Workers’ Compensation Process
Learn How To Protect Your Rights From Our Fort Lauderdale and Miami Workmans Compensation Attorneys
Filing for workers’ compensation is a process. To collect the benefits you deserve, you need to navigate the process successfully. This means knowing what to do and what not to do, and it means being prepared to fight for the benefits you deserve. Our Miami and Fort Lauderdale workmans compensation attorneys have helped numerous injured workers successfully file for benefits, and we can use our experience to your advantage.
How Do You File a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Florida?
The process of filing a workers’ compensation claim begins as soon as you get injured on the job. From the day you get injured, you need to be careful to protect your legal rights. Our Miami workmans compensation attorneys regularly speak with employees who have just been injured, and we encourage you to contact us 24/7 so that we can help preserve your claim for benefits.
Here is an overview of the workers’ compensation process in Florida:
1. Notify Your Employer of Your Injury
You should notify your employer of your injury as soon as possible. This is important for several reasons. First and foremost, it creates (or should create) a record of your injury, and this will be important for establishing your workers’ compensation eligibility. Additionally, under Florida law, you must report your injury within 30 days in order to remain eligible for benefits. If you wait too long to start the process, you can lose your rights entirely.
2. See an Authorized Doctor
Another reason why it is important to notify your employer is that Florida law requires you to see an authorized doctor when seeking workers’ compensation benefits. When you speak with your supervisor or HR representative, you should receive a list of authorized doctors who you can see for treatment. You should choose a doctor from the list, and you should try to see this doctor as soon as possible. Any unnecessary delays can create challenges for your workers’ compensation claim, and if you do not see an authorized doctor, you will not be eligible for benefits.
3. Be Sure To Report Your Injury in Writing
Once you obtain treatment, you will want to be sure to report your injury in writing. If you simply told your supervisor or HR representative about your injury, this might not be enough to preserve your claim. You may receive a form to complete from your employer, but if you don’t, you can submit your own report detailing how, when and where you got injured. If you have questions about what to include in your written injury report, we encourage you to speak with one of our Fort Lauderdale workmans compensation attorneys.
4. Take Detailed Notes
Along with submitting a written injury report, you should also take your own detailed notes. Take 10 or 15 minutes to write down everything you can remember. Try to record details such as:
- The time and date of your injury
- Where you got injured
- What you were doing when you got injured
- Whether any of your coworkers witnessed the accident
- When you first reported your injury (whether orally or in writing)
- When you submitted a written injury report (if different)
- The name and location of your authorized doctor’s office
- Your doctor’s diagnosis and treatment recommendations
These are all details that could prove vitally important at later stages of the process. Once you take notes, be sure to keep your notes in a safe place. If you took photos of the accident scene, your injuries, or your written injury report, be sure to keep these as well. When you meet with one of our Miami workmans compensation attorneys, these will all prove helpful for assessing your legal rights.
5. Make Sure Your Employer Reports Your Claim
Once you report your on-the-job injury, your employer should submit your claim to its insurance company within seven days. If you do not hear anything, you will want to follow up to make sure your employer is handling your claim appropriately. Here, too, we strongly recommend that you speak with one of our Fort Lauderdale workmans compensation attorneys if you have any questions or concerns.
6. Work with Your Attorney to Calculate Your Benefits
If everything goes smoothly, your employer’s insurance company should begin providing coverage for your medical expenses immediately (assuming you are seeing an authorized doctor). If you miss work for more than seven days, you should receive your first temporary disability check within 21 days of reporting your injury.
Unfortunately, the workers’ compensation process does not always go as smoothly as it should. Injured employees routinely encounter a wide range of issues, and underpayments (along with flat-out denials) are common. With this in mind, you will want to work with an attorney to make sure you receive the full benefits you deserve. Depending on the severity and long-term effects of your injury, this may include:
- Temporary partial disability (TPD) or temporary total disability (TTD) benefits
- Impairment benefits (IB)
- Permanent total disability (PTD) benefits
7. Follow Through with Your Medical Care
As you move through the workers’ compensation process, it is important that you follow through with your medical care. Be sure to attend all of your appointments, and follow your doctor’s advice regarding medications, rehabilitation, and therapy. If you ignore your doctor’s advice, not only could this delay (or jeopardize) your recovery, but it could also lead to denial or early termination of workers’ compensation benefits.
8. Seek Advice if Your Doctor Clears You to Work or Says You Have Reached MMI
Unfortunately, workers’ compensation doctors don’t always have injured employees’ best interests in mind. Sometimes, they will clear employees to return to work before they are ready, or they will state that employees have reached their maximum medical improvement (MMI) despite the continuing effectiveness of treatment. Oftentimes, they do so because they feel pressured by employers or their insurance companies.
With this in mind, if your doctor clears you to work before you feel ready or says you have reached your MMI (and are therefore no longer eligible for medical benefits), you should seek advice before doing anything that could put your recovery in jeopardy. Our Miami workmans compensation attorneys can review your medical records, seek a second opinion if necessary, and help make sure you receive the full medical care and coverage to which you are legally entitled.
9. Be Persistent
When you have a workers’ compensation claim, it pays to be persistent. You should respond to all communications promptly, and you should follow up if anything seems like it is taking longer than it should. Rather than doing this on your own, you can hire our Fort Lauderdale workmans compensation attorneys to do it for you, and you can rely on our attorneys to handle your claim while you focus on your physical recovery.
10. Work with Your Attorney to Resolve Any Issues that Arise
Even if you do everything necessary to protect your legal rights, issues could still arise during the workers’ compensation process. If this happens, you should work with your attorney to resolve these issues as quickly as possible. Depending on the circumstances, this could mean submitting additional information or taking other steps to prove your right to benefits, or it could mean exposing bad-faith insurance practices.
11. Evaluate Your Options Regarding Settlement
In some cases, it will make sense to negotiate a lump-sum settlement rather than continuing to receive disability checks every other week. Your attorney can help you decide whether it makes sense to try to settle your claim, and if it does, your attorney can negotiate for a favorable settlement on your behalf. With that said, whether to settle is ultimately up to you and if you receive an offer, you will need to make an informed decision with your long-term best interests in mind.
12. File a Petition for Benefits with the Florida Office of the Judges of Compensation Claims (OJCC) If Necessary
If you do not receive a reasonable settlement offer and your employer (or its insurance company) refuses to pay the benefits you deserve, you may need to take formal legal action. In Florida, this starts with filing a Petition for Benefits with the Office of the Judges of Compensation Claims (OJCC). You have two years from the date of your injury to file your Petition. In many cases, filing a Petition will spur good-faith settlement negotiations, but if it doesn’t, your attorney can present your case to the OJCC and work to secure a favorable decision on your behalf.
Contact Our Miami and Fort Lauderdale Workmans Compensation Attorneys To Learn More
If you have suffered a job-related injury in Miami or Fort Lauderdale, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits under Florida law. To find out how much you can recover—and to get help fighting for the benefits you deserve—give us a call at 954-530-7314 or tell us how we can reach you online now.