What Is Workers’ Compensation and How Does It Work?

Imagine you’re hurt at work. Suddenly, you need to know how you can support your family while you’re injured and where you can find financial support. You may have questions about workers comp. What is it, and do I qualify? If I qualify, what does that mean? These are all great questions as you set out to navigate the system. Our Tampa workers’ compensation attorneys explain what you need to know about workers’ comp and how it works.

What Is Workers’ Compensation Insurance?

Workers’ compensation is a group of laws that cover work-related injuries. The purpose of the laws is to create uniform rules and benefits for people who are hurt on the job. Individuals covered by workers’ compensation in Florida [1] do not have to prove that the accident is their employer’s fault. That may make it easier for them to claim compensation than under traditional personal injury laws.

Individuals covered by workers’ compensation insurance have access to medical care, replacement income and other benefits. If you’re hurt while performing work duties in Florida, workers’ comp benefits will help you cover expenses.

How Does Workers’ Compensation Work in Tampa?

A Tampa workers’ compensation claim goes through the following steps to claim compensation:

  • An individual gets hurt at work
  • They report the injury to their employer
  • In turn, the employer reports the injury to their insurer within seven days
  • The insurer sends a brochure about workers’ compensation to the worker within three days
  • Medical care is covered for the victim, including treatment and prescriptions
  • The insurer calculates the victim’s lost work and average weekly income
  • Payments begin for the worker, including 66⅔% of lost pay
  • When the employee is able, they return to work
  • If an employee disagrees with the workers’ comp payment, they have a right to challenge the decision through an appeals process

In Florida, much of the process for how workers’ compensation works is found in Florida law 440.185 [2].

Who Pays For Workers’ Compensation?

Victims get paid while on workers’ comp to the extent that they are unable to work. In order to have these benefits, your employer pays for workers’ compensation coverage for employees. There is no payroll deduction for workers’ comp like other types of medical insurance.

If your injuries are such that you cannot work, you receive make-up to pay for lost income. In Florida, this income is calculated by looking at the previous 13 weeks of employment. Then, you receive 66⅔% of your average weekly pay for the period you are unable to work.

Some things may impact your payment amounts, such as being able to continue to work in some capacity and other payments you may be received simultaneously. Social security (SSDI), for example, may affect the amount you are awarded through workers’ comp.

How Long Do I Have To Report a Work Injury in Florida?

In Florida, you should report a work injury as soon as possible. However, you have up to 30 days to report the injury. You should always make your report as quickly as possible because lapses can delay payment and create questions about the injuries you receive and the timeline of events. Make your report by notifying your employer and creating a written statement.

Can Your Employer Fire You for Claiming Workers’ Compensation?

No, your Tampa employer cannot fire you for claiming workers’ compensation. It is the right of all employees to take advantage of their benefits under the law. Payment, when injured, is no exception. If an employer fires you for claiming workers’ compensation, they are responsible for wrongful termination.

Do You Have To Pay Taxes on Workers’ Compensation?

No, you do not pay taxes on workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation payments themselves are not taxed. However, if you are able to work light duty, you pay taxes on that income. In addition, if you also receive SSDI payments, they are subject to tax. However, most recipients of SSDI do not have sufficient funds to pay large amounts of taxes.

How Soon Do I Receive a Check for Workers’ Compensation in Florida?

In Tampa, you should receive a check within 21 days of the first report of your injury (Florida statutes 440.20 [3]). The delay is the time it takes for the insurance company to receive your report and calculate your average weekly wage. Once you begin to receive payments, they should occur at least twice per month. If you are not getting payments, contact your insurance company or the State of Florida’s employee assistance line at (800) 342-1741.

What Injuries Qualify for Workers’ Compensation?

Injuries that occur during the course of employment qualify for workers’ compensation. Here are some examples.

  • An employee is carrying a box of supplies from the back room. She trips and falls and breaks her arm. Their medical bills and lost wages are covered.
  • Workers drive carts to various locations as part of the job. One cart strikes another. The employee is thrown from the cart and sustains head trauma.
  • During business travel, there is a car accident causing a serious injury. The individual was traveling from one business call to another.
  • Part of the job includes hooking up equipment. When another employee fails to disengage a safety lever, the victim suffers from electric shock, causing severe burns and complications.
  • One of the tasks of the job is lifting several heavy bags each day. Over time, the worker develops a problem with his shoulder. He ends up needing surgery for pain and mobility.

There may be some questions about whether an injury occurs during the scope of employment. Transportation is covered as long as the individual is traveling on their employer’s orders at the time of the accident. The commute to and from work is generally not covered, but required travel for appointments and training is. Some kinds of horseplay may also be covered in Florida as long as it was a minor deviation without obvious risk for the employee.

What Are My Rights if Workers’ Compensation Doesn’t Pay?

If workers’ compensation doesn’t pay, or if it doesn’t pay you fairly, you have the right to challenge the decision. You may exercise your right to a hearing. In order to succeed at the hearing, you need to know what workers’ compensation should be paying you.

You must have the evidence in place to answer any questions that the claims examiner has about the case and how you should be paid. That may include having significant medical evidence and a number of witnesses. You have the right to assistance from a Tampa attorney for workers’ compensation.

Tampa Attorneys for Workers’ Compensation

Have you been hurt at work? Our Tampa employment law attorneys can fight to ensure that you receive the compensation that you deserve. We have a fully-staffed legal team and decades of experience handling complex workers’ compensation cases on behalf of victims. We know how to calculate workers’ compensation wages and get you the financial relief you need now. Contact us today for your free consultation.

Legal References:

[1] Florida Department of Financial Services. Division of Workers’ Compensation. Workers’ Compensation. Retrieved 14 April 2021 from https://www.myfloridacfo.com/division/wc/

[2] FLA. STAT. § 440.185 (2020)

[3] FLA. STAT. § 440.20 (2020)

The information contained herein is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.

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