Lakeland Workers Comp Lawyer
Workers compensation is meant to protect injured workers in Florida. But if you’re one of the many work injury victims struggling to get a claim approved, you may need help from a Lakeland workman’s comp lawyer.
Whether you’re poisoned by a chemical you work with, hospitalized after a forklift rams into you, or incapacitated when you slip and fall in the breakroom, you’re likely covered under workers compensation insurance. That’s because Florida requires almost all employers to provide this coverage to employees.
That means you’re entitled to various cash benefits for your workplace injury or illness. Unfortunately, as many on-the-job injury victims find out, the process isn’t always as simple as filing a claim and receiving the benefits you deserve. You can expect—and should prepare for—pushback from the involved workers comp insurer and perhaps even your employer.
How do you deal with this kind of difficulty, particularly when you’re injured or ill? You can start by calling a Lakeland workers comp attorney at Lopez & Humphries, PA. We’re prepared to take on your case and fight for the full work comp benefits you deserve.
Who Is Eligible for Workers Compensation in Lakeland?
Most injured workers in Lakeland will qualify for Florida workers compensation. Generally, if you were working within the requirements of your job at the time of your injury, you’re covered. This will most often include those who work off-site, such as delivery drivers and workers who make site visits.
However, there are a few exceptions. For instance, if you were in direct violation of the law or clearly stated company policy, the insurer and your employer may have grounds to contest your Lakeland workers comp claim.
Those who become sick because of their work duties will also qualify. While many occupational illnesses are covered, emotional and mental disorders are not likely to qualify unless they can be directly linked to a physical injury you suffered at work.
If you develop chronic anxiety because of the stress of the job, you may have trouble receiving benefits. But if you develop post-traumatic stress disorder after you lose a limb to an equipment malfunction, you should be covered. Your workers comp lawyer in Lakeland can help you make your case for why your illness or injury entitles you to benefits.
How Much Workers Comp Pays in Florida
Each workers compensation benefit check is determined based on the average weekly salary of the thirteen weeks prior to your injury. Of this average salary, you can expect to receive two-thirds as your temporary disability benefit. These benefits can increase to 80 percent for permanent disabilities.
Once approved, your first check will be sent to you within twenty-one days of your claim submission. If your injury is expected to last for longer than twenty-one days, your benefits should begin from the first day after the injury occurred.
However, if you’ll be able to return to work in fewer than twenty-one days, your benefits will only begin after the first seven days have passed, and you will not likely receive compensation for your first week out of work.
These benefits will cover the full extent of your medical expenses, which could include your hospital bills, transportation costs, copays, costs of prescription medications, medical equipment, and any other costs that link directly to your injury. That’s in addition to the portion of your weekly income you’ll be paid.
However, your Lakeland workers comp benefits will not cover damages like pain and suffering, mental anguish, or other non-economic hardships.
The Fear of Retaliation
Many workers who suffer an injury on the job will continue to work despite their injuries for fear of losing their job should they attempt to file a claim for workers compensation benefits.
For this reason, Florida law prohibits employers from terminating, harassing, suspending, demoting, or otherwise retaliating against an employee who will need to collect workers comp while recovering from a work-related illness or injury.
Unfortunately, Florida is also an “at-will” state for employment. This means that, at any time, your employer can terminate your working relationship for any reason. Although the law prevents employers from being able to directly terminate you due to your injuries, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.
If it happens to you, your work comp lawyer in Lakeland can take steps to file a wrongful termination lawsuit against your former employer. The Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation might also step in and issue fines or otherwise punish your employer for retaliatory action.
Handling a Wrongfully Denied Lakeland Work Comp Claim
If you notified your employer of your injury within thirty days, provided complete and accurate information, and were not in violation of company policy or the law at the time you were injured, there should be no reason why your Lakeland workers compensation claim would be denied.
If it has been, we can file a Petition for Benefits, which acts as an initial appeal for the reversal of the denial. We can provide additional supporting medical documentation and request to discuss your case with the insurance adjuster’s supervisor to determine the reason for your denial if all requirements have been met.
In a worst-case scenario, we will have the opportunity to bring a case against the workers comp insurer or your employer in front of an impartial judge, who will have the final word on whether you should be approved for benefits. This is a time when having a competent lawyer in your corner can be extremely helpful.
Lakeland Workers Comp FAQ
There is a considerable amount of information about workers compensation out there, and not all of it is accurate or easy to understand. That’s why we’ve compiled a few of our most frequently asked questions about workers comp.
How long can I continue to receive benefits?
Generally, you will be able to continue receiving workers comp until your treating physician clears you to return to your former position—up to a maximum of 104 weeks. If you have been declared permanently disabled and aren’t expected to be able to return to work, your benefits may shift to federal or state disability after that point.
If I collect workers comp, am I suing my employer?
No, you are not. Workers compensation is something almost every employee is entitled to if he or she is injured at work, and it works like an insurance claim rather than a lawsuit. On the other hand, a personal injury claim is filed when someone else has harmed you through negligence outside the workplace (in most cases).
What if I’m at fault for the accident that injured me?
Fault is, for the most part, irrelevant in a workers compensation claim. All that matters is that you were actively employed and performing duties as assigned to you for your position. Personal liability will have no impact on your ability to collect these benefits.
Get in Touch with a Lakeland Workers Comp Attorney
You don’t have to let fear of retaliation or an initial denial letter keep you from the work comp benefits you deserve. A qualified lawyer at Lopez & Humphries, PA can ensure that you are able to focus on your recovery while continuing to support yourself.
You can schedule a no-obligation consultation with a Lakeland workers comp attorney by filling out the contact form we’ve provided below or giving us a quick call at 863-709-8500.