Do You Need a Lawyer for a Workers’ Comp Settlement?
There are some situations where people can settle a workers’ comp claim without an attorney. However, it is often better to have legal counsel to help ensure you receive a fair amount. While we always recommend people who need Workers’ Compensation consult an attorney for help with their claim, there are some situations where it is especially important to have the help of experienced legal counsel:
When You’re Injured While on the Job
Florida has no-fault Workers’ Compensation law. That means you’re entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits regardless of who caused the accident. Any injuries you receive while working are actionable.
Examples of accidents/injuries on the job include:
1) Slip and Falls (i.e.: You’re working for a grocery store and you slip and fall in the dairy case section because of a leak in the refrigeration unit.)
2) Motor Vehicle Accidents (i.e. Your boss asks you to deliver an order to a frequent customer.)
EXCEPTIONS: All travel to and from work is usually not covered under Florida Workers’ Compensation Law. So if you get in an accident while driving to work at your usual time, that won’t be covered. However, if your supervisor asks you to run a particular errand for the company—like picking up or dropping off materials somewhere—and you get in an accident, you’ll be entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits.
3) Chemical and Mold Exposure
- Lifting Heavy Equipment/Operating Heavy Machinery (i.e.: You hurt your back carrying heavy boxes at a warehouse.)
When You’re in a Lot of Pain After an Injury on the Job
The Workers’ Compensation carrier’s job is claim delay and claim denial. It’s possible you could wait for weeks or even months to get the treatment you need for your injuries. Medical assistance provided through the Workers’ Compensation insurance carrier includes emergency and hospital care if the injuries need immediate attention. Workers’ Compensation should also provide rehabilitative, orthopedic, pain management, and prosthetic devices. An experienced attorney can help you get the benefits you deserve.
When You Have a Workplace Injury and Your Employer Asks You to Keep the Accident to Yourself
Surprisingly, this is something we hear a lot from clients, and it’s a big red flag. There are unfortunately a lot of situations where an employer tells an injured worker to keep the injury to themselves—sometimes they even threaten termination if the employee speaks up! This is usually because the employer believes their Workers’ Compensation rates will increase. That may happen, but it doesn’t mean you should have to suffer. Fortunately, Wrongful or Retaliatory Termination is illegal in Florida. An employer can’t threaten to fire you or actually terminate you because you were injured on the job. It’s your legal right to file a Workers’ Compensation lawsuit. If you’re in this situation, it’s crucial to consult an attorney who can help you navigate your claim and deal with further threats from your employer.
When It’s Been a While Since Your Injury and You Still Haven’t Received Medical care, Filed a Workers’ Compensation Lawsuit, or Received Lost Wage Payments
This is another common scenario: A client was injured at work and is in pain. However, they’ve never filed a workers’ comp claim and don’t know how. Maybe they’re not sure if they even should. Plus, they’re injured and probably distracted by their pain. Sometimes they’ve even been told to keep their injury quiet. They may also have been told the company will arrange treatment for their injury, but it hasn’t happened. These are all signs you need to contact an attorney. A trusted local lawyer can file a claim for you to preserve the two-year Workers’ Compensation statute of limitations. We’ll also make sure you get medical care and lost wage payments.
When the Workers’ Comp Carrier Refuses to Authorize Treatment You Need or Pay for Lost Wages
Under Florida Workers’ Compensation Law, you should receive medical and lost wage benefits if you’re injured. But insurance carriers aren’t always eager to pay out Florida Workers’ Compensation Benefits. They frequently deny without hesitation, as they are in the habit of claims denial and claims delay. They sometimes even deny without taking an injured worker’s statement. This denial process is a very important sign that you need to contact a proven and highly-skilled attorney.
It is essential for employees who are injured on the job to have a local attorney review all of their documents prior to filing a Florida Workers’ Compensation lawsuit. Remember, you have to report the accident within 30 days, and you should also file the lawsuit within two years. It’s equally important that you file the correct paperwork to ensure Medical and Lost Wage Benefits. Our office is set up to do these things when we file your Workers’ Compensation lawsuit.
How Much Should I Get in a Workers’ Comp Settlement?
This is another common question, and it depends on your specific injuries and situation. Every claim is different. In general, these are some factors to think about when you consider your claim and any potential settlement offer:
Are you likely to need medical treatment in the future for your work injury? What are potential costs of that care?
Does the insurance company owe you any money for temporary disability benefits that it didn’t pay?
Does the insurance company owe you any penalties for late benefit payments?
What is the amount of any unpaid medical bills to date?
How much should you be able to collect for permanent disability benefits?
When there’s a major dispute about whether you’re entitled to benefits, you and your attorney should also discuss whether you have strong evidence supporting your claim—especially medical evidence. A workers’ comp hearing is similar to a trial, and there’s always some risk that the judge will decide against you. If you and your lawyer determine there’s a strong chance of losing your case after a hearing, you might consider settling for a lump sum that’s lower than you think you deserve. What you decide is ultimately up to you, but your attorney can answer any questions you have about the process.
If you or a loved one were seriously injured while on the job, you do have rights and you need an advocate who is ready to protect those rights. Speak with a trusted attorney today from the Law Offices of David M. Benenfeld, P.A.
We offer a free, no-obligation consultation. You can meet with a local attorney now to discuss your case and see if you qualify for compensation. Call us now at 954-807-1334 or request more information online.