On the Job Injuries
Despite a host of government regulations and numerous oversight agencies, job sites continue to be among the most dangerous places for Americans.
Our workers’ compensation attorneys at Freeman Injury Law recognize that although clear guidelines exist for injured employees to access benefits, employers and insurance companies are notorious for actively seeking to minimize or even outright deny such claims.
Florida has a no-fault system of workers’ compensation, and it is considered the exclusive remedy for on-the-job injuries. That means workers do not have to take employers to court to prove there was wrongdoing or negligence that caused the injury. Instead, workers only need to show the injury arose out of the course of conducting work-related duties.
However, the worker cannot turn around and sue the company for damages – even if the company was negligent and a personal injury lawsuit would likely yield a higher amount of compensation than the statutorily-required benefits and medical coverage available through workers’ compensation. That’s the “exclusive remedy” part of the deal.
The only exceptions are when the company did not carry workers’ compensation insurance (as required by state law), when the worker was an independent contractor (and not an employee), or if the injury was the result of employer’s intentional actions recognized as almost certain to result in injury or death.
While the burden of proof is substantially lower for injured workers to collect workers’ compensation benefits as opposed to a personal injury lawsuit, this does not mean these cases are easy. In fact, employers and insurance companies routinely deny legitimate claims, claiming injuries were pre-existing or not work-related. We see this more frequently with repetitive-motion injuries and occupational illnesses – things less obviously connected to one’s work than, say, a horrible fall or auto accident.
This is why it is so important to have an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer working for you, protecting your interests and your family’s financial stability.
South Florida Work Injury Risks
While any job poses potential dangerous or health risks, some are inherently more treacherous than others.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the most dangerous jobs in the country include:
- Construction laborers, who frequently encounter dangerous equipment, power tools and work from elevations.
- Farmers, ranchers and agricultural managers, who handle heavy equipment and huge animals.
- Drivers/sales workers and truck drivers, who face daily hazards on the road, including wrestling their own fatigue.
- Electrical power line installers and repairers, who work with high voltage electricity at extreme heights.
- Refuse and recyclable material collectors, who handle hazardous materials, handle heavy equipment and deal with daily traffic hazards.
- Iron and steel workers, who work from heights, deal with hot metals and heavy materials.
- Roofers, who cope with hard labor from heights and often in extreme heat.
- Fishers and fishing workers, who grapple with sea disturbances, handle heavy equipment and are at higher risk of drowning.
- Loggers, who evade falling trees, work with sharp cutting equipment and brave rugged landscape.
Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Florida
In the state of Florida, almost all workers are covered by workers’ compensation. With few exceptions, any employer with four or more workers must provide insurance coverage to those individuals in case of on-the-job injury.
When an incident occurs or an illness or injury becomes known, a worker must report that injury to the employer within 30 days. From the date of injury, the worker will have two years in which to file a workers’ compensation claim. However, it’s generally advisable to do so far in advance, particularly if you are in a situation where you cannot work for a time and are stacking up medical bills as a result of the injury.
The report has to include specific details, including the location, time, cause and any potential witnesses. From there, a worker has to seek an immediate medical evaluation by an authorized medical provider. Typically, this is someone of your employer’s choosing. The insurance company may also request that you undergo an “independent” medical exam. These doctors are paid by the insurer, so there is little about the process that is “independent.” Still, it may be necessary.
We recommend consultation with an experienced attorney as you navigate this process. Often, simply the knowledge that a worker has secured legal representation is enough to prompt employers and insurers to offer a fairer deal.
If your claim is denied, you should definitely seek immediate legal counsel. You have options to appeal that decision, and we can help guide you through the necessary steps and ensure your rights are protected.
Contact Freeman Injury Law at 1-800-561-7777 for a free consultation and review of your claim. You may also email attorney Dean Freeman at firstname.lastname@example.org.