Workers' Compensation Basics
The Purpose of Workers’ Compensation
The workers’ compensation system in Florida and all 50 States exists to provide medical and indemnity (lost wage) benefits to injured workers. Benefits are provided to the injured worker, regardless of fault. That is, the benefits will be paid whether the fault for the injury was with the worker, the employer or someone else.
An injured worker cannot “sue” his employer for damages that would be available in a classic law suit (car accident or slip and fall). The injured worker cannot get money damages for “pain and suffering” or “loss of enjoyment of life.” An injured worker can sue a “third party” who caused the accident (for example, a drunk driver). Randy Zeldin will carefully screen your case to find the possibility of third party law suits.
Reporting the Injury and Requesting Benefits
If you are hurt on the job, it is important that you report the injury to your employer within 30 days of the accident. Sometimes you won’t know that your injury is related to work, until explained by your doctor (for example, carpal tunnel from word processing or a rash from exposure to food). Once you become aware of the injury, immediately report to your employer. If you fail to report your claim within 30 days of the accident, it may be denied forever.
In addition to reporting the injury, it is very important that you request medical care from your employer. Sometimes an employer will assume that you don’t want or need medical care if you don’t request it. Randy Zeldin suggests that you make a “paper trail” and report the accident and request for medical care in writing. Hand deliver; U.S. certified mail or e-mail the written notice to the employer and keep a copy !
Only On-the-Job Injuries Result in Workers’ Compensation Benefits
The law requires that your injury have a connection to your employment. If you are “on the clock” and benefiting your employer, you are entitled to benefits. For example, if you injure your wrist while installing sheet rock, that would be an “on the job” injury. If you are on a lunch break and injured in a car accident, that would not likely be a workers’ compensation injury.
Independent Contractors Are Not Covered Under Workers’ Compensation
Starting in 1991, the Florida Legislature amended the law, to state than an “employee” does not include an “independent contractor” who is not subject to the control and direction of the employer, as to his/her actual conduct. An independent contractor working in the construction industry is considered an employee.
Volunteers Are Not Considered Employees
A person who does not receive monetary compensation for his/her services is presumed to be a volunteer and not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
Domestic Servants are Excluded from Workers’ Compensation
This includes individuals performing “household duties” and cleaning, etc.
If you have been injured on the job, you may have a valid workers' compensation claim. Please contact Randy Zeldin for a free case review.