According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), more than 4.1 million workers are injured on the job or experience a job-related illness every year. In Florida alone, nearly 70,000 men and women suffer from job injuries. Many of these victims are not aware of the rights to which they are entitled. Injured workers have the right to receive medical care and reimbursement for monies spent due to the injury or illness.
Workers’ Compensation Laws in Florida
The laws in Florida covering Workers’ Compensation utilize a “no fault” system. This means that workers injured on the job in Florida may be able to file a claim for benefits regardless of who might be at fault in the accident. In Florida, to be eligible to receive benefits from Workers’ Compensation, three things must be true:
- The injury must have occurred at or during work hours;
- The injury must have been sustained while conducting a work-related activity; and
- The injury must have happened without warning (unless the injury is a disease).
Every state’s legislative branch has the option of choosing the rules that govern when and how benefits are paid to workers injured on the job through Workers’ Compensation Laws. The Florida legislature can also choose to change laws at their discretion; therefore, a law that may be enacted at one point in time might not be in effect on another date. Whatever law is in the Florida statutes on the date the accident takes place is the one on which any case you make will need to be based. Therefore, having a personal injury attorney in St. Petersburg who knows the laws of the State of Florida is crucial to having a successful outcome for your case.
What To Do First
When you are injured, you have 30 days to report the incident to your employer. If it is an injury where you do not immediately recognize that you’ve been hurt, in those cases, you have 30 days from the date you deduce an injury to inform your employer.
You might be asked to sign a “First Notice of Injury” that your employer will submit to the insurance carrier. You will be asked for details and all the information you can supply related to how the injury occurred. This is important: When you are relating the events of the injury, include any and all parts of your body that may have been involved in the injury. It is essential that you don’t forget about a possible injured area because if you do and something else comes up that you didn’t report, it is likely the insurance company will deny its coverage for treatment or reimbursement for medical costs.
In the event of an injury on the job, you should first ask that your company’s Workers’ Compensation insurance authorize a doctor’s care. If your request is refused or ignored, then you can seek out medical treatment from whatever doctor you wish. If you pay for any treatment or medical care yourself, make sure you keep the receipts so that you can be reimbursed later. If you need emergency treatment, obviously that supersedes any request for authorized care as there would be no time to waste in seeking professional medical assistance. In those cases, emergency treatment is seen as reasonable. Still, the best course of action is always to keep your employer and the insurance carrier updated as to your whereabouts and condition.