible to workers compensation. But if you’re not familiar with Florida’s workers comp laws, you’re more likely to get the shorter end of the stick.
After all, it’s not uncommon for employers and insurance companies to pay injured workers way below what the law says they should receive.
If you don’t have a workers compensation lawyer to defend your rights, then you should at least know your rights under the law.
That said, here’s a quick guide to Florida’s workers comp laws.
Florida Workers Comp Law: The Basics
In the US, workers compensation laws are implemented on a state level. Meaning, each state has different workers comp rules and policies.
In Florida, the workers compensation system is governed by Chapter 440 of the state’s Labor Statutes. Under this, certain employers are required by law to provide workers comp insurance to their employees. Any workers comp claims are then paid out by their insurance providers.
The statutes also provide that injured workers may claim three types of benefits:
- medical benefits
- lost wages compensation
- death benefits (if applicable)
Each of these benefits can vary depending on the severity of your injury. They also have different eligibility requirements as set by law.
Florida also has a no-fault workers comp system. Meaning, you can claim benefits for your injury regardless of who’s at fault. But before you can claim workers comp, you must first prove that you meet the eligibility requirements set by law.
If your claim is denied, you can still file an appeal at the Office of the Judges of Compensation Claims. A mediation will be scheduled between you and your employer or insurance company. If that doesn’t work, you can take it to court and state your case before an administrative law judge.
According to Section 440.09 of Florida’s workers comp law, benefits are only payable to:
- workers who got injured while at work or have suffered occupational diseases because of their work
- a worker employed in Florida but got injured outside the state provided that the injury is work-related
Under the same section, no benefits shall be payable:
- to employees covered under the Federal Employer’s Liability Act, the Longshoremen’s and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act, the Defense Base Act, or the Jones Act.
- if the injury happened because the employee is drunk, or under the influence of drugs and other substances
- if the court, judge, or jury determines that there is fraud involved
Not all employers are required by law to provide workers comp insurance to their workers. Under the law, workers comp coverage is only required for:
- employers in the construction industry with at least one employee including the owners who are corporate officers or Limited Liability Company (LLC) members
- employers in the non-construction industry with at least 4 employees including the owners who are corporate officers or Limited Liability Company (LLC) members
- employers in the agricultural industry with at least 6 regular employees and/or 12 seasonal workers who work more than 30 days during a season but no more than a total of 45 days in a calendar year
In addition, contractors should make sure that all sub-contractors have the required workers’ comp insurance before they begin work on a project.
Employers who fail to provide workers comp insurance to their employees will be subjected to penalties. Sometimes, non-compliance may even lead to a closure order.
As mentioned, there are three types of workers comp benefits in Florida. Here’s what you need to know about each:
Medical benefits in Florida workers comp cover all medical costs and expenses necessary for your recovery. This includes:
- medical supplies
- doctor’s fees
- emergency treatment
- surgery (if necessary)
- orthopedic devices (if necessary)
- physical therapy (if necessary)
The state’s workers comp law, however, provides that your treating doctor must be accredited by your insurance provider. Otherwise, your workers comp claim can get denied.
Wage Loss Benefits
If your injury causes you to miss work, you might be entitled to lost wages compensation. But in Florida, you’ll only get paid for the first seven days of your injury if your injury extends to over 21 days (Section 440.12).
How much you’ll get will depend on the severity of your injury. To calculate lost wages benefits, work-related injuries are categorized into four:
- temporary partial disability
- temporary total disability
- permanent partial disability
- permanent total disability
Each of these category corresponds to a certain percentage. This percentage rate will then be multiplied against your average weekly wage to come up with your wage loss compensation. Your average weekly wage is the income you had from before your injury.
Temporary disabilities will only last up to 104 weeks or until you reach Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI), whichever comes first. But permanent benefits will only be granted after you reach MMI.
If the employee died as a result of the accident or after a continuous disability, the employer shall pay death benefits (Section 440.16). This will include:
- actual funeral expenses not to exceed $7,500 (to be paid within 14 days after receipt of billing)
- weekly compensation based on the employee’s average weekly wage (this will be paid to dependents like the spouse, children, parents, and siblings)
Workers comp claims shall be filed within 30 days after the accident or after you’ve known of your illness. For occupational diseases, you must file a claim within two years from the onset of your disability.
Failure to report your injury or file a claim within the time limit can cause your claim to get denied.
Why Get a Lawyer?
Florida’s workers comp law has more than 60 sections. That means there are still a lot of provisions and rules that aren’t mentioned in this guide. This is why you need to get a lawyer.
An experienced workers compensation lawyer like Victor Malca knows the state’s workers comp law like the back of his hand. For the past 20+ years, he has already handled thousands of workers comp cases. So if you’re looking for someone to help you navigate Florida’s complex workers comp system, there’s no one better than him. Call us now for a free consultation.
VICTOR MALCA – Florida Workers Compensation & Social Security Disability Attorney
Victor Malca P.A. has over 27 years of litigation experience in Workers Compensation and Social Security Disability lawsuits. His experience and continued success when fighting for his clients puts him among the most trusted workers’ compensation attorney’s in Florida. He specializes in representing injured workers on compensation benefit cases and disabled individuals claiming lost social security disability benefits.
Book a free consultation today. Our unwavering advocacy for employee rights and privileges are recognized by our past clients across South Florida.
About The Author
Judy Ponio is a writer and editor for the Victor Malca Law P.A. website and blog. She enjoys helping people in need with questions about social security disability and workers compensation law. She has a passion for helping those in need and the elderly with accurate legal information that can make a positive difference in their lives.