In addition to state workers’ compensation benefits, there are special federal workers’ compensation laws for employees of the federal government and other specific types of industries.Generally, every business with four or more employeess must have some form of workers’ compensation insurance to cover injured employees. Filing a workers’ compensation claim is similar to filing an insurance claim. It isn’t a lawsuit against an employer, but rather a request for benefits.
Workers’ compensation laws are designed to ensure that employees who are injured on the job receive fixed monetary awards without having to litigate their claims against their employers. The Florida workers’ compensation system is designed to be self-executing. In this way, workers’ compensation is an important safety net for employees when they are injured on the job or as a result of their job.
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system where an injured worker’s own negligence, or the negligence of his or her employer or co-workers, is not put at issue. Rather, the injured employee is simply covered for his or her work-related injuries. However, an injured employee is only entitled to lost wages and medical benefits. There is no compensation for pain and suffering.
Thus, workers’ compensation is an injured worker’s “exclusive remedy” with respect to a work-related injury unless he or she can point to a third party who contributed to his or her injuries. For example, because workers are often injured by products or machinery they use at work, they may, and often do, seek compensation from the manufacturers of such products. Employers are generally not directly involved in the third-party claims of their employees, and such claims take place in civil actions rather than in the workers’ compensation system. In most cases, however, an employer can recoup its workers’ compensation payments and obligations from the recovery an injured worker obtains in a lawsuit against a third-party. In some states, the workers’ compensation insurer and employer may enter into the lawsuit commenced by the employee and seek to protect their rights to recover the sums. In other states, the employer is given a lien against the employee’s recovery. In those states, the employer and insurer must wait until the employee has made a recovery at which point they assert the lien, and the employee must then pay back monies which duplicate workers’ compensation benefits previously received or receivable.
One of the reasons that it is important to contact a Florida workers’ compensation attorney is that workers’ compensation insurance companies have little or no incentive to act in a way beneficial to the injured worker. The insurance company has a financial motive to limit medical treatment and payment of lost wages. The workers’ compensation carrier’s interpretation and application of the laws can result in the denial of benefits and an injured worker not receiving benfits they legally deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.