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Wade Coye Blog
Workers Compensation Questions & Answers
Filing a Workers Compensation Claim
Q: I've been injured at work. What is the very first thing I need to do in order to begin the workers' compensation claim process?
A: File a First Report of Injury or Illness form with your employer. You can download it if your employer doesn't have a copy on hand.
Q: How long after my injury do I have to report it?
A: Report your injury to your employer as soon as possible. You have up to 30 days from the injury or 30 days from when your doctor says your injury is work-related to report it. Your claim may be denied if you don't report in time.
Q: Another employee was playing a joke when I fell and broke my arm. Do I have a claim?
A: If you were performing duties within the scope of your job, then most likely. The statute specifies that deviation from employment is not covered in a workers' compensation claim, but every circumstance is different. contact a workmans' compensation attorney at the Coye Law Firm to determine if you have a case.
Q: I work at a supermarket. I became injured after I slipped and fell on some liquid a customer dropped. Can I claim workers' compensation benefits to offset my medical bills?
A: Workers' compensation claims are filed when a worker is injured during the "course and scope" of their employment. This means that if they are performing tasks that their employer requests and become injured, they can file a claim regardless of the source of injury. In the grocery store case, an employee can file a claim even if their employer wasn't the one who posed the danger and they experienced a workplace accident.
Q: Do I have to pay for my medical treatment?
A: If the system is working correctly, you shouldn't have to pay for treatment yourself. The medical provider submits the medical bills to your employer's insurance company, who in turn pays the bills.
Q: Can I choose my own doctor? What if I don't like the one that I choose?
A: Workers compensation must authorize a doctor for injured workers to begin treatment. Workers are not permitted to choose a doctor, but if they are dissatisfied with the one authorized, they are allowed to change doctors one time. Exercising this right can depend on timing and circumstances, so it is important to consult an experienced workers comp lawyer at the Coye Law Firm before making this decision.
Q: Do I need health insurance in order to pay for treatment?
A: You should only be concerned with paying for your own medical treatment if you've settled your claim. If an injured worker's injuries need medical attention after the claim has been settled, it is their responsibility to pay for them through health insurance or some other method.
Q: I haven't heard anything about my benefits claim and I sent them notice a month ago. What's going on?
A: According to the workers compensation laws, "The carrier must pay, disallow, or deny all medical, dental, pharmacy, and hospital bills submitted to the carrier in accordance with department rule no later than 45 calendar days after the carrier's receipt of the bill." Therefore, it can take up to 7 weeks to hear back. Consulting your attorney or employer may help to expedite the process.
Q: Can my mental illness be attributed to hazards in the workplace? If so, can I file a workers' compensation claim?
A: It depends. If your mental injuries are accompanied and caused by physical injuries, you may be able to claim benefits to remedy this problem. There are many exceptions, however. If depression results from being out of work, it is not compensable. The statute can be reviewed here.
Q: What do "MMI," "IR," "TPD," "TTD," and "PTD" stand for?
A: MMI means "Maximum Medical Improvement" and is used to determine when benefits should stop being paid to the injured employee. IR means "Impairment Rating," TPD means "Temporary Partial Disability," TTD means "Temporary Total Disability," and PTD means "Permanent Total Disability." All of these categories are used to determine an injured worker's benefits. When a worker reaches MMI, their workers' compensation benefits stop. However, the doctor assesses an impairment rating, which determines the amount of benefits they may continue to receive.
Q: Does workers' comp affect my social security disability benefits? What about unemployment?
A: You can receive both social security disability benefits and workers compensation at the same time. However, your workers compensation check will be reduced to compensate for the extra money you'll be receiving. Under the law, the two payments together cannot equal more than 80% of your average weekly wage prior to your injury. Refer to our Social Security Disability page for more information on this form of financial assistance.
To qualify for unemployment assistance, the law states that you must be able to work. If your doctor and attorney find that you are eligible to receive temporary total or permanent total disability benefits, then you are not eligible to receive workers' compensation benefits at that time.
Q: What about the wages I lose while being out of work? Do I get paid for those too?
A: Depending on the severity of your injury, you are eligible to receive between 66 2/3% and 80% of your average weekly wage in addition to having your medical bills paid by the employer's insurance carrier. Consult an attorney at the Coye Law Firm to determine your lost wages compensation rate and get the most benefits you can.
Q: What is a "petition for benefits"?
A: A petition for benefits is a form that the employee or claimant files in order to demand benefits be paid. This involves state government in your claim. If you choose to file a petition for benefits, it requires that a mediation conference take place. In order to protect your benefits and legal rights, you need a workers compensation attorney from the Coye Law Firm if your benefits are being denied. Florida law protects injured workers, so don't settle your claim without consulting one of our experienced attorneys.
Q: How much will I get paid? Can I get a settlement? What if I am in the process of declaring bankruptcy?
A: Consult a workers' compensation attorney at the Coye Law Firm to determine how much your claim is worth. After you discuss what happened, they will be able to give you a more complete picture of the benefits you can receive under the law.
Most benefit checks are paid bi-weekly and are for 2/3 of your average weekly wage. More about the average weekly wage can be found on our web site. A settlement needs important consideration of your injuries, future wages, and reemployment in order to help you recover.
If you are in the process of filing bankruptcy or need to declare bankruptcy after receiving a worker's compensation claim, it is highly important that you speak with your worker's compensation attorney before speaking with a bankruptcy lawyer. The worker's comp payments or settlement should be exempt from debt collection and creditors, but could be considered "income" and complicate your situation. Find out more out our page about worker's compensation and bankruptcy.
Q: How do taxes work with workers compensation benefits?
A: You do not pay taxes on benefit checks. However, if you go back to work on a trial basis and earn wages while receiving a benefits check, you are required to pay taxes on the wages earned. Visit our section on income taxes to learn more.
Legal Aspects of a Workers' Compensation Claim
Q: Do I need an attorney?
A: You need an attorney in order to receive the maximum benefits you are entitled to under the law. The Coye Law Firm is experienced in the workers' compensation system and can help you sort through medical benefits, lost wages, and other sources of financial assistance. Although one is not required by law, an attorney knows the methods, reasons, and small details that go into calculating a settlement for your full benefits. Call the workers comp lawyer team at the Coye Law Firm today.
Q: How much does it cost to hire an attorney for my workers' compensation claim?
A: Florida law places a limit on the amount that an attorney representing an injured person can collect in a worker's compensation claim. The specifics of Florida law have changed over the years. Depending on the date of your injury, the cost can vary and the only way to know for sure is to discuss your situation with an experienced worker's comp attorney. The Coye Law Firm has written a more comprehensive answer for you on our page about "Legal Fees in Worker's Compensation Cases."
Q: Will I lose my job for filing a workers' compensation claim?
A: Your employer cannot fire you for filing a workers' compensation claim. Protection from retaliation is a part of the workers' compensation law in Florida. However, depending on the severity of your injury and the nature of your work, you might not be able to return to work. Additionally, the employer is not required to keep your job open for you to come back. Visit our page on employment during worker's compensation claim to learn more.
A: The law provides employees an outlet for retraining and job opportunities. If you have been injured on the job so severely that you cannot return, you can work with the Florida Division of Vocational Rehabilitation office to explore your options. The workers' compensation section has a brief overview of what the division offers. You can find vocational counseling, job-seeking skills, on-the-job training, job placement, and retraining opportunities through the web site. You can learn more at our page about applying for new jobs after a workers compensation claim.
Q: My 19 year old son/daughter was injured at work recently. How does this factor into their workers' compensation claim?
A: Younger workers are given special consideration when the average weekly wage is computed to arrive at a lost wages settlement. People under 22 years can expect to have their wages increase at rates faster than older workers, so their injuries may impede upon this. Therefore, reasonable measures are taken to compute the average weekly wage. An attorney can help to explain this process and make the computations according to the law.
Many more FAQs about workers' compensation can be found at the Department of Financial Services website.
The Coye Law Firm will provide you with the aggressive and professional representation you need in a workers' compensation case. contact our workers compensation law firm today.