Legal help for work injuries.
If you are negligently injured while you are working, whether that be driving for work, or at the workplace, there are actually two ways to go about obtaining your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering in Florida.
How to get help after you get hurt at work.
- You can often make a claim against the negligent person or company who caused your injuries, (with limits if there is workers compensation available). This is often referred to as a BI (Body Injury), or PI (Personal Injury) negligence claim.
- Sometimes you would make an insurance claim under Workers Compensation.
These two options are very different and provide different amounts of coverage in different situations. Sometimes they overlap, sometimes they don’t, and often they dovetail, but you must speak to an attorney to explain which is best suited for your particular situation.
Let’s break that down a little, or you can call Herman & Wells right away at (727) 821-3195.
Understanding negligence, personal injury, and bodily injury as they relate to work-related injuries.
Under a negligence claim, you would be making a claim against a person or company who was negligent and contributed to your accident and injury. There is immunity for your employer and co-employees if your employer has workers compensation. This can be quite frustrating, because workers compensation is terrible in a lot of ways. However, often times people are driving or doing something where they are hit by customers, drivers, or other businesses who broke a safety rule, and so we can still make a negligence, personal injury/bodily injury claim.
When this happens, you can make a personal injury/bodily injury/negligence claim for:
- Past and future medical bills forever, that arose out of this incident.
- Past and future lost wages and lost earning capacity, forever, that arose out of that incident.
- Pain and suffering [disability or physical impairment] [disfigurement] [mental anguish] [inconvenience] [or] [loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life] experienced in the past [or to be experienced in the future].
What does workers compensation really mean?
I consider workers compensation woefully inadequate in a lot of ways. Before I get into that, I will say what Florida’s Workers’ Compensation does right. It is a streamlined, fast way of getting some relief for some injuries and lost work when you are injured while at work. Usually, you don’t have to worry about who was at fault.
The problems with workers compensation is that it does not completely cover all of your losses or injuries. It is designed to provide benefits to employees while protecting employers from lawsuits. By side-stepping most of the court system and the need to prove fault or negligence for an injury, the entire process is considerably streamlined when compared to other personal injury cases. On the other hand, your benefits are also diminished tremendously.
Workers compensation claims are often limited to medical benefits and partial compensation for lost earning potential. Each state has its own laws and regulations.
How is a workers compensation doctor different?
Workers compensation doctors are different than a doctor who you would choose to go to. There is a conflict of interest in workers compensation doctors, and we see the treatment of their patients is usually different.
Here is why: the worker is often referred to doctors by the worker’s compensation insurance company, who is a repeat customer that pays their bill and sends hundreds or thousands of patients. The problem is that if a doctor acts very conservative, kicking the patients out without offering any treatment, failing to do adequate testing to find out what is wrong and forcing the worker to go back to work and claiming that he is “fine,” they get more patients referred. I see people with devastating neck and back injuries where a board-certified doctor, who is usually good, refuses to even get an MRI done! Without an MRI, that patient can never prove they are injured.
If the doctors treat each patient correctly though, giving them the care they need and doing diagnostic testing, the flow of patient referrals abruptly stops.
The result is obvious. Would the doctor rather be busy all day for the rest of their career by cutting off treatment quickly and minimizing injury, or give each patient the necessary treatment, obligating the insurance company to bills and never get another referral again from that insurance company?
What can be treated under a workers comp claim?
There are broad categories of claims acceptable in most states. These can include:
- Aggravation of pre-existing conditions (such as a back injury or carpal tunnel syndrome).
- Injuries sustained on company property or at a company sponsored activity (such as a company picnic).
- Injury caused by company owned assets like chairs or a coffee maker can qualify.
More serious cases include diseases triggered by exposure to hazards while on the job, such as benzene, asbestos or silica dust. While mesothelioma is one extreme example of this, others range from rashes brought on by exposure to cleaning chemicals, to hyoid functional disorders caused by exposure to gasoline.
What to do next if you have a work-related injury.
If you feel you have been injured while at work, call Herman & Wells right away at (727) 821-3195. The call will be free and confidential. Follow the usual procedure within your company – report it to your employer (including the scope of the injury and where it was sustained), then fill out a claim form as soon as possible.
If you have an injury at work it is often necessary to bring in an attorney due to limits on injuries, duration of coverage, or denial of what qualifies for coverage. You also need an attorney to review your claim for any potential negligence claims outside of workers compensation.