Don’t Be Afraid to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Fear of retaliation is entirely human. If you’re like most people, you may worry that certain actions could bring about negative consequences for yourself, so you often opt for taking no action at all. But in the case of workers’ compensation, if you’ve been injured in the workplace, you have a right to file a claim for yourself. It’s the reason such laws exist: So you, as the employee, can receive the compensation you deserve while feeling assured that you will not suffer retaliation from your employer.
You Can’t Be Fired for Filing
If fear of being fired from a job that you still wish to come back to after you recover from your injury is what’s keeping you from filing your claim, know that your concern is misplaced. When you file a workers’ comp claim, your employer legally cannot retaliate against you for filing the claim by firing you for it. They can’t even take away your work benefits because you got injured and forced them to use their workers’ comp insurance. If you file a claim and were subsequently let go for some reason, you can still fight your workers’ comp case even if you no longer have the job that caused the injury. And if you believe you’ve been unjustly fired after filing a claim, seek legal help as soon as possible.
Do keep in mind, however, that your employer can let you go if your injury has impacted your ability to do your job in the long-run. They may not fire you directly for filing your claim, but they can let you go later on if you’re no longer able to perform the duties required by the job you held. This scenario most often arises in cases of severe and permanently debilitating injuries.
The Law is on Your Side
If being fired isn’t what you’re most fearful of, but rather you’re unsure of what our state laws can provide you with, rest easy knowing the law is most likely on your side. If you were injured at work and are legally classified as an “employee” (as opposed to something like an “independent contractor”), you are most likely eligible for workers’ compensation. According to the law, employers conducting work within the state of Florida are required to provide workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. The Bureau of Compliance has set forth coverage requirements making workers’ compensation insurance a necessity when specific types of employers meet certain employee number thresholds:
- Construction Industry: One or more employees, including the owner of the business, who are corporate officers or Limited Liability Company (LLC) members.
- Non-Construction Industry: Four or more employees, including business owners who are corporate officers or LLC members.
- Agricultural Industry: Six regular employees and/or twelve seasonal workers who work more than 30 days during a season, but no more than a total of 45 days in a calendar year.
- Out-of-State Employees: Must notify their own insurance carrier that they are working in Florida. If there is no insurance, the employer must obtain a Florida Workers’ Compensation Insurance policy with a Florida-approved insurance carrier in order to receive legal coverage of workers’ compensation.
Whether you work for a small business with less than ten employees on their payroll, or you work for a large corporation with hundreds of employees, chances are you qualify for filing a workers’ comp claim in the eyes of Florida state law. With these laws on your side, there’s no reason to be fearful of filing.
If you’re still feeling afraid to file a workers’ comp claim against your employer even knowing that you can’t be fired and that parameters set by the law keep the employee in mind first, you may feel more reassured when you learn that worker’s comp provides no-fault benefits.
When you file any type of injury-related claim, the legal basis for making your claim is taken into heavy consideration. When you file a workers’ comp claim against your employer or their insurance company, you are filing for limited benefits. In the state of Florida, these benefits often cover your injury-related medical expenses and a portion of your lost wages during recovery. If you are diagnosed with a permanent disability, these benefits may still run out at some point in the future. But under these more limited parameters, workers comp’ in turn provides no-fault benefits. This means the system works by paying out claims regardless of who is found to be at fault for the accident. The insurance pays the limited benefits no matter who is determined to have caused the accident that resulted in the injuries.
If you want to file for more extensive benefits and compensation for your injury, you may need to file a personal injury claim. With a personal injury claim, you can seek full compensation for all your injury-related losses. These include not only medical expenses and full wage replacement, but can also cover pain and suffering, emotional distresses, loss of enjoyment of life, and other types of intangible—yet no less important—losses. But in order to recover those further damages, you must be able to prove that someone else’s negligence is what caused your workplace injury, whereas for a workers’ comp claim, responsibility for the injury is a smaller point of focus.
Your Next Steps
If the work you do for your employer has led you to suffer an injury, you have a right to file a workers’ compensation claim. Because that right exists, and the laws surrounding how your employer can react to those rights are in your favor, you should feel no fear in filing a claim. Even if the required duties of your job have led to that injury—for example, lifting a box onto a shelf in a warehouse caused you to suffer a back injury—no-fault benefits protect your rights and your claim.
If you believe your workplace injury goes beyond a workers’ compensation case, it’s common practice to file both a workers’ comp claim as well as a personal injury claim. The Whisler Law Firm can help you with both. Call 833-529-5677 or schedule a free consultation to tell us about your injury.