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Fort Lauderdale Workers' Compensation Lawyer > South Florida Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

South Florida Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

If you’ve been injured or hurt on the job in Florida, you probably have many questions: How does the Workers’ Compensation process work? What are my rights? Can I choose my own doctor? Don’t take a chance by trying to handle your claim by yourself — hire an experienced South Florida workers’ compensation lawyer like David M. Benenfeld. So, you’ve been hurt on the job and are probably overwhelmed by how you feel. You may also be wondering when (or if) you’ll receive any money while you recuperate or even if you’ll receive medical care for the injuries that you have.

The Florida Workers’ Compensation system is supposed to be a “self executing” system in that when you get hurt, the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Carriers are supposed to automatically provide you with all the benefits that you’re entitled to under the law. Unfortunately, although this was the intent of the law when it was written, the notion that the law is “self executing” simply isn’t the case.

To begin with, once you get hurt, and you file a claim, your claim will now be handled by the insurance company. It is important to remember that the person handling your claim for the insurance company works for the insurance company, not you. Their client is not you, but rather your employer. Put very simply, they work for your boss. Who do you think they want to make happy — you, or their boss?

Out of all the various types of insurance, Workers’ Compensation adjusters are notorious for denying claims for needed treatment, or deeming legitimate costs as “unnecessary” or “not their responsibility.”

Workers’ Compensation Policies

Most Workers’ Compensation policies require that the injured party undergo a consultation from a doctor, which would seem reasonable, but more often than not, these doctors are paid by the insurance companies themselves. They usually recommend what is called palliative treatment. This is basically the least expensive and least effective treatment that they can get away with. The purpose of this is to treat the symptoms as opposed to the actual injury, which does two things for the insurance company: First, it covers their legal obligation to “do something” without resorting to more effective and more costly treatments. And second, it gives them time, which is the most important tool that the insurance companies have.

An insurance company has the luxury of waiting. An injured worker does not. Medical bills, paying the mortgage, and feeding a family are real costs that can very quickly place a worker in serious financial jeopardy, particularly if the injury is the sort that prevents him or her from obtaining other employment. Time is not something the average workers’ compensation injured worker has.

Delaying and arguing over every claim also gives the insurance companies plenty of time to hire private investigators. While that might sound far-fetched and even paranoid, we’ve had plenty of experience in dealing with them. It is their job to keep an eye on you and catch you doing something that would give the insurance company yet another reason to cancel your benefits. Something as seemingly non-important as not limping severely enough could be used against you. Catching people in situations that benefit insurance companies is big business for private investigators. It’s developed into such a profitable sideline for them that there are actually textbooks published on the subject.

Not only do investigators do surveillance of injured workers, but they also dig into their backgrounds, looking for anything that could keep them from issuing benefits. If you lifted weights regularly or played football on weekends with your friends, then maybe, according to the insurance company, THAT was the reason you threw your back out instead of the injury that you suffered at work. Insurers take their profits very seriously, and they are always looking for any way to minimize their liability.

Another insurance company tactic is to offer an inadequate lump settlement payment to workers’ compensation recipients. To many injured workers that are tired of the constant paperwork and accusations, this would seem like a blessing. But the initial offer for a lump sum payment is usually far less than what an injured worker needs, and accepting a settlement offer without an attorney to fight for your rights could be disastrous.

Insurance companies also have enormous public relations machines that give the public the perception that most workers’ compensation claims are based on fraud and deceit. We see the results on television and in our newspapers on an almost daily basis. Despite being one of the most profitable industries in the world, insurance companies complain about “frivolous lawsuits” driving them into bankruptcy and raise their rates almost every year, even though their reasons for doing so have very little to do with “frivolous lawsuits” and everything to do with investors and annual profit reports.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance adjusters may take advantage of what you don’t know. It is for that reason that victims of work-related injuries should always check with an experienced attorney to make sure that they are being treated fairly. In South Florida, that attorney is David Benenfeld.

If you have been injured in a work-related accident, your intention is probably to recover as quickly and as permanently as possible so you can get back to work. That’s what workers’ compensation is supposed to be for. Unfortunately, these days it takes first rate legal acumen to get the insurers to live up to their end of the contract. David Benenfeld knows the insurance company tactics, he knows the doctors, he knows how the investigators work, and he knows what it takes to get you the treatment and compensation that you deserve. And fortunately for his clients, the insurers know him.

Florida Workers’ Compensation FAQs

Florida workers’ compensation not only has its own laws; it also has its own judges and a complete administration system that handles claims and hears appeals of denials. If you’ve never had to file a claim for a workplace accident or injury before, you might be completely unfamiliar with the system and not know what to do to protect your rights to benefits. Below are answers to some of the questions we hear most often as we help injured workers in Broward County get workers’ compensation after an on-the-job injury. If you have other questions or need help filing a claim or appealing a denial or termination of benefits, call The Law Offices of David Benenfeld in Sunrise for a free consultation with an experienced and successful Florida workers’ compensation attorney.

Does workers’ compensation cover occupational illness or disease?

Workers’ compensation covers accidental injuries, and Florida workers’ comp law defines an “accident” as “only an unexpected or unusual event or result that happens suddenly.” However, another section of the law specifically states that an occupational disease “shall be treated as the happening of an injury by accident.” So, yes, occupational illnesses are covered.

Although workers’ comp technically covers occupational disease, these cases are complex, and a lengthy section of Florida workers’ comp law is devoted specifically to occupational diseases. You’ll need to be able to prove the disease is a particular hazard of the nature of the employment or occurs substantially higher in that particular job. You’ll also need medical evidence demonstrating the occupation was a major contributing cause of the illness. Don’t try to do this alone. Call The Law Offices of David Benenfeld in Sunrise for help getting workers’ comp for occupational disease in Broward County.

If the illness is caused by exposure to toxic chemicals at work, will workers’ compensation cover the costs of treatment?

Under Florida’s worker’s compensation law, “an injury or disease caused by exposure to a toxic substance, including, but not limited to, fungus or mold, is not an injury by accident arising out of the employment unless there is clear and convincing evidence establishing that exposure to the specific substance involved, at the levels to which the employee was exposed, can cause the injury or disease sustained by the employee.” So, toxic exposure claims are clearly allowed, but the requirement for “clear and convincing evidence” means your toxic exposure injury will be harder to prove than other occupational injuries or diseases.

Can workers get workers’ comp benefits for job-related hypertension?

Certain workers are predisposed to develop hypertension due to stressors on their job. In Florida, hypertension in law enforcement officers, firefighters and first responders is presumed to be job-related. Insurance companies may still fight this presumption by claiming other lifestyle factors are to blame for the high blood pressure. It’s important to have an experienced Florida workers’ compensation attorney on your side who will aggressively pursue your claim and present a solid case as to why your hypertension is job-related and compensable.

Can I get workers’ compensation for hearing loss?

So long as the hearing loss is job-related, it should be covered. If you work in a warehouse, factory or other occupation where you are constantly exposed to loud noises, you may suffer job-related hearing loss. Hearing loss can also occur from exposure to one loud noise, shock or blow in a single, traumatic event. Insurance companies like to argue that hearing loss is age-related and not work-related, so be prepared for pushback from the carrier, and make sure your claim is well-documented and properly prepared.

Does Florida workers’ compensation provide death benefits?

Yes. If the worker dies within a year of the accident or five years of continuous disability, workers’ comp should pay certain benefits. These benefits include as much as $7,500 for funeral expenses and as much as $150,000 in educational benefits for a surviving spouse and compensation for other dependents according to the law.

What is an IME?

IME stands for Independent Medical Examination or Independent Medical Examiner. If you or the insurance company disagree with the doctor’s diagnosis or course of treatment, either party can request an IME. The IME doctor will examine you and render an opinion on your condition but will not treat you. Often the insurer will request an IME to get evidence to deny your claim or terminate your benefits early, saying you have recovered and no longer need treatment or are ready to go back to work. If you are being ordered to attend an IME, we can help you know what to expect and how to handle the IME appropriately without jeopardizing your case.

Can You Provide Examples Of Cases In Which You’ve Prevailed?

I can give you two stories from many in my arsenal that come to mind.

I can tell you about one of my favorite cases, one I’ve termed the “Batman case.” This fellow worked for a certain store.

Robbers broke into the store and cut a hole through the ceiling. They let themselves in despite the alarm. They put a gun inside his mouth and played Russian Roulette. They tied him up with duct tape and said, “Open the safe.”

He said, “I don’t remember the number.”

They said, “You must remember and open the safe.” They turned the barrel of the gun. It clicked, but nothing happened.

Another employee was there, as well. The robbers were talking to the other employee, saying, “Give us the combination to the safe, or we’re going to blow his brains out.”

This particular fellow was dragged around quite a lot as they continually tuned the band of the gun and pressed the trigger. After several tries the safe was opened and he lived. My client ended up having severe problems, both physically from the way that he was banged around and emotionally.

He went to several lawyers for help before we met. Believe it or not, several lawyers were not interested in this case. We settled his case for quite a large amount of money. To this day, I still get Christmas cards from him. And this was over 15 years ago!

Do You Have Any Other Unusual Examples In Which the Case Seemed Impossible, but You Prevailed?

A man entered my office who was represented by another attorney. I looked at his file, and he had an offer of $50,000 on his case.

His present lawyer at the time said to him, “I think you need to take this money. It’s a good offer.”

However, I chatted with him for a little bit. Something just wasn’t ringing right. Fortunately for me, he brought in his medical records.

I told him I felt that his doctors had missed the boat on his diagnosis. I told him he may be able to get a great deal more money than what was currently offered on the table. From then on, he let me handle his case. I chatted with the doctors. Fortunately, I was correct that his medical diagnosis was inaccurate.

We ultimately received a settlement of $850,000, which is a far cry from the initial offer of $50,000. Not only did he get a lot more money, but he also had the correct diagnosis at this point.

From then on, he appropriate medical care for his condition. In my office, this is one of the main things that we look towards. We want to make sure people feel better and receive as much money as possible.

Do You Have an Example of a Third Party Claim In Which Two Cases Were Involved?

Sure. We’ve had many cases that actually involve two cases.

For example, somebody has an accident while working as a delivery driver. They had a car accident while doing delivery work at the same time. Sometimes, we can get them two settlements instead of one. Usually, that’s a great day for clients.

Do You Have Any Interesting Examples of Cases?

There was one client that we represented who, unfortunately, was a paraplegic. In that case, not only did we get him an exceptionally large settlement, but we also had the insurance company purchase a home for him.

We then had the home modified for him. Thus, it was constructed just for him, for his wheelchair, and for his capabilities. He could enter and exit the home properly. The doors were wide enough, and the bathroom was done according to his personal physical needs.

The insurance company also purchased a van that could transport him to and from places. Because of his special needs, we also had the insurance company purchase a computer system that he could actually utilize, as well.

Do Insurance Carriers React Differently In Different Cases?

Absolutely! Each insurance carrier is different for each case.

As a general rule, certain insurance carriers are more reliable. When they enter the case, you breathe a sigh of relief and say, “Thank goodness. This is an insurance company I can work with.”

Other insurance companies are less welcome. When they come on the case, you take a deep breath and say, “Here we go again.” You already know that it’s impossible to reach anybody. You already know that it’s going to be difficult.

Do People Try to Handle These Situations On Their Own?

Unfortunately, I do see a lot of people trying to handle these cases on their own.

To be blunt, this is generally a problem. Most people who handle their own cases think they’re being penny-wise and pound-foolish.

They’re seeing a doctor, and the doctor recommends surgery. Thusly, they say to the insurance company, “The doctor has recommended surgery. I don’t really know if I want to have surgery, but I’d like to get a second opinion.”

The insurance company then says, “Sure, we’ll give you a doctor.” In this case, under the law, you can’t pick the doctor.

The insurance company will pick the doctor. You see that doctor, and that doctor says, “I don’t care what the other doctor says. I see that you have a herniated disk, but I don’t think you need surgery. Furthermore, I think this herniated disk is from an accident that you had many years ago. There’s nothing wrong with you related to this accident, and you don’t need surgery. Good luck!”

At this point, you call up the insurance company and say, “Listen, I’d like to go back to the first doctor.” The insurance company will smile and say, “I’m sorry, sir. You can’t. And you got a 0 percent rating from your second doctor. We don’t owe you any benefits; we’re not going to give you any more medical care. We’re closing your file, and we wish you the best of luck.”

At this point, you pick up the phone, and you call the lawyer to say, “I’d like some help.” Unfortunately, you’ve already burned a very huge bridge. It’s very difficult for us to get you the benefits that you’re entitled to.

This is just a small example of something very simple that can happen and it does really happen. That can really hurt your case.

What Are Some Mistakes that People Unintentionally Make that Hurt their Case?

Sometimes, people give a recorded or written statement to the insurance company after an accident. , On that recorded statement, they may say things that will hurt them, rather than help them. Most often, people don’t understand exactly what they said to hurt their case. For example, they may not list all their injured body parts.

Many times, people with slip-and-fall cases, for example, feel only their back pain. Insurance companies can reach the injured party and ask them to give a statement about their accident. Often, the statement will say that their back hurts. They won’t declare it’s from the accident. A few days later, the neck pain begins and they realize it’s not just from sleeping.

Now that they realize their neck is injured from the accident, they want to file a claim. Unfortunately, the insurance company says, “So sad, too bad. We’re only going to give you medical care for your back. Look at this statement. You said you hurt it while sleeping.”

These situations create problems as well. This is just a small example of what commonly happens.

Can Social Media Exposure Hurt a Workers’ Compensation Case?

Absolutely! Social Media can hurt a case. For example, if you get hurt and say to the doctor, “I can’t lift 25 pounds;” or if you use a cane; if you state you can barely move, and yet you post pictures of yourself playing golf or playing basketball, for example, then you’re committing a severe no-no.

This can ultimately get you in trouble under the law and not only get your case dismissed but the insurance company can prosecute you for fraud.

If you’re having a problem, you need to tell the doctor. You need to be honest about what your problems are. Don’t overplay it, and, by the same token, don’t downplay it.

How Long Does It Take To Resolve These Cases?

The length really depends on the case. I’ve had some cases that I have settled literally within a week after they started.

Other cases could take 6 months a year or year-and-a-half. The length of time to settle really depends on how long it takes someone to heal.

When the injured party begins the workers’ compensation case, one of our major concerns lies in doing all we can do to get the injured person all the benefits they’re entitled to under law. They are entitled to money while they recuperate

The important thing is how can we help this person feel better? What needs to be done? Which doctors do they need to go to? What medical care do they need to feel the best they can?

Let’s say somebody comes in without a tremendous amount of pain, requiring a couple of months of medical care. We can usually resolve their case within a few months.

However, let’s say somebody comes in with significant pain, requiring surgery. We don’t generally settle that case until after the surgery provided that they actually went to have the surgery with the workers’ compensation doctor.

If somebody needs a lot of medical care; for example, if they’re paraplegic or quadriplegic, those cases take more time to develop.

As such, the length really depends on the case. The average case in my office, without surgery, is usually resolved within 6 to 8 months.

If Someone’s Hurt and His Case Takes 6 to 8 months, How Do They Live?

The good news is that we can get them money while they recuperate, depending on what the workers’ compensation doctors say about their work status.

When they hire us to help, we file a claim. We also get in contact with the insurance carrier. In addition, we stay in contact with the lawyer who works for the insurance company, and we make sure our clients get money while they’re recuperating. This way, they don’t lose their home, cars, and valuables.

What Are the Benefits Under Workers’ Compensation?

When you get hurt in a workers’ compensation case, there are essentially three classifications.

Classification No. 1 is medical care. In this category, you get medical care for the injury you sustained for your entire life, provided you go to an authorized and approved workers’ compensation doctor at least once per year. As long as you do that, you get the medical care for life, but again, only for the injuries they sustain in a work-related accident.

Therefore, you don’t receive care for cough, colds, or the flu, for example it’s offered only for the injuries that you sustain in that accident. Once you settle your case, obviously the medical care will stop. But in theory, you can keep that medical care open for life.

The second benefit that you’re entitled to is a mileage expense. At this point in time, this expense is .445 cents per mile every time you go to an authorized and approved workers’ compensation doctor, to testing, or to physical therapy.

Therefore, you can be reimbursed for .445 cents per mile. If you can’t drive to and from your appointments, or you don’t have a car available for you, we can get a car service to pick you up and take you to and from your medical appointments.

The third benefit that you’re entitled to under the law is money. You receive money for the period of time you missed from work when an authorized and approved workers’ compensation doctor says you cannot work. When the doctor says you cannot work, we can get you 66 percent of the average amount of money you were making for several months before the accident. When you can’t work at all under the law, this is known as Temporary Total Disability (TTD).

When you’re on light duty work, this is known as Temporary Partial Disability (TPD). At this point in time, you are given work restrictions such as you can work in 20-hour weeks instead of 40 hour week. Perhaps you could lift 50 pounds, and now you can only lift 10.

When you’re considered TPD, you have to see if your employer has work available for you within your restrictions. If so, you have to do it. If not, you can sit at home and collect the check. The check will be a little less than 66.66 percent.

Technically, this is 80 percent of the loss. You receive this while you’re recuperating. If the employer says they have work available, then unfortunately, you must do it.

There is a third point in time called MMI, which is Maximum Medical Improvement. In this case, you’re as healthy as you’re ever going to get pursuant to the workers’ compensation doctor’s report. You’re not going to get any better. Usually, in this case, we begin to negotiate your case to get you a lump sum settlement. Certainly, we can negotiate it beforehand.

Must You Be An Employee Or Contractor Of A Company To Receive Workers’ Compensation?

You must be an employee in order to be subject to the workers’ compensation law.

For example, if someone walks into a store to buy something, this person isn’t allowed to have a workers’ compensation claim because they’re not an employee.

This can be as simple as the following: “I was hired 5 minutes ago, and now I hurt myself. I was an employee. Am I entitled to workers compensation coverage?” The answer is yes, you are.

If You are an Independent Contractor for a Company, and You’re Injured on Location, Is This Covered?

If you’re an independent contractor for a company, and you come into the location, then no, you are not subject to workers compensation law.

For example, if you’re an independent contractor and you step onto the premises of somebody else, and you slip and fall, then you do not have a viable workers’ compensation claim. No workers’ compensation coverage is in place for you because you are not an employee. Instead, you self-insured yourself.

Alternately, if the place where you stepped had a wet floor or a dangerous condition, then ultimately you can sue them under a negligence theory.

If You Are an Employee of a Company, and You Get Hurt by an In-coming Vendor or his Equipment, Does This Create a Workers’ Comp Case?

This case could potentially have two different claims.

If you are an employee of a company, and you get hurt while working, then you are covered by workers’ compensation.

In addition to this, if the vendor is an outside supplier and somehow not related to the general contractor, as long as you, yourself are not a sub-contractor, then certainly you can sue the vendor in a personal injury claim. Therefore, you could potentially have two claims (workers’ compensation claims & a personal injury claim)

Is a Person Still Covered by Workers’ Compensation After His Work Shift Ends?

This answer all depends on where you were at the time of the accident. Let’s assume you are working in a building, you clock out, and you slip and fall while still in the building, then you should be covered in your workers’ compensation claim.

If you’re in the parking lot when you fall, some questions may arise about whether or not you can be covered. If it’s an employer’s sponsored parking lot, then usually the answer is yes. You should be covered.

If you step into your car and you have an accident on the way home, most of the time, you’re not covered. However, you could potentially be covered if you’re doing an errand on the way home or you’re actually in an employer’s automobile.

If you’re a delivery driver, and you’re injured while delivering, then you will be covered.

Some exceptions could exist to these general rules, but these are the basic guidelines.

What are Factors that Affect a Workers’ Compensation Claim?

The real question is, “Were you hurt while working, and are you an employee?” As long as you’re hurt while working, and you’re an employee, then your injury is covered.

Sometimes when you’re injured, you initially think it’s no big deal. However, over time, you learn that it’s something major. Many times, people come and say, “Listen, my neck hurts after my accident while working. I didn’t think it was a big deal, but it keeps me up at night.”

As time goes on, their neck gets worse and worse. Ultimately, after they have an MRI, they find out that it’s actually a herniated disk. Sometimes, they have to undergo therapy, injections, or even surgery because the pain is really bad. Therefore, even for seemingly minor injuries, it’s a good idea to file a claim and understand your benefits.

What Are The Elements Required For A Viable Workers’ Compensation Claim?

It’s quite simple to qualify for a viable workers’ compensation case.

The first element is that you must be an employee. As long as you’re an employee and workers’ compensation coverage is in place, you were working at the time of the accident, and you got hurt unintentionally, then you’re covered under workers’ compensation law. Negligence really doesn’t matter in a workers’ compensation claim.

For example, if you’re sitting at your desk doing paperwork, and you catch your finger in the desk drawer, even though your employer has nothing to do with it, you’re still covered by workers’ compensation. You can receive benefits, even though you’re at-fault.

In fact, negligence of the employer doesn’t matter. For practical purposes, as long as you’re working, you’re an employee, and you get hurt, we can help you.

What Happens if Someone Is Killed? Is This Still Workers’ Comp, or Does This Fall Under a Different Class of Compensation?

If something happens when you’re working that causes you to pass away, then this is still a workers’ compensation claim.

However, there could be some other things that come into play. For example, a third-party case could exist, or something in the case might fall outside of workers’ compensation.

Do Any Other Factors Potentially Affect the Outcome of a Workers’ Compensation Case?

Under the law, when you have workers’ compensation claim, you must report the accident. If you get hurt and fail to report the accident, then this could be deadly to a claim, especially if the accident is not reported within 30 days.

Sometimes when people have accidents, they report it to the employer. The employer, for whatever reason, refuses to acknowledge the accident. When this happens, certain steps must be taken. This way, somebody’s rights and remedies under the law are not compromised. After all, according to Florida law, if it’s not reported within 30 days, the claim could be dead.

When is it Too Late to Seek Medical Treatment?

Naturally, if you’ve been hurt, the sooner you receive medical care the better. After time goes by, it will be more difficult to say that you were significantly hurt in the specific accident.

Under the law, if you’ve been hurt, you have a period of 2 years within which to actually file a “Petition for Benefit.” This is a lawsuit under workers’ compensation law. If you fail to file, then you could lose your rights.

However, some exceptions do exist. For example, if your claim is on-going, and you’re seeking medical care with an authorized and approved workers’ compensation doctor, then you have one year from the date of your last treatment and/or 2 years from the date of the accident, whichever is longer to file a petition.

This is kind of confusing, but this is how it works. Generally, the sooner you get medical care, the better. Ultimately, you have up to 2 years and/or 1 year from the date of your last authorized medical care within which to file a petition.

Do Employers Retaliate if a Workers’ Compensation Claim is Filed Against Them?

Sometimes employers do start treating people in unfortunate ways. They are more aggressive towards them; they give them jobs that nobody wants to do; they try to change their work hours; they might even lower their pay.

This does happen occasionally. When it does, you must go to an employment and labor lawyer to take care of those situations.

Do People Generally Feel Antagonistic Towards their Employer, or Do they Just want to Recuperate and Return to Work?

Most of the time when people get hurt, they just want the employer to do what’s right. They want to receive their medical care; they want to get paid while they’re recuperating; and they want to get back to work.

Most people don’t want revenge. They just want to feel better.

What Misconceptions Do People Have About The Workers’ Compensation Process?

The length really depends on the case. I’ve had some cases that I have settled literally within a week after they started.

Other cases could take 6 months a year or year-and-a-half. The length of time to settle really depends on how long it takes someone to heal.

When the injured party begins the workers’ compensation case, one of our major concerns lies in doing all we can do to get the injured person all the benefits they’re entitled to under law. They are entitled to money while they recuperate

The important thing is how can we help this person feel better? What needs to be done? Which doctors do they need to go to? What medical care do they need to feel the best they can?

Let’s say somebody comes in without a tremendous amount of pain, requiring a couple of months of medical care. We can usually resolve their case within a few months.

However, let’s say somebody comes in with significant pain, requiring surgery. We don’t generally settle that case until after the surgery provided that they actually went to have the surgery with the workers’ compensation doctor.

If somebody needs a lot of medical care; for example, if they’re paraplegic or quadriplegic, those cases take more time to develop.

As such, the length really depends on the case. The average case in my office, without surgery, is usually resolved within 6 to 8 months.

If Someone’s Hurt and His Case Takes 6 to 8 months, How Do They Live?

The good news is that we can get them money while they recuperate, depending on what the workers’ compensation doctors say about their work status.

When they hire us to help, we file a claim. We also get in contact with the insurance carrier. In addition, we stay in contact with the lawyer who works for the insurance company, and we make sure our clients get money while they’re recuperating. This way, they don’t lose their home, cars, and valuables.

What Are the Benefits Under Workers’ Compensation?

When you get hurt in a workers’ compensation case, there are essentially three classifications.

Classification No. 1 is medical care. In this category, you get medical care for the injury you sustained for your entire life, provided you go to an authorized and approved workers’ compensation doctor at least once per year. As long as you do that, you get the medical care for life, but again, only for the injuries they sustain in a work-related accident.

Therefore, you don’t receive care for cough, colds, or the flu, for example it’s offered only for the injuries that you sustain in that accident. Once you settle your case, obviously the medical care will stop. But in theory, you can keep that medical care open for life.

The second benefit that you’re entitled to is a mileage expense. At this point in time, this expense is .445 cents per mile every time you go to an authorized and approved workers’ compensation doctor, to testing, or to physical therapy.

Therefore, you can be reimbursed for .445 cents per mile. If you can’t drive to and from your appointments, or you don’t have a car available for you, we can get a car service to pick you up and take you to and from your medical appointments.

The third benefit that you’re entitled to under the law is money. You receive money for the period of time you missed from work when an authorized and approved workers’ compensation doctor says you cannot work. When the doctor says you cannot work, we can get you 66 percent of the average amount of money you were making for several months before the accident. When you can’t work at all under the law, this is known as Temporary Total Disability (TTD).

When you’re on light duty work, this is known as Temporary Partial Disability (TPD). At this point in time, you are given work restrictions such as you can work in 20-hour weeks instead of 40 hour week. Perhaps you could lift 50 pounds, and now you can only lift 10.

When you’re considered TPD, you have to see if your employer has work available for you within your restrictions. If so, you have to do it. If not, you can sit at home and collect the check. The check will be a little less than 66.66 percent.

Technically, this is 80 percent of the loss. You receive this while you’re recuperating. If the employer says they have work available, then unfortunately, you must do it.

There is a third point in time called MMI, which is Maximum Medical Improvement. In this case, you’re as healthy as you’re ever going to get pursuant to the workers’ compensation doctor’s report. You’re not going to get any better. Usually, in this case, we begin to negotiate your case to get you a lump sum settlement. Certainly, we can negotiate it beforehand.

What Differentiates You From Other Attorneys?

One of the main differences between us and other law firms is that we are very well-known in the industry. We are familiar with the judges; we know the insurance companies; we know the adjusters; and we know the defense attorneys.

We’ve been doing this for over twenty years, after all. More importantly, however, when you call us, we’re there. We don’t disappear on you. It doesn’t take us days or weeks to get back to you.

If we’re not available, we’ll call you back within 24 hours. We truly care, and we truly try to help you with whatever problems you have.

Let’s say my client receives a script for an MRI from the doctor. They’ll then call me personally, tell me about it, and email or fax me the script for the MRI. This is what I need to speak to the insurance company and the defense attorney immediately.

If I do not get a response that day, I will file the lawsuit the following day to get my client to that MRI. Therefore, I don’t wait for the dust to settle. If you need me, I’m there.

What are the Warning Signs or Red Flags When Hiring an Attorney for a Workers’ Compensation Case?

The main warning sign to watch out for is people not answering your questions, rushing you in, and rushing you out.

A lot of times, you can tell a lot about a law office by how long you have to wait on the phone before speaking to your actual attorney. If you don’t get a warm, fuzzy feeling from them, I would tell you not to sign up. You’re going to be with the law firm for a period of time. You’re going to need things from them.

You must be able to communicate with that law firm and have a partnership with them.

It’s important that they are able to talk to you with simple language, not in legal mumbo-jumbo. This way, you know exactly what is going on. You must be able to have a clear understanding of exactly what you’re entitled to under the law.

When a client signs up with us, I have a book that I’ve written about workers’ compensation law. This explains it in an easy-to-read format that I give to every client that asks.

What Are The Investments An Attorney Makes In A Workers’ Compensation Case?

We do a lot of things to help make people’s claims more valuable. The moment somebody comes into my office, we meet with him. If they are not able to come into the office, we send our investigator out to meet with them, to answer any questions, and to get the paperwork squared away.

From that moment, we start calling the insurance companies to get the benefits that our clients are entitled to. If we don’t get the benefits that are requested then we immediately file the “petition for benefits,” which is a lawsuit under workers’ compensation to help get them compensated. We continually keep in contact with our clients for status updates as well.

We talk with the doctor’s office, compile medical records, and compile evidence about how the incident occurred. We talk to witnesses, if necessary, and set deposition as needed. Ultimately, we go to mediation, then, in which we either resolve the claim in its entirety or we resolve the issues.

If the claim is resolved in it’s entirety, we wait for the settlement documents to come in. Usually, the settlement documents in a workers’ compensation case are at least 20 to 30 pages long.

We review those packages and make corrections if necessary. We then prepare additional documents for approval by a judge of their settlement. We get their approval, then we submit the document to the other side, and they submit them to the judge. After the judge approves everything, checks are issued.

This really is a time-intensive process. However, we don’t charge our clients based on the hours; we charge them based on the benefits procured for them. Our fee is entirely contingency based, which means that if we don’t get them any benefits, they don’t pay a dime.

In a Normal Case, Does Improvement Over Time Matter?

Ultimately, that’s what maximum medical improvement (MMI) is. At this point in time, the doctor says, “This is as healthy as you’re going to get; you’re not going to get any better.”

Therefore, not only does he give an impairment rating that aligns with the Florida Impairment Rating Guidelines; he further tells you what your work restrictions are, and what your general restrictions are.

If the doctor says, for example, you have a 5 percent disability rating, according to the Florida Impairment Rating Guidelines and you can’t lift more than 20 pounds when you’re at MMI then these restrictions are permanent.

What Happens if Your Job Conflicts with Your Ability?

If your employer cannot accommodate your maximum medical improvement work restrictions, you’ll have to look for work elsewhere.

Do People Have Trouble Finding Work if They’re Disabled? Is This Not a Factor?

Usually, this depends on their specific disabilities. If they are in the realm of being permanently and totally disabled, or PTD, which means they cannot work at all for the rest of their lives, then they’re virtually unemployable.

However, people who are not permanently and totally disabled, who have disabilities that state they can’t lift more than 10 pounds or stand for more than an hour, for example, are employable. However, people should leave jobs and find other jobs that will accommodate their restrictions. Fortunately, down here in Florida, they find them relatively quickly

Do You Spend Thousands of Dollars on a Typical Case?

No, I wouldn’t say that we invest thousands on the case. We spend a couple of hundred dollars on a typical case.

If we have to go to what is called a final hearing, which is a trial under workers’ compensation law, then we must generally spend thousands on the case. Going to a trial on a workers’ compensation case is exceptionally rare. However, it does happen.

The expenses in a typical workers’ compensation case lie in taking the deposition of the employer, taking the depositions of witnesses, taking the deposition of the insurance carrier, taking the depositions of the doctors, ordering the transcripts if there’s video depositions, ordering the video depots, ordering the medical records, and hiring an independent medical examiner to examine the client.

These are generally the major expenses for a workers’ compensation case.

Contact An Experienced South Florida Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today

Over a decade of personal injury experience has made David Benenfeld a known and respected advocate for the injured among insurers, and they take the needs of his clients very seriously. He places a priority on helping injured workers obtain lump sum settlements that are fair for the injured worker instead of convenient for the insurers. He also places a priority on getting medical care, obtaining money for the victims while they recuperate, and getting transportation for the injured worker to medical appointments.

If you have been injured in a work-related accident, or are suffering from an illness brought on by your working conditions, the Law Offices of David Benenfeld can help. If it turns out that you are being treated fairly by your insurer, we will tell you. If you aren’t being treated fairly, we will do everything we can to see that your situation is corrected.Contact David Benenfeld, an experienced South Florida workers compensation lawyer, today at 954-807-1334 for legal advice.

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