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Navigating the Workers’ Compensation System
When you suffer a work injury, your employer’s insurance company should cover all of your medical bills and pay your lost wages. However, insurance companies and employers are notorious for not reporting claims, not paying benefits for which they are responsible, failing to authorize required medical treatment, and then trying to get injured workers back to work before they have fully recovered.
Legal representation can make all the difference in the outcome of your workers’ comp case. Our attorneys at Berlin Law Firm have decades of experience, including over 30 years of experience managing the legal operations of some of Florida’s workers’ comp insurance providers.
We know their tactics. We’re here to provide our clients with insightful, expert legal counsel. Call our dedicated legal team in Tampa today at (813) 999-9900 for a free consultation.
Berlin Law Firm Proudly Serves the Entire Tampa Bay Area
Our team is honored to serve the hardworking individuals that keep our local industries and economy running strong. From tourism to avionics and defense, business and information services, as well as construction and manufacturing, we know firsthand that injuries at work can happen in any industry at any time.
Our Firm Represents Injured Workers Across the State of Florida, Including:
- The Tampa-St. Petersburg Metropolitan Area
- Pinellas Park
- And more
“Was incredibly hesitant to seek legal representation for my workers’ compensation situation. Left feeling abandoned by my employer and workers’ compensation agent, I had to bite the bullet and reach out for legal assistance. My initial phone consultation with Steve and Regan had me feeling like I was back in control of my life. They listen! There was no pressure in signing documents, I was afforded the time to read through everything before making the commitment. The most peace of mind I’ve had in three weeks.” – Stephanie R.
“Berlin Law Firm did a great job handling my case they kept me informed and got the case settled in a reasonable amount of time I hope no one ever needs workers’ compensation but if you do get hurt at work make sure you get a good lawyer because the insurance company will try to eat you alive and Berlin Law Firm would be a good choice.” – Brian L.
“Bailey North and her team are the very best in the business. They always kept me informed and worked through all my issues in a timely manner. If you need a legal team look no further. Theses ladies are second to none. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking care of my case. You and your team were God-sent.” – Timothy B.
Our Trusted Florida Workers’ Compensation Lawyers
Led by Managing Attorney Stephen Berlin, the workers’ compensation lawyers of Berlin Law Firm are deeply dedicated to the needs of our clients, from helping them find the medical treatment they need to securing the compensation they deserve.
Mr. Berlin was recently recognized by Martindale Hubbell as an AV Preeminent Rated Lawyer in 2022 and is a recipient of Avvo’s Client’s Choice Award as a workers’ compensation attorney. Each attorney at our firm has significant experience in the complex and aggressive nature of Florida Workers’ Compensation Law.
Our team will always listen to your concerns and deliver our best legal advice with respect to your unique circumstances in the clearest possible terms. Our reputation throughout Tampa, Hillsborough County, and beyond is built on our strong client relationships, professional dealings with insurers and defense counsel, and a strong record of successful outcomes.
Helpful Tips to Navigate Florida’s Worker Compensation
Just as there are actions you must take after an injury at work, there are also things you should not do. If the insurance company requests that you do any of the following, consult a Tampa Workers’ Compensation attorney. Here are helpful tips on what not to do:
- Do not consent to a recorded interview requested by the insurance company.
- Do not sign medical release forms requested by the insurance company.
- Never discuss the nature of your medical treatment with your employer.
- Do not mischaracterize the nature or description of your accident to any medical providers. This can jeopardize your claim.
- Do not allow a nurse case manager to attend any of your doctor’s appointments. Remember that they represent the insurance company’s interests, not yours.
- Do not share any information about your condition or the accident on social media.
How Florida’s Workers’ Compensation Insurance System Works
If you are hurt while on the job, your medical expenses are not covered by your employer-provided health insurance. Instead, work-related medical bills and part of your lost wages are paid by your employer’s workers’ compensation insurer.
The Florida Workers’ Compensation claims process is designed to pay for all of the medical costs pertaining to your injury, regardless of fault. You will also receive temporary disability payments of 66.66 percent of your weekly wage, up to a state maximum that changes annually. However, you do not pay federal taxes on these payments.
In return, the injured worker cannot file a personal injury lawsuit against their employer.
If severely injured, you may prove eligible for permanent disability benefits. If the worker dies from their injuries, their family receives death benefits.
How a Skilled Worker’s Comp Attorney Can Help
For some injured employees, the system works well. However, there are many situations in which the employer’s insurer will try to deny a claim, force an employee to return to work before they heal fully, or otherwise refuse to comply with Florida’s mandated workers’ comp requirements.
Some employers may refuse to report your claim to their insurers. That is why you need an experienced Tampa Workers’ Compensation Lawyer at the Berlin Law Firm to represent and advocate for you.
We know the tactics employed by insurance companies to deny or minimize claims, and we fight for the compensation you are rightfully owed. Insurers try to take advantage of employees who do not know their rights and do not have legal counsel. If your claim is denied, we can help you navigate the hearing process and any appeals.
Workers’ compensation law is complicated, and this is not something you should try to do on your own. The insurance companies have lawyers working in their interests. You need a Tampa Workers’ Compensation attorney working for you.
There is no cost to you for representation. Our firm takes care of all benefits entitlement and handling of the claim so you can focus on recuperation and rebuilding your life.
Call Our Team for a Free Case Review Now
What to Do After a Work Accident in Tampa
Seek Medical Attention
After a work accident, you must seek prompt medical attention. If informed immediately, your employer may direct you to go to their insurance company’s doctor. Otherwise, go to the nearest emergency room or urgent care facility.
If your employer directs you to tell the medical provider that this injury did not occur at work, do not do so. Never misrepresent the circumstances of your injury to anyone, including your employer, the insurance adjuster, and medical providers.
Report Your Injury
Report the injury to your supervisor as soon as possible, preferably in writing. You must do so within 30 days of the accident or within 30 days of the time you reasonably believed your injury was work-related.
As per Florida law, once you report your injury to your employer, they must report your claim to the insurance company within seven days. Ask your employer to provide you with a copy of the First Report sent to the insurance company.
Keep Copies of All Medical Records
Make sure to follow the doctor’s orders exactly and attend all doctor’s and rehabilitation appointments. Skipping appointments or otherwise not doing what the doctor ordered will likely end up with the insurance company alleging your injuries were not as severe as you claim.
Keep a record of all of your medical procedures and bills. Try to maintain a journal detailing your daily pain and limitation levels.
Injuries Unique to Workers
Though workplace injuries run the gamut from slip and fall injuries to chemical exposure, some injuries are quite common among workers. For instance, repetitive movements are linked to injuries to the knees, shoulders, and joints. Machinists are just as susceptible to injuries of this nature as those who spend much of their typing. Chronic injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome are commonly sustained in the office environment, while vision and hearing loss could happen under many different work-related circumstances.
Many workers face dangerous conditions every day that could result in being struck by heavy objects, falling from great heights, sustaining severe burns, and suffering puncture wounds. These scenarios could result in catastrophic injuries of the neck, back, and spine.
Though many injured workers will recover and return to work eventually, others may be rendered permanently disabled and unable to work or care for themselves. These cases are particularly sensitive due to their high-stakes nature and life-altering results.
Injured on the job in Tampa? Call Berlin Law Firm
Tampa residents who were seriously injured in a job-related accident are encouraged to call Berlin Law Firm as soon as possible to set up a free, no-obligation consultation.
You pay no fee unless you receive compensation. Strict time limits for reporting and filing may apply to your case, so it is important to seek legal counsel early. Remember, you don’t have to wait until you can no longer work to file a claim. We look forward to hearing from you.
Tampa Workers’ Compensation Benefits
By law, any employer in Florida with more than four employees must carry workers’ compensation insurance.
Construction industry employers must carry workers’ comp even if there is just one employee.
Agricultural employers with at least six regular employees must carry workers’ comp. If there are 12 seasonal workers working more than 30 days during a season or more than 45 days in a calendar year, they are also covered by workers’ comp.
Note that if you are an independent contractor rather than an employee, you are not covered by workers’ comp insurance.
Florida workers’ compensation medical benefits include payment for:
- Doctors’ appointments
- Diagnostic tests
- Prescription medications
- Physical therapy
- Transportation to and from healthcare providers and pharmacies
Temporary total disability benefits
If your doctor determines you cannot work due to your work-related injury, you may receive Temporary Total Disability (TTD) benefits. Your wages are replaced at the rate of 66.66 percent of your average weekly wage, up to the state maximum. You do not receive benefits until the eighth day of your disability unless you are disabled for more than 21 days. You may receive these benefits for up to 104 weeks or two years.
If you suffer certain severe injuries, you may receive up to 80 percent of the average weekly wage, subject to the state maximum, for up to six months.
Temporary partial disability benefits
When your doctor decides you can return to work on a restricted basis, you may become eligible for Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) benefits. Eligibility criteria include the inability to earn 80 percent of the wages you received prior to your injury. You may receive these benefits for up to 104 weeks. Note that you must pay taxes on wages earned while you are under a doctor’s care and are on light or limited duty.
Maximum medical improvement
When you reach Maximum Medical Improvement as determined by your doctor, your condition is not expected to improve significantly. At this point, you may receive an evaluation for potential permanent work restrictions, along with an impairment rating. If your impairment rating is above zero, you receive money based on that rating level.
Permanent total disability benefits
Only those workers who have reached Maximum Medical Improvement and are still too severely disabled to work may receive permanent total disability benefits. You must demonstrate that you cannot engage in any type of employment within a 50-mile radius of your home.
Vocational rehabilitation benefits
Your workers’ compensation plan may provide for up to two years of vocational rehabilitation benefits. Only workers whose injuries preclude them from ever working in their previous capacity qualify for these benefits.
In general, if your disability is considered permanent and you cannot earn more than 80 percent of your average weekly wages after your doctor determines you have reached Maximum Medical Improvement, you may qualify for vocational rehabilitation.
If eligible, you have one year from the date of your final benefits check to apply for vocational retraining by submitting a “Request for Screening” application to the Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation. If approved, you will receive an additional 26 weeks of benefits at your previous rate, along with your vocational benefits.
Vocational rehabilitation benefits may include:
- Education and training
- On-the-job training
- Career counseling
- Job placement
Surviving family members of workers who succumb to their injury within one year of the accident or following continuous disability from the accident for five years may receive death benefits. These benefits include:
- Funeral expenses of up to $7,500
- Educational benefits to the surviving spouse
- Spouse without children: 50 percent of the average weekly wage
- Spouse with children: 50 percent of the average weekly wage for the spouse, and 16.66 percent of the average weekly wage for the child or children.
The total of all benefits cannot exceed $150,000.