Law Firm Blog

PTSD Can Happen from a Work Injury

PTSD is a reality in many workplaces and in some instances, workers can receive workers’ compensation for it.

Back injuries, muscle strains, and inhaling toxic fumes are just a few of the most common workplace injuries. However, there is another injury sustained on the job that is starting to get more attention. That injury is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and it is a real problem for many workers. Firefighters, law enforcement officers, and paramedics are just a few types of workers who may suffer from PTSD. When they do, they often wonder if this injury is covered under the workers’ compensation system in Florida.

Causes of PTSD

A person can develop PTSD after experiencing a traumatic event, or even learning about one. The events that can cause the disorder typically involve actual injury, death, or a violation of a sexual nature. Even the threat of these events can cause PTSD.

Doctors still do not understand why some people develop PTSD and others do not, even when they have seen or learned of the same situation. There are a few factors that may contribute to someone developing PTSD. These include the severity of the stressful event, a family history of mental health problems, a person’s temperament, and the way a person’s brain manages the chemicals and hormones released by the body in response to stress.

How PTSD Affects a Person’s Ability to Work

There are two main characteristics of PTSD that make it extremely difficult for a person to work when suffering from the disorder. The first is that he or she relives the traumatic event. When this happens, it is as though the traumatic experience is happening all over again and it is just as stressful as it was the first time the person lived through it. This often makes working impossible, as a person cannot concentrate on work.

The other characteristic of PTSD is that it often causes sufferers to withdraw and avoid certain situations. This does not only include events similar to the one that caused the PTSD, but also situations in which one would have to speak to other people or take part in certain activities. This also causes problems with a person’s ability to work.

Does Workers’ Compensation Cover PTSD?

The Florida legislature debated for years whether or not PTSD should be covered under workers’ compensation. In September of 2018, lawmakers determined that workers’ compensation should cover PTSD, but it only applies to certain workers. These are first responders such as paramedics, firefighters, and police officers. It makes sense that these individuals would be covered for the disorder under workers’ comp, but still, many say the law is too limited.

To be covered under workers’ compensation, workers must show that they have sustained a shock to the consciousness. Under the current law, there are only eight scenarios considered to be a great enough shock to the consciousness, which many people feel is too restrictive. Additionally, many also believe that workers’ compensation should cover PTSD for all workers, not only a certain few.

Need Help with Your Workers’ Comp Claim? Call Our Florida Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

Although workers’ compensation now covers PTSD for certain workers, without a physical injury, it can be difficult to prove. If you wish to file a claim, you should not do it on your own. At Rooth Law Firm, our Tampa Bay workers’ compensation lawyer can assist with the claims process and give you the best chance of success. Call us today at (727) 849-3400 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.

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Construction Workers can Get Seriously Injured, too

The construction industry is one of the most dangerous in the nation; construction workers are injured at a rate that is greater than injuries to workers in nearly any other industry type. At the offices of the Rooth Law Firm, P.A., our experienced workers’ compensation and Social Security disability lawyer can help you to understand your rights if you have been involved in an injury-causing construction accident. Reach out to our law firm today to learn more.

Construction Workers at High Risk of Injury and Death 

According to one data source, in a given year in the United States (2016), there were over 10 million workers in the U.S. construction industry. Out of 4,693 worker deaths that occurred that year overall, over 20% of them — 991 deaths — involved workers in the construction industry. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), there are four primary causes of construction worker injury and death:

  • Falls: Falls are the leading cause of construction worker death, accounting for one-third of total fatalities in this industry, according to theS. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • Struck by object: Another leading cause of construction worker injury and death is that of being struck by an object. This might include a piece of machinery, a falling object, or a tool.
  • Electrocutions: Being electrocuted can result in serious and fatal injuries, and accounted for just over 7% of construction worker deaths in 2017.
  • Caught-in/between: Large pieces of machinery and equipment in the construction industry pose hazards, including the risk of getting caught in or in-between a piece of equipment. Accidents of this nature accounted for just over 5% of construction worker deaths in 2017.

Causes of Construction Worker Injuries and Deaths

The above accidents are usually completely preventable. Some of the top reasons that construction worker-involved accidents occur include:

  • Lack of safety training;
  • Lack of fall protection;
  • Unsafe conditions;
  • Defective machinery, tools, or equipment;
  • Missing guards on power tools;
  • Lack of safety equipment; and
  • Lack of supervision.

Remedies for Construction Workers Injured on the Job 

Being involved in a construction accident can be a terrifying experience, especially if serious injuries result. Our New Port Richey, Florida board-certified lawyer can help you after a construction accident. If your accident occurred at work, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. We can help you to file your claim for benefits, recover your maximum compensation award, and navigate tough issues in workers’ compensation claims, such as being denied benefits or being released back to work before you are ready.

In addition to the above, we also practice Social Security disability law. If your injuries have resulted in a permanent disability that precludes you from working, you may be eligible for federal benefits. Our lawyer can help you with your application.

Schedule Your Consultation Today

Even workers who engage in safe practices at a construction site can be at risk of suffering severe or even fatal injuries. If you have been hurt, our lawyer is here to help. Call the Rooth Law Firm, P.A. today or send us a message to schedule your free consultation.

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Questions Injured Workers Frequently Ask

Leading Florida Board Certified Workers’ Compensation Attorney Answers Your Common Questions

If you are injured on the job, it is important that you know about your rights under Florida workers’ compensation laws. You may be able to receive medical care and partial wage replacement. However, there are strict rules in place that you must follow to protect your claim and ability to recover.

Below are some of the most commonly asked questions that the Florida workers’ compensation lawyer at the Rooth Law Firm receives. Read on to learn the answers to these common questions and contact us with any additional questions. We are happy to help you through the often-confusing workers’ comp process.

When do I have to report my injury to my employer?

Florida’s workers’ compensation law provides benefits to workers who are injured on the job while performing work-related duties. There must be a link between the injury and the employee’s work for coverage. This requires an injured worker to report the injury to his or her employer so the employer has notice of a potential workers’ compensation claim.

It is best to report your injury as quickly as possible after your injury. This helps establish the causal link between your accident and the injury. The longer you wait, the more likely it is that your employer will try to deny the claim or suspect that it was not work-related. However, Florida law gives you up to 30 days to report the injury.

When should my employer report my injury to their workers’ compensation carrier?

Likewise, your employer should report your injury to their workers’ compensation carrier as soon as possible. However, they have up to seven days from the date they received notice of the accident to report it to their insurance provider.

Once your employer’s insurance carrier is notified, it will send you correspondence regarding your rights. However, if you do not hear from the insurance carrier, you might have to report the injury directly to them if your employer has not reported it.

What kind of medical treatment am I entitled to receive?

Workers’ compensation coverage provides for the necessary medical care, treatment and prescription medications that relate to your injury.

Am I responsible for any of the medical bills?

You are not responsible for the medical treatment that you receive that is covered under your employer’s workers’ compensation policy. Your doctor must submit all medical bills to your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier.

Will I be compensated if I lose time from work?

You may be able to receive compensation from a portion of the time that you missed from work. Under Florida law, you are not paid for the first seven days of your disability. However, if your disability lasts more than 21 days, you may be paid for the first seven days.

How much will my benefits be?

In most situations, your benefits are 66 2/3 percent of your average weekly earnings. Your average weekly earnings are calculated by the wages that you earned 13 weeks before your accident, not including the week when you were injured. However, if during the 13-week period you worked less than 75 percent of it, a similar employee in the same employment who worked 75 percent of the 13-week period or your full time weekly earnings is used.

Will I owe income tax on workers’ compensation benefits?

You will not owe income tax directly on workers’ compensation benefits. However, if you return to work on light or limited duty while you are still under the care of a doctor, you will pay your regular taxes on the wages you earn while you work.

Contact a Board Certified Florida workers’ compensation lawyer for help filing your claim

New Port Richey workers’ comp attorney Joseph Rooth is Board Certified in Workers’ Compensation and has extensive experience in representing claimants pursuing the workers’ compensation benefits they need and deserve. If you were injured on the job, attorney Rooth can help you report your injury and file your claim for workers’ compensation benefits. We represent clients in New Port Richey and throughout Tampa Bay and the central Gulf Coast area. Schedule a complimentary consultation by calling 727-849-3400 or contact us online.

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Uncertain Future of Florida Workers’ Comp System

The Uncertain Future of Florida Workers’ Compensation System

 

Florida’s workers’ compensation system has been a hot topic this year among lawmakers, businesses, and labor groups in the wake of two Florida Supreme Court rulings that found parts of the system unconstitutional. The immediate result of these rulings has been a substantial rate increase for Florida businesses. Businesses express concerns about the amount of money spent on attorneys who represent injured workers. Workers’ compensation attorneys are troubled by insurance companies who do not properly pay claims to the insured. Labor unions are unhappy with a system that has reduced benefits for those injured on the job. Overall, it looks to be a tumultuous year ahead for the workers’ compensation system.

Supreme Court Rulings Have Serious Impact

In April of this year, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the attorney fee schedule, which was passed in 2009 as part of state reforms, is unconstitutional under Florida’s constitution as well as the U.S Constitution. It ruled that the fee schedule was a violation of due process, because it presumes that the attorney fee, which is based according to the schedule, is reasonable, thereby eliminating the right of a claimant to refute or negotiate another fee.

The Florida Legislature has expressed concerns about excessive attorney fee awards and has tried to standardize fees to address that concern. The Florida Supreme Court held that the statutory fee schedule did not reflect the time and effort that would be required by a claimant’s counsel. Furthermore, adherence to that schedule resulted in a substantial and increasing gap between the fees paid to claimant attorneys and those paid to counsel representing employers or carriers in the same case. The Court also noted that, since the law does not provide a standard to adjust fees when the recovery is too high in relation to the time and effort involved, excessive fees are still a result of the statutory fee schedule. Current law, it determined, discourages attorneys from representing claimants in certain cases.

Subsequently in another case, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the state’s statutory 104-week cap on temporary disability benefits was also unconstitutional, saying the limitation resulted in a statutory gap in benefits which violated the constitutional right to access to court.

Resulting Rate Increases

In response to the rulings, the National Council of Compensation Insurers (NCCI), which files on behalf of Florida insurers, instituted a rate increase request of 19.6 percent. The request was denied by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR), and NCCI was instead ordered to amend and refile its rate increase for 14.5 percent. In October, that rate request was approved for all policies effective December 1, 2016.

Florida insurance advocates believe that employers and small business owners will suffer unless the state revamps the workers’ compensation system to address these new Court rulings.

Workers’ compensation laws are complex so trust a skilled Florida workers’ compensation attorney to successfully navigate the system

Florida’s workers’ compensation laws are complex. The recent changes brought about by the Florida Supreme Court rulings can make the laws all the more confusing. If you or a loved one has suffered a work-related injury, don’t try and navigate the worker’s compensation system alone. Since 1994, Board Certified workers’ compensation lawyer Joseph M. Rooth of The Rooth Law Firm has helped injured and disabled workers obtain much-needed medical and wage replacement benefits for their work-related injuries. Contact our office today at 727-849-3400 or online to schedule a free consultation. With convenient offices located in New Port Richey, Spring Hill, Seminole and Clearwater, we serve clients in New Port Richey and throughout the Tampa Bay area.

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What Do I Do If My Employer Refuses to Pay My Workers Compensation Claim?

Standing up to an employer can be intimidating. Know your rights.

If you have been injured on the job, you are probably counting on workers’ compensation benefits to pay necessary medical expenses and other bills. It’s scary when you can’t work, expenses are mounting, and your employer won’t pay you benefits you are owed. The workers’ compensation system can be very complicated and difficult to navigate. Learn about what happens if your employer denies your workers’ compensation claim.
 

My employer refuses to pay my workers’ compensation claim. What can I do?

Whether it be your employer or your employers’ insurance company denying your workers’ compensation claim, you are still left without compensation you count on to pay living expenses and medical expenses you may have incurred due to your workplace injury. Workers compensation benefits include medical benefits and wage replacement benefits such as:

  • Temporary total benefits
  • Temporary partial benefits
  • Permanent impairment benefits
  • Permanent total benefits
  • Death benefits

The insurance company must deny the claim within 120 days from the date the injury or illness was reported. The most common reasons for denial of a workers’ compensation claim include:

  • The claim was not reported or filed on time.
  • The employer disputes that the accident happened at work.
  • The employer disputes that your injury or illness was the result of a workplace accident.
  • Your medical condition is not covered by workers’ compensation.
  • Your injuries are not severe enough to be covered.

Your claim denial letter should state the reason your claim is being denied. If you feel your claim was wrongly denied, a Petition for Benefits form must be filed with the Office of Judges of Compensation Claims to start the judicial process. You will not be provided with an attorney, but your employer or their insurance company may be held responsible for paying your attorney’s fees should you choose to hire counsel.

The insurance company must pay the claim or respond to the petition with 14 days of receiving it. If the insurance company still denies the claim, mediation will be held within 130 days of filing the petition. If nothing is settled at mediation, the dispute will be heard before a workers’ compensation judged, proceed to pre-trial hearing and a final hearing will be held within 90 days after the pre-trial hearing. A decision will be made by the workers’ compensation judge and, if you contest that decision, you must file an appeal within 30 days of the judge signing the order.
 

Employers and their insurance companies count on you not pursuing your legal rights, so they don’t have to pay legitimate workers’ compensation claims. Attorney Joe Rooth of the Rooth Law Firm is a Board Certified Florida workers’ compensation attorney. Attorney Rooth aggressively pursues your claim against your employer or their insurance company to obtain the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve. With more than 20 years of experience and a well-earned reputation for success, Attorney Rooth is the legal counsel you need on your side. If your employer or their insurance company has refused to pay you, contact the Rooth Law Firm at (727) 849-3400 or online today for a free consultation.

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Florida Workers’ Compensation: What Independent Contractors Need to Know

Independent contractors comprise a growing segment of the workforce. These individuals — also referred to as consultants or freelancers – are hired to work on special projects, assist during peak business periods, and to perform services that are not part of the employer’s regular business. Because they are not considered company employees, they are not entitled to certain employer benefits. One of those valuable benefits is workers’ compensation insurance; without it, if a worker suffers an injury on the job, that individual is responsible for their own medical bills. If you are classified as an independent contractor in your work, it is important to understand exactly what that means in terms of your employment and to be sure this classification is appropriate.

Definition of an Independent Contractor in Florida

Typically, independent contractors are in an independent trade, profession, or business in which their services are offered to the general public. However, the determination as to whether these individuals are considered independent contractors or employees is based on several factors. In the state of Florida, the courts follow a “10-factor test” in deciding whether a worker is an independent contractor or an employee, giving consideration to the following:

1) The level of control the employer has over the details of the work

2) Whether the employed individual is in a distinct occupation or business

3) If the work done in the locality is typically done by a specialist without supervision or under the employer’s direction

4) The required skill level of the given occupation

5) Whether the worker or the employee provides the tools, instrumentalities, and the place of work for the person doing the work

6) The length of time the person is employed

7) Whether the worker is paid by the time or by the job

8) If the work is part of the employer’s regular business

9) Whether both parties believe their relationship will be that of employer and employee

10) If the hiring party is in business or not

Misclassification of employees

In some situations, employers misclassify a worker as an independent contractor even though – by law – they are considered employees. The employer then has no obligation to provide workers’ compensation or overtime pay, among other things. Those workers classified as independent contractors may earn higher wages, but they assume responsibility for any medical bills incurred as a result of a workplace injury, and they do not recoup lost wages.

Prevention is the key

Independent contractors can take measures to ensure they are protected in the event of a work-related injury. Before finding yourself injured on the job, be sure you understand the terms of your employment and the benefits you will receive. If workers’ compensation is not part of your employment agreement, explore purchasing workers’ compensation insurance on your own. Some businesses, even require that independent contractors obtain own workers’ compensation insurance to avoid any potential liability for injuries.

Experience and skill in the area of workers’ compensation law

Independent contractors who believe they may be inappropriately classified in their employment relationships should seek professional legal counsel to explore the situation. Having an attorney experienced in workers’ compensation law handling your case is critical to navigating this process and receiving the benefits you deserve. New Port Richey workers’ compensation attorney Joseph M. Rooth has the skills and experience you need, and handles each case personally, to ensure a favorable outcome. Conveniently located with offices in New Port Richey, Spring Hill, Seminole and Clearwater, attorney Rooth serves clients in New Port Richey and throughout the Tampa Bay area. To arrange for a free consultation, contact attorney Rooth at 727-849-3400 or online.

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