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Work Accidents Frequently Asked Questions

Work Accident FAQs

How long after an accident do I have to report an injury?

Report your injury immediately. By law, you have thirty (30) days to report your injury, or your claim may be denied for failure to notify your employer. However, there are exceptions to the notification requirement that can be found in §440.185. Fla. Stat.

Do I have to pay for medical bills related to my injuries?

No, all authorized medical bills should be submitted to your employer, if self-insured, or your employer's insurance company. If you are required to pay any medical bills out of pocket, you should submit your expenses to the above entities for reimbursement. If the employer or carrier has authorized medical treatment, do not submit to any unauthorized providers or treatment. Otherwise, you are not entitled to seek payment or reimbursement from the employer or carrier.

Will I be paid if I lose time from work? How much will I be paid?

Depends.  An experienced workers compensation attorney can assist you with getting lost wages should you have work restrictions from your authorized workers compensation physician and your employer cannot accommodate those work restrictions. You will be paid 67% of your average weekly wage if you're on a “no work status” or roughly 60% of your average weekly wage if you're on “light duty” and your employer cannot accommodate that light duty.

If I'm unable to return to work, does my employer have to hold my job for me?

Unfortunately, there is no provision requiring your employer to hold your job until you return.

Are workers' compensation benefits taxable?

No, workers' compensation benefits are NOT taxable.

How long can I collect workers compensation benefits?

There is no time limitation on your entitlement to medical benefits under workers compensation so long as your authorized doctors maintain the opinion your work accident remains the major contributing cause for the need for medical treatment.  As for lost wages, you may be entitled to 104 weeks of temporary lost wage benefits.  If you entitled to permanent total disability, PTD benefits usually end at age 75.

What is “light duty” or “modified duty” work?

While there is no black letter definition of “light duty” work, the term generally refers to work available with an employer that complies with physical restrictions placed on an injured worker by their authorized treating physicians, e.g., no lifting more than 15 pounds. “Modified duty” work refers to a position or job created by an employer to specifically comply with any physical limitations an authorized treating physician has placed on an injured worker.

What if I don't have a car or transportation to get to my medical appointments?

Your employer or its insurance carrier is responsible for arranging and paying for transportation for medical appointments.

Can my employer fire me while I am out on workers' comp?

No, your employer cannot fire you for filing a workers' compensation claim. If it does, you may have a claim for coercion under §440.205 or a private cause of action for wrongful termination.

If I am unable to return to the type of work I did before I was injured, what can I do?

The law provides reemployment services to help you return to gainful employment, for example, vocational counseling, transferable skills analysis, job-seeking skills, job placement, on-the-job training, and formal retraining.

Can I go to my own personal doctor to have him treat my work-related injuries?

You can, but neither you nor your personal doctor may seek payment or reimbursement for the treatment unless your claim has been controverted by the employer or carrier, and you later prevail in subsequent litigation. Additionally, your group health insurance company may deny your claim as they have exclusions in their policy for medical care for work-related injuries.

What if I can never work again as a result of my work-related injury? What benefits are available?

If you can never work again as a result of your work-related injury, you are entitled to permanent total disability benefits. For accidents occurring on or before September 30, 2003, an injured worker can collect benefits for life. However, for accidents that occurred on or after October 1, 2003, an injured worker can only collect disability benefits until age 75, unless the injured worker is not eligible for Social Security disability or retirement benefits due to the compensable injury preventing he/she from working sufficient quarters to be eligible for federal benefits. In addition to permanent total disability benefits, supplemental benefits are also available to permanently and totally disabled injured workers. The subject of permanent total disability benefits and supplemental disability benefits can be complicated.

I live in Florida, but my accident occurred in another state. Am I covered under Florida law?

Some accidents that occur outside of the state of Florida may be covered under Florida Law. The test for whether an out of state accident will be covered under Florida Law is whether the contract of employment was made in Florida or whether the employment was principally localized in Florida.

My employer wants me to take a drug test. Can I refuse?

You may refuse the drug test. However, under the law if the injured worker refuses to submit to a drug test, it shall be presumed in the absence of clear and convincing evidence to the contrary that the injury was occasioned primarily by the influence of drugs.

Are Florida workers' compensation benefits payable if I tested positive for drugs or alcohol right after my accident?

In Florida, compensation is not payable if the injury was occasioned primarily by the intoxication or the employee, the influence or any drugs, barbiturates, or other stimulants not prescribed by a physician. A post-accident drug test creates a presumption that the injury was in fact caused by alcohol or drugs. This means the claimant will have the burden to demonstrate that injury was not caused by alcohol or drug use. If the Employer has taken additional steps to implement a “drug free workplace”, the presumption may only be rebutted by evidence that there is no reasonable hypothesis that the intoxication or drug influence contributed to the injury. In the absence of a “drug free workplace” program, the presumption may be rebutted by clear and convincing evidence that the intoxication or influence of the drug did not contribute to the injury. Generally, a positive drug test may make the case difficult, but an attorney should be consulted to assess the law and facts of your particular situation. 

While I was working I was involved in an automobile accident that wasn't my fault. Am I covered under workers' compensation law? Do I have a personal injury case or a workers' compensation case?

If your automobile accident arose out of the course and scope of your employment (i.e. you were working), you have both a workers' compensation case and a personal injury case. These are not mutually exclusive, and you may pursue a claim against the at-fault party and receive workers' compensation benefits as well.

Can I choose what doctor I can see?

Generally, the insurance company gets to select the doctor and is not responsible for paying for any doctor that they did not authorize. For the most part, you cannot choose your doctor. However, if the insurance company does not provide you with a doctor within 5 calendar days of your written request for a one-time change of physician, then you may select a doctor of your choice. Additionally, if the insurance company fails to provide you with medical care in a within a reasonable amount of time from your request, you may have an ability to seek your own physician during the period that medical care is not being authorized.

Do I have the right to change doctors if I don't like the one provided by the workers' compensation insurance company?

Yes. You have the right to a one-time change of physician that you may exercise in your case. However, the Employer/Carrier still retains the right to select the new doctor provided that they authorize a doctor within five days of your written request.

Are on-the-job injuries covered by workers' compensation in Florida even if I was at fault?

Yes. The Florida Workers' Compensation system is a “no fault” system, meaning that you are covered whether you were at fault for the injury or the employer was at fault. However, there are limits to this principle and accidents caused by “horseplay” are excluded as are injuries due to intoxication. Additionally, there may be a reduction of compensation of 25% if the employee knowingly refuses to use a safety appliance or observe a safety rule required by statute or lawfully adopted by the department, and brought prior to the accident to the employee's knowledge, or if the injury is cause by the knowing refusal of the employee to use a safety appliance provided by the employer.

Are there benefits for death under Florida workers compensation law? What are they?

There are various benefits payable under Florida workers' compensation law for the death of an employee. These benefits may be payable to the employee's spouse and certain family members who were dependent upon the deceased at the time of the accident. Compensation to dependents may not exceed $150,000 and is payable in biweekly amounts that are a percentage of the employees' average weekly wage. There are also benefits for funeral expenses not to exceed $7,500 and post-secondary education student fees to a surviving spouse.

Are undocumented workers covered under Florida Workers' Compensation law?

Yes. All workers are covered under the law regardless as to whether they are “undocumented,” “illegal” or otherwise.

The Schiller Kessler Group provides aggressive and effective legal representation to our clients with the highest standards of excellence, compassion and integrity. We always provide personalized attention and deliver prompt communication so that our clients always know where their case stands. Contact our offices anytime to schedule a free consultation.

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