Florida Workers Compensation
Clients Rights According to Florida Workers Compensation Law
The Florida Area Workers Compensation Law Firm of Kevin Moore is ready to fight for your rights and see that you get the proper compensation and care! Contact Kevin when your rights are denied!
It is estimated that every year over 100,000 Floridians are injured on the job and apply for workers’ compensation benefits. Many injured workers are able to move smoothly through the Florida State Workers’ Compensation system, receiving timely medical care, lost wages and return back to their pre-injury work. However, many others are not so fortunate. For many workers, the employer may not want you back to work or cannot accommodate your medical restrictions. It may be that your injury is so severe that you know you will never be able to return back to work in the profession that you love. It is normal to feel overwhelmed and worried about what comes next. Workers compensation is very difficult to understand and it may be time to talk to someone who knows the system and can tell you your rights. Call now and speak with Kevin Moore directly, workers’ compensation law is complicated and frequently subject to change or interpretation.
If you have any questions concerning workers’ compensation, particularly if you are an injured employee whose employer has refused to pay benefits, has not provided you with services, or has provided you with sub-standard care, you should consult with Kevin Moore of Florida Worker’s Compensation Law Firm of Kevin Moore. Kevin will fight to make sure the insurance company is providing all the benefits to which you are entitled.
What are Your Rights?
In general, you have a constitutional right, in both civil and criminal cases, to have your case heard according to the Florida Constitution, Declaration of Rights, Article 1, Section 22 and Section 16.
For Worker’s Compensation Law, Florida Statutes, Chapter 440, sets the standards and courses of action allowable for wage loss, death benefits, and medical treatments for workers injured on the job in the State of Florida. Workers’ Compensation entitles an employee to all reasonable and necessary medical care related to the injury. After an employer has been notified of an injury, the employer or insurance carrier is obligated to provide the necessary medical treatment. The employer or insurance company has the right to authorize a treating physician. The employee has the right to a one time transfer to a new doctor, but the insurance company selects the physician. Before you authorize your ONE TIME transfer of care, you should talk with an experienced workers compensation attorney.
What Should You Expect?
The earliest an injured worker can expect to receive payments is within three weeks of the injury. This is only possible if the injury is immediately reported to the employer. The insurance carrier is required to send a payment within 14 days of being notified that a worker has been disabled for more than 7 days. It is important that the injured person keep a record (a dated copy and signed acknowledgment) of their injury notification to their employer.
What to do when the Employer or Insurance Carrier Refuses Benefits?
If this happens, you don’t want to go this alone! Once an injured worker is refused services or lost wages, it is time to contact an attorney. The Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation should be contacted if the employer or their insurance company refuses to pay for medical care, lost wages or other WC injury issues. The Division of Workers’ Compensation will attempt to fix the problem through an informal resolution process. However, if that does not work, as it often doesn’t, the injured worker will have to file a claim for benefits if they have any hope of getting what they deserve. If the injured worker has not yet consulted a competent Worker’s Comp Attorney, it would be a very good thing to do so now. Filing a claim properly can be complicated and mistakes may threaten a worker’s right to benefits. Kevin Moore’s WC Firm can and will help you properly file your claim.
If both parties refuse to settle the dispute, a hearing will be scheduled before a Judge of Compensation Claims. At that hearing, both sides present their cases and the judge will generally render a decision within 30 days. The judge has the authority to require the losing party to pay the winner’s court costs, including attorneys’ fees in some instances. Appeals of the compensation judge’s decision must be taken to the First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee.
What if You Are Not Getting Proper Treatment?
Many times, the victim may not be completely satisfied with the physician providing treatment. You cannot change physicians without approval – if you do, the insurance company is likely to refuse WC benefits payment. In such times, Florida law allows an attorney, representing the injured party, to file a Petition for Benefits to get authorization for treatment by a different physician or a physician specializing it the area of injury. Kevin Moore, a Florida Area WC attorney can handle this complicated petition process for you.
What Are Your Responsibilities?
It is your responsibility to report the accident as soon as possible. “As soon as possible” is interpreted as occurring within 30 days of one of: the date of the injury, the date when the injury’s effects first become apparent, or the date when a medical expert first discovers the injury. If you fail to meet this deadline it may threaten your right to benefits. Workers’ compensation coverage is intended to pay for most reasonable and necessary medical care related to your on-the-job injury. You may also be entitled to compensation for lost wages and/or, depending on the type of your injury, you may be entitled to retraining. The Florida Worker’s Compensation Law Firm of Kevin Moore will take the burdens and confusion of the court system off of your shoulders.
Florida Workers Compensation Representation
When Kevin Moore’s Law Firm is representing WC cases we are working on a contingency basis (we do not get paid unless we win). Payments to attorneys for their fees for representing clients in Florida Workers’ Compensation cases can also be paid by the insurance company. In these cases, Kevin Moore has successfully fought the insurance company for your benefits and they will pay his attorney fees. This is an example when the client gets the benefit and the insurance company pays the bill! If the client enters into a full settlement of their case then the attorneys fees are paid from the settlement as outlined in the contract for representation.
The following Florida Bar list of Client’s rights are for general ‘contingency cases’ and not all of them apply to Workers’ Comp cases but the WC Law Firm of Kevin Moore believes you should be aware of all contingency circumstances and especially Sections 3, 4 , 5, 9 and 10 below for WC cases.
Statement of Client’s Rights in
Contingency Fee Cases
Before you, the prospective client, arrange a contingent fee agreement with a lawyer, you should understand this statement of your rights as a client. This statement is not a part of the actual contract between you and your lawyer, but, as a prospective client, you should be aware of these rights:
- There is no legal requirement that a lawyer charge a client a set fee or a percentage of money recovered in a case. You, the client, have the right to talk with your lawyer about the proposed fee and to bargain about the rate or percentage as in any other contract. If you do not reach an agreement with one lawyer you may talk with other lawyers.
- Any contingent fee contract must be in writing and you have three (3) business days to reconsider the contract. You may cancel the contract without any reason if you notify your lawyer in writing within three (3) business days of signing the contract. If you withdraw from the contract within the first three (3) business days, you do not owe the lawyer a fee although you may be responsible for the lawyer’s actual costs during that time. If your lawyer begins to represent you, your lawyer may not withdraw from the case without giving you notice, delivering necessary papers to you, and allowing you time to employ another lawyer. Often, your lawyer must obtain court approval before withdrawing from a case. If you discharge your lawyer without good cause after the three-day period, you may have to pay a fee for work the lawyer has done.
- Before hiring a lawyer, you, the client, have the right to know about the lawyer’s education, training, and experience. If you ask, the lawyer should tell you specifically about his or her actual experience dealing with cases similar to yours. If you ask, the lawyer should provide information about special training or knowledge and give you this information in writing if you request it.
- Before signing a contingent fee contract with you, a lawyer must advise you whether he or she intends to handle your case alone or whether other lawyers will be helping with the case. If your lawyer intends to refer the case to other lawyers he or she should tell you what kind of fee sharing arrangement will be made with the other lawyers. If lawyers from different law firms will represent you, at least one lawyer from each law firm must sign the contingent fee contract.
- If your lawyer intends to refer your case to another lawyer or counsel with other lawyers, your lawyer should tell you about that at the beginning. If your lawyer takes the case and later decides to refer it to another lawyer or to associate with other lawyers, you should sign a new contract which includes the new lawyers. You, the client, also have the right to consult with each lawyer working on your case and each lawyer is legally responsible to represent your interests and is legally responsible for the acts of the other lawyers involved in the case.
- You, the client, have the right to know in advance how you will need to pay the expenses and the legal fees at the end of the case. If you pay a deposit in advance for costs, you may ask reasonable questions about how the money will be or has been spent and how much of it remains unspent. Your lawyer should give a reasonable estimate about future necessary costs. If your lawyer agrees to lend or advance you money to prepare or research the case, you have the right to know periodically how much money your lawyer has spent on your behalf. You also have the right to decide, after consulting with your lawyer, how much money is to be spent to prepare a case. If you pay the expenses, you have the right to decide how much to spend. Your lawyer should also inform you whether the fee will be based on the gross amount recovered or on the amount recovered minus the costs
- You, the client, have the right to be told by your lawyer about possible adverse consequences if you lose the case. Those adverse consequences might include money which you might have to pay to your lawyer for costs and liability you might have for attorney’s fees, costs and expenses to the other side.
- You, the client, have the right to receive and approve a closing statement at the end of the case before you pay any money. The statement must list all of the financial details of the entire case, including the amount recovered, all expenses, and a precise statement of your lawyer’s fee. Until you approve the closing statement, your lawyer cannot pay any money to anyone, including you, without an appropriate order of the court. You also have the right to have every lawyer or law firm working on your case sign this closing statement.
- You, the client, have the right to ask your lawyer at reasonable intervals how the case is progressing and to have these questions answered to the best of your lawyer’s ability.
- You, the client, have the right to make the final decision regarding settlement of a case. Your lawyer must notify you of all offers of settlement before and after the trial. Offers during the trial must be immediately communicated and you should consult with your lawyer regarding whether to accept a settlement. However, you must make the final decision to accept or reject a settlement
- If at any time, you, the client, believe that your lawyer has charged an excessive or illegal fee, you, the client, have the right to report the matter to The Florida Bar, the agency that oversees the practice and behavior of all lawyers in Florida.