Have you been seriously injured in a workplace accident in Tampa? Depending on the nature and extent of your injuries, you may fear that you’ll never work again and you will need to take steps to protect yourself by applying for permanent benefits.
While some workers in Florida do receive permanent benefits, the insurance company will be reluctant to approve them. In this article, we’ll discuss when an employee may be entitled to receive such benefits. We will also describe the sorts of injuries that leave people permanently and totally disabled.
Workers Comp Benefits in Florida Don’t Last as Long as in Other States
In Florida, you can only receive temporary workers compensation benefits for 104 weeks. That comes out to be exactly two years. Other states, such as Georgia, offer their workers benefits for three or four times that long.
There are two ways your workers compensation benefits can end. For most employees, their benefits end when they reach maximum medical improvement (MMI). This is the point at which further treatment would no longer benefit you.
The other way your benefits will end is when the 104 weeks are over. Since they start on the date of your workplace accident in Tampa, that doesn’t give you a whole lot of time to fully recover, especially if your injuries were severe.
Your Doctor Will Determine When You Reach MMI
One of the frustrating things about being assigned a state-approved workers compensation doctor is that you do not have the right to choose them. Most importantly, you cannot go to your primary care physician.
If you do see your personal doctor, the insurance company won’t cover your medical bills. In fact, your claim can be denied if you choose to see a doctor other than the one assigned to you.
When it comes time for your workers compensation doctor to determine if you’ve attained maximum medical improvement, there are several things they’ll consider. The most important question they need to ask is “Will further medical treatment help you any more than it already has?”
If the answer is yes, then you may continue with treatment. If the answer is no, the doctor will let the insurance company know. They will also determine your impairment rating. This is where they’ll calculate your percentage of disability.
Criteria for Receiving Permanent Total Disability Benefits
There are a handful of workers in Florida who do qualify for permanent total disability benefits. These cases are few and far between. The law in Florida is very strict when it comes to determining whether an employee is entitled to permanent benefits.
Essentially, there are two criteria you must meet to qualify for these benefits. First, you must have suffered a catastrophic injury as a result of your workplace accident. Second, you must not be able to work any of the jobs available within fifty miles of your home.
What Qualifies as a Catastrophic Injury?
According to Florida Statute §440.15, a catastrophic injury is one that makes it impossible for you to work. It’s not enough that you can no longer do the same work you did prior to your workplace accident. It means that you cannot even work a sedentary job.
Some of the more common catastrophic injuries that qualify a person for permanent benefits include:
- Total blindness
- Amputation of a limb
- Severe head trauma
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord injury
- Serious burn injuries
Will Your Benefits End at Some Point?
If you do qualify for permanent benefits, they will only continue until you reach the age of 75. At that point, they will stop. This does not mean that you won’t be able to apply for other benefits, such as social security or state disability.
For those people who don’t suffer their workplace accident until after they turn 70 years old, their benefits will last for five years.
How Much Will Your Permanent Benefits Be?
The most important question you probably have right now is how much your benefits will be. Your benefit rate will be based on your average weekly wages for the period preceding your workplace accident. You can receive 2/3 of your average weekly wages.
If You Think You’re Entitled to Permanent Benefits, Contact Our Office Today
It’s hard to imagine suffering a workplace accident so severe that you can never work again. Unfortunately, this happens more often than you may think.
If you think you meet the criteria for permanent benefits, but the insurance company disagrees, you have options. A seasoned workers’ comp lawyer in Tampa can help explain these options. Call our office today at 954-833-5226 so you can schedule your free, initial consultation.