Workers’ Compensation: Frequently Asked Questions
What medical & money benefits am I entitled to as a result of my injury?
Each case is different. It is important to understand that the insurance carrier began defending against your claim since first receiving notice of the claim. Therefore, seeking immediate representation is very important in protecting your interests. We will help evaluate the relevant facts and determine the impact the accident will have on your future. This includes a thorough understanding of what happened, your medical treatment, your current condition and your future prognosis. We must also have an opportunity to completely investigate the accident and analyze the impact that the accident has on your wage earning ability, your lifestyle and your future. As the case matures, we will help determine the present value of money and medical benefits to which you are entitled. Our firm has systems and procedures in place to assist you in determining the fair value of your case.
How do I know if my employer or the insurance company is providing the benefits available by law?
The best way to know is to meet with a qualified attorney immediately following your injury to confidentially discuss your case. Employers, in general, do not have the proper knowledge or understanding of the current workers’ compensation laws. As a result, oftentimes injured workers are misled and misrepresented when relying on the employer and insurance carrier for advice and direction. The insurance carrier is very often trying to save some money, many times at the expense of the injured worker. Our firm will help you know and understand what the laws are and what your benefits are relating to your injury.
How do I handle issues with my employer after an on-the-job injury?
Everything done, said and documented between you and your employer could be very important to your case. Our firm will help you in knowing how to handle communication with your employer.
What are additional workers’ compensation benefits and how do I obtain them?
In order to seek additional workers’ compensation benefits, you must file a Petition for Benefits. Because the law requires that this Petition contain very specific information, if is often difficult for someone without knowledge of these requirements to successfully pursue additional benefits.
Must I be released to full-duty work before I can return to work?
No, your doctor may release you for modified- or light-duty work. Because employers and insurance carriers want you to return to work as soon as possible, it’s important that you have legal representation so you do not go back to work before you are ready. There have been many cases where the injured person went back to work too soon resulting in long-term damage that could have been avoided. Our law firm can help you in your decision of when or if it is appropriate to return to work.
What are social security disability benefits and how do I claim them?
In many circumstances, employers and insurance carriers do not tell the injured worker that he or she should also file for social security disability in addition to workers’ compensation. Because a social security disability claim can take a while to resolve, it’s imperative that you know whether you should or should not file this claim. We have an attorney on staff who can pursue the claim for you when appropriate.
Can I select my own doctor?
Your insurance carrier will provide to you a list of approved doctors. Because the insurance carriers are trying to save money in most instances, they often select doctors who will favor them, not you. Because we have been representing injured workers in Central Florida since 1968, we know the majority of the doctors in this area very well and can help you in determining which doctor to use from your list of approved doctors.
If I don’t agree with the opinions of the doctors selected by the insurance company to treat me, is there anything I can do?
Yes, there are several options, and when you meet with one of our attorneys, we can give you advice on what you should do.
I was injured on the way to or from work. Am I eligible for workers’ compensation?
“With regard to injuries that occur off of the employer’s premises while the employee is going to or returning from his or her regular place of work, case law instructs that such injuries generally do not arise out of or in the course of employment and are not compensable.” Quinn v. CP Franchising, LLC, 208 So.3d 141 (Fla. 1st DCA 2016). However, there always exceptions to the general rule.
There is a “special errand” or “mission” exceptions to the going and coming rule apply for all employees except for law enforcement officers. The “mission” exception is most commonly referred to as the “dual purpose” exception where an employee’s trip was required to perform a business purpose other than just getting the employee to or from the workplace. This means that if an employee is running an errand for his or her supervisor or taking work home to work from home, etc. then the trip home would be covered under workers’ compensation.
The “special errand” exception applies when an employee is either going to or coming from work on a special errand given to her form the employer and is injured while doing so. A perfect example of this is when an employee may be on vacation from work but is required by her employer to call into the office daily to check in and while getting to the phone for this “special exception” is injured. Whenever an employee is asked to do something “special” from their normal job duties, this irregular activity creates a special circumstance where workers’ compensation benefits should apply.
With the numerous exceptions that apply to the “going and coming rule” for workers’ compensation, it is best to consult with an expert to provide you guidance. Your employer and their insurance company are not going to advise you of the exceptions that apply. It is your responsibility to protect your rights and that includes looking out for the benefits that you are properly due under the law for work-related injuries.
What do I do if my employer has fired me in retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim?
It is illegal for your employer to fire you for filing a workers’ compensation claim. However, the workers’ compensation law does not require your employer to hold your position until you can return to work. We will help you to know and understand your rights and benefits.
I have suffered a serious injury (paralysis, brain damage, RSD, herniated disc, repetitive trauma, etc.), do I need help in understanding my legal rights?
Yes, you absolutely do. The insurance carrier may not advise you of all of the benefits to which you may be entitled. For example, the insurance carrier may not tell you that you are entitled to attendant care, specialized transportation, home modifications and other benefits too numerous to mention. These are important benefits for you to be aware of.
Can I receive social security benefits, in-the-line-of duty disability benefits, short-term or long-term disability benefits and workers’ compensation benefits at the same time?
Yes, you may receive some of these benefits at the same time although the amount may be reduced due to your receipt of other benefits.
Can I afford a lawyer and what is meant by no recovery-no fee?
No recovery-no fee is another way of saying that we work on a contingency fee basis. Your attorney fees are contingent on what we win for you. This means that, literally, if we do not win your case, you will not pay any attorney fees.
Why do I need a lawyer when the insurance company has offered to pay my medical bills?
While insurance companies routinely make settlement offers, these offers are almost never the full extent of what a case would be worth. The offer you received might cover immediate medical expenses, but might not cover long-term expenses, property damage, physical therapy, loss of quality of life or other expenses. Working with an experienced attorney can ensure that you obtain the maximum compensation award available to you.
What should I look for in choosing a lawyer to represent me?
There are many attorneys and law firms available to injured parties today. You should consider some of the following factors when deciding who to represent you:
- Education: Make sure your attorney is well-educated and trained to handle complex legal matters.
- Relevant experience: Make sure the attorney is not brand new, and that the lawyer has handled your type of case.
- Fees: Make sure you are comfortable with how the firm handles attorney fees and other expenses.
- Feel: This is less tangible, but it is important that you feel comfortable with your lawyer and trust him or her.
Another note: If you are dealing with a workers’ compensation claim, make sure your lawyer is a Florida Bar Certified Workers’ Compensation Attorney. This certification demonstrates the competence, skills and licensure necessary to handle complex workers’ compensation matters.
I’m not sure I am comfortable with the idea of suing. Is there any way my claim can be resolved without actually filing a lawsuit?
Yes. In most cases, there are numerous approaches that could result in resolution without bringing a lawsuit. Even in lawsuits, many of these cares reach settlement agreements before ever seeing the inside of a courtroom. Our attorneys will look at your case and talk through all of the possible options for you, to make sure you are comfortable with whatever approach we take. As your attorneys, we can advise you but ultimately you are the one who makes the decisions.
How long do I have to report the accident to my employer?
You should report the accident immediately to your supervisor. It can be harmful to your case if you do not report your injury in a timely manner. If your claim is not reported within a certain amount of time, your claim could be denied. If you have not reported your claim in a timely manner, there are still ways our law firm can help you. You will need to speak to one of our lawyers right away.
Why is it important to have a Florida Bar Board-Certified Workers’ Compensation Attorney handle my case?
The reason this is important is because the certification shows that each lawyer has demonstrated substantial involvement in the area certified, passed a rigorous written examination, participated in a substantial amount of continuing legal education above that required for bar members, and has successfully completed the peer review process. Board certification provides you with a lawyer with very specialized skills and experience. Our law firm has five Florida Bar Certified Workers’ Compensation attorneys, who only represent injured workers.
Is it normal to be scared and worried?
Our law firm has worked with thousands of injured workers and their families since 1968. Many of those clients have also been scared, anxious, worried and simply needed someone who could answer their questions so that they understood their legal rights and benefits. In today’s world, the system has evolved where legal representation is a necessity in virtually all cases. All of the insurance carriers and employers have law firms representing them. You and your family also deserve legal representation so that your future and your family are protected. The fact that you have been injured is nothing to be embarrassed about and meeting with one our attorneys is strictly confidential. We can meet with you in our office, at your home or even at the hospital. We believe after you meet with one of our qualified attorneys, many of your questions will be answered, leaving you with encouragement and hope instead of fear and worry.
Why should Smith, Feddeler & Smith, P.A., represent me?
Our law firm is the only law firm in Florida with five Florida Bar board-certified workers’ compensation attorneys who exclusively represent injured workers, not insurance companies. Five attorneys have passed the workers’ compensation board certification test. One of our attorneys is the only attorney to achieve a perfect score on the workers’ compensation board certification test. This is a rigorous written examination to test a lawyer’s skill and competence in the field of workers’ compensation. We have helped shape and define the workers’ compensation law in Florida for over four decades.
What other questions might you have?
The qualified attorneys of Smith, Feddeler & Smith, P.A., are here for you and your family. Please feel free to present any of your concerns or questions to us. If it concerns you, then it is important to us. If you have questions, we are here to provide answers.