Note: This content is for informational purposes only, our law firm does not handle matters involving workers’ compensation.
Were you injured in a workplace accident in Fort Walton Beach, Florida? You’re likely eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits for your medical bills and a portion of your lost wages. Under certain circumstances, you may also be able to hold a negligent third party liable for additional damages.
Brannon & Brannon Personal Injury Attorneys can explain your rights, options, and responsibilities under Florida’s workers’ compensation and personal injury laws. Our legal team has over 60 years of combined experience helping injured workers and victims recover fair compensation after accidents throughout Northwest Florida.
How Can An Injury Attorney Help With a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Fort Walton Beach, FL
Many people mistakenly believe that recovering workers’ compensation benefits is easy. However, that’s not always the case. Employers and insurance carriers often find ways to make the process difficult. They may request burdensome documentation to delay the process or deny your claim for unclear or unsubstantiated reasons.
An experienced Fort Walton Beach personal injury lawyer can help you navigate the workers’ compensation process and recover the benefits you deserve for your occupational injury or illness.
Overview of Workers’ Compensation in Florida
A majority of Florida employers (with limited exemptions) must carry workers’ compensation coverage for all employees. This insurance covers accidental injuries, occupational diseases, illnesses, infections, or fatalities that occur in the scope of a worker’s employment.
Workers’ compensation applies regardless of whether an employee was responsible for causing their accident or injury. However, exceptions exist. For example, benefits will be denied if the employee intentionally harmed themself or the injury resulted from the employee being under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Can I Sue My Employer for Damages in Florida?
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. Florida employees can recover benefits even if they’re at fault for their workplace injuries. Additionally, workers don’t have to prove negligence to receive compensation.
In return, employees forfeit the right to sue their employer for occupational injuries and illnesses. However, exceptions may exist, such as if your employer doesn’t carry the required workers’ compensation coverage.
Additionally, you may have a valid third-party claim against a negligent party other than your employer, such as:
- Negligent motorists (e.g., drivers, bicyclists, and motorcyclists)
- Property owners
- Manufacturers of dangerous or defective products
We’ll help you determine whether any third party shares liability for your injuries. If they do, you’ll be able to recover additional compensation other than that offered by workers’ compensation coverage.
What Types of Workers’ Compensation Benefits Are Available in Florida?
The Florida workers’ compensation system provides the following benefits to injured employees:
Injured workers are entitled to receive reasonable and necessary medical treatment from an authorized healthcare provider.
Medical benefits may include:
- Doctor’s visits
- Prescription medications
- Physical therapy
- Medical tests
- Medical equipment, including prosthetic devices
- In-home nursing care
- Mileage reimbursement for travel expenses incurred to and from an authorized medical provider or pharmacy
Other than in emergency medical situations, you must see a medical provider who has been approved and authorized by the insurance company or your employer. You should also attend all scheduled appointments and follow your physician’s treatment plan, or your benefits may cease.
Wage Replacement Benefits
You can also seek a portion of your lost wages. The amount you receive will depend on your pre-injury income, the severity of your injury, and the amount of time you miss from work.
You could receive any of the following disability benefits:
- Temporary total disability (TTD): You can receive TTD benefits if you cannot work due to your injury. You’ll typically receive two-thirds of your average weekly pre-injury wages for up to 104 weeks.
- Temporary partial disability (TPD): You can receive TPD benefits if you can return to work and perform restricted duties. You’re eligible for benefits if you earn less than 80% of your pre-accident average weekly wages. These benefits also apply for up to 104 weeks.
- Impairment income benefits (IIB): These benefits apply when your physician says you are at Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI), meaning your condition isn’t expected to improve. You’ll receive an impairment rating, which will affect the benefits you receive.
- Permanent total disability (PTD): These benefits apply if your injury prevents you from ever working again.
Wage replacement benefits are subject to a statewide maximum cap. If you were earning a high salary before your injury, you likely would not receive two-thirds of your weekly wages, as they would exceed the maximum allowable amount.
Spouses, dependents, and other family members might be entitled to death benefits if their loved one was killed in a fatal work-related accident.
Survivor benefits may include:
- Up to $7,500 in funeral expenses
- Compensation to the spouse and other dependents
- Educational benefits (e.g., student fees at a college or career center) to the surviving spouse
Workers’ compensation death benefits are capped at $150,000 under current Florida law.
What Damages Are Available in a Third-Party Personal Injury Claim?
If you can exit the workers’ compensation system and file a personal injury claim against a third party, you’ll be entitled to the full extent of your losses.
You can seek compensation for your economic damages, such as:
- Past and future medical expenses
- The full extent of your lost wages, including diminished earning capacity
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Property damage
You can also seek compensation for your non-economic damages, including:
- Pain and suffering (which is not compensable under workers’ compensation laws)
- Mental anguish
- Reduced quality of life
- Disfigurement and scarring
- Loss of companionship
Personal injury laws allow you to seek damages that aren’t available in a workers’ compensation claim. Our Fort Walton Beach personal injury attorneys will evaluate whether you’re entitled to file a claim against a third party and if so, we’ll calculate your losses.
What Is My Fort Walton Beach Workers’ Compensation Claim Worth?
The value of your workers’ compensation claim will depend on:
- Your average weekly wages before your occupational injury, illness, or disease
- Whether you can return to work in any capacity while you’re recovering
- Whether you’ve sustained a permanent or partial disability
Workers’ compensation – particularly disability benefits – are limited by partial reimbursement and statewide caps.
On the other hand, if you can file a personal injury claim, you can seek all your economic and non-economic losses. However, Florida’s pure comparative negligence law may reduce your recovery if you share fault for the accident.
What Causes Most Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses in Fort Walton Beach?
Any type of accident or incident can result in a workplace injury or illness, including:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
- Being caught in/between objects
- Being struck by objects
- Construction accidents, including scaffolding and crane accidents
- Premises liability
- Defective machinery or work equipment
- Forklift accidents
- Falls from heights
- Exposure to toxic substances or chemicals
- Repetitive motions
- Explosions and fires
No matter how your injury happened, our Fort Walton Beach workers’ compensation attorneys are here to help.
What Types of Injuries Occur in Florida Workplace Accidents?
Depending on the type of accident, workers may sustain any kind of injury, including:
- Back injuries
- Neck injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries, including concussions
- Spinal cord damage
- Soft tissue injuries
- Repetitive stress injuries
- Broken bones
- Hearing loss
- Crushing injuries
- Loss of limbs and amputations
- Occupational illnesses from exposure to toxic chemicals
- Nerve damage
- Other catastrophic injuries
- Wrongful death
Contact our lawyers in Fort Walton Beach to discuss your injuries and the compensation you can seek for them.
How Long Do I Have To File a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Florida?
If you sustain an injury in a work-related accident or become aware of an occupational illness, you must report it to your employer within 30 days. Otherwise, your claim could be denied.
You have two years from the accident date (or the date you knew or should’ve known about your workplace injury or illness) to file a petition for workers’ compensation benefits.
Under Florida’s statute of limitations, you typically have four years from the accident date to file a third-party personal injury claim based on negligence. If you’re filing a wrongful death claim after a loved one’s fatal workplace accident, you have two years from the date of death to take legal action.
If you miss the deadline that applies to your situation, you’ll lose your ability to recover compensation. Contact our workplace accident lawyers in Fort Walton Beach to discuss your injury and protect your legal right to a financial recovery.