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Workers’ Compensation FAQs

Answers to Your Frequently Asked Questions About Workers’ Comp Claims in Florida

Filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits isn’t as simple as just filling out a form or making a phone call, and even knowing where to go for medical treatment after a work injury can be confusing and complicated. There are lots of laws and rules that you are likely unfamiliar with, and most of the time you are dealing with providers and insurance companies that work for your employer, not for you. Having a legal professional on your side who can explain the process to you and advocate on your behalf can be essential to getting your benefits paid on time and in full.

At Chadwick & Chadwick, P.A., we’ve been helping employees injured on the job get their workers’ compensation benefits for decades, so we know how the system works. Below we’ve provided answers to some of the questions we hear most often from injured workers who are unfamiliar with workers’ comp or are having difficulty with their claim. If you have other questions or need help appealing a claim denial or dealing with a difficult employer or insurance carrier, call our office for a free consultation and immediate assistance. Based in Tampa, we help injured workers across the state of Florida get the benefits they are entitled to after an on-the-job injury.

How do I know if I am covered by workers’ compensation?

Every employer in the state of Florida with four or more full-time employees must carry workers’ compensation insurance. In the construction industry, employers with as few as one full-time or part-time employee must have workers’ comp. Farmers are required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance if they have six or more regular workers or at least 12 seasonal employees, provided they work for more than 30 days.

Independent contractors are not covered by workers’ compensation unless they are in the construction industry. Some employers misclassify their employees as independent contractors to avoid paying minimum wage, overtime, or workers’ compensation. If you think you might be misclassified, contact an employment law attorney or a workers’ compensation lawyer after an on-the-job injury.

How do I find out who my employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier is?

There is an informational poster that should be posted conspicuously in and about your workplace. It has an x-ray of a broken arm on it so you can’t miss it. This “broken arm” poster contains important information notifying you of your rights to receive workers’ compensation. In the lower right corner of the poster, you should see a sticker containing the name and phone number of the insurance company. If you don’t see it, you can call the Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation. Their number is printed on the poster. You can also call our office if you need help.

I need money now. Can I get all my benefits at once instead of weekly?

You can receive a lump-sum settlement instead of periodic payments, but doing so settles your claim for good, which might not be the best decision. Share your concerns with us; if a lump-sum payment is in your best interest, we can negotiate on your behalf to get the best settlement that meets your needs.

Can I see my own doctor or any doctor I want?

Sadly, no. To be treated through workers’ compensation, you’ll have to go to the doctor selected by your employer (or their insurance carrier). If you don’t like that doctor, you can change to another doctor, but you can only do this one time, and you have to switch to another doctor authorized by the insurance company. Unfortunately, this is one of the ways Florida’s workers’ compensation system seems to favor employers and insurance companies over the needs of injured employees.

Can I go to any pharmacy? How do my prescriptions get paid?

You can go to any pharmacy you choose, but if you pick one that participates in workers’ comp, then they will bill the insurer directly, and you won’t have to pay out of pocket for your prescriptions. If your preferred pharmacy doesn’t handle workers’ comp claims, your prescriptions will still be covered, but you will need to pay for them upfront and then seek reimbursement from workers’ comp.

Do I have to pay taxes on the wage loss benefits I get from workers’ comp?

No. Your benefits do not count as taxable income. For instance, if you are getting temporary partial disability (TPD) payments while working on light duty or restricted duty at lower pay, your earnings are taxable but the TPD benefits are not. If you are totally disabled and receiving temporary total or permanent total disability, those monies are not taxed.

Does Florida workers’ compensation cover hearing loss?

Yes. Hearing loss can occur over time due to especially noisy conditions at work, or it can occur in a single traumatic event such as an explosion. If the loss is cumulative instead of traumatic, it can be harder to prove the hearing loss is work-related and the extent of the loss that should be compensated. We can help you make your best care for work-related hearing loss.

Can I get workers’ comp for an injury if I had a preexisting condition?

The law is clear that if a preexisting disease condition is accelerated or aggravated by a work accident, then the acceleration or aggravation is compensable. Arguing that a claimed injury is preexisting and not work-related is a favorite excuse of insurers and can make your claim harder to prove. Legal assistance from an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can be valuable here.

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