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First Responder Injuries

Posted on Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

If you are injured at work or develop a condition or disease over time because of the kind of work you do, then you may be covered for treatment, lost wages and permanent damage, so you should see an attorney with strong experience and credentials in Workers’ Compensation Law.

Almost all employers, by law, must provide workers’ compensation benefits free of charge to their employees. The Workers’ Compensation Act was designed as financial protection for workers who are unable to perform their duties due to an on-the-job injury. It covers injuries that occur in the course and scope of employment, including repetitive traumas like carpal tunnel syndrome or hypertension for first responders. It does not matter who was at fault for the injury.

It is important to realize that by retaining an attorney, you are not suing your employer. In fact, according to the Workers’ Compensation Act, no injured employee can sue his or her employer for workplace injuries. The claim is filed against the insurance company only. It is also important to know that you cannot be fired for filing a workers’ compensation claim. Section 4 of the Workers’ Compensation Act makes this very clear. Any subsequent breach of Section 4 will provide grounds for the employee to move forward and file a lawsuit against their former employer.

Despite the apparent simplicity of workers’ compensation rules, first attempts to get benefits are often turned down. The insurance companies have attorneys whose job is to minimize the amount of benefits you receive. Not every work injury will result in a permanent impairment. Permanent impairment ratings are based on the anatomical change to the body caused by the injury. If your body heals completely without permanent change, then you may not receive an impairment rating.

Workers’ compensation claims, in part, are based on the impairment rating assigned by the treating physician or an independent examiner. It is important that you retain a qualified workers’ compensation lawyer before contacting your workers’ compensation insurance company. Anything you say to the insurance company can and will be used to delay, reduce, or eliminate your benefits.

Florida Fire Fighters

At Coker, Schickel, Sorenson, Posgay & Iracki we have decades of experience and a strong record of results in assisting victims of claim denial. We help you get the benefits you need and deserve. Senior Partner, Jake Schickel is board certified by The Florida Bar as a specialist in Workers’ Compensation law. Mr. Schickel’s practice has a strong focus on helping first responders, including fire fighters and police, to obtain the benefits they deserve. Mr. Schickel represents only the petitioners in this type of case and does not represent insurance companies or employers. Mr. Schickel also represents individuals whose have been injured in workplace accidents.

Attorneys at Coker, Schickel, Sorenson, Posgay & Iracki are experienced trial attorneys. When negotiations to obtain benefits for injured workers do not succeed, Mr. Schickel takes cases to trial to get the results deserved. He has successfully assisted scores of first responders in their workers’ compensation claims; most of his cases come as referrals from those clients.

Some Information That May Be Helpful

In your workers’ compensation claim, you are entitled to receive payment for travel to and from your doctor appointments.

Workers’ compensation law requires employers to provide medical treatment for injuries incurred on the job regardless of whose fault the injury is. As a trade-off, the injured employee loses the right to sue for pain and suffering, if the injury is compensable under workers’ compensation. This is known as the “exclusive remedy” provision. You should be given a list of three doctors to choose one for treatment.

If you miss more than 7 days of work, you are eligible to receive payment for your lost time from work at the rate of two-thirds of your 13-week average weekly wage. This is known as your compensation rate. You are paid for the first 7 days after you miss 14 days. The compensation rate amounts are capped for high-income employees. We frequently assist our clients when they are having problems receiving their checks.

When you are released by the treating doctor, you are at Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). At that time, the doctor will assess the anatomical change to your body caused by the injury and assign you an Impairment Rating. You have the right to have your own doctor assign an impairment rating as well. This is called an Independent Medical Exam (IME).

The lump sum settlement that some workers get at the end of a workers’ compensation claim is based upon their Impairment Rating and their compensation rate.