Despite increased safety regulations and other efforts to eliminate workplace injuries, employees still get hurt on the job way too often. Job sites in St. Petersburg and in and around Pinellas County are no exception.
Florida and other states have enacted worker’s compensation laws that require employers to maintain insurance that pays certain benefits to employees who are unable to work due to a job-related injury. In some cases, depending on the circumstances of the injury, workers can sue for damages above and beyond what they receive from workers comp.
If you have been injured at work and are confused over how to file a workers’ compensation claim, or if your claim has been denied, Kogan & DiSalvo can help. Schedule a free consultation with a St. Petersburg workers compensation lawyer to review your case and learn about all of your legal options.
Understanding Workers’ Compensation Laws in St. Petersburg, Florida
Workers’ compensation laws eliminate the need for an injured employee to prove that his or her employer’s negligence caused an injury and provide a path to faster recovery of benefits to pay the employee’s expenses while he or she recuperates. The trade-off with workers comp is that the employee typically loses the right to sue an employer for damages.
Florida laws allow an injured employee to recover benefits from an employer’s workers’ compensation insurance even if he or she was partially responsible for the accident that caused the injury.
Steps to Take After a Workplace Injury
If you are injured at your workplace in or around Florida’s Gulf Coast, take the following steps in anticipation of filing a workers’ compensation claim:
- Document and photograph as much information as possible about the accident, including when and how it happened, what job-related tasks you were performing at the time, and what other parties were involved in the incident.
- Have a medical examination within 24 hours after the accident happened and inform the examining physician that your injuries occurred in a workplace environment.
- Get contact information from all witnesses to the accident.
- Report the accident and your injuries to your employer in writing no later than 30 days after it happened, regardless of whether you needed time off from work due to your injuries.
If your workers’ compensation claim will be filed on the basis of a repetitive motion injury or exposure to toxic or noxious substances, make a note of when you first experienced your symptoms and promptly report those symptoms in writing to your employer.
Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Pinellas County
Your employer is generally obligated to report your injury to its workers’ compensation insurance company. If your employer does not or refuses to make that report, you can get a form from the Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation that will help guide you through the process of filing the claim yourself.
If your employer’s insurer is not treating you fairly, an experienced Florida personal injury lawyer can help you get your claim on track and make sure you get the full benefits you deserve.
What Benefits Are Available in a Workers’ Comp Claim?
Workers’ compensation insurance should provide benefits to cover the actual economic losses you and your family experience as a result of your on-the-job injury, such as:
- Your medical expenses, including emergency room, urgent care, and doctors’ appointments, medications, hospital stays and surgical costs, occupational and rehabilitation therapy, and mobility and prosthetic devices.
- Your lost salary and wages that you were unable to earn while your injury keeps you away from work and benefits for partial or total temporary or permanent disabilities.
- In the event of a workplace fatality, survivor benefits of up to $150,000 for family members to pay for funeral expenses and other costs that the deceased’s salary and wages would have covered.
The amount of actual benefits that you are entitled to receive following a St. Petersburg work injury is governed both by Florida law and the terms and conditions of your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance policy. For example, under Florida law, your wage replacement benefits will not begin until seven days after your workplace injury. If your injury keeps you away from work for more than 21 days, you may be able to claim benefits for those first seven days.
In addition, Florida law generally limits your wage replacement benefits to two-thirds of your average weekly earnings immediately prior to your injury unless your injuries are severe, in which case workers’ compensation may replace up to 80% of your lost earnings.
Can An Injured Worker Still File an Injury Lawsuit?
The terms of workers comp are such that an injured employee cannot directly sue an employer for damages. However, if a third party’s negligence contributed to the employee’s injuries, the employee may be able to sue that third party for additional damages.
A third-party lawsuit may be available, for example, where multiple independent subcontractors are working at a construction site or an employee suffers a trip and fall injury at a location not under the control of his or her employer.
An employee can seek to recover noneconomic and other damages in a lawsuit against a negligent third party, including:
- Compensation for pain and suffering caused by the injury
- Lost future wages and prospective earning potential
- Anticipated medical costs for ongoing treatment of injuries
- Emotional and psychological distress.
- Damages associated with permanent scarring, loss of physical functioning, or disfigurement.
How a St. Petersburg Workers’ Compensation Lawyer from Kogan & DiSalvo Can Help
Under Florida law, employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance to pay benefits to their employees who suffer on-the-job injuries. If your employer does not want to file your claim or if the employer’s insurance company denies coverage or refuses to pay the full amount of benefits that you deserve, Kogan & DiSalvo can help level the playing field and get you the money you need.
If you have been injured while performing job-related tasks for your employer, please call any of our offices for a free and confidential assessment of your benefits claim.