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Real Answers about Obtaining Benefits for Job-Related Injuries in Florida

If you were hurt at work you may be angry, frustrated and even a little worried about whether everything will work out. You know that obtaining workers’ comp benefits can be complicated and may take a long time, and you may have heard that employers and their insurers can be difficult to work with, even denying legitimate claims in some cases just to frustrate workers into giving up.

The Pensacola workers’ comp lawyers at Whibbs Stone Barnett, watch out for your interests so you can take care of yourself and your family. We have extensive experience successfully representing injured workers in Florida, and we work closely with our clients, taking the time to thoroughly examine their cases and exploring every potential legal avenue toward recovering maximum compensation.

Workers’ compensation benefits were created to pay workers for injuries or illnesses caused or exacerbated in the workplace. Nearly all Florida employers are required by law to offer workers’ compensation insurance. When created, the workers’ comp benefits process was supposed to be straightforward and reduce animosity and litigation. Unfortunately, what we have today is anything but that.

Obtaining Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Pensacola

If you experienced a work-related injury and your employer refuses to cover all medical costs, let a Pensacola workers’ compensation attorney at our firm help you get the compensation you need and are entitled to.

We help obtain benefits such as:

  • Temporary total disability benefits — payment of part of your wages when you are unable to work for a period longer than seven days
  • Payment of necessary medical bills, including anticipated future medical expenses
  • Permanent partial or total disability benefits — payment of part of your wages if your injury keeps you from full employment or from working ever again

If you are injured and unable to work, our attorneys can also look at other possible sources of compensation to help get you through this difficult time.

Third-Party Workplace Injury Claims

In most cases, an injured worker in Florida is not allowed to file a personal injury lawsuit against an employer who carries workers’ compensation coverage. This is the trade-off for a system that is “no-fault” and supposedly provides employees with benefits automatically if they get hurt on the job. All that said, many workplace accidents have multiple contributing factors, and it is often the case that an outside party played a role in the accident.

Examples of third parties that may be responsible for a workplace injury include:

  • Subcontractors: In many workplaces, there are subcontractors that perform various tasks as they work alongside employees. If one of these subcontractors contributes to a workplace accident, the injured worker may be able to bring a personal injury claim directly against them. As an aside, subcontractors who get hurt because of the negligence of a company or their employees can sue the responsible party as well.
  • Outside Property Owners: If an employee is on the job but away from the work site and gets hurt on another party’s property, they can file a premises liability claim against the property owner or caretaker if their negligence contributed to the accident.
  • Vehicle Drivers: When an employee is out making a delivery or they are outside doing something else that is work-related and they are struck by a vehicle, they may be able to bring a personal injury claim against the vehicle driver and/or their insurer.
  • Faulty Product Makers: Some workplace accidents happen because of equipment failures, machinery malfunctions, and similar issues. When an injury at work is caused by defective or dangerous tools, equipment, or machinery, it may be possible to bring a product liability claim against the manufacturer, supplier, or distributor of the faulty product.

Social Security Disability Claims

Even if it turns out that your injury was not work-related and there are no third parties that can be held responsible, you may still be able to obtain some compensation by filing a Social Security Disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security (SSI) claim. Like workers’ compensation, the SSD and SSI claims processes are complicated and confusing, and approximately 70% of disability claimants are denied in their initial application. Our Social Security Disability attorneys can look at your case to help determine if you would qualify for benefits, and we can work with you to bring your application to a successful conclusion.

Common Reasons why Workers’ Compensation Claims are Denied

As we touched on earlier, employers are notorious for denying workers’ comp claims. Some of these denials are legitimate, but many others are not.

Here are some of the most common reasons a claim for workers’ compensation could get denied:

  • The injury was not work-related (e.g., it happened while you were off the clock traveling to or from work).
  • The injury was self-inflicted and/or it happened because of a violation of company policy.
  • You did not seek medical treatment and/or you were not treated by an approved medical provider.
  • There were no witnesses and there is no other proof that the injury really happened.
  • The injury was the result of a pre-existing condition.
  • You failed to report the injury on time.

What Are Your First Steps If Injured on the Job?

It is important to be aware of the steps you should take following a work-related injury to obtain the Pensacola workers’ comp benefits you deserve:

  • Report your injury to your employer immediately. In most cases, a workplace accident victim has 120 days to report an injury. Once the injury is reported, it becomes the employer’s duty to provide medical care and to report the injury to its workers’ compensation insurance company and the State of Florida.
  • Seek advice from an experienced workers’ compensation attorney in Pensacola. A good lawyer can protect your rights and make sure that you file all necessary paperwork completely and on time.
  • Get medical treatment. Your health should be your top priority. Additionally, medical reports may be used as evidence to support your case later in the Pensacola accident litigation process.
  • File a Loss of Wages Claim. You have the right to file this claim if a doctor puts you on medical leave for more than seven consecutive days.

Making Compensation Less Complicated

Your employer and its insurance company have 21 days to notify you whether they accept or deny your Pensacola workers’ comp claim. If your claim is denied, you may file a claim petition with the Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation. Your claim will be assigned to a workers’ comp judge who will hold a hearing and determine whether you are eligible for benefits. You can appeal the judge’s decision to the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board and, if necessary, to state court.

At any point during the process, the insurance company may make a settlement offer. We advise injured workers to seek a legal review of any settlement offer. Only a qualified Pensacola workers’ comp attorney can tell whether the settlement is sufficient to cover your past and future medical expenses and lost wages.

Although it may all sound very complicated, it doesn’t have to be. Our Pensacola workers’ compensation lawyers will explain every detail, so you can make informed decisions as we stick by you through the entire process.

Workers’ Comp Attorneys in Pensacola You Can Trust

If you suffered an accident injury in the workplace and are thinking about filing an accident lawsuit, consider the Pensacola injury law firm of Whibbs Stone Barnett. For a free consultation on all personal injury claims with a workers’ comp lawyer in Pensacola or Fort Walton Beach, contact Whibbs Stone Barnett online or at (850) 434-5395. We look forward to delivering the service you expect and the compensation you deserve.

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