The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) considers the construction industry as one of the most dangerous in the country due to the inherently high risk of on-the-job injuries. Heavy equipment, toxic chemicals, great heights, busy vehicle traffic, and more are all common sights around a typical construction site. With construction work being assumedly dangerous, even under ideal safety conditions, does that mean that construction workers can assume that they are covered by workers’ compensation?
For this blog entry from Van Dingenen Law, we will answer the question while considering Florida workers’ compensation law, which is to say ‘yes.’ Construction workers in Florida should be able to assume that they have workers’ compensation and access to its benefits because the state does now allow anyone working in construction, especially in inherently hazardous job positions, to be considered as an independent contractor. Therefore, the vast majority of people working in the construction industry should be considered employees who get workers’ comp coverage.
Florida Laws to Protect Construction Workers
Florida is somewhat unique when compared to most other states in the country in that it requires construction workers to be categorized as employees. People doing the same work in other states are usually considered independent contractors who are not owed any amount of workers’ compensation coverage, which can make completing a high-risk task on a construction site truly nerve-wracking. But in Florida, as an employee, construction workers can get a bit more peace of mind in knowing that they should be automatically provided certain workers’ comp benefits in case of an accident, even if that accident was caused by their own mistakes. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, so liability is secondary or completely set aside in most claims.
To further protect construction workers, Florida law also requires that all employees performing construction work are provided workers’ compensation. This rule runs contrary to the statewide law that says employers only need to buy workers’ comp insurance if they have four or more employees. In other words, a small-time construction company with one boss and two employees who actually do the manual labor still needs to invest in a workers’ compensation insurance policy for those two construction workers.
Filing a Construction Accident Workers’ Comp Claim
Injured construction employees in Florida must report their accident and injuries within 30 days of it occurring. Ideally, you should tell your employer the same day as your accident to keep the details of it fresh in your mind, to improve your chances of recovering by seeking company-provided medical care sooner than later, and to ensure you do not miss the reporting deadline. Although, if your injuries start subtle or gradually worsen with time, like a back injury suffered from continually lifting heavy tools around a construction site, then you have 30 days to report it starting from when you first relate that injury to your construction work.
If you notify your employer of your workplace injury right away, then they should arrange to have you taken to an urgent care facility or an emergency room as soon as possible. Your supervisor or employer’s HR department should also arrange to have your injury report sent to their workers’ comp insurer for review and benefits approval. At this point is when matters can get complicated. Insurance companies are businesses that need to make a profit, so paying even a dime to a claimant is not a preferred situation for them.
It is recommended that you talk to a workers’ compensation attorney as soon as there is any sort of resistance, pushback, or denial from your employer or their insurance provider. Call (407) 967-5377 to connect with Van Dingenen Law to arrange a free consultation with our legal team. From our office in Orange County, we can represent injured construction workers from throughout Central Florida.