Workers’ compensation is a critical component of employment law, offering protection for employees who sustain injuries or illnesses while performing their job duties. In Florida, these laws are particularly comprehensive, providing a wide range of benefits.
What Is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is an insurance type that offers medical coverage and wage substitution to employees who sustain injuries while performing their job duties. In Florida, these laws are codified in Chapter 440 of the Florida Statutes.
The purpose of these laws is to ensure that employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses can receive medical treatment and compensation for their lost wages without having to prove that their employer was at fault.
Who Must Provide Workers’ Compensation in Florida?
Florida Statute 440.02(15)(a) outlines the requirements for employers to provide workers’ compensation insurance. The requirement varies based on the number of employees and the industry.
According to Florida Statute 440.02(15)(a), businesses in the construction industry with one or more employees must provide workers’ compensation insurance. This includes owners, corporate officers, partners, and sole proprietors.
For non-construction industries, businesses with four or more employees are required to provide workers’ compensation insurance as per Florida Statute 440.02(15)(b).
In the agricultural industry, businesses with six or more regular employees or 12 or more seasonal workers who work more than 30 days in a season but no more than a total of 45 days in a calendar year must provide workers’ compensation insurance according to Florida Statute 440.02(15)(c).
Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Workers’ compensation covers all necessary medical care required to treat a work-related injury or illness, provided that the treatment is prescribed by the treating physician and approved by the insurance company.
Florida Statute 440.15 details disability benefits, which include temporary total disability, temporary partial disability, permanent impairment benefits, permanent total disability, and death benefits.
Temporary Total Disability
Workers comp benefits for temporary total disability are 66 2/3 percent of your average weekly wage. The maximum rate is $1,197 per week for injuries that occur on or after January 1, 2023.
For serious injuries such as paralysis or blindness, the compensation rate is higher: it’s 80% of the worker’s pre-injury earnings for the initial six months, with no maximum limit. The statutory minimum is set at $20 per week.
Temporary Partial Disability
You may receive TPD benefits if you return to your job with restrictions and earn less than 80% of your average weekly income while on light duty. Temporary partial disability benefits are calculated by multiplying your Average Weekly Wage (AWW) by 80%, subtracting any gross wages earned working light duty, and multiplying that number by 80%.
Workers can receive temporary total or partial disability benefits for up to 104 weeks.
Permanent Impairment Benefits
After medical treatment is complete, the doctor evaluates the patient to determine if there is a lasting impairment. If the individual can work to some extent, the doctor assigns an impairment rating.
This rating is used to calculate the duration and amount of permanent impairment benefits. According to Florida law, the weekly benefits amount to 75% of the temporary total disability rate, up to the legal maximum. If the individual is earning at least as much as before the injury, this amount is halved.
Permanent Total Disability
To be eligible for permanent total disability benefits in Florida, a worker must be able to demonstrate that they are completely unable to engage in any gainful employment due to the injury or illness sustained at work.
Some severe injuries are assumed to cause permanent total disability. PTD benefits in Florida provide up to 66 2/3% of the injured worker’s average weekly wage, subject to a state maximum limit.
Benefits may continue until you turn 75 or for the rest of your life if you don’t qualify for Social Security benefits.
The Workers Compensation Claim Process
The process of a worker’s compensation claim in Orlando involves the following steps:
- Notify your employer of the accident within 30 days.
- Inquire about authorized physicians who treat your injury or illness.
- Ensure that your employer has informed their insurance provider.
- Anticipate contact from the adjuster.
- Examine and fill out the necessary forms.
- Wait for a decision.
- If your claim is denied, take the necessary steps to appeal.
To file a workers’ compensation claim, you need to complete appropriate paperwork detailing your injuries and their cause. The employee must file the claim within two years after the injury arose.
Orlando Workers Compensation Lawyer Fees
Florida law establishes a tiered schedule for the maximum fees that attorneys may receive in workers’ compensation cases. These fees are regulated by Chapter 440 Section 34 of the Florida Statutes.
The fee scale is as follows:
- Attorneys can charge 20% of the first $5,000 of benefits secured.
- They can charge 15% of the next $5,000 of benefits secured.
- For all benefits obtained over $10,000, they can charge 10%.
The actual attorney fees can be less than these amounts. Furthermore, the Office of the Judges of Compensation Claims (OJCC) may approve a fee that deviates from these guidelines if it can be justified by unusual circumstances.