Date 12.07.2023

How Does Workers’ Comp Work in Florida & What Does it Cover?

Posted By: Coker Law

Protect Your Rights to Workers’ Compensation After Your Work Injury

If you have been injured on the job, it is important to understand how workers’ compensation works in Florida and what it covers. Your employer has a responsibility to pay for your injuries, but you also have some responsibilities of your own. Let us help you prepare for the workers’ compensation process.

At Coker Law, we are dedicated to defending your rights as an employee. If you have been injured on the job and need assistance with your worker’s compensation claim, contact us today for a free consultation. We have recovered millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements for our clients. 

When Does Worker’s Compensation Law Apply?

Worker’s compensation law applies when you are injured on the job and that injury meets certain requirements. In the 1989 Florida Supreme Court case Byrd v. Richardson-Greenshields Securities, Inc., a two-part test was developed to determine if an injury qualifies for compensation under worker’s comp law. 

For worker's compensation law to apply, the injury must:

  • have been caused by a risk inherent in the nature of the employee’s work
  • have substantially originated from the “time and space” of work.

Furthermore, Section 440.055 of Florida’s Worker’s Compensation Law states that the injury must be established to a reasonable degree of medical certainty and that the inherent risks of employment must be at least 50% off the cause of the accident. Section 440.093 also prohibits worker’s compensation for mental or nervous injuries unless they stem from a physical injury. 

When Does Worker’s Comp Not Apply?

The worker’s compensation law does not apply in certain cases. The Florida Workers’ Compensation Law allows certain employers, those with four employees or less, to opt out of securing payment for worker’s compensation. In these cases, a personal injury claim may be made instead. 

In addition, Section 440.092 states that injuries in the following activities are not compensable:

  • Recreational and social activities, like the office holiday party
  • Going or coming to and from work
  • Deviation from employment, such as leaving the premises for lunch
  • Traveling to a work site
  • Subsequent injuries made worse by the compensable injury

Essentially, you can only be compensated for injuries that occur while you are performing the duties of your position. Additionally, if you are covered by the Federal Employer’s Liability Act, the Longshoreman’s and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act, or the Jones Act, you are not covered by Worker’s Compensation Law.

What Is the Timeline for Worker’s Compensation Claims?

To file a worker’s compensation claim, you must first report the injury to your employer. The law requires that you report the injury to your employer within 30 days, but it is a good idea to report it as soon as possible. 

Within 7 days of receiving your report, the employer must report to their worker’s compensation insurance carrier. That carrier must file information with the Florida department within 14 days, and the carrier must mail out information about your benefits within three days of receiving the report. 

If your worker’s compensation claim is denied by your employer or their insurance carrier, you have two years from the date of injury to file a petition for worker’s compensation benefits. 

Who Is Covered by Worker’s Compensation?

Your injuries are covered by worker’s compensation if you are an employee of the company and you are injured during the normal course of work. This means that you must have been injured while performing work duties, and you must meet the definition of employee. 

However, there are different rules for the construction industry that may allow an independent contractor or subcontractor to collect worker’s compensation benefits. If you have been in a construction accident, it is wise to consult an attorney at the beginning of the process.

What Compensation Is Available From Worker’s Comp?

Your employer is liable for paying medical expenses including physicians, surgeons, pharmacies, physical therapy, and medical supplies relating to your injury. You may also be entitled to a portion of your wages while you are unable to work.

According to Section 440.12, compensation is not allowed for the first 7 days of disability unless you are disabled for more than 21 days. During the time of your disability, you are entitled to weekly pay not to exceed 100% of the average statewide weekly wage. If you are disabled for more than 21 days, you are compensated for the entire duration of your disability, including the first 7 days.

What Can Decrease Compensation in Workers’ Comp?

There are a few instances in which compensation may be decreased, outlined in Section 440.09 of the Florida Worker’s Compensation Law. If the injury involves a preexisting condition, the employer is only required to pay to the extent that the work activities caused the injury. 

Likewise, compensation is decreased by 25% if you refused to use safety equipment or follow safety procedures when you were injured. 

Worker’s Compensation and Medical Marijuana

Florida’s Worker’s Compensation Law prohibits employees from getting worker’s compensation benefits if they are under the influence at the time of the accident. This is determined by a drug test, which may show positive for THC if you use medical marijuana even if you were not under the influence at the time of the injury.

It is important for medical marijuana users to know that the law allows for payment of worker’s compensation benefits if it can be shown that any impairment of the employee was not a contributing factor to the accident. For example, if you are struck by a forklift driven by someone else, your impairment or lack thereof has nothing to do with the cause of the accident. In this case, you could still be entitled to worker’s compensation benefits, but you may need an attorney to fight for you.

Have You Been Injured in a Workplace Accident?

Florida Worker’s Compensation Law is vast and complex, and it is important that you understand all of your rights and responsibilities under the act. This guide should give you some idea of whether or not you need to consult with an attorney. 
If you have been injured on the job and you are concerned about getting your worker’s compensation benefits, contact us today at (904) 356-6071 for a free consultation. Some worker’s compensation cases are more complex than others, and it is wise to consult an attorney early in the process.

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