Work-related injuries are common in Florida. According to the Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC), there was a drop in worker’s compensation claims from 2020 to 2021. However, 70,497 people still sustained a work-related injury in 2021, and 182 were fatal.
Companies in Miami-Dade County alone reported 9,834 people who got workplace injuries. These include 1,954 slip and fall incidents and 2,811 occupational diseases.
Florida’s Workers’ Compensation Law (Law) requires all private companies with four or more employees to provide workers’ compensation insurance to their workers. Some exemptions, such as government agencies, volunteer firefighters, and construction companies, must provide workers’ comp for all employees.
However, workers’ comp is just the safety net in case of an injury. Employers are responsible for ensuring their employees’ physical and psychological well-being in the workplace. If you are an injured worker needing medical treatment, your employer has other obligations, too.
Here at Diamond Law Miami, one of the most common questions is about an employer’s responsibilities regarding work-related injuries. Well, let’s find out.
Enrolling an employee under workers’ compensation insurance is the first thing an eligible company must do. The employer must also maintain records to ensure all relevant information is available in case of an injury or illness. The insurance carrier and DWC will need these documents to address workplace injuries.
Under Florida law, an employee includes part-time workers for all industries and independent contractors in the construction industry. The records should contain additional information, such as dependents and the average weekly wage for the compensation program. These include any of the following:
- Business records
- Employee contracts and status
- Employment records
- Insurance policy
- Salaries and W2 statements
- Taxes deducted from salary
- Workers’ compensation certificates
While state law may differ slightly, most require the employer to retain these records for at least three years. Florida’s Law does not specify retention requirements, but three years should be safe. These should include documents for any employee injuries, deaths, and disabilities.
Respond to the Incident
A quick response could significantly impact minimizing the consequences of an accident or injury. An employer should follow these steps immediately after an incident:
- Give any injured employee medical care such as first aid for minor cuts and burns and emergency medical services for more serious injuries
- Move workers away from a dangerous situation to ensure that no one else gets hurt
- Get a handle on the case by evaluating the cause and severity of an employee’s injury
- Make a detailed report on the incident and interview witnesses to understand what happened
- Collect evidence such as video footage of the scene, photos of the injuries, and any equipment; these may yield important information for emergency room doctors, and when filing a claim for workers’ compensation with the insurer
The employer must also allow an employee time off work to seek medical attention without penalty for occupational diseases.
Report the Injury to the Insurer
The employee must report an injury within 30 days of the incident and an occupational disease within 90 days of finding out about it. Upon learning about it, the employer’s responsibility is to report it to the insurance carrier that covers your workers’ compensation.
In Florida, the workers’ compensation system specifies the employer’s role in assisting an injured employee or addressing a fatality. For example, the Law requires employers to inform the carrier within seven days of finding out about the injury or death. An employer who fails to submit the prescribed claim form within that time is subject to a fine of no more than $500.
The Florida Administrative Code provides forms, details, and updates for a workers’ compensation claim. For example, Rule Chapter 69L-56 covers the Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) Requirements for Proof of Coverage and Claims (Non-Medical). An employer can find out how to file a claim online by consulting the latest First Report of Injury or Illness rules.
The employer must also report work-related injuries or illnesses that lead to fatalities within 24 hours to the DWC. They can either fax the First Report of Injury or Illness form to 850-354-5100 or call 1-800-219-8953 to report the workplace fatality.
Keep Communication Lines Open
If a work-related injury requires medical treatment, the injured worker can make a worker’s compensation claim. The employer’s responsibilities include protecting the employee’s right to workers’ comp benefits by coordinating it with the insurance carrier.
However, the process can take a while. The employer can speed things up by communicating with the employee, their dependents, the doctor, and the claims adjuster. This will allow the injured employee or their dependents in case of death to receive funds quickly.
Provide a Return to Work Plan
Employers must make every effort to keep the workplace safe. However, when employees get hurt or are disabled, the employer should also have a return-to-work policy. The plan will clarify protections and accommodations when employees sustain serious work-related injuries.
For example, the policy may outline the conditions that will allow the injured employee to return to work. It may be going back to lighter duties during recovery. It may be a retraining program for injured or ill workers for other roles.
In most cases, a return-to-work policy will allow work restrictions based on medical advice. Injuries may lead to temporary total disability or permanent partial disability. A return-to-work policy may include vocational rehabilitation in these cases.
The point is a return-to-work policy manages workers’ expectations regarding workplace injuries and occupational diseases. It sets the groundwork to help affected workers return to work safely and minimize loss of income.
Conduct a Safety Audit
Workplace accidents often serve as a wake-up call for employers. An employer’s report on accidents or occupational diseases provides valuable information about what is lacking in workplace safety practices.
An employer should do a safety audit to implement better measures, such as improved worker training and health care programs. An audit will prevent future health and safety issues, especially if you consult with the Department of Labor, state agencies, and your insurance carrier. It can help reduce your insurance premiums.
Additionally, a safety audit can help boost employee morale and engagement. It will show employees your concern for and commitment to their safety.
Did you know?
“In 2017, $10 million was paid to a woman in California, four years after she suffered a brain injury while driving home from work. It is the biggest worker’s compensation settlement in US history.”
Know Your Rights With Diamond & Diamond Lawyers Miami
Employees with workers’ compensation insurance should have no problems when they sustain workplace injuries or illnesses. Workers’ comp in Florida covers all medical expenses and income replacement in case of disability. Unfortunately, not all employers take their responsibilities seriously, and dealing directly with insurance companies is never simple.
Diamond & Diamond Lawyers in Miami provide valuable resources about dealing with sticky situations, ranging from workplace injuries to car accidents. We give the skinny on these issues stripped of their legalese so you can understand your rights.
However, knowing your rights and dealing with insurance companies are two different things. Regarding workers’ compensation, you need to have an experienced workers’ comp lawyer in Miami by your side. It is fatally easy to make mistakes or say the wrong things that insurance companies can to deny your claim.
Call us if you or a loved one has work-related injuries or illnesses and your employer is not much help. Diamond Law workers’ compensation lawyers have years of experience dealing with insurance companies.
We can help protect your rights and get you the compensation you deserve. Contact Diamond Law Miami at 1-1800-567-HURT or fill out a free case evaluation form.
Workplace injuries can affect your life in many ways. Let our team of lawyers be your guide if you want to know more about the worker’s compensation program. Contact Diamond & Diamond Lawyers today for more information.