Workers’ Compensation: 20 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 fully duty 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 awhile 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.
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?
Yes, you can afford a lawyer because if there’s no recovery, there are no fees or costs. This means that our law firm pays all the up front costs, and you pay nothing until a recovery is obtained. Any questions you have regarding the fee and cost agreement with our firm will be explained to you in detail and in writing.
Why do I need a lawyer when the insurance company has offered to pay my medical bills?
Florida law provides for an injured person to be compensated or made whole by the responsible party. The extent of compensation will vary depending on the specific facts of the case. This is why it is so important to seek early consultation with a lawyer experienced in injury cases to help you obtain the maximum recovery allowed by law.
What should I look for in choosing a lawyer to represent me?
Before hiring a lawyer, you should research the law firm and lawyers you are considering. Ask for information about your lawyer’s education, training and experience and ask the lawyer to tell you about his/her experience in dealing with cases similar to yours. Ask about the lawyer’s trial and courtroom experience. Ask the lawyer to go over with you in detail how the lawyer’s fees and costs will be paid at the end of the case. If your case involves workers’ compensation, make sure your lawyer is a Florida Bar Certified Workers’ Compensation Attorney. This certification is important because it demonstrates that your attorney has specialized skills and experience in dealing with cases like yours.
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?
Our law firm is committed to helping our clients reach a satisfactory conclusion to their claim, whether by petitions or a lawsuit and trial or by some alternative means. Our lawyers are experienced in alternative dispute resolution procedures, such as mediation, that can avoid the need to file a lawsuit. In all cases, we take the time to explain to our clients the risks and advantages of each alternative procedure, so our clients can make an informed decision.
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 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.