Florida Workers’ Compensation Attorney Helps You Recover
Access your rightful benefits to workplace injury compensation in Palm Beach County
The Florida’s workers’ compensation program was, ostensibly, designed to benefit workers. Under the system, employees do not need to prove employer negligence and do not have to wait until the conclusion of a long trial to recover desperately needed funds for medical care and lost wages. Accessing your benefits from the bureaucratic Florida’s Division of Workers’ Compensation, however, is another story. Florida has one of the weakest workers’ compensation systems in the country, providing meager support even if you meet the unreasonably high standards of proof to qualify. In October 2003, sweeping changes in the laws placed even greater restrictions on your ability to recover the money you need. Pfeffer & Associates has fought for workers’ rights in Florida since 1984. Our legal team is dedicated to helping you obtain your rightful benefits, including medical treatment, wage replacement and disability.
To understand what you are up against when you are injured on the job, it is helpful to know some basic information about how the Florida’s workers’ compensation system works:
- Medical care benefits
- Wage replacement
- Types of workplace injuries
- Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) and reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome (RSD) claims
- Workers’ compensation retaliation
Medical care benefits
You are entitled to reasonable and necessary medical care for your injuries, but there is a catch. Your employer’s insurance company selects the doctor who treats you. Under this law, for the most part, what the doctor says goes. And the doctors the insurance company selects are typically those who look out for its best interests. Rather than providing you with the best care, these doctors provide opinions that are favorable to the insurance company’s bottom lines, such as:
- There is nothing wrong with you.
- Your injuries are preexisting and not related to your accident.
- You can go back to work immediately.
- You need minimal or no further treatment.
- You have reached maximum medical improvement and are therefore entitled only to palliative care, not care designed to cure your injury.
If you do not like what the selected doctor says or how you are being treated, you get one opportunity to change your doctor. However, the insurance company gets to pick your new doctor as well. The system clearly works against you. You need a lawyer knowledgeable in workers’ rights.
The wage replacement — or indemnity — benefits you receive depend upon the stated opinions of the treating doctors authorized by your employer’s insurance company:
- If you are unable to perform any type of work — You are entitled to receive temporary total disability (TTD) benefits. These are paid biweekly at two-thirds of your average weekly wage (AWW) or the average of your total wages received in the 13 weeks before your accident.
- If you are still healing, but are able to perform some type of work — Even if it is not the job you had at the time of your injury or your employer does not have light duty work available, you are entitled to temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits. TPD benefits pay roughly 80 percent of your normal pay.
- If you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) — This means that you are “as good as you are going to get,” according to the insurance company doctor and your temporary wage replacement benefits consequently end, even if you have not reached the maximum 104-week limit mandated by the 2003 law.
Once you reach MMI, the doctors who are treating you are required to consult a guidebook written by the insurance companies to determine whether you have any permanent impairment. For each injury, there are a corresponding — and arbitrary — number of permanent impairment points. You are then entitled to several weeks of continued benefits for each point of permanent impairment.
For the majority of claims, once the insurance company pays you this minimal impairment benefit, your employer and its insurance company does not owe you any additional wage replacement benefits. The only exception is if you can meet the demanding standard that you are permanently and totally disabled as a result of your injuries and are not able to perform even sedentary work within 50 miles of your home.
Types of workplace injuries
Chapter 440 of the Florida Statues describes the types of workplace injuries covered by workers’ compensation. You may have a valid claim if you suffered an illness or injury in your workplace, including:
- Chronic illness triggered by exposure to toxic substances
- Repetitive stress syndrome injuries resulting from your job duties
- A traumatic injury caused by an on-the-job accident
CRPS and RSD claims
Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) and reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome (RSD) are debilitating chronic neurological conditions characterized by extreme burning pain, extensive inflammation and muscle weakness. Causation is often difficult to prove in CRPS and RSD claims because of the progressive nature of the disease and its effects on nerves that are sometimes far removed from the site of initial trauma. Our law firm can effectively demonstrate the relationship between your workplace accident and your resulting medical condition.
Workers’ compensation retaliation
You have the right to file a claim with the Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation if you have sustained a work-related injury or illness. Florida Statute 440.205 prohibits your employer from workers’ compensation retaliation. If you have been fired, harassed or threatened for asserting your rights, our attorney pursues monetary damages in compensation.
Consult with our Jupiter, FL firm about recovering your rightful workers’ compensation benefits
To recover the workers’ compensation you are entitled to, call Pfeffer & Associates at 561-745-8011 or contact us online to schedule your free initial consultation. Our law firm represents workers’ compensation clients on a contingency fee basis, and Spanish translators are available.