We Provide Workers’ Compensation Representation in Fort Lauderdale
Workplace injuries and illnesses remain a serious concern in Fort Lauderdale and throughout the country. According to data provided by the Florida Occupational Health and Safety Program, approximately 11,500 workers are hospitalized with job-related injuries and illnesses in the state each year. Thousands more workers are forced to miss time on the job. Florida workers’ compensation insurance law provides much needed legal protections to people who were hurt on the job. A Fort Lauderdale workers’ compensation lawyer can help you get started.
At Bernheim Kelley Battista & Bliss, LLC, Fort Lauderdale workers’ compensation lawyers are experienced, effective advocates for people who were hurt on the job. You need the maximum available financial compensation to support yourself and your family. If you or someone you care about was injured at work, we are here to help you navigate the claims process. Contact us today to set up a no cost, no-obligation consultation with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in Fort Lauderdale.
Who is Eligible for Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Most people who were hurt on the job in Fort Lauderdale are eligible to file for no-fault workers’ compensation benefits. The Florida Workers’ Compensation Act requires all employers in the state with four or more full-time or part-time employees to provide workers’ compensation coverage. If you are covered by workers’ compensation and you were hurt in the course and scope of your employment—meaning you were “working” at the time of your injury—you have the right to file for benefits.
When to Hire a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer?
Workers’ compensation claims are complicated. Florida’s work injury insurance system has strict filing requirements and documentation standards. If you are preparing a claim, you should always be ready to get help from a qualified professional. Here are five signs that you should hire a Fort Lauderdale workers’ compensation attorney:
- Guidance with an Initial Claim: You were hurt on the job and you are not sure about what you need to do next.
- Serious Injury: If you or a loved one was severely injured on the job, you should hire a workers’ compensation lawyer. Partial disability and permanent disability claims are complicated.
- Scheduled for an “Independent” Medical Examination: When the insurer/claims administrator seeks an “independent” medical evaluation, it is a sign that they are considering denying your claim. You need a workers’ compensation lawyer.
- Benefits Were Denied: Neither the insurer nor your employer gets the final say on your workers’ compensation claim. Hire a workers’ compensation appeal attorney if your claim was denied.
- Fired (or Punished) for Filing: In Florida, an employer cannot lawfully take any adverse action against an employee because they filed for workers’ compensation. If you face retaliation for seeking workers’ compensation benefits, you need a lawyer.
What Does a Workers’ Compensation Attorney Do?
Navigating through the workers’ compensation benefits system can be a difficult task, especially if there are contested issues and/or special circumstances. It is a wise decision to engage the services of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney early in the claim to guide you and represent you through the process. A workers’ compensation lawyer is a skilled legal professional who helps a client with a key aspect of a claim.
What is a Workers’ Compensation ‘Independent’ Medical Examination?
An “independent” medical examination (IME) is an evaluation of an injured worker by a non-associated medical professional in order to resolve outstanding questions or disputes about their injuries. The term ‘independent’ is a bit of a misnomer. An IME is paid for by the insurance company/claims administrator. These doctors are often looking for reasons to deny benefits.
Do I Have to Use the Physician My Employer Chooses?
Yes—or at the very least you have to use a doctor that is approved by your employer and covered by the workers’ compensation insurance policy. If you believe that you are being improperly treated by the physician that you have been assigned, you should not hesitate to consult with a lawyer.
Can My Employer Retaliate if I File a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
No. Under Florida law, injured workers have a clear and unambiguous right to file for workers’ compensation benefits. It is unlawful for an employer to discourage you from seeking benefits or to retaliate against you for filing. In this context, retaliation is defined as adverse action—suspension, demotion, harassment, termination, etc.—taken because a worker filed a claim. If you faced retaliation for filing for workers’ compensation in Fort Lauderdale, your rights were violated.
What Types of Benefits Can a Worker Receive?
A serious workplace injury can cause a major disruption to a person’s life. Not only might they require extensive medical and rehabilitative care, they may also be forced to take time off from their job to recover. In the most severe cases, a worker may be left with a permanent disability or impairment as a consequence of their injury or illness. Workers’ compensation benefits are designed to provide a much needed financial lifeline to injured workers and their families. Depending on the specific circumstances of your case, you may be entitled to receive some or all of the following workers’ compensation benefits:
- Medical Care: Medical benefits form the basis of workers’ compensation benefits in Florida. Through a no-fault workers’ compensation claim, a person who was hurt on the job can seek coverage for all medical care that is deemed reasonable and necessary to help them recover from their injury or illness. Of course, it is not always easy for every injured worker to get the medical care that they need. In some cases, disputes can arise over the extent to which medical treatment and rehabilitative care is actually necessary.
- Temporary Disability Benefits: Temporary disability benefits are essentially a form of wage replacement. You can get temporary disability benefits if your injury or illness requires you to take at least one week off from work. In Florida, temporary disability benefits are paid at a rate of two-thirds your average weekly wage—up to a state maximum statutory benefit of $1,099 (2022).
- Permanent Partial Disability Benefits: Not every injured worker will make a complete recovery from the accident or illness. In Florida, a worker who has reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) but has still not made a full physical/mental recovery has a right to claim permanent partial disability benefits. These benefits are generally paid based on the “impairment rating” assigned to a worker. For more information about permanent partial disability benefits, please contact our Fort Lauderdale workers’ compensation lawyers.
- Permanent Total Disability Benefits: A job-related injury or occupational disease may be so severe that an injured worker can never reasonably return to their previous position. If so, an injured worker may be entitled to permanent total disability benefits. These benefits are generally paid at the same rate as temporary disability benefits and can last until a worker turns 75 years old.
- Vocational Rehabilitation: A work injury may require someone to change their career. If so, they may be entitled to vocational rehabilitation benefits to help them get the skills that they need to make the transition.
- Death Benefits: Was your loved one killed in a work-related accident in Fort Lauderdale? Sadly, these tragedies happen far too frequently in our state. The Florida workers’ compensation insurance system provides death benefits to surviving family members. The amount of death benefits depends, in part, on a deceased worker’s average weekly wage and the number of dependents that they were supported by. Grieving families can rely on an experienced Fort Lauderdale workers’ compensation lawyer to help them maximize their financial support.
How Long Will a Worker Receive Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
The duration of workers’ compensation benefits varies based on a number of different factors. In Fort Lauderdale, medical benefits through workers’ compensation insurance do not expire as long as care is still reasonably necessary given the employee’s physical and mental condition. However, an employee must receive authorized medical care through workers’ compensation insurance at least once every 12 months to remain covered.
Temporary disability benefits will expire once a worker is cleared and able to return to their position. In Florida, these benefits can last for a maximum of 104 weeks. If an employee cannot reasonably return to the workforce after 104 weeks (two years), they may be entitled to permanent total disability benefits.
How to Appeal a Workers’ Compensation Denial in Fort Lauderdale
Unfortunately, some injured workers struggle to get access to workers’ compensation benefits. There are few things more frustrating than finding out that your workers’ compensation benefits are being delayed or that your claim has been denied. A workers’ compensation claim in Fort Lauderdale can be denied for a wide variety of different reasons. Some of the most common reasons why workers’ compensation claims are denied in our state include:
- Missed deadlines;
- Incomplete applications;
- Inadequate medical evidence;
- Disputes over the severity of the injuries; and
- Allegations that the injury did not happen at work.
You have the right to appeal a workers’ compensation denial in Fort Lauderdale. The insurer does not have the authority to make the final determination of your benefits. If your claim was denied, you should review and save the denial letter. Next, you should set up a free, confidential consultation with an experienced Fort Lauderdale workers’ compensation appeal attorney. A lawyer can help you determine the next steps in the process. In Florida, a workers’ compensation denial is appealed by submitting a Petition for Workers’ Compensation Benefits. Once you submit an appeal, the employer/insurer has 14 days to pay your claim or file its response.
How are a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer’s Fees Paid?
Workers’ compensation attorneys in Fort Lauderdale generally work on a contingency basis. With this type of fee structure, your workers’ compensation lawyer only gets paid when you recover workers’ compensation benefits. Notably the Florida Workers’ Compensation Act strictly regulates workers’ compensation attorneys’ fees. As a general rule, Fort Lauderale workers’ compensation lawyers can charge:
- A maximum of 20% of the initial $5,000 of benefits the injured worker receives;
- A maximum of 15% of the following $5,000 of benefits the injured worker receives; and
- A maximum of 10% of all benefits obtained for the injured worker in excess of $10,000.
How Can BK Law Firm Help in a Workers’ Compensation Case?
The workers’ compensation claims process is complex—especially so if you are considering filing a third party liability claim against a negligent party other than your employer. You do not have to go through the process alone. At Bernheim Kelley Battista & Bliss, LLC, we are focused on delivering real justice to clients Among other things, our Fort Lauderdale workers’ compensation lawyers are prepared to:
- Conduct a comprehensive, confidential review of your case;
- Answer any question you have about the workers’ compensation claims process;
- Investigate the accident, gathering the records and evidence you need;
- Handle all of the workers’ compensation claims paperwork; and
- Take whatever action is needed to get you the best outcome.
Every workers’ compensation claim involves its own unique facts and circumstances. Our law firm is devoted to providing personalized, attentive legal guidance and support to people who were hurt on the job. With many testimonials from clients and a proven record of successful case results, injured workers can rely on our Fort Lauderdale workers’ compensation attorneys for top quality representation.
At Bernheim Kelley Battista & Bliss, LLC, our Fort Lauderdale workers’ compensation lawyers have the professional skills and legal knowledge that you can rely on. If you or your loved one was hurt on the job, we are available to help. To set up a free, no commitment work injury consultation, please do not hesitate to contact us today. With law offices in Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Starke, and Jacksonville, we provide representation for workers’ compensation claims throughout Florida.