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Benefits For Injured Workers

Victims who are injured or killed in car crashes are normally entitled to compensation for both their economic and noneconomic damages. When workers who are “on the clock” are hurt in such collisions, what relief is available?

Many other people in the Sunshine State have had the same question in recent months. Earlier this year, the Florida Supreme Court narrowly upheld the “exclusive remedy” provision in the state’s law. A few weeks later, the Justices narrowly threw out a key portion of the law which pertained to attorney compensation. At least one other major case is still pending, and the Supreme Court may be asked to issue a ruling sometime this year.

Workers’ Compensation System

These questions are part of a larger issue, which is the “grand bargain” between workers and management which gave rise to workers’ compensation laws, starting about a hundred years ago. In this agreement, which was never formalized, workers gave up their right to sue in court for damages related to workplace injuries in exchange for a system of no-fault insurance that paid economic losses. These losses include:

  • Lost wages,
  • Lost future income,
  • Emergency medical care,
  • Hospitalization and corrective surgeries,
  • Follow-up medical care,
  • Physical rehabilitation,
  • Medical devices, and
  • Prescription drugs.

In most cases, the provider agrees to accept a certain fee for each service and the injured victim is not responsible for any overages.

But there is concern among many that the “bargain” is more and more one-sided, because of decreasing benefits and increasing costs. This concern is why the system is being challenged in Florida, Oklahoma, and other jurisdictions throughout the country. This concern also underscores the need for an aggressive attorney in workers’ compensation matters, so injured workers can obtain a fair-sized piece of a shrinking pie.

Covered Injuries

Victims do not have to prove fault in order to obtain benefits for:

  • Trauma Injuries: Motor vehicle crashes, falls, and other incidents routinely cause broken bones, severe lacerations, and other injuries.
  • Occupational Diseases: By definition, these conditions manifest themselves over the course of more than one work shift. These injuries include carpal tunnel syndrome, sick building syndrome, repetitive stress disorder, and other such injuries.

In the case of a temporary disability, most victims are entitled to two-thirds of their average weekly wage for up to two years.

Procedurally, most claims are initially referred to a mediation conference. If the insurance company and injured worker cannot agree to a settlement, the matter goes before an administrative law judge who presides over a formal hearing. In some cases, an adverse ruling can be brought before the First District Court of Appeals.

Rely on Experienced Attorneys

To guide your case through the workers’ compensation system, contact an experienced attorney in Port St. Lucie. At the Eighmie Law Firm, P.A., we do not charge upfront legal fees in workers’ compensation matters.

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