Accidents happen on a daily basis at businesses all around the state. As an employee, it can be a very difficult time for you, especially when the workers’ compensation carrier and your employer are trying to minimize the extent of your injuries.
The last thing you need to worry about is any financial problems and having to deal with the insurance company. This is where a workers’ compensation attorney in Pensacola can help.
At Emmanuel Sheppard & Condon, we have years of experience assisting Pensacola employees with navigating the challenges of filing a workers’ compensation claim. If you were injured while doing your job, you are entitled to compensation.
It doesn’t matter who is at fault in these situations. You do not have to prove that your employer was negligent, you only need to prove that you were an employee when you suffered the injury, and that the injury took place during the course of carrying out your job duties.
Do All Employers Have to Maintain Workers’ Compensation Coverage?
Sadly, not all employers have to provide workers’ compensation coverage. Only businesses who have four or more employees are required to have coverage for their workers. There is a legal obligation that they must provide you with a reasonably safe work location as well as purchase workers’ compensation coverage to handle any potential claims that arise as a result of being injured on the job.
Common Types of Pensacola Workplace Injuries
Any number of incidents can give rise to a workplace injury and a subsequent workers’ compensation claim. Some of the most common types of accidents seen in the workplace include:
- Injuries sustained in a fall
- Heavy lifting injuries
- Accidents involving machinery and equipment
- Slip and fall accidents
- Construction site accidents
- Exposure to a dangerous substance
While these can happen in any industry, construction accidents account for a large percentage of workers’ compensation injuries. This is due to the fact that construction site jobs are far more dangerous than some other industries.
How to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Florida
The process to file a claim is quite easy. You need to report the incident to your employer within 30 days of the accident. From there, your employer will notify the workers’ compensation carrier. In addition, the Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation also reports the incident to the insurance company. After this occurs, the carrier then has 120 days to make a decision on whether to approve your claim as valid. If the accept the claim, then your medical fees and possible disability payments will be paid in accordance with a fee schedule.
What Types of Damages are Available in a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
When you file a Florida workers’ compensation lawsuit, your company’s insurance carrier will be responsible to cover a variety of damages, including:
- Your medical expenses
- A percentage of your lost earnings
- Any expenses for employment retraining
- Compensation if you sustained permanent injuries
- Potential compensation for your dependents if the injury results in your death
When you receive workers’ compensation benefits, there is a caveat. This is in exchange for not being able to sue your employer. Fortunately, you still have the right to pursue a claim against a third party who may also have some negligence in causing your injury. For example, if you’re a line worker on a machine and were injured, you could pursue workers’ compensation benefits. If your employer didn’t properly maintain the machine, you cannot sue your employer for additional money. However, if the machine was defective, you might be able to sue the manufacturer.
Problems with the Workers’ Compensation Program
Like any insurance policy, workers’ compensation is not perfect. Several common complaints from employees include:
- Stringent reporting requirements
- The claim may be reduced or outright denied for no valid reason
- Reimbursement for damages are limited to a percentage of your salary
- Workers’ compensation fails to provide any coverage for other damages like pain and suffering
- Inability to sue your employer
Differences between Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury Cases
There are notable differences between workers’ compensation claims and personal injury lawsuits. One of the main differences is the requirement of proof. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system whereas personal injury lawsuits require that you show the defendant was negligent for causing your injuries. An employee will receive compensation for medical expenses and a portion of their earnings without needing to prove the employer was at fault.
Another main difference is how lost wages are collected. With a personal injury case, you can pursue your entire wage loss whereas workers’ compensation benefits only pay two-thirds of their full wages. Workers’ compensation coverage does not provide any financial compensation for subjective damages, like pain and suffering. With a personal injury claim, you are entitled to pursue damages for the emotional and mental trauma you suffered because of the accident.
Contact a Florida Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you suffered an injury due to a workplace injury, contact Emmanuel Sheppard & Condon today to schedule an initial consultation.