What to Do After a Work-Related Injury
If you live in Florida and you have suffered an injury on the job, there is a good chance that you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. State law requires most employers in Florida to provide coverage and, even among companies that aren’t required to provide coverage, many choose to provide coverage voluntarily.
But, while filing a workers’ compensation claim is one option, it might not be the only option you have available. With this in mind, here are some important steps to take after suffering a work-related injury:
7 Important Steps to Take After a Workplace Injury
1. Determine If You are Eligible for Workers’ Compensation
One of the first steps you should take after suffering a work-related injury is to evaluate your eligibility for workers’ comp benefits. Doing so will determine what you need to do next, as well as what deadlines may apply.
Speaking to a lawyer is the best way to find out if you are eligible for workers’ compensation. An attorney can also review your case and advise you of any other options you may have for making a claim.
2. Report the Injury to Your Employer
If you are eligible for workers’ compensation, you will need to report the on-the-job injury to your employer. This is required under Florida law in order to obtain workers’ compensation benefits.
As the Florida Department of Financial Services explains, you should report your injury “as soon as possible but no later than thirty (30) days from the date the accident occurs, or within thirty (30) days of the date the doctor says you are suffering from a work-related injury.”
3. See a Doctor for Diagnosis and Treatment
You need to seek medical attention as soon as possible after being injured on the job. In the event of an emergency, you can go to a provider of your choosing. Otherwise, you will need to see a doctor who has been pre-approved by your employer or its insurance company in order to maintain your eligibility for workers’ comp benefits.
The insurer has a duty to notify you which doctor (or doctors) you are allowed to see for treatment of a work-related injury or illness. If the insurance company does not contact you within 5 days, you have the right to see a doctor of your choice.
Florida law strongly favors employers (and their insurers) in the choice of treating physician. If you are concerned about losing your right to workers’ compensation, you should speak to an attorney.
4. Follow Your Doctor’s Medical Advice
Once you receive a diagnosis and treatment plan, you need to follow all of your doctor’s recommendations. This means going to any follow-up appointments, filling your prescriptions, going to physical therapy, and staying home from work if necessary. If you ignore your doctor’s medical advice, not only could this delay or jeopardize your recovery, but it could have negative consequences for your legal claim (or claims) as well.
5. Work With An Injury Lawyer to Pursue Your Claim(s)
As mentioned above, while filing a workers’ compensation claim is one option after suffering a work-related injury, it might not be the only option you have available. In some cases, injured workers will have claims outside of workers’ compensation as well.
Common examples of third-party claims in the event of a work injury include:
If a party other than your employer is responsible for your work-related injury (such as a negligent property owner, a company that manufactures a defective product, etc.), a workplace injury lawyer may be able to pursue a claim outside of workers’ comp. You may be entitled to recovery of compensation beyond what you can get through workers’ compensation benefits alone.
6. Decide Whether to Seek a Lump-Sum Workers’ Comp Settlement
If you have a workers’ compensation claim under Florida law, you have two primary options: (i) you can receive weekly disability payments and ongoing coverage for your medical bills or (ii) you can settle your case for a lump sum. A lump-sum settlement consists of a single payment for coverage of the expenses related to your work-related injury.
The decision to accept a workers’ compensation settlement must be made carefully and with the guidance of a lawyer. If you accept a lump sum and it does not cover the full extent of your losses, you will not have the opportunity to pursue additional compensation.
7. Fight to Make Sure You Receive the Compensation You Deserve
Regardless of whether you have a workers’ comp claim, a claim outside of workers’ comp, or both, you need to be prepared to fight for the compensation you deserve. Even though workers’ compensation is a “no fault” system, employers and their insurance companies routinely deny claims. Filing a claim outside of workers’ compensation presents a variety of challenges as well.
Nonetheless, asserting your legal rights is important for your health and financial stability. The best way to recover maximum compensation is to have an experienced lawyer on your side.
Getting hurt on the job can be an overwhelming experience. Serious injuries can leave you unable to work and struggling to pay your bills. In some cases, you might never fully recover.
You need to know all of your options for bringing an injury claim in the wake of a workplace accident. Kogan & DiSalvo can review your case and determine your eligibility for workers’ comp as well as other types of legal action.
Please call Kogan & DiSalvo at (561) 375-9500 today for a free case review. Our work injury lawyers serve clients in West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Stuart, West Palm Beach, and other areas of Florida.