Accidents can happen anywhere, including at work. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports 5,190 employees died from on-the-job injuries in 2021, while another 2.6 million employees suffered workplace injuries or illnesses.
If you get sick or hurt at work, it’s natural to wonder about your rights. You may be entitled to compensation; in some cases, you may have grounds to pursue a lawsuit.
If I get hurt at work, who pays?
Florida employers that meet the state’s criteria must provide worker’s compensation. If you get injured at work, you should file an injury report to seek benefits through your employer’s worker’s compensation plan.
What can be covered?
Worker’s compensation covers necessary expenses when a person becomes ill or is injured at work. Covered expenses include the following:
- Loss of income: Worker’s compensation covers two-thirds of your typical salary
- Medical bills: Worker’s compensation covers required medical care related to your workplace injuries or illness, including doctor’s appointments, physical therapy, medical tests, and surgery
- Medication: Employees can receive compensation for prescriptions and assistive devices
- Retraining: Some employees can’t return to work due to their illness or injuries. In these cases, worker’s compensation may pay for job retraining.
- Wrongful death benefits: When a person dies from a workplace illness or injury, their surviving family members may seek compensation for wrongful death. The decedent’s family can pursue reimbursement for funeral expenses and other costs. Florida statutes limit the total compensation amount to no more than $150,000.
Common injuries sustained on the job in Florida
Floridians experience many of the same causes of workplace injuries as other states in the U.S., including the following:
- Collisions: These include collisions with other employees or workplace vehicles. Florida’s percentage of fatalities involving workplace transportation incidents is lower than the national average.
- Contact with equipment or objects: Workers may be struck by falling objects. Workers are also at risk when workplace equipment moves. The number of Florida workplace fatalities involving those who died from contact with equipment or objects in 2021 is 12.4%, 1.2% below the 13.6% of workplace fatalities for the U.S.
- Exposure to harmful substances or environments: Harmful substances and environments include exposure to toxic fumes, asbestos, lead, and other dangerous substances. Workers in Florida are more likely to die from this type of exposure than workers throughout the rest of the U.S. In 2021, 18.7% of Florida’s workplace fatalities involved exposure to harmful substances or environments. The nation’s workplace fatalities from this source were 15.4%.
- Lacerations: Employees may receive cuts from handling machinery or other equipment in the workplace. Employees can also receive lacerations from broken glass or metal.
- Slip-and fall-accidents: Causes of workplace slip-and-fall accidents include slippery floors. Florida has a higher rate of fatal slip-and-fall accidents than the rest of the U.S.
- Strains: When grouped with tears and sprains, strains are the most common cause of employee injuries in the U.S.
How long do you have to report a workplace injury?
Employees must file a report if they become ill or injured in the workplace. Employees should notify their employer to expedite their claim and ensure they receive time off for medical appointments. Under Florida statutes, employees must make a report no more than 30 days after the injury manifests or the incident causing injury occurs. This allows those who don’t realize they have an illness or injury to start their deadline at the point when they know they’re ill or injured.
Florida laws regarding workplace injuries
Employers must provide safe work environments, and Florida law authorizes OSHA to investigate and shut down unsafe worksites. Workers’ rights include the right to report concerns confidentially without fear of retribution from their employer.
Florida statutes also outline who qualifies for workers’ compensation and which businesses are exempt from providing workers’ compensation benefits. Business owners and managers must comply with Florida statutes and industry standards.
There are two deadlines employees should be aware of when dealing with a workplace illness or injury. As noted, the deadline for filing an injury report is 30 days. The illness or injury must be reported to your place of work so you can receive worker’s compensation benefits.
The other deadline involves the statute of limitations for legal action. You may wonder how long you have to sue your employer for causing your illness or injuries. The state’s statute of limitations for personal injuries applies to workplace illnesses and injuries, which means you have 24 months to initiate a lawsuit.
Issues you may face when filing a claim
Although workers have rights, employers may deny injury or illness claims. Sometimes, employers may fight a lawsuit because a successful claim could increase their insurance rates. It’s also possible a successful claim could cause complications if safety issues weren’t addressed after inspectors noted the problems in prior inspections. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) compliance officers can stop work at unsafe locations.
Workers’ compensation may also deny claims. They’re more likely to deny a claim if the employer disputes the illness or injury. They may also deny the claim if the paperwork contains incorrect information or if it was filed late.
Although employment law prohibits employers from firing anyone on worker’s compensation, some employers disregard the law. Suppose you’ve been terminated while pursuing or receiving a worker’s compensation claim. In that case, you may have grounds to file a wrongful termination lawsuit.
How can a personal injury lawyer help me after a workplace accident?
Coping with an illness or injury can be stressful and overwhelming. When employers fight your claim, it can add to your stress levels. You may find yourself wondering how to pay your medical bills, and you may be struggling to pay your regular bills if you’re unable to work and worker’s compensation denies your claim.
We have experience fighting for employees. We aim to ensure your rights are respected and strive to get you the compensation you deserve. Call us for a free consultation to discuss your case. If we represent you, you will only pay legal fees once we win your case.
Injured Worker Frequently Asked Questions. (2023).
Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities. (2023).