How much do you charge for an initial consultation?

There is never a charge for an initial consultation.  We provide a free consultation to all prospective clients.

Can I go to a doctor of my choice?

In very limited circumstances, yes.  If your case has been accepted as compensable by the insurance company, they get to pick all of your authorized treating physicians. However, if you elect to utilize your one-time change in treating physicians and the insurance company does not notify you of the selection of the new physician within 5 days, you get to select the next authorized treating physician who effectively takes the place of the physician you requested a one-time change from.  The one-time change physician must be in the same medical specialty as the doctor you requested the change from.

Additionally, you do get to select a physician to serve as your independent medical evaluator. This is a one-time visit with a doctor of your choice and at your own expense.  That doctor cannot treat you but can provide testimony to establish entitlement to further care and treatment or entitlement to lost wages.

Will I get compensated for pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life?

There is no current situation to permit an injured worker to receive any type of compensation for pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life through their workers’ compensation claim. Essentially, an injured worker can only receive medical treatment and lost wages through their workers’ compensation case.

Am I entitled to settlement of my workers’ compensation case?

An injured worker is not entitled to a settlement and neither is the insurance company.  However, settlement can be reached on a voluntary basis.  Neither party can force the other to settle their case and the Judge has no jurisdiction to determine what value the case has or to order one party to pay an amount they do not want to pay or the other to accept an amount they do not want to accept.  However, a Judge does have the authority to enforce agreements and determine if an agreement was reached for settlement of the case.

Who decides my Florida workers’ compensation case; a jury or a judge?

All Florida workers’ compensation cases are tried before the Office of Judges of Compensation Claims.  These administrative judges handle nothing but workers’ compensation cases. This means that a Judge will determine the ultimate facts of a case as well as determine any issue of law.

How long do I have to pursue my workers’ compensation case?

For any industrial accident occurring after January 1, 1994, the statute of limitations is 2 years from the date the accident occurred or one year after the last benefit was provided, whichever date is later.  However, the provision that permits the statute of limitations to be extended by one year does not apply to the issues of compensation eligibility, date of maximum medical improvement, or permanent impairment.

What is my case worth?

Typically, when this question is asked, people are asking what value the case has from a settlement standpoint.  It is difficult to assess the value of a case properly without having sufficient information. As a result, it is difficult to accurately put a dollar amount on the value of a case from an initial consultation only.  However, generally speaking, the value of an injured workers’ case for settlement purposes is a function of what the case is likely to cost the insurance company if it remains open rather than being settled.

Can I be fired for filing a workers’ compensation case?

Legally, no.  Of course, this does not mean that it doesn’t happen.  440.205, Florida Statutes (2018) specifically provides “No employer shall discharge, threaten to discharge, intimidate, or coerce any employee by reason of such employee’s valid claim for compensation or attempt to claim compensation under the Workers’ Compensation Law.”  If you suspect that you have been treated improperly by your employer, you may be able to pursue an action against them.

How long can I receive temporary indemnity benefits?

Although the Florida Workers’ Compensation Law provides a cap of 104 weeks, this has been determined to be unconstitutional.  The result of those findings is that the maximum weeks you can receive temporary indemnity benefits for is now 260 weeks.

Can I sue my employer for being negligent and causing my injury because of their negligence?

It depends.  There is something called workers’ compensation immunity.  If your employer has workers’ compensation coverage and did not intentionally hurt you, you will be unable to sue the employer.  In order to sue an employer, you must be able to prove the following by clear and convincing evidence: that “the employer engaged in conduct that the employer knew, based on prior similar accidents or on explicit warnings specifically identifying a known danger, was virtually certain to result in injury or death to the employee, and the employee was not aware of the risk because the danger was not apparent and the employer deliberately concealed or misrepresented the danger so as to prevent the employee from exercising informed judgment about whether to perform the work.

It is a rare occasion where you are able to meet the burden of proof required in order to be able to sue an employer.  That said, you should recognize that you are entitled to the same workers’ compensation benefits regardless of whether you were negligent and therefore partially at fault for the accident and resulting injuries.

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