Fort Walton Beach Workers’ Compensation Lawyers
In Florida, most employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance in case their employees get injured on the job. In most industries, if a company has four or more employees (including business owners), they must provide workers’ comp coverage. In the construction industry, all companies with one or more employees must carry coverage, and contractors are required to verify that all subcontractors are insured before they begin work on a project.
The workers’ compensation system ensures that employees in Fort Walton Beach and throughout Florida have “no-fault” coverage in case they end up with a work-related injury or illness. This means that an injured employee should be eligible for benefits regardless of who was at fault for the accident – even if the employee was responsible.
There are some exceptions to this rule, such as self-inflicted wounds, injuries that happen while an employee is intoxicated, and other violations of company policy. But in general, workers can receive workers’ comp benefits for any work-related injury or illness.
The trade-off for having a no-fault worker’s compensation system is that employees are generally prohibited from suing their employers for a workplace accident and injury. As long as your Fort Walton Beach area employer has workers’ comp coverage, this is the avenue you must pursue in order to receive compensation for your injuries. There are, however, instances in which a party other than the employer or a coworker is responsible for the accident; and in such cases, it may be possible to file a personal injury lawsuit directly against the at fault party (more on this later).
Although the workers’ compensation system does not require an employee to prove negligence in order to recover benefits, this does not mean that the claims process is easy. Employers and their insurers make things a lot more complicated than they should be, and it is not uncommon for them to wrongfully deny benefits just to frustrate an employee into giving up. To help ensure that this does not happen to you, it is highly recommended that you work with an experienced Fort Walton Beach workers’ compensation attorney.
At the law offices of Whibbs Stone Barnett, P.A., we understand that workplace injuries can take a major physical, emotional, and financial toll on injured workers and their families, and we do everything possible to help ensure that you are approved for the level of workers’ comp benefits you deserve. Our attorneys have several decades of experience successfully representing those who have suffered all types of personal injuries, and we have extensive knowledge of this area of the law.
We routinely go up against well-funded adversaries such as large employers and their insurers, and we provide a strong voice for those who have been injured at work to help ensure that they are not taken advantage of. Our depth of experience with all types of personal injury cases allows us to explore other avenues through which injured workers may be able to recover compensation. And we can also help Fort Walton Beach clients qualify for Social Security Disability benefits if they are eligible for them.
Benefits Available to Fort Walton Beach Workers
Workers’ compensation allows you to receive the help you need to get back on your feet after a workplace injury. Workers’ comp benefits include:
- Reasonable and necessary medical and rehabilitation expenses.
- Temporary disability benefits – a percentage of lost earnings if your injury keeps you out of work temporarily.
- Retraining costs to train you for a new position if your injury does not allow you to go back to your job.
- Permanent disability benefits – if your injury results in a permanent disability, you are eligible to receive ongoing benefits until you are 75 years old, or in many cases, the insurance company will offer a lump sum to settle the case.
- Death benefits for surviving family members if an employee suffers a work-related fatality.
If you or a loved one has suffered a workplace injury in the Fort Walton Beach area, it is very important to act quickly to ensure that you are not denied benefits. In Florida, you typically have 30 days in which to report your injury/illness to your employer, and this should be done in writing so there is a paper trail.
Once your injury is reported, you will usually have up to two years to file a workers’ compensation claim. At this point, be sure to seek prompt medical attention, follow your doctor’s recommendations, and retain an experienced attorney to handle your claim.
When an Outside Party is Responsible for a Fort Walton Beach Workplace Injury
As we touched on earlier, there are many instances in which an outside party (other than you, your employer or a coworker) may be responsible for a workplace accident and subsequent injury. When this is the case, an injured employee can file a personal injury lawsuit against the party that caused the accident. This opens the door to recover damages that are not available through a workers’ compensation claim.
Workers’ compensation provides benefits only for economic losses that the injured worker sustains, such as medical bills and lost earnings. A personal injury claim, on the other hand, allows a plaintiff to obtain compensation for noneconomic losses such as pain-and-suffering, emotional distress, and diminished quality of life.
Examples of cases in which an outside party could be held liable for a workplace accident include:
- Accidents caused by third party subcontractors that are working nearby an employee (this scenario is especially common on construction job sites).
- Vehicle or traffic-related accidents caused by other drivers who crash into an employee while s/he is on the job.
- Accidents that result from defective or dangerous equipment or machinery.
A thorough investigation should be performed shortly after the workplace accident in order to identify the cause and all contributing factors. And this should be done by attorneys who know what to look for and have the proven ability to hold those responsible for workplace injuries fully accountable.
Speak with a Skilled and Knowledgeable Fort Walton Beach Workers’ Compensation Attorney
For workplace injury claims in Fort Walton Beach and throughout the Florida Panhandle, contact Whibbs Stone & Barnett for a free consultation and case assessment. We will meet with you to thoroughly analyze your case and advise you of your legal rights and options. To get started, message us online or call our office today at 1-888-219-4561.