February 28, 2023 in Workers' Compensation Posted by Kevin R. Gallagher, Esq. Share
When Are You Eligible for Workers’ Compensation in Florida?
When you get injured or sick on the job in Florida, filing a workers’ compensation claim can help you manage the costs of your injury or illness while you recover. But, while workers’ compensation is available to many workers, it is not available to all.
With this in mind, after suffering a work-related injury or illness, it is important to find out if you are eligible to file a claim for workers’ compensation. If you are, there are steps you need to take to protect your claim for benefits. If you aren’t, you may need to take a different set of steps to protect your legal rights.
5 Questions to Determine Your Workers’ Compensation Eligibility in Florida
So, when are you eligible for workers’ compensation in Florida? Here are the five key questions that will determine your eligibility:
1. Do You Work for a Company that Provides Workers’ Compensation Coverage?
In Florida, most (but not all) companies are required to provide workers’ compensation coverage for their employees. Companies that aren’t required to provide coverage can also do so voluntarily. Under Florida law, employers that are required to provide workers’ compensation coverage include:
- Construction companies with at least one employee
- Agricultural employers with more than five regular employees and 12 or more seasonal workers
- Other private employers with four or more employees (whether part-time or full-time)
- State and local government agencies
Some employers are required to provide workers’ compensation coverage under federal law as well. For example, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) establishes the requirements for companies that have workers employed in land-based maritime occupations.
2. Are You an Employee (as Opposed to an Independent Contractor)?
Workers’ compensation benefits are only available to workers who are classified as employees. If you are an independent contractor, you are not eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
Whether you are classified as an employee depends on several factors. If a company calls you an independent contractor and pays you under the table, this does not mean that you are actually an independent contractor for legal purposes. What you do for work, where you work, how much instruction you receive and your pay structure are all relevant factors. If you aren’t sure whether you are an employee or an independent contractor, our lawyers can figure this out for you.
If you work in construction, then you are definitely an employee. As the Florida Department of Financial Services explains, “Florida’s workers’ compensation law does not allow for independent contractors in the construction industry.”
3. Were You Injured (or Did You Get Sick) on the Job?
Workers’ compensation only covers job-related injuries and illnesses. This makes it different from Social Security disability (SSD), which you can claim for any qualifying injury or illness that keeps you from working.
While your injury or illness must be job-related, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to be doing your job when you get injured. For example, if you slipped and fell on your way to the bathroom while you were at work, this type of accident will qualify for workers’ compensation in most cases.
4. Do You Still Have Time to Report Your Injury or Illness (if You Haven’t Already)?
In Florida, workers’ compensation claims are subject to strict deadlines. If you miss either of the deadlines that apply, you will lose your eligibility to file a claim for benefits.
The first deadline limits the amount of time you have to report your injury or illness to your employer. Under Florida law, you should report your injury or illness as soon as possible, but you must notify your employer within 30 days. This is either: (i) 30 days from “the date the accident occurs;” or (ii) 30 days from “the date the doctor says you are suffering from a work-related injury.”
5. If You Reported Your Injury or Illness, Do You Still Have Time to File a Claim?
In addition to reporting your injury on time, you must also file your workers’ compensation claim on time. Under Florida law, you have two years to file your claim. Even if you report your injury or illness within 30 days, if you wait too long to file your claim for benefits, you can lose your right to collect the benefits you deserve.
What Should You Do if You Are Eligible for Workers’ Compensation?
Let’s say you are eligible to file for workers’ compensation in Florida. What should you do after getting injured or sick on the job?
The first thing you should do is report your injury or illness to your employer. When you do this, your employer should tell you where to go for treatment—Florida’s workers’ compensation law gives employers the right to choose their employees’ medical providers in most cases. You should also discuss your claim with a workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as possible. You can face a variety of challenges when filing for workers’ compensation, and an experienced lawyer can help make sure you receive the full benefits you deserve.
What Should You Do if You Aren’t Eligible for Workers’ Compensation?
Now, let’s say you aren’t eligible. What should you do in this scenario?
If you aren’t eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, you may still be entitled to compensation for your work-related injury or illness. To learn about your options, you should consult with a lawyer promptly. Your lawyer will be able to determine what claims (if any) you can file, and if you are entitled to compensation, your lawyer can work to recover just compensation on your behalf.
Discuss Your Claim with a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer in Florida for Free
Do you have questions about your legal rights after suffering a work-related injury or illness in Florida? If so, we encourage you to contact us for more information about your legal rights. To speak with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer at The Gallagher Law Group, P.A. in confidence, please call 954-530-7314 or request a free consultation online today.