For workers’ compensation claims dating after January 1, 1994, the state has issued a Statute of Limitations (SOL), which requires that an injured worker file their petition for benefits within a set time frame in order to receive benefits.
What the Law States
Employers with four or more employees are required under Florida state law to carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage. While there are some exceptions to this rule, generally most employers with four or more employees must have adequate insurance.
However, if you work in a construction-related field, then your employer must carry workers’ compensation insurance even if there are only two employees.
Understanding Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses
In order to qualify for workers’ compensation, an employee must suffer an injury or illness that was acquired during the regular course of employment—meaning while they were on duty, performing tasks for their employer, and within the scope of their job description.
An employee is covered under workers’ compensation insurance regardless if he or she is at fault for an accident or injury. Even if the employer is grossly negligent, the employee will need to file a workers’ compensation insurance claim to receive benefits.
Reporting a Claim in a Timely Manner is Key
You are not only required to report your claim to the insurance company within a specified timeframe, but you must also report the injury to your supervisor or the employer directly.
In Florida, you have 30 days to inform your employer from the date of the accident. If your doctor informs you or discovers a work-related illness, you have 30 days from the date your doctor made the diagnosis to report that to your employer.
You can also file the claim directly with insurance, but you have a maximum of two years from the date of the incident to file your claim. One thing to note is this does not apply to reporting the injury to your employer.
If you do not file your claim or your initial accident report in a timely manner, then you likely risk receiving benefits or a denied claim entirely.
The Extension Rule
Medical care that has been provided or money paid for any lost wages in the second year will extend the statute of limitations for any subsequent claims.
You will have one year from the last day in which benefits were provided: the date of the last check issued or within one year the workers compensation insurance carrier paid out to file another claim with the company. After that, you forfeit any right to compensation.
Can You Sue Instead?
Under Florida law, you cannot sue your employer if you receive workers’ compensation benefits. If you have filed and accepted benefits, then you forfeit your right for any compensation via a personal injury lawsuit.
However, this does not apply to third parties liable for your injuries. Some third parties that may be sued privately outside of receiving workers’ compensation include:
- Contractors or subcontractors working on the job site
- Manufacturers of defective equipment or products that caused your injury
- A driver of a vehicle that caused an accident while you were on duty
Hiring an Attorney is Important
If you have been injured at work, then you will want to contact a West Palm Beach FL workers’ compensation attorney right away. An attorney can ensure that you not only file your claim in a timely manner, but that the claim is accurate so that you receive the compensation you are entitled to.
The attorneys at Scott J. Sternberg & Associates can assist you with your claim. Contact us online or call our offices to schedule a free, no obligation consultation with a workers’ compensation attorney today.