While no one plans to get injured on the job, it is a situation for which every working Floridian should be prepared. Thankfully, employees are entitled to workers’ compensation, which covers a portion of their lost wages as the result of a work-related injury or illness. Learn more about the types of benefits, how to calculate them, and when to seek advice and services from an experienced injury lawyer.
Types of Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Florida
In Florida, there are different types of workers’ compensation benefits depending on the severity of your injury and the duration of time you are without work. You must file a workers’ compensation claim to receive any of these benefits.
Temporary disability compensation helps employees who are temporarily out of work due to an illness or work-related injury. Calculating these benefits is relatively simple.
How to calculate: Calculate two-thirds of your average weekly gross pay for the 13 weeks of earnings before your injury.
In Florida, the maximum amount for temporary disability benefits is $971 a week. It is important to note that you will not receive benefits for your first week out of work unless your injury prevents you from working, or places limits on your ability to work, for 21 days or more. If your injury is more severe, your benefit rate may go up to 80% of your wages before your injury. For these situations, there is no maximum for how much you can receive.
Here are some additional things to note about temporary disability benefits:
- You cannot receive these benefits for more than two years (unless you are still disabled after the two-year duration and not at maximum medical improvement).
- If you return to work but are still unable to perform 100% of your duties, you can still receive partial disability benefits.
During your medical assessment, your doctor may determine that you have a permanent condition or lost function—also referred to as an impairment—due to your injury. If you can still work with your impairment, your doctor will assign an impairment rating from 1-100%. That percentage helps calculate how long your impairment benefits will last. When it comes to how much you will receive, you can calculate the amount quickly.
How to calculate: Calculate 75% of your temporary disability rate.
However, if you are earning the same amount as you did prior to your injury, your weekly benefits amount will be cut 50%. Another easy way to determine your amount and duration of benefits, you can use this impairment income benefit calculator provided by Florida’s Division of Workers’ Compensation,
Permanent Total Disability
If your injury is severe enough that you can never return to work, you will qualify to receive permanent total disability benefits until you are 75 years old. If you are ineligible to receive Social Security benefits, these payments will continue for the rest of your life.
How to calculate: This payment will be the same as your temporary disability rate, which is two-thirds of your average weekly pay, plus an annual Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) until your 62nd birthday, should you also be eligible to receive social security retirement benefits.
Additional Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Florida provides a few additional benefits for workers injured on the job:
- Medical benefits: Once approved by your doctor and insurance, all of your medical expenses are covered through workers’ compensation. This includes the cost of traveling to appointments and picking up prescriptions.
- Vocational benefits: If you can return to work but need a new job that requires training or education, these benefits may cover your costs.
- Death benefits: In the unfortunate event that a work-related injury or illness leads to death, death benefits may be left to spouses, children, or relatives. These benefits cannot exceed two-thirds of your average weekly pay.
Downsides to Workers’ Compensation Benefits
While Florida’s Division of Workers’ Compensation works to help those who suffer injury or illness on the job, there are some limitations. First, you cannot receive total compensation to cover your lost wages—only up to two-thirds. You also cannot receive benefits for other negative effects you encounter, like pain and emotional suffering.
However, if you are a “first responder,” you may be eligible to obtain benefits solely for PTSD even if you do not have an accompanying physical injury.
Accepting Workers’ Compensation Benefits
While many individuals who file a claim feel they should accept any settlement they receive, this is not the best choice. You should not accept a settlement unless you speak with a workers’ compensation lawyer. They will help you navigate Florida’s workers’ comp laws to ensure you receive the best possible offer.
What to Do If Your Workers’ Compensation Claim is Denied
Unfortunately, injury claims are often denied. If you find yourself in this situation, call a workers’ compensation lawyer immediately. They will fight on your behalf to help you get the settlement you deserve.
In addition to denied claims and poor offer amounts, there are several instances in which you should hire a workers’ compensation attorney. Hire a workers’ compensation attorney if:
- Your settlement does not cover your medical bills
- You suffer a partial or total disability
- Your relationship with your boss or company becomes hostile
- You plan to receive Social Security
- Your injury was the result of misconduct or negligence
At Matthews Injury Law, we are always courtroom ready to fight for the benefits you deserve. No matter your unique case or injury, our experienced workers’ compensation lawyers will work to ensure you get the best results for your situation.
Have you been injured or fallen ill on the job? Schedule a free consultation today to talk about your case.