January 17, 2023 in Workers' Compensation Posted by Kevin R. Gallagher, Esq. Share
What Mistakes Do You Need to Avoid When Filing for Workers’ Compensation in Florida?
When you get injured on the job in Florida, filing for workers’ compensation can help you avoid financial strain as a result of your injury. Workers’ compensation covers eligible employees’ medical bills, and it covers a portion of their lost wages when they miss eight days of work or more.
But, just because you are entitled to workers’ compensation, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you will receive the benefits you deserve. Injured workers need to be proactive about handling their claims, and they also need to avoid mistakes that can result in their claims being denied.
10 Mistakes Injured Workers in Florida Need to Avoid
What are the mistakes you need to avoid when filing for workers’ compensation in Florida? Here are 10 all-too-common examples:
1. Waiting Too Long to Take Action
In Florida, you only have 30 days to report your job-related injury or illness to your employer. If you wait longer than 30 days, you can lose your right to benefits.
But, practically speaking, waiting any longer than necessary can create problems for your workers’ compensation claim. The longer you wait to document your injury or illness, the more trouble you will have proving that it qualifies you for workers’ compensation benefits. To avoid unnecessary problems, it is best to report your injury or illness right away.
2. Not Seeing an Approved Doctor
Unless you need emergency medical care, you are required to see an approved doctor when filing for workers’ compensation in Florida. Even if you have a primary care physician or another doctor you know and trust, you will need to see your employer’s approved provider for treatment of your work-related injury or illness.
3. Assuming You Don’t Qualify
When you report your injury or illness, your employer might tell you that you don’t qualify for benefits. Or, you might receive a denial letter from your employer’s insurance company in the mail. If this happens, you should not assume that you are ineligible for workers’ compensation. Most employees are covered (including many part-time employees)—and Florida’s workers’ compensation laws require coverage for more employers than the laws in many other states.
4. Assuming Your Injury or Illness Isn’t Covered
Likewise, if someone tells you your injury or illness isn’t covered under workers’ compensation, you should not take this as the last word. While some job-related injuries and illnesses aren’t covered, the vast majority of them are. Regardless of the nature of your injury or illness, and regardless of how you got hurt or sick, you owe it to yourself to make informed decisions based on the advice of an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer—not the advice of someone who might not have your best interests in mind.
5. Automatically Consenting to a Drug Test
While employers in Florida can require their employees to take drug tests in some circumstances, your employer cannot test you simply because you are filing for workers’ compensation benefits. To test you, your employer must have reason to believe that your on-the-job injury is drug or alcohol-related. If there is no reason to suspect that you were drunk or high, then there is no reason for you to take a drug test.
Of course, this won’t stop your employer from trying. Employers regularly request drug tests, and they will often deny workers’ compensation benefits when their employees refuse. But you have the right to refuse in many circumstances, and it is important not to let your employer take advantage of you.
6. Worrying Too Much About Your Drug Test
If you take a drug test after filing for workers’ compensation, you shouldn’t worry too much about the test results. There are several ways to challenge a positive drug test, so a positive result does not necessarily mean that you will be unable to collect benefits. With that said, this is another example of a situation where it is important to be proactive, and, if you receive a positive test result, you will want to discuss your claim with a workers’ compensation lawyer in Florida as soon as possible.
7. Letting Your Employer (or Its Insurance Company) Calculate Your Disability Benefits
Under Florida law, eligible employees are entitled to disability benefits when they miss more than seven days from work, and they are entitled to retroactive benefits (dating back to the first day they missed) if they miss more than 21 days. Disability benefits are calculated as two-thirds of an employee’s average weekly wage in most cases. Miscalculations can cost employees hundreds—if not thousands—of dollars, and you do not want to rely on your employer or its insurance company to determine how much you are owed.
8. Ignoring Issues with Your Benefits
In addition to improperly calculating employees’ disability benefits, employers and their insurance companies will often try to underpay employees’ medical benefits as well. If you receive a bill for treatment that you believe should be covered under your workers’ compensation claim, you should not simply ignore it. Likewise, if your workers’ compensation doctor clears you for work and you still have concerns about your health, this is something you should proactively address as well. Here, too, the best way to protect yourself in these situations is to consult with a lawyer as soon as possible.
9. Getting Frustrated and Giving Up
Oftentimes, employers’ and insurance companies’ tactics get so frustrating that employees simply give up. While this is understandable, it is not the right decision.
10. Trying to Handle Your Claim on Your Own
Given all of the various challenges involved in collecting the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve, you should not try to handle your claim on your own. Instead, you should hire a lawyer to represent you. An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer will be able to handle all of the paperwork, deal with your employer and its insurance company, and make sure you do not accept less than you deserve.
Get Help to Recover the Workers’ Compensation Benefits You Deserve
Injured on the job in Florida? We can help. To get started with a free and confidential consultation at The Gallagher Law Group, P.A., call 954-530-7314 or contact us online today.