Questions on Workers' Compensation Claims
What is Workers' Compensation?
A required employer provided insurance program offering free medical care including emergency room treatment, doctor visits, diagnostic testing, specialists, medications, supplies, attendant care, transportation expenses, retraining/vocational services, along with payment for a part of your lost wages and or for any permanent disability. All benefits are set by the
State of Florida and at no cost to you!
Do I have to pay for any medical related expenses concerning the claim?
No, so long as the treatment was medically necessary and the physicians were pre-approved by the employer or workers' compensation insurance company. If you received initial emergency room care, those bills are still traditionally covered.
Do note however that if you were injured on or after 01/01/1994, you must pay $10 per visit for treatment after your doctor releases you from on-going medical care (maximum medical improvement "M.M.I.").
What kind of medical treatment can I receive?
Medically necessary visits to authorized health care providers which may involve the following types of care: chiropractic, orthopedic, neurological, neurosurgical, podiatric, psychological, psychiatric, pain management, surgery, nursing services, dental, hospitalization, prescription medications, ophthalmological, medical supplies, medical equipment and or any other treatment recommended by your authorized physicians.
What should I do if I am injured on the job?
Report it to your Employer (preferably a supervisor) as soon as possible! Additionally, try to complete and get a copy of the accident report or notice of injury form. If he/she refuses to complete this task, be sure that you make your own written record of the events surrounding the work accident and or injuries. Go to a medical provider authorized by your Employer, their Workers Compensation Insurance Company or to a nearby hospital immediately! Lastly, do not forget to inform the facility that your injuries are in fact work related.
Moreover, the medical provider should be given your Employer's name, phone number and or their Workers Compensation Insurance Carrier's information if known. The doctor should be told as many details about your accident as possible. Ask him/her about their treatment recommendations, when you may return to the job and or your work restrictions. Finally, it is extremely important for you to try and get something in writing from the physician indicating the treatment plan. your work status ("No Work", "Light Duty Work" or "Sedentary Work") and or any other physical limitations.
What should my employer do?
Your Employer is required to notify their Workers Compensation Insurance Company immediately after the accident by completing a notice of injury form or accident report. Initially, your job and or insurance adjuster may refer you to a hospital and or to an authorized medical facility (often times a walk-in clinic) for reasonably necessary medical care needed to treat your injuries or conditions. If you have been placed on a No Work, Light Duty Work, or Sedentary Work status for more than seven days due to the accident, a portion of your lost wages may be due you in accordance with a determined schedule.
Can I choose my own doctors?
Sometimes but only under certain limited circumstances. Unfortunately, the workers' compensation law has recently changed which further limits your selections and the ability for your right to additional medical opinions. In any event, any physician changes must be approved by the Workers Compensation Insurance Carrier prior to the first date of new treatment. Moreover if you nevertheless choose your own doctor without prior approval, those medical bills may simply become your own responsibility.
If my injury makes me lose time from work, will I be paid for it, when and how much?
If you are out of work more than seven days, you should receive your first check for lost wages within three weeks of reporting the injury. You will not be paid however for the first seven days unless the accident causes you to miss more than twenty one days. The exception is if you are able to use any vacation, sick and or paid time off. Kindly note however that due to lost wage caps, at most you shall receive is 66 2/3% of your average weekly wage (A.W.W.); you will never recover 100% of lost earnings. Fortunately the lost wage payments are tax-free.
Can my employer fire me if I file for workers' compensation benefits?
According to Florida Law, you cannot be fired or harassed for filing or attempting to file a workers' compensation claim. If you feel that your Employer is treating you unfairly surrounding the accident, you may have additional legal rights. As such and under certain circumstances you may be able to sue the employer directly under a theory of Workers' Compensation Retaliation in addition to the on-going workers' compensation matter.
Will my employer keep my job open for me while I am out?
Not necessarily. You, the Employer and your doctors need to work together. Further you may have additional employment legal rights if you are part of a union or if the Employer is subject to the Federal Law concerning the F.M.L.A. (The Family Medical Leave Act). That act provides additional protection for the employees.
If I am unable to return to the type of work performed before the accident, what can I do?
Contact the Bureau of Rehabilitation and Medical Services at (850) 488-3431, their local office in your county or Staum & Ostfeld for more information. If qualified, you may be entitled to additional lost wage checks, vocational re-training, job placement assistance and or schooling at no cost.
What do I have to do in order to keep the case open?
All workers' compensation cases are subject to a statute of limitations but it varies according to the date of accident. Generally speaking, your right to receive future lost wage benefits and or medical care may end if there has been no payments by the insurance company a period of over two years and or if you have not received authorized medical treatment within one year.
How much will it cost for legal representation?
The Law Offices of Staum & Ostfeld only accepts workers' compensation cases on a contingency basis. Further we do not charge an initial consultation fee. As such, you do not have to pay us for fees and or costs while we work on your file. Unlike other law firms, we do not deduct legal fees from your bi-weekly workers' compensation checks. If we are however successful in court and or obtain a lump-sum settlement on your behalf, the attorney's fees and costs shall either be paid in whole or in part by the workers' compensation insurance carrier or from the settlement itself. Moreover and for your protection all attorneys fees and costs must be approved by the court. Simply put, if there is no settlement recovery or court award, you do not owe Staum & Ostfeld any attorney's fees and costs.
The information disseminated at this website is generalized. It does not constitute legal advice. Moreover, no formal Attorney-Client relationship exists. For questions about your specific legal problem, contact us immediately! The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on an advertisement. Before you decide, ask us to send you free written information about our qualifications and experience.
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