If you've been injured at work, you likely have several urgent concerns about your well-being and the well-being of your family. When will I receive medical treatment? When will I be able to return to work? How will this accident affect my financial future? Fortunately for injured workers in Florida, there are workers' compensation benefits.
At Van Dingenen Law, we have dedicated our entire practice to representing the rights and interests of Florida’s workers as they pursue the workers' compensation benefits they deserve. Our dedicated and compassionate Central Florida workers' comp attorneys have decades of combined experience in this practice area and have recovered hundreds of millions of dollars in benefits and tax-free settlements for Florida’s injured workers and their families. Contact us online or by phone at (407) 967-5377 to schedule a consultation with a capable team member. We focus solely on workers’ comp claims – there are no other cases to distract or deter us.
“I would like to give a big thank you to Mr. Van Dingenen, Blaze, and all of his staff. Everyone was very welcoming and treated me as a person and not just another number.”- Terese H.
What Is Workers' Compensation?
Workers' compensation is a form of insurance that most employers are required to have. If an employee is injured while working in service of their employer, they should be covered by Florida’s workers' compensation law.
Generally speaking, there are two major forms of benefits you can receive in a workers' compensation claim: medical treatment and lost wages. In many cases, it may be appropriate to seek a tax-free lump sum settlement as well. Under Florida Law, almost all employers are required to have workers' compensation insurance coverage. If you’re not sure, you should ask your employer as soon as possible. If they have workers’ comp coverage and your injury is work-related, you should be eligible for benefits automatically.
Additionally, workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, meaning that you should be covered regardless of who caused your injury. Remember: workers’ comp is not a personal injury where fault dictates who is entitled to recover. As long as you were engaged in a work-related activity at the time of the accident, you are likely entitled to benefits.
What to Do After an Accident
If you have been hurt at work, you should notify your employer or a supervisor of your injury as soon as possible. Under Florida law, you must report your injury within 30 days of the accident. In response, your employer should fill out an injury report and send you for medical treatment. Also, if you miss time from work because of your injury, you should receive lost wage checks.
Many injured workers are hesitant to file a workers' comp claim because they believe that it is some form of "suing" their employer. This is not so. Workers' compensation is a state-mandated insurance policy that is there for when the unexpected occurs. If your benefits are delayed or denied, we file a workers’ compensation claim. Your employer is not “sued.” You are essentially just requesting those benefits that you are already entitled to.
If you need help getting benefits, it’s not too late. After reporting your injury, you have two years to file a legal claim.
When to Hire an Attorney
It’s always a good idea to discuss your workers’ compensation claim with an attorney. Most workers’ comp lawyers will provide free initial consultations where you can discuss the specifics of your situation and determine how best to proceed. That being said, it’s in your best interest to hire a workers’ compensation lawyer any time your claim encounters any problems or complexity.
You should consider working with a knowledgeable attorney if:
- Your employer is disputing that your injury is work-related
- You have not started receiving your benefits and the normal time period has passed
- The settlement offer does not cover the full cost of your medical bills/lost wages
- Your claim has been denied
- You wish to appeal a denied claim or a sustained denial
- You have suffered partial or total permanent disability as a result of your injuries
- Your employer has fired you or otherwise retaliated against you for seeking workers’ comp
- A third party was involved in the incident that caused your injuries
This is not an exhaustive list; if your situation is at all complex or if you have any questions about your rights or legal options, we encourage you to work with an attorney who has knowledge of the laws and system, as well as how they apply to your case.
Is It Ever a Good Idea to Handle My Own Workers’ Comp Claim?
While we once again want to reiterate that, in order to improve your chances of obtaining maximum benefits, you should always consider working with a workers’ compensation lawyer, there are some instances in which you may be able to file a claim on your own.
Generally speaking, you should only do this if the following are true:
- Your injuries are relatively minor
- Your employer does not dispute that your injuries are work-related
- You do not have a preexisting condition
- You missed relatively little (or no) work as a result of your injury
Such uncomplicated circumstances are rare; in most cases, it is in your best interests to at least discuss your case with a knowledgeable legal team.
Find Out How We Can Help
The unfortunate truth is that many workers' comp insurance companies are a lot like other insurance companies: they don’t want to pay. Because of this, they may try to delay or deny your benefits in order to minimize the payout.
Florida law gives insurance companies great control over when and how you receive benefits. Because of this, the workers’ compensation process can be quite complicated. At our firm, you’ll receive the best legal advice as we can guide you through the entire legal process. In the state of Florida, workers’ compensation attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. This means that they collect fees as a percentage of the total workers’ compensation benefits they are able to win for you. There are no out-of-pocket expenses for you and, if you do not receive any benefits, you will not have to pay your attorneys’ fees.
Furthermore, Florida has a tiered schedule of attorneys’ fees for workers’ compensation cases. Workers’ comp lawyers in the state are allowed to charge no more than 20% of the first $5,000 in benefits, 15% of the next $5,000 in benefits, 10% of any remaining benefits recovered in the first 10 years following the claim, and 5% of any remaining benefits recovered after 10 years of the initial claim being filed.
If you need help with your workers’ compensation claim or would like to learn more about your legal options, get in touch with Van Dingenen Law today. We are happy to provide you with a free initial consultation.
Call (407) 967-5377 to schedule a consultation with our Central Florida workers’ comp attorneys today. We have over two decades of experience that we can put to work for you.
Q:Can my employer block me from receiving workers’ compensation?
A:No. Your employer is required to report all injuries reported in a timely fashion. While they can dispute the terms of your claim with the insurance company, your employer is not permitted to retaliate against you or block you from receiving benefits. If your employer fails to report your injuries quickly enough, they may be subject to penalties and fines.
Q:How long does my employer have to report a workplace injury?
A:Your employer is legally obligated to report your workplace injuries to their insurance provider as soon as possible, and within at least 7 days after you report the injury. You should also receive an explanatory brochure from the workers’ comp insurance company within 3 days after the insurers receive notice from your employer.
Q:What if my employer doesn’t have “light duty” or “modified duty” work for me?
A:When your doctor releases you for modified or light job duties, your employer has an obligation to meet that requirement. If they can’t provide you with “light work” and meet your physical needs, you may be entitled to temporary partial benefits until you return to full duty again.
Q:Will my employer hold my job for me after a workplace injury?
A:No. Your employer is not required to reserve your job while you’re out on a workplace injury for an extended period of time.
Q:What happens if my employer fires me over workers’ compensation?
A:While your employer doesn’t have to hold your job over an indefinite leave of absence, they cannot retaliate against you just for filing a claim or receiving benefits. If you believe you’ve been unfairly terminated, you may have legal recourse in the civil courts.
Q:Does workers’ compensation cover retraining and educational costs?
A:If you are permanently unable to return to your original job, workers’ compensation may cover the costs of your retraining programs and on-the-job-training costs. These services and all other reemployment services are overseen by the Department of Financial Services.
Q:Will I receive reemployment assistance at the same time as workers’ comp?
A:In most cases, no. You will only be eligible for reemployment assistance once you reach maximum medical improvement as defined by your doctor.