Workers Compensation Claims

What is the statute of limitations in Florida workers compensation claims?

If you were injured on or after January 1, 1994 a petition for benefits must be filed within two years of your date of accident or you can lose your rights to workers compensation benefits.

During the second year of this two year period your right to file a petition is extended for one year from the last day for which you were paid workers compensation money benefits OR during the second year of this two year period your right to file a petition is extended for one year from the last day where you were treated by your “workers compensation” doctor, whichever date is the latest.

There are exceptions to the statute of limitations so you should speak with a lawyer before deciding not to pursue a claim.

What is Major Contributing Cause?

To be entitled to workers compensation money and medical benefits it must be proved that the injuries from accident at work are more than 50 percent responsible for the need for medical treatment or lost wages. If you were injured before October 1, 2003 different rules apply.

Can I get retraining from my employer or insurance company if I can not return to work due to my injuries?

If you have injuries that prevent you from returning to work making 80% of the compensation rate that you made before you were injured the State of Florida, Division of Workers Compensation, Bureau of Retraining and Reemployment may be able to provide you with retraining to help you return to employment making your pre-injury wages. Retraining programs provided by the state generally last 26 weeks or less, but can be extended up to 52 weeks if the judge decides it is necessary and proper.

Can I be paid by my employer or insurance company while I am in retraining?

Yes. F.S. 440. 491(6)(b) provides for payment of 66% of your average weekly wages so long as you are successfully enrolled in an approved training program.

Can I sue my employer for firing me after I was hurt on the job?

Yes. Florida prohibits your employer from firing you in retaliation for filing a workers compensation claim. This requires that you prove you were fired because of the workers compensation claim and not another legitimate purpose such as a mass layoff.

How do I go to the doctor or get treatment when I have been hurt at work?

If you have serious injuries requiring immediate treatment go immediately to the hospital. You are not required to get permission for emergency treatment. In all other cases you must give the employer a reasonable chance to send you to the doctor of their choosing.

When do I need to tell my employer if I am hurt or injured at work?

Tell your supervisor or the business owner immediately and ask them to fill out an accident report. Tell them that you want to go to a doctor if you think your injuries need evaluation or treatment. If your employer will not file an accident report call us immediately.

How long do my money benefits last?

Temporary Total Disability (TTD) or Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) money benefits are paid until you reach Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). In some cases you may be paid temporary total rehabilitation payments (RTTD) while you attend an approved training program. Both TTD and TPD are limited to 260 weeks.

What are temporary total disability (TTD) benefits?

TTD is paid when your workers compensation doctor tells you he does not want you doing any form of work. The doctor must also be helping you recover from you on-the-job injuries.

What are temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits?

TPD is paid when your workers compensation doctor allows you to return to work but with restrictions. The doctor must also be helping you recover from you on-the-job injuries. To receive TPD you must also be earning less that 80% of your prior gross wages.

What is maximum medical improvement (MMI)?

This means all of your workers compensation doctors reasonably believe that you are not expected to achieve any further overall lasting improvement for your work related injuries. Simply put, you are as good as you are going to get.

What is an impairment rating?

Impairment ratings are set forth in the Florida Uniform Permanent Impairment Rating Schedule. When you have reached MMI if you have defined permanent limitations you are assigned a rating. For example if you have a herniated lumbar disk at one level that required surgery the doctor would assign a 7% rating.

Do I get paid benefits for my impairment rating?

Yes. The amount of your payment is 75% of your compensation rate if you are not earning income equal to you average weekly wage in the week that you are claiming benefits. If you are earning your AWW in the week you are claiming impairment benefits the amount is reduced to 50% of your compensation rate.

What’s the difference between an “impairment rating” and a “disability rating”?

In error, people commonly use the terms interchangeably. The concept of impairment and disability are very different. A person with a 7% impairment may never be able to work again, meaning they are 100% disabled.

How much are my workers compensation payments?

Your weekly payment of compensation is based on your average weekly wage (AWW). If you are temporarily totally disabled you are paid 66% of your AWW. If you are on light duty with restrictions, and you are earning less than 80% of your AWW, you are paid 80% of what you are losing. For example if you have an AWW of $800.00, eighty percent is $640.00. If you are making $300.00 on light duty you are losing $340.00 and will get paid $272.00 (340.00 x .8 = $272.00)

What is the “Maximum Compensation Rate”?

All weekly benefits are limited to the statewide maximum compensation rate that was in effect in the year you were injured. The rate can be found:

Do medical benefits or treatment stop when my doctor releases me?

No. You are entitled to medical care for your work injuries as the nature of the injury and the process of recovery requires. This can last for the rest of your life. But you can lose this right if you let the statute of limitations pass.

Medical care comes in two types

“Remedial treatment” is treatment that is supposed to help you get better. For instance, a hip replacement is remedial since it will make you walk better. After the hip is in place and you have recovered from the surgery you are as good as you are going to get.

“Palliative” treatment helps you stay where you are. It is not going to get you any better. Your doctor may prescribe pain medicine to cope with the pain in a replaced hip or after yo have recovered from surgery to the maximum extent possible.

Generally speaking remedial treatment is received before you reach MMI. Palliative treatment is received after you reach MMI.