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Prepare for the challenges of the Florida workers’ compensation system

Workers who experience a job-related injury or illness can seek workers’ compensation in Florida. However, the system for benefits can be difficult to navigate. 

Prepare to file your claim by knowing about common challenges employees face when applying for workers’ comp benefits in Florida. 

Statute of limitations

Florida maintains a strict statute of limitations for workers’ compensation claims. You cannot sue for lost wages, receive reimbursement for medical treatment or otherwise claim workers’ compensation if you apply more than two years after the accident. You may have more time to file a claim if: 

  • Your care requires a medical prosthetic device. 
  • You did not receive information about your rights from your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance provider. 
  • Your employer lied about whether you were eligible for coverage for your injury or illness. 
  • You are legally mentally incompetent. 
  • You were a minor at the time of the injury. 

Health care provider selection

In Florida, you cannot choose your own doctor when seeking care for a work-related illness or injury. Only care you receive from the medical provider authorized by your employer will receive workers’ compensation coverage. 

Release of liability

Your employer’s insurance company will likely ask you to release liability in exchange for a workers’ compensation settlement. That means you cannot sue your employer for further damages related to your illness or injury. 

Unlike many states that provide monthly workers’ compensation benefits, Florida employers typically offer a lump sum called a “full and final lump sum settlement.” The state requires you to have a lawyer to agree to this type of arrangement unless your doctor testifies that you have reached maximum medical improvement or you have a legitimate case but received claim denial from the insurance company. 

If you cannot return to work right away, your employer does not have to hold your position open. However, the company cannot fire you simply for applying for workers’ compensation. You may be able to qualify for vocational retraining, job placement and similar state services.