Law Firm Blog

My Rights as an Injured Worker in Florida

Back in the day, injured workers had practically no rights. They could file injury claims in civil court, but back in those days, bosses could easily squash these claims and force injured workers to settle their claims for pennies on the dollar. The Fourteenth Amendment changed that situation. It opened the courts to everyone. Several decades afterward, bosses took another step forward and created the workers’ compensation system.

Since then, it has been nothing but backward steps in terms of injured workers’ rights. The workers’ compensation system is now a bloated bureaucracy dominated by insurance company interests. Furthermore, Florida lawmakers passed a strong exclusive remedy law that sharply limits access to the judicial system.

Today, only a top-shelf Tampa workers’ compensation lawyer can effectively stand up for the rights of injured workers. The opportunity to obtain financial benefits, such as lost wage replacement and medical bill payment, might be the most prominent right. Additionally, in some cases, a Tampa workers’ compensation lawyer can force open the courthouse door, so job injury victims have even more legal options.

Right to Give Notice

The Fourteenth Amendment focuses on the right to receive notice. But in this case, a Tampa workers’ compensation lawyer has the right to give notice about a job injury. These victims do not have to suffer in silence.

Most workers’ comp insurance policies have very strict notice requirements. Generally, if victims don’t report an injury within 10 to 14 days, they lose the right to obtain financial benefits.

As mentioned, these benefits usually include two-thirds of the victim’s average weekly wage (AWW) for the duration of a temporary or permanent disability. The medical bill payment benefit applies not only to hospital bills but also to transportation, medical device, prescription drug, and other ancillary costs.

The notice deadline usually is not a problem in fall and other trauma injury cases. But it could be a problem in hearing loss and other occupational disease claims. Most workers do not immediately go to the doctor at the first sign of hearing loss. By the time they seek treatment, the initial claims deadline has long passed.

A variation of the discovery rule protects these victims in these situations. Job injury victims, like civil plaintiffs, do not have to file claims until they know the full extent of their injuries and they connect those injuries with a tortfeasor’s wrongful conduct, or in this case, with their work environments.

Right to a Hearing

Job injury victims also have the right to a hearing. Once again, however, a Tampa workers’ compensation lawyer must protect this right.

The initial workers’ compensation hearing is not a “hearing” at all. Instead, it is a paper review based mostly on medical records. Because it is not a full hearing, the initial workers’ comp claim denial rate is very high.

The gloves come off at a subsequent Administrative Law Judge hearing, which a lawyer must request. ALJ hearings are like private trials. The ALJ allows attorneys to introduce evidence, challenge evidence, and make legal arguments. Because the tables are turned, many workers’ comp claims settle out of court at this point and on victim-friendly terms.

The job injury hearing isn’t always an ALJ hearing. In some cases, a lawyer can file a civil claim and obtain additional compensation for noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

Work With a Hard-Hitting Hillsborough County Lawyer

Injured workers have important legal and financial rights in Florida. For a free consultation with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in Tampa, contact the Rooth Law Firm. We routinely handle matters in Pinellas County and nearby jurisdictions.