101 Frequently Asked Florida Workers' Compensation Questions

The answers below are designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. If you have questions regarding your specific case, please use our Find A Lawyer tool to contact an attorney to discuss your case.

51. What is a workers’ compensation mediation?

Mediation is an informal meeting of the parties at which time the parties attempt to either resolve any matters that may be disputed on the claim or settle the claim in its entirety. Mediations are presided over by a neutral third party mediator. The mediator has no power to order either party to do anything they do not want to do other than to appear at the mediation. Mediations are either mandatory or voluntary. Anytime a Petition for Benefits is filed on your claim, you appear at a mandatory mediation before the claims are decided by the Judge of Compensation Claims. Mediation can be a very successful tool for resolving issues that are in dispute or settling the case.

52. What is a deposition?

Depositions are formal proceedings where an attorney to the case can take sworn testimony from parties or witnesses (doctors, co-workers, employer representatives and the like). Depositions are a very important part of the litigation process. It is not advisable for any party to attend a deposition without having an attorney to properly prepare them for the deposition and to voice any necessary objections during the course of the deposition.

53. Can I sue my employer or a co-employee in Florida for careless and reckless behavior that caused me to incur a severe injury?

In virtually all instances the answer is no. In order to seek a remedy other that Workers’ Compensation, an injured worker has to show that their employer or co-employee’s action were such that it was all but certain that it would result in severe injury or the death of the injured worker.

54. Are independent contractors covered under Florida Workers’ Compensation Law?

The answer to this question depends on the type of work that the independent contractor is performing at the time they are injured and whether the independent contractor has exempted themselves from workers’ compensation. This is a complex issue that requires the review of a qualified attorney.

55. What do attorneys typically charge for attorney’s fees under Florida Workers’ Compensation law?

The workers’ compensation attorney’s fee statute indicates that for dates of accident occurring on or after 1/1/1994, the fees that an attorney can charge an injured worker are limited to 10% of the first $5,000.00, 15% of the next $5,000.00, and 10% of anything over $10,000.00.  However, this statute was found to be unconstitutional and attorneys may contract with their clients for amounts that exceed these limits subject to the findings of a judge of compensation claims that the attorney’s fee charged is reasonable given the circumstance of the particular case.  Additionally, if the Employer/Carrier failed to provide benefits timely or wrongfully denied benefits, they may be held responsible for paying the Claimant’s reasonable attorney’s fees related to those denied benefits .

56. Do I have to go to court to get workers’ compensation in Florida?

It all depends on the position the Employer/Carrier takes on your claim. If all efforts to resolve the issues in dispute informally are unsuccessful, you will need to go to court to have the Judge determine whether you will receive the benefits. It is important to understand that a Judge of Compensation Claims has no power to decide how much your case will settle for. In other words, if you want $100,000.00 and the insurance company is only willing to pay $10,000.00, you cannot go to court to ask the Judge to force the insurance company to pay more than the $10,000.00 they are wiling to offer. The only way your case can settle is if both sides agree to the amount.

57. Are part time employees covered under Florida Workers’ Compensation?

Yes.

58. Will my Employer or their insurance company be responsible for paying for my attorney’s fees and costs in my case?

Only if the insurance does not provide you with benefits requested through the filing of a Petition for Benefits and the insurance carrier does not provide the benefits to you within 30 days of receiving the Petition for Benefits and your attorney is successful in securing the benefits after the 30 days have elapsed from the filing of the Petition for Benefits.

59. If I go to court and lose, will I have to pay for my Employer or their insurance company’s fees and costs?

You are not responsible for the other side’s attorney’s fees unless it can be shown that the Petition for Benefits you filed were frivolous or meritless. You are responsible for the other side’s costs if you lose.

60. Are accidents covered that occur on the way to or coming home from the job?

Routine travel to or from work to or from home is generally not covered by workers’ compensation. However, there are a few exceptions to the rule that would require a qualified attorney to advocate on your behalf.

61. Are minors covered under Florida Workers’ Compensation Law?

yes.

62. How do workers’ compensation attorneys charge or their services?

Most attorneys represent clients based upon a contingency agreement with no amounts being due from the client up front.  The workers’ compensation attorney’s fee statute indicates that for dates of accident occurring on or after 1/1/1994, the fees that an attorney can charge an injured worker are limited to 10% of the first $5,000.00, 15% of the next $5,000.00, and 10% of anything over $10,000.00.  However, this statute was found to be unconstitutional and attorneys may contract with their clients for amounts that exceed these limits subject to the findings of a judge of compensation claims that the attorney’s fee charged is reasonable given the circumstance of the particular case.  Additionally, if the Employer/Carrier failed to provide benefits timely or wrongfully denied benefits, they may be held responsible for paying the Claimant’s reasonable attorney’s fees related to those denied benefits.

63. At what point should I consult an attorney regarding my workers’ compensation insurance?

As soon as possible.

64. What happens if my Employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance?

Provided your employer is required to have workers’ compensation insurance, meaning that they do construction related work or have 4 or more employees, you have the option of still pursuing workers’ compensation benefits directly from your employer or suing your employer in a tort claim in Circuit Court.

65. Do I have to use the pharmacy that the workers’ compensation insurance company wants me to use?

No. You are allowed to use the pharmacy of your choice.

66. Can my employer fire me because I made a valid workers’ compensation claim?

No. Pursuant to Florida law, an Employer cannot retaliate against an injured worker because they filed a workers’ compensation claim. If you believe that you have been fired because you were injured at work, you should consult a qualified attorney immediately.

67. Are there benefits under Florida workers’ compensation law for permanent injury or disfigurement?

Yes. There benefits are known as impairment benefits.

68. Does my employer have to have workers’ compensation insurance?

The answer depends on the kind of work your employer engages in. If your employer is involved in construction related work, they must have coverage for any employees. If your employer is not involved in construction related work, they are only required to have coverage if they have 4 or more employees.

69. My employer uses a leasing company. Who is my employer for the workers’ compensation claim?

The leasing company.

70. Can I use my group health insurance instead of workers’ compensation?

Virtually all health insurance policies will exclude treatment for work related injuries that are covered by workers’ compensation.

71. How long can I receive workers’ compensation benefits if I am totally disabled?

The answer to this question varies depending on your date of accident and whether the treating physicians have determined that you are at maximum medical improvement for your work related injury.

72. Can the decision of the workers’ compensation judge be appealed?

Yes. However, there are strict time limitations on the filing of an appeal.

73. How long must I be out of work before I am eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits?

You are entitled to workers’ compensation medical benefits as soon as you are injured. You cannot collect monetary compensation for the first 7 days of your disability unless your injury results in disability that last for more than 21 days.

74. How long do I have to work for my employer in order to be covered under Florida workers’ compensation law?

Provided your Employer has a valid workers’ compensation insurance policy, you are covered starting with your first day at work.

75. In addition to injuries from accidents, does Florida workers’ compensation law cover sickness or diseases?

Yes. However, due to recent changes in the Florida workers’ compensation law, it can be all but impossible to prove claims arising from sickness or disease. It is not advisable that any injured worker attempt to go forward with a claim based on sickness or disease without the assistance of a qualified attorney.