Delray Beach Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
Unless you work in an industry where there are well-known dangers – such as firefighting or law enforcement – when you go to work each day, the last thing that is likely on your mind is that you will be injured on the job. But according to statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor, just under 3 million workers suffer job-related injuries and illnesses each year. More than 5,000 of those victims die from their injuries. A Delray Beach workers’ compensation lawyer knows that in Florida, more than 300 workers lose their lives each year in job-related incidents.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), there are thousands of work injury accidents that can be prevented each year if employers followed the rules and regulations that the federal agency has in place. These safety measures are put in place to protect workers, but far too many employers cut corners and put their workers at risk of injury and death. The agency says the following are the most cited violations – and most dangerous – they find during job site inspections.
Fall protection: Falls are one of the most common accidents in the construction industry, which OSHA has designated as one of the most dangerous industries to work in. According to federal regulations, construction companies should be providing personal fall arrest systems, guardrails, and safety nets to protect workers. Tragically, many companies fail to do so. This is the most commonly cited violation that OSHA finds in its inspections.
A Delray Beach workers’ compensation lawyer is also aware that another common construction site OSHA violation is the failure to have sufficient and safe scaffolding on a job site. OSHA requires that all scaffolding be professionally designed and assembled according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The scaffolding must also be able to support up to four times the weight of the scaffolding. Again, this is another common – and often tragic – safety violation.
Hazardous materials: Coming in at number two, failure for employers to effectively communicate about the dangers of certain hazardous chemicals and substances to their workers is another frequent OSHA violation. The agency requires all employers to label all hazardous materials properly, have written communication programs in place, properly train workers on handling these substances, and distribute safety sheets to all employees.
Respiratory protection: Another dangerous violation that a workers’ compensation lawyer in Delray Beach sees in the cases they handle is the failure of employers to provide workers with property respiratory protection. OSHA requires employers to supply workers with respirators when they will be working in areas where there is dust, fog, harmful fumes, gases, smoke, vapors, or other dangerous environmental substances the workers will be exposed to.
How Workers’ Compensation Works
Workers’ compensation is a system designed to benefit both employers and workers alike. Work accidents are inevitable. Many accident types are preventable (and should be prevented whenever possible); others aren’t. Human error, sudden weather changes, and other forces ensure that even the safest job sites will suffer accidents now and again. When job site accidents do occur, the workers’ compensation system helps to ensure two things:
- That injured workers will receive compensation to cover their medical costs, lost wages, and any necessary vocational retraining without fear of retaliation, AND
- Employers will avoid being sued by injured workers.
That isn’t to say that employers always escape direct liability for work-related accidents. However, in most cases, workers’ compensation is a no-fault system; workers seek compensation directly by filing claims with their workers’ compensation insurer instead of suing their employers. With that said, there are exceptions to this general rule, which is one reason why it’s essential to speak with a Delray Beach workers’ compensation lawyer before you make any assumptions about your legal situation.
What Injured Workers Should Know About Workers’ Compensation
Most American workers are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if they get injured. They can work with an experienced lawyer to submit a timely claim. However, not every worker is entitled to this kind of compensation. For example, independent contractors can’t claim these benefits unless their employers have misclassified them. Workers of very small operations and other exempt enterprises also may not be entitled to these benefits. In such cases, our Delray Beach workers’ compensation lawyer team can help injured workers pursue different routes to receiving the compensation they’re entitled to.
Additionally, some accidents don’t meet eligibility requirements for workers’ compensation benefits. For example, if you’re driving to work during an everyday commute (and you’re not running a business-related errand), you’ll likely need to pursue a personal injury claim instead of filing a workers’ compensation claim. Every case is different, but our team is always available to answer questions.
Things Your Workers Compensation Lawyer Wants You to Know
Nobody goes into work and expects to get hurt, but it happens more often than you might think. If you were recently injured in the workplace, it’s crucial to speak to a Delray Beach workers compensation lawyer as soon as possible. Here are a few things your lawyer wants you to know:
- It Doesn’t Matter If You Were at Fault: Some workers believe that they aren’t entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits if they’re partially to blame for the accident. However, unless you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol or started a fight with someone, the fault usually isn’t a problem in these cases. If you weren’t paying attention, for example, and got into an accident, you’re still eligible to receive benefits.
- Your Employer’s Insurance Company Doesn’t Have Your Best Interests in Mind: While it would be nice if your employer’s insurance company cared about your best interests, it’s likely not the case. Insurance companies put their bottom line above everything else and will do anything to save money. That’s why you shouldn’t accept a settlement offer without first discussing it with your lawyer.
- Exaggerating Your Symptoms Can Jeopardize Your Case: A mistake a Delray Beach workers’ compensation lawyer sometimes sees people make is exaggerating their work injuries to their doctor. While you might be tempted to do this to get a larger settlement, you should resist the urge. Your doctor can determine that you’re not truthful about your injuries by running tests and doing a physical examination. If the insurance company finds out that you weren’t completely honest about your injuries, they can deny your case.
- You Have to Attempt to Return to Work If Your Doctor Allows It: After some time has passed and you’ve recovered significantly from your injury, your doctor may give you the go-ahead to return to work with temporary restrictions. If your employer provides you with work that follows these restrictions, you’re required to return to work.
- Most Workers Compensation Lawyers Work on a Contingency Fee: Unfortunately, some workers may shy away from hiring a Delray Beach workers compensation lawyer because they’re afraid the fees will be too high. However, most workers’ compensation lawyers work on a contingency basis, so they take a percentage of your winnings. If you lose your case, you won’t owe your lawyer money.
- If a Third Party Was Involved, You May Have a Civil Claim: If a third party contributed to your accident at work, you might be able to file a lawsuit separate from your worker’s compensation case. For example, if you drive a vehicle for work and another driver hits your vehicle, you can file a lawsuit against that driver.
Do I Need a Lawyer to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Technically, most workers’ compensation claims can either be submitted by the injured worker or by the worker’s employer, depending upon the local requirements that each of these parties is subject to. However, it’s crucial to have an experienced Delray Beach workers’ compensation lawyer in your corner during this process, ideally before any paperwork has been filed. The experienced Florida legal team at Franks, Koenig, & Neuwelt can help to ensure that all required paperwork is completed properly – that way, you’ll be less likely to experience payment-related delays, denials, and challenges related to administrative “red tape.” Additionally, if you are underpaid for your claim, your claim is denied, or other difficulties arise, we’ll be prepared to act on your behalf immediately. Finally, it is possible that – depending on the circumstances surrounding your work injury – you’re either not eligible for this kind of compensation and need to file a personal injury claim OR you are eligible for workers’ comp benefits AND can file a personal injury lawsuit as well. Our firm can help you get the compensation you deserve, no matter what the particulars of your situation may be.
Who Is Eligible for Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Generally speaking, all full-time and part-time employees are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits unless their employers meet narrow exceptions (usually reserved for companies that only employ a few workers). By contrast, some specialty workers (maritime workers, railroad employees, etc., covered by special laws related to work-injury compensation) and independent contractors are not covered by workers’ compensation. With that said, some independent contractors are misclassified and ARE entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Our firm’s experienced Delray Beach workers’ compensation lawyer team can help to clarify whether you have been correctly classified or not.
If you’re ineligible for workers’ compensation benefits, you may be able to obtain compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. Similarly, suppose you’re eligible for workers’ compensation, but a third party (such as a manufacturer of defective equipment) is partially to blame for the injuries you’ve sustained. In that case, you may be entitled to recover compensation through both the workers’ compensation system and a personal injury lawsuit.
What Does Filing a Personal Injury Claim for a Work-Related Injury Entail?
Work-related personal injury claims progress in much the same way that other kinds of personal injury cases (auto accidents, medical malpractice suits, etc.) do. Our team will work to help you prove that the party or parties you’re suing owed you a so-called “duty of care” under the law, breached that duty, and in so breaching their duty caused your injuries. Successful personal injury lawsuits result in fair “damage” awards for medical bills, lost wages, etc.
Legal Assistance Is Available
If you have questions about workers’ compensation generally or you’ve been injured in a work-related accident, and you need to file a claim, please consider scheduling a consultation with the experienced Florida team at Franks, Koenig, & Neuwelt today. Our team will be happy to assist you with your needs. Even if it turns out that you’re ultimately ineligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits, we can help you explore alternative legal options designed to better ensure that, as an injured worker, you’re not saddled with the responsibility of paying for your work-related injury costs out of pocket. Our Delray Beach workers’ compensation lawyer team looks forward to hearing your story and providing you with guidance and support. Please call today.
Steps to Take for Workers’ Compensation Cases
When someone is injured at work, it comes as no surprise to our Delray Beach workers’ compensation lawyer that the future may be full of unknowns and concerns. Some of your top worries are likely to include the recovery process, concern over whether you will fully heal, the financial impact the accident is having on you, and when you will be able to return to work. Work-related injuries are common and can occur in unexpected places; common injuries our team at Franks, Koenig, & Neuwelt have represented include:
- Car accidents
- Slip and falls
- Falling objects
The impact these cases can have on victims can be deeply challenging, and in some cases, the losses could be substantial. Turning to a lawyer with experience in this area of practice should be one of your top priorities as our team can assist with ensuring that the proper steps are taken:
Step One: Reach Out for Our Help
Knowing what to do or who to turn to can be entirely overwhelming following an accident. As a result, it could be in your best interest to reach out to a legal professional for guidance. If you have experienced any of the following, it may be in your best interest to reach out to our team immediately:
- Your injuries impact your ability to work
- Your injuries are permanent
- You are having trouble gaining access to the services and treatments you need
- You have a pre-existing condition
Step Two: Seek Medical Treatment
Obtaining proper medical treatment will be a critical component to both your recovery and your legal claim should you choose to pursue legal action. Accessing medical care after an accident ensures that:
- Injuries are diagnosed
- Proper treatment is administered
- You can prove your on the job accident
Step Three: Gather Evidence
Our Delray Beach, Florida workers’ compensation lawyer recommends that victims of accidents begin the process of gathering evidence in support of your case from the onset of the accident. Our team can work with victims to ensure that evidence is strong, clear, and supportive of their case. Not only should you write down your account of what happened, but it’s also helpful to have medical documentation, accident reports, and photographs or videos. Having strong evidence can help victims to receive the best possible outcome for the damages they may be experiencing.
Step Four: Immediately Notify Your Employer
It’s critical to notify your employer of the accident and complete the proper paperwork promptly to avoid complications or the possibility of having workers’ compensation benefits denied. Failure to do so may result in complications. While the timeframes can vary depending upon the state, it’s recommended that on-the-job injuries are reported as soon as possible.
Step Five: Following Doctor’s Orders is Imperative
When you seek care from a medical professional, they will lay out a treatment plan designed to allow victims the most optimal recovery. Sometimes, the injured party may fail to follow treatment recommendations. Failing to complete all the recommended physical therapy sessions or not wearing a specific brace could be detrimental to your recovery. Additionally, not following the doctor’s orders or completing recommended treatments could leave the opposing party to believe that you weren’t injured or not as injured as you initially disclosed.
When Is The Right Time to Call a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
It can be difficult to decide whether or not to get help from a lawyer when you have been hurt during work. Here are some signs that can help you understand when it might be time to call a workers’ compensation lawyer:
- Your employer or insurance carrier denies what you experienced at work. This can happen when you have been slightly injured at work and it has gone unreported. If that injury that once was small becomes to be further aggravated because of your work or becomes much more serious. This can also happen when there are long-term effects of exposure at work that may result in a disease or further pain.
- If you have been injured while working you should immediately let your employer know so that they can create a report. Your employer is required to provide you with paperwork, report your case to the state workers comp board, and file a claim with its insurance carrier. It shouldn’t take longer than 30 days for this process to be completed. If you haven’t heard from your employer about the process and at what stage it is at within this time frame it might be time to contact a lawyer.
- If you suffer permanent disability whether it be partial or total, that will prevent you from ever fully returning to work. Insurance companies tend are more likely to contest these types of claims because they are usually the most expensive when it comes to compensation.
- When your doctor recommends treatment and the insurance company refuses to pay for it. Rehabilitation visits are common for injured workers and their recovery but it can be something that an insurance company doesn’t believe is necessary.
- If the settlement offer doesn’t cover all of your lost wages and medical bills that can mean you become financially insecure if you don’t have the funds to take care of your recovery and to survive. Most often, worker compensation settlements are for permanent disability benefits, which are often based on a rating system that is determined by doctors. If the insurance company doesn’t agree with the rating then that could mean you have to get an independent medical exam (IME) by a doctor of their choosing. This could mean the insurance company’s doctor would give you a lower rating than you deserve. A workers’ compensation lawyer can help fight for you and convince the judge that you are entitled to a higher rating.
- Your employer retaliates against you then you have reason to contact a lawyer. If you have been fired, demoted, have had your hours cut, or pressured to return to work too soon then a workers’ compensation lawyer could argue that these penalties that you have endured are unwarranted.
This can be a confusing and challenging time for you and you deserve to be compensated for what you are owed. If any of these reasons apply to you then it is time that you call a Delray Beach workers’ compensation lawyer from Franks, Koenig, & Neuwelt immediately.
Call Our Office Today
Work-related injuries can lead to substantial losses, and it’s in your best interest to take the time to consult with a legal professional from Franks, Koenig, & Neuwelt. Our team can assist in reviewing your case and outlining the most appropriate way to move forward. Don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with our workers’ compensation lawyer in Delray Beach.