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10 Important Facts to Know About Your Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Florida

As an employee in Florida, understanding your legal rights isn’t easy—especially when it comes to workers’ compensation. While collecting the benefits you deserve is supposed to be easy, injured workers frequently end up settling for less than they deserve.

With this in mind, if you need to file a workers’ compensation claim in Florida, it is important to make sure you know what benefits you are entitled to recover. There are some other important facts to know about your workers’ compensation benefits as well. If you rely on your employer (or its insurance company) to tell you what you need to know, you could end up making costly mistakes, and you could end up bearing the financial costs of your injury unnecessarily.

What Do You Need to Know About Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Florida?

So, what do you need to know about your workers’ compensation benefits? Here are 10 important facts for injured workers in Florida:

1. You Are Entitled to Medical Benefits from the Day You Get Injured

If you are eligible for workers’ compensation, you are entitled to medical benefits from the day you get injured. These benefits cover the costs of diagnosing and treating your job-related injury. Your employer (or its insurance company) should cover your medical bills directly, and if you receive any medical bills for services that are supposed to be covered, you should submit them to your employer (or its insurance company) for payment.

2. You Are Entitled to Continue Receiving Medical Benefits Until You Get Better or Reach Your Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI)

When you have a workers’ compensation claim in Florida, you are entitled to continue receiving medical benefits until either (i) you fully recover or (ii) you reach your maximum medical improvement (MMI). Maximum medical improvement is the point at which additional treatment no longer improves your condition. If your employer (or its insurance company) stops paying prematurely, this is a violation of your legal rights.

3. Your Medical Benefits Shouldn’t Necessarily End When You Go Back to Work

As you go through the recovery process, you may reach a point at which you can return to work in a limited capacity. Even if your doctor approves you for light-duty work, you are still entitled to medical benefits while you continue to receive treatment.

4. You Are Entitled to Disability Benefits if You Miss More Than 7 Days

In addition to medical benefits, injured employees in Florida will also be entitled to disability benefits in many cases. Under Florida law, you become eligible for workers’ compensation disability when you miss more than seven days of work.

5. You Are Entitled to Retroactive Disability Benefits if You Miss More Than 21 Days

Once you become eligible for disability benefits, your benefits should start immediately on the eighth day—you do not receive coverage for the first seven days you missed from work. But, if you miss more than 21 days, then you are entitled to retroactive benefits for this initial seven-day period.

6. There Are Several Different Types of Disability Benefits

There are several different types of workers’ compensation disability benefits, and, as an injured employee, it is important to know which type (or types) you are entitled to receive. For example, while you may be entitled to temporary total disability benefits initially (if you are completely unable to work), you may eventually need to claim permanent total disability or permanent partial disability benefits instead. In Florida, temporary disability benefits (whether partial, total or a combination of both) are paid for a maximum of 104 weeks.

7. Your Disability Benefits Should Be Equal to Two-Thirds of Your “Average Weekly Wage” (In Most Cases)

Generally, your initial disability benefits should be equal to two-thirds of your “average weekly wage.” As the Florida Department of Financial Services (DFS) explains, your average weekly wage is calculated “using wages earned 13 weeks prior to your injury, not counting the week in which you were injured” in most cases. To make sure you are receiving the full workers’ compensation disability benefits you deserve, you will want to have your lawyer calculate your average weekly wage for you.

8. Receiving Total Disability Benefits (Temporary or Permanent) Disqualifies You from Receiving Reemployment Assistance

In addition to workers’ compensation benefits, injured workers in Florida will also be eligible to receive reemployment assistance (formerly known as unemployment) in some cases. But, as the Florida DFS notes, you cannot receive reemployment assistance “if you are receiving temporary total or permanent total disability benefits[,] as you must be medically able and available for work to qualify.”

9. Receiving Workers’ Compensation Benefits Does Not Disqualify You from Other Benefits

But, while receiving total disability benefits may disqualify you from reemployment assistance, workers’ compensation typically does not disqualify you from filing for other types of benefits. For example, many employees who are unable to work as a result of their job-related injuries will be able to file Social Security Disability (SSD) claims as well.

10. Workers’ Compensation Benefits Aren’t Taxable (In Most Cases)

Finally, it is important to remember that workers’ compensation benefits aren’t taxable in most cases. If you report your benefits as income on your state or federal tax returns, you could end up paying taxes unnecessarily. On the same token, if you are required to pay taxes on any of your benefits, you will need to report these benefits correctly so that you don’t pay less than you owe.

While these are some of the facts you need to know as an injured employee in Florida, there is much more you need to know in order to maximize your financial recovery. To ensure that you are making informed decisions, you should consult with a lawyer as soon as possible.

Talk to a Lawyer About Your Florida Workers’ Compensation Claim for Free

If you are dealing with a job-related injury in Florida, the attorneys at The Gallagher Law Group, P.A. can help you assert your legal rights. To get started with a free, no-obligation consultation, please call 954-530-7314 or tell us how we can reach you online now.

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