According to the National Safety Council, forklifts were the source of 70 work-related deaths in 2021 and 7,290 nonfatal injuries in 2020 in the United States. In Florida, workers’ compensation provides benefits to those injured or killed in forklift accidents while on the job.
Understanding Workers’ Compensation
Workers’ compensation exists to benefit injured workers as well as employers. Injured workers, in the case of forklift accidents or some other work-related causes, receive medical treatment and a percentage of their regular wages while recuperating. Workers’ compensation also protects employers from lawsuits pursued by employees injured on the job.
Forklift Injuries Under Florida No-Fault Law
When it comes to workers’ compensation, Florida is a no-fault state. That means a worker may receive workers’ compensation even if their negligence resulted in the injury. For instance, those working around forklifts should not wear headphones and listen to music, as it causes a distraction.
Under Florida law, that type of behavior will not affect their workers’ compensation claim even though it might have impaired the person’s hearing and possibly contributed to their own injuries.
It is also against the law for a Florida employer to fire an employee who files for workers’ compensation benefits.
Benefits Available Under Workers’ Compensation
Benefits available to injured workers under workers’ compensation consist of medical benefits, lost wages, and other compensation.
Your workers’ compensation medical benefits include:
- Doctor visits
- Prescription medications
- Physical therapy
If the accident caused the loss of a limb, workers’ comp should pay for prostheses. Benefits also include mileage reimbursement for visits to your healthcare provider or pharmacy.
Lost wages under Workers’ Comp
Your eligibility to receive lost wages after a forklift accident sustained on the job depends on the severity of your injuries and the length of recuperation.
Here are the possible benefits:
- Temporary Total Disability–If your doctor states that you cannot work due to your forklift accident, you are eligible to receive up to 2/3 of your regular wages, up to a maximum of $1,197. Severely injured workers may receive up to 80 percent of their wages up to the maximum for up to six months. Note that you cannot receive TTD payments for your first seven days of disability. You can receive TTD payments for up to 104 weeks.
- Temporary Partial Disability–Once your doctor says you can go back to work with restrictions, you may receive TPD. Eligibility is based on whether you are not able to earn 80 percent of the wages earned when your forklift accident occurred.
- Maximum Medical Improvement–When your doctor declares you have reached MMI, that indicates your condition is not expected to improve. At that point, you are evaluated for potential permanent work restrictions and receive an impairment rating.
- Permanent Total Disability–If after reaching MMI your injuries are so serious that you will never prove able to work again, you may receive PTD.
Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits Pursuant to Forklift Injuries
If your family member died because of a forklift accident within one year of the incident, or after five years of continuous disability, surviving family members may receive the following:
- Funeral expenses of up to $7,500
- Educational benefits for a surviving spouse
- Dependent compensation
Death benefits cannot exceed $150,000.
Seek an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you were injured in an on-the-job forklift accident or lost a family member, experienced legal counsel can make all the difference to your case. Florida Workers Comp attorneys at the Berlin Law Firm are eager to help. Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today. With offices in Sarasota and Tampa, we serve clients throughout the state of Florida.