According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 300 people lose their lives each year1 in workplace accidents in Florida. Thousands more are injured. When you’re hurt while on the job in Tampa, you need to know what to do. How you respond can impact your access to financial compensation and the resources you need to rebuild your life and career.
Our Tampa employment law attorneys explain what you should do when injured at work in Tampa, Florida.
1. Seek Emergency Medical Care
When an injury occurs, the first thing to do is to seek emergency medical care. You need to make sure that you are in stable condition and get the medical attention you need. Do not hesitate to contact first responders, go to the emergency room or administer first aid depending on the severity of the injury. Once you have stabilized your condition, you can proceed to report the injury and take other steps to exercise your rights.
2. Report the Injury to Your Employer
Once you’ve attended to your immediate medical needs, your employer needs to know that you’re hurt. Florida law requires you to report the injury to your employer as soon as possible or within 30 days of the injury or when you realize that the illness is work-related. Your employer should complete an incident report and give you a copy of it.
However, if they don’t make a written report, be sure to put your report in writing and deliver it. Emailing your supervisor and copying human resources is a good way to double-check that you have made the appropriate complaint if your employer doesn’t give you a copy in writing.
3. Follow Up on Your Incident Report
Some employers try to get out of workers’ compensation by refusing to take reports. They may try to give you the run around to avoid submitting your report. The employer has seven days to send the notification of the injury to their insurance carrier. They use Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation Form DWC-1 to report medical only and lost-time claims. Within 14 days of knowing lost time from work, they must also submit a wage statement to determine your average weekly wage for compensation.
If they don’t submit the report on time, make the report yourself. The insurance information should be posted at your place of employment. Your employer may face serious fines if they fail to forward your report of injury. Follow up to make sure that this step is taken care of so that your claim can move forward.
Note: In cases of death, the employer must notify the Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation within 24 hours by phone or immediate means. They must also inform the insurance carrier within seven days.
4. Cooperate With the Investigation
The insurance carrier needs certain pieces of information in order to process your claim. They may need to analyze your medical records, ask you to undergo a physical exam and assess your ability to perform work duties.
They also look at your work history and wages. Many workers’ compensation cases fail for lack of information. Be sure that you supply the information needed and cooperate during the investigation so that the insurance company can pay you fairly for your losses.
5. Review Your Benefits
When you receive a determination from the workers’ compensation insurance carrier, it’s time for a careful analysis of your benefits. You may qualify to receive the following benefits:
- Temporary wage loss – if you are unable to work for a period of time while you recover
- Benefits for permanent limitations – compensation for injuries or conditions that are permanent
- Medical care – you should not have to pay for medical care from a work-related injury
- Vocational rehabilitation – to help you get back in the workforce
It’s your right to receive fair workers’ compensation benefits. When you’re hurt at work in Tampa, what you should do includes carefully reviewing the insurance company’s interpretation of the claim. Be sure your injuries and missed time from work are identified correctly. Also, check the calculation of your average weekly wage to ensure that your payments are fair.
6. Continue With Your Medical Program
An important part of workers’ compensation care is medical care and vocational rehabilitation. The goal is to get you feeling better and back to work. That means you must attend your medical appointments and participate in your medical care. Continuing with your treatment requirements is vital to keep your benefits continuing as long as you are entitled and until you can return to work.
7. Appeal Your Benefits if Needed
If you disagree with your determination of benefits, you have the right to appeal the decision. Under Florida law, you have two years from the date of your injury or one year from the wage loss to file an appeal with the DWC.
To pursue the appeal, it’s essential to have evidence to support your claim. You may need medical reports or information about your income to refute what the insurance company is saying about the claim.
Building the evidence you need and filing a timely appeal submission are crucial steps to exercise your right to fair workers’ compensation payments. The insurer must respond to your appeal. A neutral judge reviews the request and may hold hearings in order to make a determination and issue a ruling.
8. Receiving Payments Through Workers’ Compensation in Tampa
Workers’ compensation benefits in Tampa are part of the Florida workers’ compensation system. Chapter 440 of Florida law2 creates laws that apply in Tampa and throughout Florida. The Florida Workers Compensation Division oversees the process. They provide information on coverage requirements, workers’ compensation frequently asked questions and more.
Attorneys for Tampa Workplace Injuries
If you’re injured at work in Tampa, an attorney can ensure that you’re treated fairly. They can determine if you’re being paid what you deserve. They can help you take the proper steps to fight back if you don’t receive the compensation that you’re owed under Florida law. The window to file your claim is short. Contact our lawyers today to review your work injury case.
1Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Fatal Occupational Injuries in Florida — 2019. Retrieved 23 August 2021 from https://www.bls.gov/regions/southeast/news-release/2021/pdf/fatalworkinjuries_florida_20210325.pdf