Injured on the Job in Florida, What Rights Do You Have?

Every year nearly 70,000 men and women are injured on the job in Florida. Few workers are aware of the rights they have to receive medical care and money benefits after their accident. This article will hopefully provide some of the answers.

The first thing I want to make clear is that Workers' Compensation Laws are different from state to state because each state's legislature enacts their own rules governing how and when medical and money benefits are provided to the injured workers in their state. I am only addressing Florida law in this article.

Second, since the lawmakers in Florida can change the law (and frequently do), one must remember that the law that exists on the date of the accident is the law that will determine an injured workers benefits for the entire case.

Another word of caution when reading this article - I am only providing the reader with a general overview of the law. There are a great many exceptions that will not be covered in this article. I always recommend that those with questions needing precise information or advice contact an attorney who specializes in this field. That being said, here are the basics:

What You Must Do When You Get Hurt on the Job

When you get hurt on the job you are required to give notice to your supervisor within 30 days of the accident. In rare cases, where you have no reason to know that you have been hurt (like exposure to a toxic substance), or to know that your injury or condition was caused by the job, you are allowed to report the injury/condition within 30 days of the date you became aware of both the problem and that it is work-related. If the condition or injury is an occupational disease (a disease caused by conditions characteristic of a particular trade, occupation, process or employment ie. coal miners who develop Black Lung, etc.) then the worker must give notice of the injury or disease within 90 days (See F.S. 440.151(6)).

Frequently you will be asked to supply information for, and perhaps sign, a First Notice of Injury form that goes from your Employer to the Insurance Carrier detailing some of the circumstances. I strongly urge you to report every injury to every part or parts of the body as the insurance company will often deny treatment later on for injuries you forgot (or didn't think were serious enough) to report initially. I also recommend taking pictures of the scene of the accident, visible injuries, and any property that was damaged in the accident. These days many people have a cell phone with a camera so it is usually not too difficult to do or have someone do for you. Although pictures are not required to make your claim, you never know when they will be needed to prove a point.

Medical Care

When you report your accident you should request that medical care be authorized through the employer's Workers' compensation insurance. If you request medical treatment and you are refused or ignored, you have the right to see any doctor you choose and the employer and their Workers' compensation insurance company will be responsible to pay the bills for reasonable treatment related to the work accident. If you pay for the treatment out-of-pocket, you should submit the receipts to the insurance company to be reimbursed. If the treatment needed was an emergency and there was not time to contact the insurance company first, it will be covered as long as the treatment was reasonable, related to the injuries sustained in the work accident, and reported by the close of the 3rd business day after treatment was rendered. If the emergency results in admission to a hospital or other health care facility the treatment must be reported within 24 hours (the statute says that the health care provider must report the emergency treatment but I suggest you also do that).

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