Workers’ compensation is insurance that an employer carries to provide benefits to employees who are injured in accidents on the job – without regard to fault. Florida requires all employers (with very few exceptions) to carry workers’ compensation coverage for their employees. This is something our Miami slip and fall lawyers know very well.
Workers’ compensation coverage generally protects employers from personal injury lawsuits by employees. Injured employees automatically qualify for benefits and do not have to prove fault, and in most cases, injured employees may not pursue personal injury claims against employers.
Unfortunately – but not surprisingly – there are still shady employers in Florida who try to get around the workers’ compensation coverage requirement. If you are injured at work and your employer does not carry workers’ comp coverage, what are your options? What are your rights?
WHICH FLORIDA EMPLOYERS MUST CARRY WORKERS’ COMP INSURANCE?
The law in Florida requires workers’ compensation insurance when an employer has four or more employees, either part- or full-time. Sole proprietors and partnerships in Florida are not required by law to carry workers’ comp coverage, but they may purchase it voluntarily.
Construction businesses in this state are required by law to have workers’ comp insurance not only for every employee but also for contractors. Florida construction firms may exempt up to three corporate officers if those officers each own ten percent or more of the business.
Independent contractors are not considered employees, and outside of the construction industry, employers in Florida are not required to carry worker’s comp insurance coverage for independent contractors.
WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR NON-COMPLIANT FLORIDA EMPLOYERS?
Florida employers who do not carry legally-mandated workers’ compensation insurance are subject to civil penalties. A Florida court could order an employer to cease operations entirely by issuing a stop-work order that remains in effect until the business complies and pays a penalty.
An employer who does not comply with a Florida court’s stop-work order may be subject to criminal charges. A stop-work order may also be issued if there is any failure by an employer to pay workers’ comp insurance premiums.
WHAT DOES WORKERS’ COMPENSATION PROVIDE?
When a Florida worker who is covered by workers’ comp suffers a workplace injury or becomes ill due to workplace conditions, workers’ compensation insurance pays for that employee’s medical bills, prescriptions, lab tests, hospital costs, and other necessary medical expenses.
Worker’s comp also partially reimburses lost wages. Temporary total disability benefit payments equal two-thirds of the employee’s average wage at the time of the injury up to a maximum (as of 2019) of $939 a week. Payments are higher for some injuries such as blindness and paralysis.
WHAT IF YOUR WORKERS’ COMPENSATION CLAIM IS REJECTED?
If you are covered by workers’ compensation insurance, but your workers’ comp claim is rejected, seek the advice of a South Florida personal injury lawyer who has workers’ comp experience.
It is not uncommon for insurance companies in Florida to reject a workers’ compensation claim and insist that the applicant is either not seriously injured or was injured away from the job. An attorney can appeal the denial of your claim and guide you through the workers’ comp system.
WHAT IS A “THIRD-PARTY” PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM?
But what if you are not covered by worker’s compensation because your employer is either exempt or is not compliant with Florida law? Or what if some third-party – and not your employer – was the party responsible for your on-the job-injury? What are your options?
If a third party caused your personal injury or injuries, or if for any reason your employer does not provide workers’ compensation coverage, you may be able to file a personal injury claim with your attorney’s help.
After an on-the-job injury in South Florida, arrange to meet with an experienced personal injury lawyer who can review the details of your accident and injury, explain your legal rights and options as an injury victim, and recommend the best way to move forward.
WHEN SHOULD YOU SPEAK TO AN INJURY LAW FIRM IN MIAMI?
See a lawyer as soon as possible after an on-the-job injury. Under Florida’s statute of limitations, you have four years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit. But you can’t wait four years, and you should not even wait four weeks to seek an attorney’s guidance.
Evidence can deteriorate or disappear over time. The memories of witnesses also fade over time. Your best chance of receiving compensation for a workplace injury with a third-party personal injury claim is to put a top-rated Miami personal injury attorney on your case at once.
WHAT WILL IT COST TO SEEK JUSTICE AFTER A WORKPLACE INJURY?
If you’re a workplace injury victim, you may be wondering how you can afford a lawyer when:
- You can’t work because you’re injured.
- Medical expenses and other financial obligations are piling up.
- There is no workers’ comp coverage and there are no workers’ comp benefits.
The victims of workplace injuries – and their loved ones – can face a genuine financial hardship after a workplace accident and injury.
However, Florida’s personal injury lawyers are paid at the end of the legal process rather than at the start, and the attorney’s pay is contingent on actually prevailing for the client. This system allows every injury victim to access the justice system and to have his or her day in court.
HOW ARE MOST PERSONAL INJURY CLAIMS RESOLVED IN FLORIDA?
But even if you qualify to file a third-party personal injury claim and you choose to do so, it probably will not become a courtroom trial. Most personal injury claims in Florida are resolved out-of-court by the attorneys for both sides in private negotiations.
If you qualify for workers’ compensation benefits and your injury claim is approved, if a third party had any share of the responsibility for your job-related injury, you can still file a third-party personal injury claim while receiving workers’ comp benefits.
Every injured worker’s case is different, so if you are hurt on the job, the smart move is to get personalized legal advice at once from an experienced Miami personal injury attorney. A good lawyer’s help is your right, and if your health is at risk, your future could literally depend on it.