Work-related injuries can be confusing.
In this article, we’ll answer some common questions about workers compensation eligibility.
If you’ve been in the workplace for long enough, you’ve likely heard about workers compensation. You know it has something to do with workplace injuries, but beyond that, you probably don’t put any thought into workers comp at all.
That is, until the workplace injury happens to you.
Once workers comp becomes more than hypothetical, you may discover that you don’t understand it at all. “I get hurt and just get paid? This sounds too easy. Do I qualify for workers comp?”
In this blog, we’ll look at who is eligible for workers compensation, what it covers, and how to get the best results from your case.
Does My Employer Have Workers Comp Coverage?
Many people are under the impression that workers compensation is a program that is funded and run by the government. While the government does oversee workers comp, it’s actually a type of insurance policy purchased by employers.
In Florida, employers with more than four employees (including business owners) are required to carry workers compensation coverage. However, there are exceptions to this for the construction and agriculture industries.
Construction companies must carry workers comp for even a single employee and businesses in the agricultural industry are required to carry it if they have more than six regular employees or 12 seasonal employees who work between 30-45 days a year.
Who Is Eligible For Workers Compensation?
In order to file a workers comp claim, you must be considered an employee. While this sounds very straightforward, it can be complicated depending on your employment status.
For example, under Florida law, unpaid interns and volunteers are not considered employees and thus would not be eligible for lost wage replacement benefits (because they don’t earn a wage). However, there are some cases where an unpaid intern may be eligible for medical treatment and vocational training.
Another exception is independent contractors, who are responsible for providing their own workers compensation coverage.
It’s worth noting here that your employer cannot just call all of their workers independent contractors to avoid paying for workers compensation coverage. The law is very clear on the definition of “independent contractor.”
Other than these exceptions, the definition of “employee” is fairly broad and applies to full-time, part-time, and seasonal workers.
Do I Qualify For Workers Comp?
The next thing to consider is whether your unique situation qualifies you for workers comp benefits.
Under Florida law, it isn’t the severity of your injuries that matters, but the cause. Workers compensation declares that injuries must occur in the course and scope of your employment in order to be covered.
If you were injured as a result of engaging in horseplay or a fight in which you were the aggressor, your workers compensation claim will likely be denied. You would also not be covered if you were under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, or deliberately caused your injuries and if you were not following standard safety protocols, your benefits could be reduced.
How Do I File a Workers Compensation Claim?
Once you have determined that you are eligible for workers compensation, you need to file a claim with your employer as soon as possible.
While the initial report to your employer may be done verbally, we suggest that you always follow verbal notification with an email to get as much information in writing as you can. Your employer may ask you to fill out a notice of injury form or incident report to detail the events surrounding the injury.
Your employer will then notify their insurance company, who will choose an authorized treating physician to oversee your care.
In this initial medical treatment, you should explain how the injury was sustained and all of the symptoms or pain you are experiencing. While your account should always be accurate, truthful, and consistent, you also want to choose your words carefully so you don’t jeopardize your case.
How We Can Help
If you have any questions about your workers compensation eligibility, a workers comp attorney can help.
At the Law Office of Brian D. Tadros, P.A., we practice workers compensation law and only workers compensation law. Our knowledge and experience have given us unique insight into what you can expect from your case.
If you’ve been injured while on the job, it is vital that you contact a workers comp lawyer as soon as possible—even if you don’t plan on pursuing a case. In the event that your claim becomes a struggle, having a lawyer who is familiar with the details of your case will make a huge difference in getting a desirable outcome.
Plus, there is no charge for the initial consultation and if you hire us, we only get paid if we secure benefits for you or if your case settles and, even then, you never have to write a check for hiring us. Instead, this is a contingency fee case which means we simply either get paid by the insurance company if we litigate something successfully or we withhold our fees and costs out of your settlement proceeds.
Contact our office today so we can advise you of your next steps.