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Articles Posted in Florida workers’ compensation

A very common occurrence that we assist people with in our practice is what to do when they are involved in a motor vehicle accident while working. Specifically, situations where the accident didn’t happen while going to and coming from work or at lunchtime, but it actually occurred while on the clock and while performing work duties. In these situations, the injured party has a choice between potential sources of recovery. If their employer has Workers’ Compensation insurance then they will likely be required to at least have an initial consultation with a Workers’ Compensation doctor to assess the extent of the injuries. In addition, most employers in the State of Florida require an initial drug test urine screen in order to establish the claimcar accident attorney

A common misconception that occurs in these situations is that the injured party is under the impression that they are required and only have the option to treat under their Workers’ Compensation insurance. However, this is not the case if the injured party is not at fault in the crash and the at-fault party has Bodily Injury insurance coverage. In these situations, in addition to the potential workers’ compensation benefits available, the injured party can also make a claim against the at-fault party’s Bodily Injury insurance. This would provide the injured party two potential sources of recovery for their damages.

In addition the above sources of recovery, an injured party may have yet another avenue to recover for their losses. If the injured party, or the vehicle that they were in when the crash occurred, had Uninsured or Under-insured motorist coverage in their policy this may provide an additional remedy. This coverage would apply if the at-fault party did not have Bodily coverage on their car insurance or if their coverage was not enough to fully compensate the injured party for the full extent of their damages from the crash.

Many employees lost their jobs due to the COVID-19/Coronavirus pandemic and economic fallout. Many others became “remote” employees overnight. However, there is a large subset of individuals who are still continuing to work at physical locations. Initially, this was limited to “essential” workers, however, at present a large percentage of the labor pool is working at a IMG_6339-493-300x200

physical job site on a daily basis. This creates a lot of concerns for employers in the State of Florida, but also, places enormous pressure on the entire work force. Concerns over health and economics and attempting to balance these two essential tenets, can be a high-stress, anxiety-provoking matter.

Florida issued emergency legislation on federal, state and local levels to increase paid and unpaid sick leave and unemployment insurance benefits for COVID-19-related absences. The true gray area that exists is with regards to employees who contract COVID-19 while working – especially now that the work “place” is a fluid term.

As most Floridians are aware as of the date of this blog, the Ron DeSantis, Governor of Florida has issued a “Stay at Home” Order for all of Florida as a result of the global pandemic, COVID-19 (Coronavirus). However, while many individuals have lost their jobs and unemployment is at a historic high, there are still any people who are members of the work force because their jobs are considered “essential.”flu-virus-structure_G1UjIOLd-300x212

Essential employees per the Governor’s executive Order 20-89 are defined, generally as: Healthcare providers, grocery, food banks, and other established engaged in sale of food, food cultivators, businesses that provide food/shelter for homeless, media, gas stations and auto repair, banks, hardware stores, contractors, repair workers, mail and shipping companies, schools (only for online learning), laundry and dry cleaners, restaurants and food preparation, suppliers of essential business needs, airlines and transportation, home-based care for seniors and children, professional services, landscape and pool care, child care centers, telecommunications, architectural services, factories, waste management, and generally businesses that interact with customers through electronic or telephonic means.

Currently, Workers’ Compensation law in the State of Florida, does not extend Workers’ Compensation coverage to all essential workers defined above, however, the State is beginning to take steps in the right direction to extend coverage to some workers.

When an individual applies for a new job, they often receive a pre-employment application and questionnaire. As a part of this application, in addition to being asked about your personal information, the often ask questions about your health and physical well-being. Employers are within their rights to ask about your physical condition prior to employing you in order to assess if you are physically able to perform the work that you are being hired for. This mostly occurs in positions that require physical labor, but can come up in applications for any type of employment.

The most common questions found on pre-employment applications or questionnaires is “Have you ever been injured?” or “Have you ever injured the following body parts,” and includes a list such as neck, knee, shoulder, etc. If you are applying to a job and falsely answer, this can be grounds for a denial of insurance coverage in a Workers’ Compensation claim. In other words, if you are ever injured at that same job where you gave wrong information, your claim may be denied in its entirety.

The Florida Supreme Court in Martin Company v. Carpenter, 132 So. 2d 400 (Fla. 1961) held that a claimant who intentionally misrepresents a pre-existing condition to his employer and who is later injured in a work-related accident will be barred from collecting compensation and medical benefits if certain elements are met. Those elements require the employer to prove (1) the claimant knew the misrepresentation was false; (2) the employer would not have hired the claimant had the employer known the truth about the claimant’s condition; and (3) there exists a causal connection between the pre-existing condition and the subsequent work-related injury.

A manufacturer involved in a Florida accident at work claim is now also facing nearly $400,000 in fines, with federal work safety officials alleging the company failed to protect its employees from this type of work-related accident. accident at work claim

Like many on-the-job amputation injuries in Florida, this one involved lack of machine guarding. While amputations can potentially occur in any type of job site, those at manufacturing plants like this one in Hialeah tend to be much higher. Most who file a Florida accident at work claim for an amputation have lost a finger.

Valuation of Florida Accident at Work Claim for Finger Amputation

Heat-related work hazards are severe in the South. Florida workers’ compensation law does allow for coverage of job site illnesses such as heat stroke – but only when it results in a week or more of lost time at work. As The Miami Herald reported recently, Florida has one of the highest heat-related hospitalizations in the country, with agricultural and construction workers at highest risk. Even that is a low estimate, given that many conditions, such as heart attacks, asthma and even mental illness could be aggravated as a result of high heat. The key is proving those conditions were caused or substantially impacted by conditions of overheating at work – which is why having a Miami workers’ compensation attorney is so essential in these cases.Florida workers' compensation law

The problem is only going to get worse, according to a number of worker advocacy groups, thanks to rapidly rising temperatures due to climate change. A health project coordinator for the Farmworker Association of Florida stated many workers in the field have reported a noted rise in the temperatures as they work day in day out in the blazing Florida sun. A recent report by the United Nations revealed average U.S. temperatures have risen more than 1 degree Fahrenheit in the last three decades. Unchecked, it will rise another 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100, which the U.N. said could have a catastrophic impact for humans in general. Continue reading ›

Florida workers’ comp benefits cannot be backdated in order to cover a previous work-related injury. That’s the recent ruling from Florida’s 1st District Court of Appeals, which held (unsurprisingly) that people who are uninsured can’t suffer a loss, scramble for insurance and then assume that cost will be covered.workers comp benefits

It’s not a stunning ruling by any means, given that this is generally the way insurance works – whether it’s workers’ comp benefits or car insurance or health insurance. You can’t be covered after the fact.

As noted by the Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation, pretty much all employers conducting work in the state of Florida are mandated to maintain workers’ compensation insurance for their employees, with specific requirements dictated by type of industry, organization structure and number of workers. Companies do not need to pay insurance for workers’ comp benefits for those who are independent contractors as opposed to employees, but employee misclassification is a serious problem in Florida employment law. Some companies have been caught skirting their obligations by wrongly classifying workers as independent contractors to avoid paying workers’ compensation insurance. If a work injury or illness occurs in this scenario, that injury won’t be covered by insurance, but the worker will have the right to sue the employer for negligence and obtain compensation far in excess of what would have been paid in Florida workers’ comp benefits.  Continue reading ›

Florida construction workers are either business owners or employees, and most all are required to secure workers’ compensation, which covers benefits for job-related employee injuries. Up to three officers in a single business corporation can obtain a Florida workers’ compensation exemption. However, it’s not allowed for construction businesses that are simply looking to for a way around paying workers’ compensation insurance premiums. More often than not, that’s the case, though our Miami workers’ compensation attorneys have found in these cases, it’s more likely the employer failed to file for a Florida workers’ compensation exemption at all. Florida workers' compensation exemption

Furthermore, even when a company files for Florida workers’ compensation exemption, it does not exempt them from liability under the state’s workers’ comp laws. First of all, as noted by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, the state requires all employer/ businesses to purchase workers’ compensation coverage with very few exceptions and stipulates workers’ compensation is the sole remedy for employees who have suffered a work-related injury. In turn, these businesses become immune from most injury lawsuits employees might otherwise be entitled to bring. Workers’ compensation covers benefits like medical expenses, disability and death.

Although the law requires most non-construction industry businesses to secure workers’ compensation if they have four or more employees – including those who work part-time. In the construction industry, you must secure workers’ compensation insurance if you have one or more employees. As our Miami workers’ compensation attorneys can explain, this is due to the fact construction work is well-established to be incredibly risky, and on-the-job injuries tend to be more common than in other professions. The likelihood one will need to claim workers’ compensation is higher. Continue reading ›

Workers in retail stores in South Florida face high rates of injury, especially during this time of the year where shoppers are facing holiday sales events, the infamous “Black Friday” and others. Although retail employees do not work with heavy equipment, in recent years the injury rates of retail employees is on a par with the injury rate of employees in the construction industry.

Unfortunately, at this time of year in South Florida , retail workers may be especially at risk at this time of the year for several reasons. Firstly, during the holiday season, stores employ seasonal/temporary workers, and this may mean that they are less accustomed to the hazards of the workplace and have much less training and experience than long-term employees. Since this is the busiest season for sales, workers are also more likely to deal with large crowds, aggressive buyers, and longer hours.  The longer hours can lead to fatigue at work which inevitably leads to higher risk for injury.

The crowds during Holiday sales in South Florida are a huge concern for employees in retail stores, especially “big box” retailers that hold some of their biggest sales of the year. For example, “Black Friday” sales and additional holiday sales during the latter part of the year are designed to attract considerable crowds. In some stores, customers line up outside stores for hours before opening and then rush in once the doors open.  These holiday sales have the potential to create many types of injuries including:

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