Frequently Asked Questions
Can my employer fire me if I hire a workers' comp attorney?
Unless you have a contract with your employer, employment in Florida is “at-will” which means that you can be terminated at any time, without any reason, just as you can leave your job at any time without any particular reason. But if you are fired because you are getting workers’ comp benefits or because you hired a lawyer, there are laws that protect injured workers. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be able to pursue a separate lawsuit against your employer if they have fired you because you are claiming workers’ comp benefits or if you hire a lawyer.
Workers' comp sent me to a doctor who I don't like. Do I have to see the workers' comp doctor, or can I see my own doctor?
Florida’s workers’ comp law allows your employer and their insurance company to control your medical care. This means that workers’ comp selects your doctors. Unless you have an emergency that requires immediate medical attention, workers’ comp will first send you to a walk-in clinic or an urgent care facility for your initial evaluation.
You may feel that you should be seen by a specialist like an orthopedic surgeon. You are probably right, but workers’ comp does not have to authorize any specialist until a referral is made by your walk-in clinic or urgent care doctor.
If you have complained to your adjuster that you don’t like your doctor, the adjuster may have offered you a chance to use your one-time change in treating doctors.
The workers’ comp law allows the injured worker to change doctors – but there are several drawbacks to this that you need to know. You do not select your new doctor – the insurance company does. The new doctor might just be worse than your first doctor. If you don’t like your second doctor, you cannot return to the first bad doctor who now you see as not so bad compared to your new doctor.
The answer to your question is that you cannot see a doctor of your choice.
Am l entitled to a settlement of my workers' comp claim?
Settlement is voluntary under Florida’s workers’ comp law. This means that you and the insurance company must both want to settle and that you both agree on the amount of the settlement. The workers’ comp judge doesn’t get involved in settlement negotiations.
Adjusters will sometimes offer unrepresented injured workers a settlement. They may ask you to first make a settlement demand and then they will make you a settlement offer.
Adjusters are professionals who are trained in methods to save their clients money. You are not likely to get the best settlement if you are unrepresented
Clients ask me what their case is worth. That’s a question that I can’t answer without information about your case.
You should question any lawyer who gives you a number without knowing the details of your case. I need to first make sure that your rate of pay was correctly calculated as this is one factor in determining settlement value. I must also review your medical records to see what future medical care your doctor is recommending. Many factors will affect the value of your claim – and one important factor is the lawyer who represents you.
At the beginning of my career as a workers’ comp attorney, I was an insurance company lawyer for over seven years, I understand the factors that insurance companies look at when determining how much they are willing to pay.
I use that knowledge to negotiate settlements.
How do I know if my benefits are being paid at the correct rate?
The rate of your benefits is based on an individual Average Weekly Wage.
This means that no two people are paid at the same rate. The workers’ compensation law has complicated rules about how to calculate the amount of benefits or the rate that an injured worker is paid lost wages.
This can be a complicated calculation. If you were working a second job at the time of your accident, you may be entitled to have those earnings included in your rate. If you had health insurance with your employer which you have lost, your rate should be adjusted.
If you worked less than 13 weeks for your employer before your accident, the insurance company may have used an incorrect method for calculating your lost wages. These are just some examples.
If you have been underpaid, I can help you get an adjustment of the benefits that have already been paid, plus an increase in your future benefits.
My claim has been denied because the doctor says I have a pre-existing condition. Is there anything that I can do about this?
The workers’ comp law uses a standard of Major Contributing Cause to decide if the insurance company is responsible for your medical treatment. What does that mean?
The law says that the injuries from your work accident have to be the 51%
or greater reason why you need medical treatment. The insurance companies rely on doctors to answer their questions about Major Contributing Cause.
Oftentimes, an insurance company will try to persuade your treating doctor that your medical care is needed because of old injuries or arthritis. There are several ways that a denial of benefits can be challenged when the insurance company denies your case based on a pre-existing condition.
The laws on Major Contributing Cause and pre-existing conditions frequently change based on court decisions. You need a lawyer to evaluate your case to give you an opinion about the effect of your pre-existing condition on your workers’ comp case.