Suffering an injury on the job is frequently painful and debilitating, but real trouble can follow when insurance companies and employers make it difficult to get proper compensation for your injuries.
However, with the help of an experienced attorney, injured workers get an advocate during this complicated process. An attorney can help you protect your rights throughout the workers’ compensation process and increase the likelihood that you receive the full worth of your claim. Ben Crump is ready to help you. Contact him today for a risk-free, no-cost evaluation of your situation.
What is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance most companies are required to carry. It’s designed to provide financial compensation for workers in the event they are injured on-the-job, regardless of fault. Injuries can range from sudden accidents to repetitive motion injuries, like a secretary getting carpal tunnel syndrome.
In return for guaranteed coverage, workers’ compensation prevents employees from suing their employers, regardless of fault. However, you may be able to seek damages from a third party you think may have played a role in your injury. An example of a third party lawsuit might be when an operator sues the manufacturer of a tool that injured him, and the tool has a history of design defects.
What Benefits Can I Get?
Workers’ compensation provides you with benefits for medical treatments, tests, and recovery during the course of your injury or illness. Compensation for permanent injuries, missed work, and even death is sometimes available. It is flexible, and can cover you for just a few days while you get back on your feet, but it also offers permanent disability if you can’t go back to work, or can go back to work but only at 60 percent of your previous capacity.
Problems with Workers’ Compensation Claims
Many workers’ compensation claims are met with resistance from employers, who in some cases might be hesitant to report the injury to their insurer. Nevertheless, you have a right to report your injuries directly to your employer’s insurance company.
Another common reality is that you may have caused your own injury. Lack of training, poor staffing, and even the time of day can influence your injury, but workers’ compensation is no-fault. In some circumstances, your employer may even seek to fire you for filing a claim. This is highly illegal and you should seek out an attorney to protect you from this behavior immediately.
The workers’ compensation process can be long and drawn out, but you can typically expect benefits within three weeks of reporting the initial injury.
The Initial Workers’ Compensation Process
The workers’ comp process begins when a worker files a claim for an injury. Employers in Florida are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance when they employ four or more employees, with very few exceptions. Other states have different rules.
Workers’ compensation laws are generally very broad in what they cover, including injuries, illnesses, accidents, diseases, and even deaths. The requirements for carrying workers’ compensation, the process of receiving benefits, and the appeals process all depend on your state.
You’re required to report an injury to your employer within 30 days of the incident in Florida, and can generally file a claim up to two years following the initial injury report. You must include specific details, including witnesses, the location of the incident, the cause, and the time of day.
The next step of the process is generally receiving an independent medical examination from a provider of the employer’s choosing.
Evaluating Common Workplace Injuries
To determine the severity of your injury, you must be evaluated by a doctor, and his or her diagnosis can strongly influence the amount of benefits you receive.
Sometimes insurance companies will want you to have an independent medical examination with a doctor of their choosing. If this happens, the insurance company may be trying to have the severity of your injuries downplayed to decrease the compensation for which you are eligible.
Some common workplace injuries include:
- General injuries to the back, spine, shoulders, eyes, feet, hands, or other parts of the body;
- Head injuries like concussions;
- Sickness from occupational diseases like Black Lung or mesothelioma;
- Construction or motor vehicle accidents; and
- Hearing or vision loss, or cold or heat stress, including burn injuries.
That is just a short list of some of the injuries doctors may look at during an examination, and you may experience a different injury at work.
In Florida, you’ll usually receive your first benefits check within 21 days unless your employer’s insurance company contest the results or the IME reveals no damage. Your employer’s insurance company may also use the IME to reduce your payout. These rules vary state by state.
Claim Rejected? You Can Appeal That.
An insurance company can accuse you of misrepresenting your injury, but they may also blame your injury on a preexisting condition or even deny that injury occurred in the workplace. In a state like Florida, you can appeal the process with the Division of Administrative Hearings, who will assign the case to an appeals judge and hear your side of the story.
Here, you can present evidence showing you’re entitled to benefits, including details about the accident and your attempts at subsequent medical treatment. You can also opt for mediation to settle a workers’ compensation dispute.
An insurance company can also present its side of the story during an appeals hearing, and the judge must weigh both sides fairly. Because of these factors, it’s crucial to consider hiring an attorney to improve your chance at a successful appeal. An experienced attorney can combat the insurance company or your employer’s own legal team.
Let Ben Crump Work for You
If your workers’ compensation benefits claim was denied or your benefits can’t keep you afloat, Mr. Crump may be able to help. He has years of experience handling workers’ compensation cases.
Mr. Crump is ready to protect your right to collect compensation after an accident in the workplace, and he isn’t intimidated by the behavior of insurance companies who seek to limit your payout.
Contact Ben Crump today for a risk-free review of your case. He may be able to help.