Parker Waichman LLP – Florida Labor Law Accident Lawyers
Labor Law Injury In Florida. Having a strong and functional workforce in Florida is essential to the overall success of the state and its residents. When workers are injured, the injured worker or workers may not be able to return to work within a few days of the accident. Without the ability to work, individuals are losing out on income, and therefore, may be unable to pay bills and purchase necessary household items. The financial consequences of a workplace injury can be extensive, and many Florida workers often do not know where to turn to get their questions answered.
At Parker Waichman LLP, we have dedicated Florida Labor Law and Workers’ Compensation Attorneys who frequently help injured workers fight to receive necessary compensation for their injuries and suffering. After all, if injured workers cannot treat their condition, they cannot work and continue to play a key role in Florida’s workforce and economy. Often, workers are unaware of their rights and may wait too long to find out that they are either eligible to receive compensation by filing a workers’ compensation claim or that they have a potential personal injury claim. As such, injured Florida workers should have a good understanding of what their rights are under Florida law.
The Florida Labor Law and Workers’ Compensation Attorneys of Parker Waichman LLP work on a contingency-fee basis which means that our Florida accident and injury law firm does not receive any compensation unless a client receives compensation. A contingency-fee system allows clients to feel comfortable in knowing that there is no monetary risk for speaking and working with an attorney. As such, injured individuals have nothing to lose by seeking the guidance of a qualified labor law and workers’ compensation attorney.
Labor Law Accidents and Injuries – Florida Labor Law Accident Lawsuits and Settlements
Workplace Accidents and Workers’ Compensation
The labor force in Florida is essential to this state’s economy. Because Florida sees so many tourists each year, a significant portion of Florida’s labor force involves those who cater to the needs and demands of our tourists and those visiting family. As such, injured workers can slow down Florida’s economy if they are unable to receive necessary compensation to help them recover and return to work. Florida has workers’ compensation laws that are intended to help these injured workers get back to work after receiving necessary medical treatment and compensation for lost wages.
Under Florida law, employers are obligated to provide workers’ compensation to all employees. However, workers’ compensation laws do not apply to independent contractors who are distinctly different from employees when evaluating injuries or illnesses sustained in the workplace. Independent contractors typically work for themselves on a contract basis or work from project to project. Employees, on the other hand, have a steady position working on behalf of an employer. Therefore, independent contractors typically cannot benefit from Florida’s workers’ compensation laws, although, there may be exceptions depending on the unique circumstances of a workplace accident.
Unfortunately, many injured workers are not aware of what rights they have and do not act quickly enough to obtain workers compensation benefits. Additionally, many employers are not aware of what their obligations are under Florida law and often do not communicate information to workers about workers’ compensation benefits and when such benefits are available.
Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim Under Florida Law
To obtain workers’ compensation benefits after sustaining a workplace injury or illness, the injured or ill employee must notify the employer of the incident within thirty (30) days. The employee must complete a “First Notice of Injury” form to get the claim started. The employer is then obligated to submit the incident information to its workers’ compensation insurance carrier. Employers have workers’ compensation insurance specifically for situations when their workers are injured or become ill on the job. It is important to keep in mind that workers’ compensation is a no-fault system which means an injured or ill worker does not need to prove someone else was at fault for causing the accident that resulted in an injury or illness to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
Filing a workers’ compensation claim is similar to filing a car insurance claim or homeowners’ insurance claim. In each case, the person filing a claim may have to interact with the insurance company and may be directed to seek specific medical attention or medical evaluation to determine the extent of the workplace injury or illness and whether such injury or illness qualifies for workers’ compensation benefits. While some workers may try to take advantage of the system and claim they have suffered an injury or illness that they, in fact, did not sustain while on the job, a vast majority of injured and ill workers are filing legitimate workers’ compensation claims.
When filing a workers’ compensation claim, it is crucial to provide as many details as possible about what went wrong. A person who has sustained an injury may be directed to undergo what is called an “independent medical examination,” or “IME.” The purpose of this evaluation is it to determine in what way a workplace incident or accident caused a person’s injuries or illness.
While Florida’s workers’ compensation system is intended to help injured and ill workers, there are situations where workers are taken advantage of, and they may not receive the medical treatment and compensation they deserve. Ordinarily, if a worker receives medical treatment, and injuries or illness are documented in medical records, this worker should be entitled to workers compensation benefits.
However, because so many workers are taken advantage of, many of them choose to work alongside a Florida Labor Law and Workers’ Compensation Attorney throughout the entire process to ensure that an injured or ill worker is receiving medical treatment and compensation in accordance with Florida’s workers’ compensation laws.
Filing a Lawsuit for Workplace Injuries in Florida
Filing a workers’ compensation claim is not the only way to seek compensation for injuries or illnesses sustained on the job. Depending on the nature of the workplace accident or incident, a workers’ compensation claim may be denied if a particular employee was negligent in causing a co-worker’s injuries. Additionally, if an independent contractor is injured or becomes ill on the job, he or she will likely not be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Therefore, an injured worker—whether classified as an employee or independent contractor—may be able to pursue a personal injury lawsuit in court if he or she can demonstrate someone else was at fault for causing injuries or illness.
An injured or ill worker who receives workers’ compensation benefits is not necessarily barred from also filing a personal injury lawsuit. However, an injured or ill worker must first speak with a qualified attorney to determine in what way the worker may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits and/or compensation by filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Filing a personal injury lawsuit for workplace injuries or illnesses can be trickier than an ordinary personal injury lawsuit. With a workplace accident or illness, there may be multiple parties involved in a lawsuit, including, but not limited to, the injured or ill worker, co-workers, the employer, building owner (if different than the employer), and engineers, among others. The number and types of parties that may be involved in a personal injury lawsuit involving workplace injuries and illnesses will depend on the severity of the injuries and what caused the accident. A typical personal injury lawsuit usually involves only the injured person and the one person or entity believed to be at fault for causing injuries.
Types of Injuries Sustained in Florida Workplace Accidents
The types of injuries sustained in workplace accidents do not differ much from injuries sustained in any other accident, whether it be an auto accident, a sports-related accident, or a construction site accident, among others. Examples of injuries sustained in workplace accidents and incidents include, but are certainly not limited to, the following:
- Broken or fractured bones;
- Neck, back, and spinal cord injuries, some resulting in paralysis;
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), such as concussions;
- Cuts, gashes, and open wounds that may require stitches or surgery;
- Internal organ damage;
- Internal bleeding; and
- Illnesses that result in permanent damage and potentially death, such as cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.
Workplace illnesses can be just as devastating as workplace injuries. For example, cancer treatment can cost as much as, or substantially more than, the costs associated with the treatment of permanent spinal cord injuries that may require lifelong care. Exposure to toxic chemicals is something that many workers cannot avoid. As such, these workers should be entitled to some form of compensation to address the permanent damage resulting from the illness.
Time Limits on How Much Time That You Must File a Claim in Florida
When facing personal injuries and illnesses associated with a workplace accident or incident, it is crucial to understand that there are certain time limits on how long a person must file both a workers’ compensation claim and a lawsuit. As briefly discussed, an injured or ill worker has thirty (30) days from the date of an accident or incident to notify his or her employer that he or she intends to file a workers’ compensation claim. This quick deadline is extremely important as once it passes, it can be difficult, if not possible, for a worker to obtain compensation under Florida’s workers’ compensation laws.
If a worker has suffered personal injuries or incurred an illness on the job and wishes to pursue a personal injury lawsuit, he or she has four years from the date of the accident or incident to file a lawsuit against the alleged negligent party or parties. However, because not all injuries or illnesses are readily linked to a particular accident or incident, it could take a while for a person to realize that his or her injuries or illness are related to a workplace accident or incident. As such, Florida has what is called a “discovery rule,” which allows injured or ill individuals to file a personal injury lawsuit within four years after they have discovered that their injuries or illness are related to a workplace accident or incident.
For example, if a person is diagnosed with cancer two or three years after he or she was initially exposed to asbestos, he or she has four years from the date of the diagnosis of cancer to file a lawsuit. Similarly, if a worker begins to experience severe back pain three months after a workplace accident, he or she has four years from the date the symptoms of the back injuries began to file a personal injury lawsuit.
When a worker has died because of injuries or illnesses stained while on the job, the administrator of the deceased worker’s estate has two years from the date of death to file a lawsuit. This quick deadline does not have a discovery rule, and therefore, no lawsuit can be filed longer than two years after the date of death (http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0000-0099/0095/Sections/0095.11.html)
Because time limitations are so crucial, it cannot be stressed enough that an injured worker should consult with a Florida Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation Attorney right away after discovering that his or her injuries or illness are related to a workplace accident or incident. After all, once the statute of limitations has run, injured and ill workers may be barred from ever receiving compensation in the future for their suffering.
The Case Process for Labor Law and Workplace Accident Cases – What You Should Know
All personal injury, accident and wrongful death lawsuits have the potential to last for more than one year, and in many cases, two or more years. While the case process can be slow, the result is well worth it if an injured person can receive compensation for suffering debilitating and permanent injuries. The general process from beginning to end includes the following:
- Initial consultation;
- Decision on whether a potential client has a viable workers’ compensation or personal injury claim;
- Pursue a lawsuit or settlement;
- If filing a lawsuit, there will be a “discovery” phase which involves exchanging information in the form of medical records, witness statements (through deposition), accident or incident reports, and expert reports and testimony);
- After the discovery phase, the parties may consider negotiating for potential settlement (discussions among parties, mediation, and arbitration) or the case may go to trial;
- If the case goes to trial, the jury will enter a verdict in favor of either the injured person or the defendant who is allegedly at fault for causing the injuries; and
- An appeal of the verdict.
It is not uncommon for cases to settle in the middle of trial, and this often happens when there is substantial evidence demonstrating a defendant’s negligence and how such negligence caused the plaintiff’s workplace injuries.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Florida Labor Law and Workplace Accidents
Are there limits on how much a worker can receive after a workers’ compensation claim is approved?
Yes. Florida has limitations on both how long an employee is allowed to be out of work as well as limitations on the total amount of compensation the worker receives. Depending on the severity of the injuries, some workers may need to be out of work longer than others. As such, the length of time a worker is allowed to be off worker can adjust based on the injuries.
Can I see my own doctor after filing a workers’ compensation claim?
Yes. You can seek treatment from your own doctor following a workplace accident. However, you still may be required to undergo an Independent Medical Examination (IME). In some cases, the physician performing the IME may not fully document the extent of a person’s injuries, which could mean an injured employee receives less compensation than he or she truly deserves. Therefore, it is important to speak with an attorney.
How do I know if someone else was at fault for causing my workplace injuries or illness?
The only way to find out the cause of your workplace injuries is to allow a legal professional to evaluate the facts and review medical records to determine the link between a workplace accident and a worker’s injuries. It will take an extensive investigation to uncover what went wrong and who may be to blame for causing a workplace accident.
Will I ever have to pay for legal fees directly to my attorney during the course of representation?
No. At Parker Waichman LLP, our law firm does not obtain ANY legal fees, whether for case expenses or legal services rendered by our attorneys during the course of representation. The way in which our attorneys are paid is through a contingency fee agreement whereby our attorneys do not get a single penny unless the client receives compensation.
An attorney fee is a percentage of the total recovery, and legal expenses (such as case filing fees and expert fees, among others) are deducted from a client’s total monetary recovery. Because agreements may be different based on the type of accident and the extent of the injuries, it is a good idea to discuss fee agreement questions with one of our attorneys to receive accurate and up-to-date information.
How do I know what my rights are under Florida’s workers’ compensation laws?
All employers are supposed to provide information to employees about workers’ compensation rights and when workers are entitled to benefits. Some employers may forget about their obligation to communicate this important information to employees. As such, all employees should ask their employers for information about Florida’s workers’ compensation laws. Additionally, employees with questions and concerns can find answers by consulting with a Florida Labor Law and Workers’ Compensation Attorney.
Why Choose Parker Waichman LLP?
Parker Waichman LLP Has Recovered More than $2 Billion for Injured Clients
Floridians have numerous options to choose from when finding the right attorney to represent their rights. Florida is home to thousands of excellent personal injury attorneys. However, Parker Waichman LLP stands out too many prospective clients as our firm has been recognized nationally for its dedicated legal services to every client.
At Parker Waichman LLP, our team of specialized attorneys has recovered more than $2 billion collectively for our clients, demonstrating our will to fight endlessly on behalf of every client. In recognition of the outstanding and well-rounded legal representation provided by the Florida Labor Law and Workers’ Compensation Attorneys of Parker Waichman LLP, our firm is honored to have received the following ratings and designations:
- AVVO Rating of 9.8/10;
- AV Peer-Reviewed “Preeminent Lawyers” rating;
- Listed in Peer-Reviewed “Best Lawyers”; and
- Ranking of “5 Dragons” according to Lawdragon’s peer review.
While ratings and awards are certainly not the only factors to consider when choosing the right attorney, such honors do demonstrate a law firm’s ability to help a client receive compensation for injuries. As such, if you or your loved one has suffered injuries or an illness in a workplace accident or incident, please consider contacting Parker Waichman LLP to discuss your situation with one of our Florida Labor Law and Workers’ Compensation Attorneys.
Contact Parker Waichman LLP Today to Schedule Your Free Consultation
If you have suffered workplace injuries or have been diagnosed with an illness associated with a workplace incident or exposure to certain chemicals or substances, it is imperative that you act quickly to speak with a Florida Labor Law and Workers’ Compensation Attorney. Because there are deadlines on how much time that you must file a workers’ compensation claim and personal injury lawsuit, time is of the essence to find out what legal options are available to you.
At Parker Waichman LLP, we make every effort to maximize a client’s chance of receiving monetary compensation that is fair given the nature and severity of the injuries. Our law office in Florida represents injured clients all throughout Florida, but mostly in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Naples, Bonita Springs, Immokalee and Marco Island.
To receive your free consultation with one of our Florida Labor Law and Workers’ Compensation Attorneys, contact Parker Waichman LLP today by calling (800) YOUR-LAWYER (968-7529).
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