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Tampa Workers’ Compensation, Personal Injury & SSD FAQs

Workers’ Compensation

What Is Workers’ Compensation?

In America, we have a system in place that is designed to financially support employees that are injured while they are working or on a job site. This program is known as workers’ compensation and is a major benefit to those that do sustain such an injury. Under the regulations of this program, any time that an employee is injured while on the job, he or she is eligible to receive funding from the employer or, more commonly, the employer’s insurance company.

Workers’ compensation is a right, not a privilege and any and all employees are eligible to receive it. Typically, the funding is meant to cover all medical expenses that stem from the injury, including but not limited to doctors’ visits, hospital stays, medication, and ongoing physical therapy. Under certain circumstances in which an injured employee is rendered unable to work due to the workplace injury, financial compensation for lost wages can be given out as well. This is usually around 60% of the employee’s normal salary.

In this guide, we will highlight the responsibilities that both employers and employees have in the process of obtaining workers’ compensation, what factors go into funding calculations, various scenarios that may impact benefits, and what you can do if your claim is initially declined.

Workers’ Compensation Law in Florida

When a person is injured while at work or performing work-related activities, it is the obligation of the employer to help pay for their recovery, including medical costs and sometimes lost wages. This process is called workers’ compensation and applies to people nationwide who suffer injuries while on the job. That being said, the specific tenants of workers’ compensation law tend to vary from state to state and ours in no exception. Thankfully, Florida law is very kind to injured employees and has a handful of strong laws in place to protect their rights and guarantee them the assistance they need.

The most important aspect of Florida workers’ compensation law is the fact that it is compulsory. This means that it is legally required for an employer to provide workers’ compensation for any and all employees and to withhold them is considered a crime. In addition, when filing a workers’ compensation claim, it is not mandatory to provide the cause of the incident or who is at fault in order to receive funds. According to Florida statutes, the only relevant requirement to receiving workers’ compensation is that an injury was sustained and it was inflicted while the individual was on the job.

There are other Florida laws that regulate workers’ compensation as well that are relevant to choice of physician and the time frame in which a claim may be filed. When a claim is filed, the employee should be given a list of physicians that are within the network of the employer’s insurance company and he or she may choose any to treat their injuries. This is done to prevent the employer from forcing a person to see one doctor or another. During the case, the employee may change physicians once if he or she is not satisfied with their health care. With regards to timeframes, a worker’s compensation claim should be filed within seven days of the accident taking place, although it should be filed as soon as possible for best results.

If any employer attempts to violate any of these Florida guidelines, such as denying the right to workers’ compensation, then there is grounds for a lawsuit to be filed against them. If it comes to this, the assistance of an attorney skilled in workers’ compensation law is an invaluable asset and makes the process much smoother. To learn more about how the Franco Law Firm can help you in filing your workers’ compensation case, please call us at 813 872 0929 for a free consultation.

Who Needs a Workers’ Comp Attorney?

There is an old saying that declares that if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. Whether this is true for a person or not, the fact is that sometimes work is not always so pleasant, and that goes even beyond simply strict bosses or rude customers. Sometimes accidents happen at work and these accidents cause injuries that either inhibit a person from doing his or her job or prevent him or her from working altogether. If this happens, it is completely within a person’s rights to file for worker’s compensation with their company.

Worker’s compensation is the system that is in place in which an employer must provide financial assistance to an employee who is injured while on the job or who is performing work related activities. Normally this is a fairly easy process to go through; a person who is hurt on the job can file for worker’s compensation with their human resources director and his or her medical costs should be covered.

However, this ideal is not always the case because there are times when an employer will try to dodge dispensing any funds. They may try to claim that the injury is not severe enough to garner medical attention or that the individual was not performing work related activities even though he or she was in the office or on site. An employer can say what they would like about an injury, however, in the State of Florida, it is completely illegal to withhold worker’s compensation money. In fact, according to said state laws, there is not even a need to prove causality or fault; the only thing that matters is that a person was hurt and was indeed hurt while at the site where he or she works.

If an employer tries to avoid or refuses to provide worker’s compensation, then the injured employee has the complete right to file a lawsuit against them in order to receive the funds that he or she needs. This is where a worker’s comp attorney comes in. A skilled attorney will be familiar with both state and federal laws regarding worker’s compensation cases and be able to help the employee navigate through what he or she needs to do to win the case and return to work fully healthy. Manuel Franco is one such lawyer who not only has the expertise in worker’s compensation law, but also plenty of experience serving the Tampa Bay area in this capacity. To schedule a free consultation with him or acquire more information, please call 813 872 0929.

How long do I have to File a Claim after a Workplace Injury?

A workplace injury can cause a lot of strain on an individual who may be trying to mend those injuries while also trying to figure out how to cover medical costs. Workers’ compensation is a system that is in place in which an employer is legally obligated to provide an injured employee with all of the necessary funding to pay for the medical costs of said injury. In the State of Florida, this is mandatory, so an employer may never deny an injured employee the compensation that he or she deserves. That being said, there are guidelines for how a claim should be submitted in order to be valid, and the timeline of when a claim should be filed in essential to winning a case.

According to Florida law, a workplace injury must be reported within 30 days in order for it to be considered valid. Although there are sometimes exceptions to this, they are few and far between, so it is highly recommended that an employee report any incidents as soon as possible. It is also recommended that the injured employee seek the necessary medical attention as soon as possible following the incident. This is not only beneficial to the person’s health and the recovery speed of the injury, but it also begins a paper trail of health care appointments, which is useful for establishing the validity of the injury should the case go to court.

For the exceptional circumstances in which an injury can be reported longer than 30 days, there is a statute of limitation for a personal injury in the workplace. In the State of Florida, this is two years. While this might not apply to every workers’ compensation situation, it is good to know that there may be more of a time limit, especially if the injury requires more extensive medical treatment. Note that it also normal to not hear anything about the claim by the employer until seven days after it is reported, which is the legal timeline for when an employer must act on a claim.

Remember, if you or someone you know is injured on the job, then it is always a good idea to report the incident to your employer’s human resources department and seek necessary medical attention as soon as possible following said incident. If you claim is valid and is still denied by the employer, then you should pursue legal action against the company in order to receive the financial compensation that you need to treat your wounds and return to a normal, fulfilling life. For more information about the guidance and support that the Franco Law Firm can provide for your workers’ compensation case, please call us at 813 872 0929.

How Long will I be out of Work?

When an accident happens in the workplace, the injuries caused can generate many negative feelings of uncertainty and anxiety. “How will I recover from my injuries” and “who will pay the medical costs if I am unable to” are both common questions that can come up, but they are largely resolved by the funding that is received from a workers’ compensation claim, which every person hurt in the workplace is entitled to under Florida law. One of the biggest question marks however resides in the uncertainty of when the person will be able to return to work and again earn normal wages.

The answer to this questions largely depends on the severity of the injury that was sustained and the nature of the job. If the injury is minor and the job is not too physically intensive, then the person may be able to return to work right away. For example, if a person working a cubicle-based office job accidentally twists his ankle at work, the injury may require medical attention, but shouldn’t affect job performance so much as to keep him out of work for very long. If a day or two is required for a doctor’s visit or brief hospital stay, then there shouldn’t be too much concern about the person’s employment status.

The main problem arises when the injury is severe enough to keep the person out of work for a while. Thankfully, there are programs that are in place that help workers deal with this leave of absence. If the injury prevents the individual from working, but only should last a few months, then he or she might consider collecting from a short-term disability program, which generally lasts anywhere from three to six months. If the injury is more severe or causes a larger disability, then the person might instead want to collect long-term disability, which can last a year or longer. Both of these systems allow the person to gain a percentage of the earnings that he or she was making prior to the injury, but also gives him or her time to tend to those wounds and return to full health.

Knowing your rights as a person who is injured in the workplace is important to understanding what options are available to you. If you feel that your employer is not being honest or is handling the situation unfairly, especially if they are not providing any sort of coverage or workers’ compensation, then it’s time to speak with an attorney who excels in this type of law, notably Manual Franco of the Franco Law Firm. To learn more about how we can help in your workplace injury process and workers’ compensation case, please call us at 813 872 0929.

What Benefits am I Entitled to?

When a major accident happens while at the workplace, it can be normal to feel that the universe is treating you unfairly. Between treating the injury itself, all the paperwork involved with reporting the incident, and the stress of paying for the medical costs associated with the injury, a major workplace accident can put a major strain on the afflicted person’s life and finances. Thankfully, there are certain benefits that a person injured in the workplace is entitled to that make managing such difficult circumstances just a little bit easier, especially because of Florida law regarding such cases.

In the State of Florida, any employee who is injured in the workplace or while on the job is entitled to some form of worker’s compensation. This means that the employer must may for, or at the very least assist heavily with, the medical costs associated with sustaining an injury that is related to that person’s employment. Any effort or refusal on the part of the employer to provide this kind of financial compensation is considered illegal and is grounds for a lawsuit to be filed against them. Remember too that according to Florida law, no cause or fault has to be provided for the workplace injury; the fact that an injury did take place and requires restitution is enough to justify a workers’ compensation claim.

A person who is injured on the job and is rendered unable to work for a time is also entitled to short or long term disability benefits. These are the two types of disability benefits and they are almost always available to employees through insurance plans offered at work or through government agencies. As the name implies, short-term disability is meant to provide coverage for missed wages due to an injury or medical condition that only lasts for about 3 to six months. If the injury or condition would last longer, then it would fall under the category of long-term disability, which could be valid for a year or longer.

If you or someone you know is injured on the job, then you will be entitled to benefits in the form of financial compensation for the medical costs associated with the injury and, if the injury is severe enough to cause you to miss work for an extended period of time, compensation for lost wages up to a certain percentage of your current salary. If your employer makes an effort to withhold these benefits from you, then you will want to pursue legal action with the help of an attorney who can not only explain fully the rights that you have, but also help you obtain the benefits that you need and deserve. To learn more about how the experts at the Franco Law Firm can help you with your workers’ compensation case or disability benefits claim, please call us at 813 872 0929 to schedule a free consultation.

Workers’ Compensation Employer Responsibilities

As noted earlier, workers’ compensation is a right and therefore it is legally required for a company to offer it to their employees in the event of an incident. In Florida, it is also legally required for a company of more than four employees to carry workers’ compensation insurance, which will allow for the dispensing of funds from the insurance company in the event of an incident. Employers in Florida must also do their due diligence in making employees aware of this program, including posting signs indicating compliance in obvious places in the workplace.

In the event that a workplace injury does occur, it is the responsibility of the employer to file an incident report, after providing any emergency medical treatment of course. This report should be filed to the region’s workers compensation board office and insurance company. Additionally, the employer must not retaliate against workers that are injured on the job. This means that they cannot fire the individual or otherwise punish them for being injured. Failure to comply with this and the other noted responsibilities can result in fines, lawsuits, and criminal prosecutions against the employing company.

Workers’ Compensation Employee Responsibilities

Of course, employees also have responsibility to uphold when it comes to workers’ compensation. Firstly, every employee should work responsibility and try to avoid injuries if possible by adhering to all safety protocols and policies. Failure to do so, may jeopardize a workers’ compensation claim, so this is important and also applies to any actions taken after an incident.

If an accident does occur though and a workplace injury is sustained, it is up to the employee to report it and file an incident report with the company’s human resources department, after seeking emergency medical attention, of course. Doing this will not only speed up the process, but alert the employer and insurance company that compensation needs to be dispensed. Additionally, it is up to the employee to maintain accurate and detailed records of all medical treatment related to the workplace injury. Compensation can only be dispensed if the company knows what it is paying for, so keeping excellent records of all treatments will go a long way to ensuring that the maximum amount of benefits are given out. Obviously, necessary paperwork and forms should be stayed on top of by the employee as well, as this too will speed up the process of dispensing compensation funds.

What Types of Incidents Are Not Covered by Workers’ Compensation?

The vast majority of workplace injuries do make an individual eligible to receive workers’ compensation. That being said, there are certain circumstances and kinds of injuries that may invalidate a workers’ compensation claim.

The most common circumstance occurs if the injured employee was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the incident. That is why drug tests are sometimes given out following the incident report being filed for a workers’ compensation claim. If this is the case, no workers’ compensation can be dispensed because the injury could have been caused by this influence and not a careless accident. This concept also applies if the employee broke another law or strict company policy when the injury took place.

Finally, workers’ compensation will not be dispensed if the injury was self-inflicted. Most of the time, it is obvious to tell this, although sometimes the incident is evaluated to be sure. If any of the noted conditions apply to the workplace incident, then there is a good chance that a workers’ compensation claim would be denied and no funding dispensed.

What Types of Incidents Are Covered by Workers’ Compensation?

If none of the previous conditions or circumstances apply, then the workers’ compensation program covers the incident. This may sound overly simple and it was designed to be for a reason. The workers’ compensation program was designed to aid employees in the wake of an injury that was caused by accident or carelessness on the part of the employer or employee.

In essence, it doesn’t matter who or what caused the workplace injury, it only matters that the injury was sustained while on the job and while the employee was working. Whether it was carelessness on the part of the employee because he or she was not paying proper attention or it was because the employer failed to create safe conditions, if the employee was working, compensation should be granted. Thus the only two requirements for workers’ compensation are being on the jobsite and working at it.

Of course, by definition, if the injury was not severe enough to warrant medical attention, compensation may not be granted because the program was designed to pay for medical expenses. However, if any sort of treatment was necessary, the incident would then be covered by workers’ compensation and funding able to be dispensed to that particular employee.

Contributory Negligence

In the legal world, contributory negligence is a term that refers to how the responsibility of one party or another affects the outcome of a ruling. Under the doctrine of contributory negligence, if a person was injured in part due to his or her own negligence, that is, the carelessness or disregard for safety rulings or procedures, then the injured person is unable to receive damage restitution from another party that caused the incident. For example, if a person is a car accident was found to be negligent, such as if he or she was texting while driving, that person cannot sue the other person in the accident, even if the accident was the other person’s fault.

When it comes to workers’ compensation law, contributory negligence can come into play if the injured employee was found to be in stark disregard for safety protocols. Normally, if the incident was an accident or caused by carelessness, workers’ compensation is still granted. That being said, it is possible that if the injured employee was aware of safety procedures and chose to not follow them, the ability to receive workers’ compensation may be in jeopardy. This is somewhat difficult to prove however, which is why it is typically handled on a case by case basis.

Assumption of Risk

There is another situation that may work to jeopardize a workers’ compensation claim and it is known as assumption of risk. This law doctrine asserts that the injured party in an incident is responsible for the injuries if he or she had knowledge of the risks involved in a given activity. When applied to workers’ compensation law, it means that the company would not be responsible for paying for medical expenses due to the workplace injury because the employee knew the potential risks to the job.

Thankfully for employees, this defense is not commonly held up lately due to other legal decisions and precedents overwriting it. That being said, it can still be a plausible defensive case for the company if the nature of the job itself is indeed hazardous. An example that easily comes to mind is construction, where heavy machinery and physical labor does indeed bring about real risks that may lead to a company claiming this clause. Always speak with a lawyer when faced with such a defensive claim in a workers’ comp case however, as it is often beatable.

Fellow Employee Negligence

There are situations that may arise where a workplace injury is caused not by one’s own negligence, but that of a fellow employee. This is a scenario where fellow employee negligence may come into play. Under this stipulation of the law, the injured employee may not only file for workers’ compensation from the employing company, but also file a personal injury case against the negligent employee. This all operates under the assumption, of course, that the injury took place while on the job.

For example, if a construction worker accidentally strikes another worker with a forklift while on the construction site, the injured worker could file for both workers’ comp and a lawsuit against the other employee and probably both cases to receive compensation. Although this is a fairly common circumstance, different areas do handle it differently and sometimes negligence on the part of the other employee is hard to prove. In obvious cases however, it is certainly a good idea to pursue it in order to receive the maximum amount of financial benefits to help cover the injury’s medical expenses.

How to Tell Whether You’re Covered by Workers’ Compensation

The first thing that you should always do when you are injured on the job is to file a report with the human resources department of your company. Once this report processes, you should receive a phone call from the employer’s workers’ comp insurance company informing you that a claim has been filed. If you have not received this call within a few days, you should follow up with the HR manager to check the status of the filing.

As soon as you initially hear from the insurance company, your workers’ compensation claim is in the process of being considered. You should then hear within a week or so if it was accepted or not and whether you are being covered. Remember that during this time it is still a good idea to keep up to date records of all medical expenses because you will need this information if and when the claim is accepted. Having this information will also help you overturn the denial should that happen for your claim. Odds are, however, that if you meet the criteria listed in the articles above, you are covered by workers’ compensation and would be receiving funds shortly. Having confirmation from the insurance company will guarantee this for you.

How Workers’ Compensation Benefits Are Determined

Under normal circumstances, workers’ comp benefits are meant to cover 100% of the injured employee’s medical costs. It is uncommon, however, to have this funding presented all at once and therefore a determination is made as to how benefits are granted. The payments that are dispensed are based on the employee’s normal weekly wage. The maximum amount one could be granted in workers’ comp is known as the average weekly wage (AWW) and is usually two-thirds of what a person would ordinarily make if he or she was working and not recovering from the injury.

The weekly benefit is then multiplied by the percentage of disability that the person is under, which is based on the most recent doctor report. For example, if a person was considered to be 100% disabled and unable to work at all, the benefits for the week would be 2/3 of the person’s weekly wage. If the person was deemed to be 75% disabled, it would be 3/4 of the 2/3 weekly wage instead. Do note that some of these and all calculations can vary on a case by case basis, but this is typically how it is executed.

Who Pays Workers’ Compensation?

While workers’ compensation operates through the employer, it is actually most commonly not the employing company that makes payments for the program. When a worker is injured while on the job, it is actually the employer’s insurance company that dispenses funding. The company pays for workers’ comp insurance every month so that, in the event of an incident, that insurance company pays for the benefits granted to the injured employee under workers’ compensation. This operates similarly to automobile or any other kind of insurance.

There is an exception to this and it occurs when the employing company insures itself by setting up special accounts to dispense workers’ compensation funds. Currently, this is only a practice that is done in one US state, so it does not apply to Florida. Under Florida law, a company that has more than four employees must carry workers’ compensation insurance. If a company has less than four employees, then they are probably not required to cover workers’ comp at all. Therefore, in this State, it will always be the insurance company that is dispensing workers’ compensation funding.

What Types of Expenses Does Workers’ Compensation Insurance Cover?

Workers’ compensation insurance can vary in terms of the types of expenses that it covers and this variance is based on the type of policy that is purchased. Most plans for workers’ comp insurance cover medical expenses that arise as a result of the original incident. This typically includes doctors’ visits, hospital stays, physical therapy, medication and prescriptions, and more. Most plans also have stipulations in them for disability pay, both long term and short term. These come into effect if the injury is severe enough to keep somebody out of work for an extended period of time.

Although less common, there are some workers’ compensation insurance plans that cover funeral expenses in the event that an employee dies while on the job. These plans not only cover burial costs, but sometimes also grant lost wages to the surviving family members or beneficiaries.

It should also be noted that workers’ compensation insurance is different than general liability insurance and therefore does not cover the kinds of incidents that are covered under that kind of plan, such as customer injuries or slander cases.

Does Workers’ Compensation Insurance Cover Long-term and Permanent Injuries?

The answer to this question depends largely on the type of workers’ compensation insurance plan that the company has purchased and regularly pays into. Baseline, long-term disability and permanent injury circumstances are not covered, however there are some plans that do. It is always best to check with your insurance company to see what kind of coverage you have and if this kind of injury is indeed covered for your workers’ compensation plan, preferably sooner rather than later, in case an incident does arise.

Generally, however, if there is coverage for disability or permanent injury, it will be in one of four kinds. The first is for injuries that are temporary, yet still long-lasting, and it covers them completely. The second kind is for the same kind of injury, but only partially covers it. The third and fourth categories are for total and partial coverage, respectively, for permanent, severe injuries that render employees unable to return to work. Again, it is always best to see what kind of plan your company has, but most of the time, at least partial coverage is included in the majority of workers’ compensation insurance plans.

What if the Injury Was My Fault?

In the vast majority of workers’ compensation cases, the question of fault is an irrelevant one. By its very design, the workers’ compensation program was meant to assist any kind of workplace injury and that holds true to this day. Even if you, the injured employee, were at fault for an injury, you are still eligible to receive benefits through the workers’ compensation program.

That being said, there are some scenarios that your employer or insurance company may try to exploit in order to avoid paying workers’ compensation benefits. One of these is if it was a dangerous job and you knew the risks going into it. This is known as assumption of risk and it does not hold up in court very often, so it is a weak defense meant to scare you off. The only scenario where you would lose a workers’ compensation appeal for being at fault during a workplace injury event is if you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time or were otherwise breaking a law. Barring these circumstances, you can still receive benefits through workers’ compensation, although you may need to fight to have benefits won if your employing company decides to give you a hard time.

Death on the Job

Although it is a rare and extreme circumstance, there are times where a workplace injury will result in death. This tends to happen more commonly in dangerous working environments, but it can occur anywhere, so it is important to know how a death on the job might be handled in terms of workers’ compensation benefits. Obviously, medical expenses aren’t granted to someone that dies while on the job, however, most of the time, there are options for such benefits to be granted to the family and beneficiaries of the deceased individual.

Some workers’ compensation insurance plans have stipulations in them that grant surviving family members funding to cover funeral and burial expenses. Companies that have this kind of plan certainly will grant benefits in the event of a workplace death. If they do not, there is another scenario where benefits can still be granted and that is if it was the negligence of the employer or failure to create a relatively safe working environment that led to the death. In that case, surviving family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit again the company and hope to claim benefits this way.

Suing vs Workers’ Compensation

If you have been injured while on the job and are hoping to collect benefits from the workers’ compensation program, then you are certainly within your rights to do so. However, if you do so, you are unable to sue the employer as well. This is known as the “no sue” rule and applies to individuals collecting workers’ compensation. The idea behind this is that if someone is collecting compensation one way, they should not have it another as well.

That being said, there are a few possible exceptions to this rule, all spawning from the idea that the employer intentionally meant to harm the individual. If it can be proven that the workplace injury was the intended outcome for the company, there is grounds for a lawsuit in the form of what is known as an intentional tort. The most common scenarios in which this type of suit is lobbied are battery, assault, fraud, defamation, invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and trespassing. Do note however that it must be the employer or higher ranking representative of the company that committed the harmful act, not another employee that would be of an equal rank.

Can You Be Fired for Filing a Workers’ Comp Claim?

Although the laws vary from state to state, in the State of Florida, it is illegal for an employer to fire someone while they are in the middle of a workers compensation claim. This is known as retaliation, in legal terms, and it is a shady tactic that some businesses will try to use to get out of having to pay workers comp claims. They may try to play it off as a normal business decisions, citing that there are “budget cuts” or something of the like, but make no mistake, there is an intent to punish the employee and avoid dispensing workers comp funds behind that.

The exception to this scenario is that if an employee is unable to work for an extended period of time, the company is not legally obligated to hold the position for them. They must however still pay disability benefits and have a position of some kind, albeit not the same exact one, still for him or her upon the employee’s return. Some companies will attempt to use this as a loophole to get out of paying any kind of benefits, but the end result would be the same.

What Happens if Your Claim is Denied?

When you, as an injured employee, report your workplace injury and subsequently file with the employer’s insurance company to attempt to receive workers’ compensation benefits, there is a chance that the claim will be denied. The insurance company may try any number of arguments or potential reasons why the claim was denied, but if it is, they will not grant any benefits to you, at least not without a fight. Thankfully, the situation is far from hopeless if your workers’ comp claim is denied.

After a denial, you can appeal to have that denial overturned. This denial is initially done to the insurance company, although the odds of success are slim since that company would have denied the claim in the first place. More likely than not, you will need to file a workers’ compensation lawsuit in order to see any benefits granted to you. When going through this process, it is highly recommended that you consult with an attorney that is well-versed and experienced in this kind of law in order to grant yourself the best chance possible of winning the case and acquiring the benefits you deserve.

Workers’ Compensation Fraud

Although the workers’ compensation program was designed with good intent, as it is with many such programs, there will always be people that seek to take advantage of it and abuse the system as a result. When this happens in a workers’ compensation case, it is known as workers’ compensation fraud and can be performed from three different parties: the employee, the employer, or the health care professional.

When workers’ compensation fraud is attempted from the employee, it is most likely in the form of a false injury or illness. In this situation, the person will lie about having an injury or illness, or greatly exaggerating one, in order to gain funding. This could also happen if the employee attempts to claim a non work related injury as one and thereby seek compensation they don’t deserve from the company.

If the employer commits workers’ compensation fraud, it is likely to receive lower premiums on workers’ compensation insurance. By lying about job safety and protocols that should be in place, or by misclassifying employees into categories that would make them eligible for lower insurance rates, they are committing fraud as well. Finally, health care providers can commit workers’ comp fraud by prescribing more treatment than is necessary in order to receive more of the individual’s and company’s funding.

In whichever form it manifests as, workers’ compensation fraud is never acceptable and incurs harsh fines and criminal prosecution from the government if it can be proven.

Workers’ Compensation Stipulation Agreements

When a workers’ compensation case is being processed, there are other options for how the case will end than simply accepted or denied. The other two options are settlements and stipulations and, while they are somewhat similar, there are key differences that are important to understand. A settlement is an agreement to close a workers’ compensation case by accepted a single large sum instead of ongoing payments. This is not a bad idea, in some situations, but it does not protect one in the future, especially if the injury is going to have long-lasting effects.

A stipulation agreement, on the other hand, does help ensure that benefits could be granted in the future. By definition, a workers’ compensation stipulation agreement temporarily closes the workers’ comp case, but leaves it open to be reassessed within five years to determine if additional benefits are required. This is done after the initial benefits are granted. The main appeal of a stipulation is for situations when the workplace injury could have long-lasting effects or least to a partial disability and it leaves it open for the individual to receive benefits in the future to cover ongoing medical expenses.

Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP)

Even though the processes and laws regarding workers’ compensation law usually vary from state to state, there are still tenants of it that are the same throughout the country. One of the central programs on a federal level is the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs, or the OWCP. For decades now, the OWCP has served injured employees from numerous different careers across America to be able to work through an injury and return to work better and stronger. While primarily serving government employees and those in specific, more dangerous occupations, the OWCP also provides services to help people manage being out of work due to a disability caused by an injury.

One of the central tenants of the OWCP is to lessen the negative impact of a workplace injury. When any injury causes a person to miss work time, the primary objective is always going to be treating the injury so that the person is able to return to work healthy. While medical aid might not be difficult to find, for many individuals and families it can be difficult to pay for. This is why the OWCP sometimes steps in to financially help families out with there is a major financial burden that workers’ compensation cases don’t fully cover.

In more dire cases, the OWCP also has many programs to help people find other forms of work. If an injury is so great that the person is no longer able to perform their normal functions, then they must seek employment elsewhere, sometimes in a completely different field than the one that they were originally in. Through rehabilitation and vocational training services, a person who is disabled by an injury can learn a new skill or trade or at the very least be able to return to the workplace in some other capacity so that he or she can continue to make a living for his or herself or family.

The Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs does a lot of good for people who have been injured in the workplace and need additional help returning to a normal life. It also steps in when the regular workers’ compensation system fails to deliver. If you or someone you know has been negatively impacted by a workplace injury, you may find these programs useful, but you also may be entitled to additional help from your employer that they might not offer to you right away. To learn more about your rights as an injured worker, and to seek the guidance of the Franco Law Firm in resolving your matters of workers’ compensation, please call us at 813 872 0929.

Personal Injury

What is a ‘Personal Injury?’

Many people have no doubt heard the term ‘personal injury’ used before in the legal context, but what exactly does it mean? A personal injury is any kind of harmful action or infliction caused by a person or organization to another individual’s body. This does include all of physical, psychological, and emotional damages done to a person, however it does not extend to the property of the person. Damages to property or possessions fall under a different category, but if the harm is done specifically to an individual’s body, mind, or emotional being, it can be considered a personal injury. Note that malice or intent is not a requirement of a personal injury; even if the injury itself was an accident, it is still applies.

By extension, a personal injury lawsuit is one in which someone who is the victim of a personal injury files a case against the perpetrator of the injury. This is done to seek restitution for the injuries that were inflicted and, in some cases, to help that individual cover medical expenses that may have arisen as a necessary part of the treatment of the injury. The most common kinds of personal injury cases are those resulting from accidental situations, such as automobile accidents, tripping accidents, and work-related injuries not covered under workers’ compensation, but assault cases can apply as well if criminal charges aren’t filed.

Personal Injury Law in Florida

Specific laws and how different legal situations are handled are sometimes varied from state in state. Personal injury law is a common area where local and state laws can influence how cases are resolved and how verdicts are found. The basic tenants of personal injury law are consistent throughout the country; a person who suffered a physical injury at the hands of someone else due to some kind of negligence may seek compensation from the injuring party. In Florida however, there are certain laws and criteria that are in place to regulation personal injury cases and understanding these laws is key to winning a case in this state.

In almost every instance of personal injury in Florida, in order to claim restitution, three criteria must be met. The first is that the person who caused the personal injury had an obligation to not cause the injury, but failed. This includes most accidental cases or intentional cases, an ill-designed product causing an injury for example. The second criteria is that the failure to prevent injury is directly what caused it. For example, there would be no personal injury case if the incident had nothing to do with the causing of an injury, but coincidentally happened at the same time. The third criteria is the most obvious one: an injury must be sustained.

There is one area of personal injury that does form exceptions to these criteria however and has to do with a policy in the State of Florida regarding automobile accidents. Florida is considered a “no-fault” state, which means that an individual’s own car insurance must pay for injuries and damages regardless of who was at fault in the accident. Due to this, a statute is written into every car insurance policy to help pay for such injuries and damages. The only time that a person may file a personal injury lawsuit for a car accident in the State of Florida is if serious injuries are suffered, which include significant permanent scarring, loss of bodily function, disfigurement, or death.

The State of Florida has its own set of guidelines for how its legal system manages personal injury cases. If all of the above criteria is met or if serious injuries are sustained during a car accident, then there may be grounds for a personal injury case. If you or someone you know has be unjustly hurt and requires financial compensation to help manage the injuries, then it is a good idea to consult which a personal injury attorney, especially one who is fluent and experienced with Florida and local law, to help you navigate through the legalities and give you the best chance possible to winning your case. To learn more about how the skilled attorneys of the Franco Law Firm can serve you in this capacity. Please call us at 813 872 0929.

First Steps After an Injury

If you find yourself the victim of a personal injury case, the very first thing you should do, after seeking emergency medical attention of course, is to record as much information as possible about the incident. A police report is usually the most important piece of evidence in any personal injury legal case, so obtaining this should be a priority. Besides just that however, pictures of the accident, statements from witnesses or both parties, and anything else that is tangible, will help your case later on.

It is also important to keep excellent track of all medical visits, procedures, and medication that is required as a result of the treatment of the injury. When filing a personal injury case, you are often seeking an amount that is equivalent or greater to medical expenses and having a record of treatments will help pin down this number and give credence to the existence of the injury. When in doubt, write it down, because more information is always best and options are always good to have. More information will give you more options and increase the chances of you winning your personal injury case down the line.

How Serious Does an Injury Have to Be for a Case?

When you think of individuals filing for a personal injury case, you may be thinking that an injury must be major in order for it to qualify. That is not necessarily true, however. An injury doesn’t have to be serious in order to justify the filing for a personal injury lawsuit. Obviously, serious injuries, such as those warranting lengthy hospital stays or months of treatment, do indeed qualify and will grant the highest amounts of restitution if the case is won, but they are not alone.

The only qualification, as far as severity goes, for there to be grounds for a personal injury case is that some form of medical treatment was necessary. Whether it was a single visit to a doctor or chiropractor or a year of physical therapy, if you have been injured by another party, you are able to file a case against that person or organization in order to be compensated for those medical expenses. In rare instances, harm that has not received medical attention may qualify, but these are handled case by case and often have minimal chances of success. When in doubt, always consult with an attorney to see if your situations meets these and all other requirements.

Deadlines for Filing a Personal Injury Case in Florida

As with all kinds of legal action, there are deadlines when when you can file for a personal injury case against another individual or organization. This is known as the statute of limitation and means that after a certain amount of time, that particular incident cannot be taken action against in either a criminal or civil court. For personal injury cases in Florida, the statute of limitation is four years. This means that you have four years from the time of the incident to file a personal injury lawsuit.

The primary reason for having such a late deadline for a personal injury is because the effects of an accident or situation may not be apparent right away. For example, following a car accident, whiplash and other conditions do not manifest themselves until days afterwards. You may not realize that you have been affected by a medical malpractice case until details come out down the line. Four years gives the injured party plenty of time to gather information and come forward regarding the accident and begin the process of a personal injury case.

How to Tell Whether You Have a Case

Following a difficult incident, it can be sometimes confusing to determine whether or not you have grounds for a personal injury case. While unusual circumstances can and do arise, and you should always consult with an attorney if there is any doubt, there are three main criteria to determine whether or not you have a case. The first is whether or not a personal injury was suffered. This may seem obvious, but it is important to note because it does not include damages to property. For example, if you were hurt, either physically or psychologically in a car accident, there was a personal injury. If the car was damaged and you were not, there is not a case.

The second criteria is that the injury must have been a result of negligence of another person or organization. This means that another must be at fault and have caused the incident, not simply your own clumsiness or carelessness. Finally, there must be recoverable damages that are being sought to be compensated for. If you were injured but there was no medical treatment, there is no case, however if you did seek medical attention and there was a cost involved, there is. Again these are guidelines, but they are requirements for all personal injury cases in Florida.

Florida Serious Injuries Threshold

Although all injuries that meet the aforementioned, necessary requirements qualify for a personal injury case, there are certain kinds of injuries that grant a higher tier of restitution that can be gained. These are known as serious injuries and have specific criteria, called the serious injuries threshold, that make them as such. Although the definition of a serious injury can vary by state, in Florida there are clearly defined rules for the threshold and only one of these must be met, although more than one may apply.

The first condition is if there is significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function, such as eyesight or hearing. Similarly, if there is permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement. This may include being paralyzed in a limb, for example. Thirdly, an injury is considered serious is there is significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement, most commonly burns or amputations. Finally, if an individual died in an accident, his or her successors may seek restitution in a personal injury case and this would qualify as serious. Again, if one or more of these conditions are met, the injury is considered serious in the state of Florida.

Florida No Fault Law Explained

In the state of Florida, we have a law in place that alters the normal treatment of personal injury cases for automobile accidents. This law, known as the No Fault law, states that no matter who is at fault in an automobile accident, the insurance company of each respective injured party must pay for the costs of the medical treatment for that injury. This is different than in most states where the at-fault driver’s insurance company must pay for the injuries of both.

Due to this law, each driver in Florida must contain personal injury protection (PIP) coverage as part of their car insurance plan. In the event of an accident, or more specifically, an injury caused as the result of an accident, this clause would kick in and pay those medical costs. Additionally, each driver would not be able to file a personal injury claim against the other. The exception to that is if the injury was of a serious nature, in which a personal injury claim would be appropriate.

Categories of Serious Injuries in Florida

Understanding what constitutes a serious injury is important in Florida because these kinds of injuries bypass the No Fault Law and allow the injured individual to file a personal injury lawsuit. How does the State of Florida quantify what is a serious injury and what categories are there?

The first category of serious injury in Florida is that which causes significant or permanent loss of bodily functions, such as eyesight or hearing. Similarly, any permanent injury, disfigurement, dismemberment, or scarring would qualify as a serious injury. Note that these are all within a reasonable degree of medical probability. Finally, if an individual is killed in an accident, his or her next successor would be eligible to file a personal injury suit to help cover funeral and burial expenses.

All of these conditions exempt a personal injury from the No Fault Law, but when in doubt, it is always best to consult with an attorney who is an expert on the subject.

Who Decides if the Injury is Serious Enough?

Even if you, as the injured party, are reasonably sure that your injury falls under the serious category for the sake of filing a personal injury case, that assessment does not fall to you. Rather, it is the insurance adjuster that makes the determination about the severity of an injury and therefore how it should be handled. Moreover, it is almost always the insurance company of the party being sued that will try to determine if an injury is serious enough.

For example, if you are filing a case against a doctor for medical malpractice, it is the malpractice insurance adjuster that will be reviewing the case. Unfortunately, insurance companies will do everything they can to pay minimally the person filing the case. As such, and fortunately for the injured person, the adjust does not necessarily get the final say. If you believe that the insurance company made an unfair assessment, you can fight it in court and a judge will make the determination, including how much should be paid out. When going through this process, it is always best to have an attorney on your side that can guide you.

What Kinds of Damages Can an Injury Lawsuit Cover?

A personal injury lawsuit is meant to assist a person who was harmed by another person or organization’s negligence. In doing so, the main purpose is to receive compensation for damages caused by the incident. Exactly what kinds of damages can an injury lawsuit cover? Broadly, these cases are meant to cover medical expenses and pain and suffering losses.

Medical expenses are the easier to quantify of the two because they have a tangible number. Any kind of treatment, including doctor’s visits, therapy, procedures, and medication, that is related to the injury falls under this category and should always be part of the restitution dispensed as a result of the personal injury suit. Pain and suffering losses are much harder to put a number to, but each court of law has an assessment scale for what it should be. This category includes intangible damages that the injured person suffered and aims to compensate them for what they had to go through as a result of the injury. Note that this varies on a case by case basis and some personal injury cases may not even qualify.

How Long Does a Personal Injury Lawsuit Take to Settle?

Each personal injury case is different and therefore it is nearly impossible to give an exact figure on how long a personal injury lawsuit could take to settle. There are many factors that go into this question and various stages to the process of filing and going through a personal injury case that could either shorten or drag out the completion of a case. The severity of the injury, amount of required medical treatment, pushback from the injuring party, and amount of documented evidence all play a role.

As a rule of thumb, however, most personal injury cases take at minimum six months to resolve for the most simple of cases. The majority of cases take a year or longer, with a good amount lasting two or three years. To speed up the process, be sure to document all medical treatments and be on top of submitting all documentation to court in a timely manner. Additionally, a good attorney will help you stay on track and advise on how to best proceed in your case, so having one on your side is a valuable asset for completing a personal injury case both quickly and with the best chance of success.

Is It Possible to Receive Backpay for Missed Days of Work?

Sometimes, in the time following the infliction of a personal injury, you may be forced to miss time from work. If it is only a part of a day for a doctor’s appointment, it might not be a big deal, but what if you have to miss weeks to recover from the injury? The wages that are lost as a result can be very detrimental to the financial well being of anyone suffering from a personal injury, particularly because the medical bills will still keep coming.

Thankfully, it is possible to receive backpay for missed days of work if the work was indeed missed due to the personal injury related to the case. When filing for this kind of case, you would be eligible to obtain an amount related to your normal pay, even if you could have taken sick leave or vacation time. The caveat to that is that the amount may not necessarily be equal to your normal salary, but it is usually fairly close and therefore majorly beneficial to anyone forced to miss work time to tend to a personal injury.

What if More Than One Person Is to Blame for Your Injury?

When most people think about personal injury lawsuits, they tend to think of automobile accidents. Although this is one of the most common kinds of personal injury cases, it is almost always against a single person, the driver. What would happen if there was a personal injury circumstance where more than one person was to blame? Would you still be able to file a personal injury lawsuit?

There are numerous kinds of situations where multiple people or an organization was to blame for the infliction of a personal injury and the answer is that yes, you can still file a personal injury lawsuit against them. If it is simply a group of individual people, you would file the case against each of them collectively. If a company or organization was to blame for the injury, then you would file it against that entity just the same as you would against a single person. There are no special restrictions against filing against multiple people for the same injury, provided that you can indeed prove that it was a group effort. Proving this is a court of law, unless it is against a corporate entity, can sometimes be difficult, but with the right attorney, it can be done.

What if Your Injury is Caused by a Product?

There are situations that may arise in which an injury is caused not by an individual or group, but by a product. This could either be caused by the product being unsafe, by there not being sufficient warning labels or instructions on the product, or the mishandling of the product by the retailer that led to the product being harmful. In any of these cases, if you are injured by a product, it is certainly within your rights to file a personal injury lawsuit.

Who would the suit be against? Depending on how exactly the product was harmful, it could be either against the producer, the distributor, the retailer, or the manufacturer of the specific component of the product. It also depends on if the harmfulness of the product was caused by negligence or the plain defectiveness of the product. Typically, the burden of proof falls on the defendant, not the accuser, in these kinds of situations, but it is still recommended to consult with an attorney to determine who to best target and what the best strategy for winning the case would be.

What If You are Partially to Blame for Your Injury?

In the most clear-cut personal injury case, there is a single person or party responsible for the injury and an injured person who is suing them for that. There are some cases, however, that are not so black and white and may have elements of both parties being at least partially to blame for the injury. Blame, the layman’s term, is synonymous with negligence, the legal term that describes that someone was careless and this led to the injury.

For example, let’s say that a person was jaywalking and hit by a car in which the driver was drunk. Driving under the influence is certainly negligent and that person would normally be the only negligent party, but jaywalking is also negligent since it is also illegal. In this case, and in others like them, the injured person can still file a personal injury suit against the driver, however not for a full amount. For partial blame cases, negligence is broken up, by the judge in percentages and the person filing the suit can only hope to win the percentage of restitution equivalent to that number. Note that these are often handled on a case by case basis.

How Do You File a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Florida?

The first, albeit not completely necessary, step in filing a personal injury lawsuit is to schedule a consultation with an attorney. An experienced attorney will know exactly how to guide you throughout the rest of the process and offer advice on how to best win your individual case. He or she will usually begin by gathering all information relevant to your case and then send a letter to the target of the suit to see if they want to settle before the case begins. If they refuse, then the suit is necessary and it is time to begin the actual filing process.

You can file a lawsuit with any state court, preferably one in the district you live in. Once filed, mediation is the first step to prevent the case from going to a full trial. The judge will set up this appointment with you and the other party, but if negotiations are impossible, then it will go to trial. Again, it is always best practice to have an attorney on your side to guide you through this process, as, once it begins, it can be somewhat confusing.

Are There Damage Caps in Personal Injury Cases in Florida?

Personal injury lawsuits are meant to help injured people recover all of the funding that they need to compensate for the medical expenses of the injury, and normally this is certainly the case. That being said, there are certain kinds of personal injury cases that, according to Florida law, have damage caps to them. This means that, under these circumstances, there is a limit to how much can be paid out as a result of the personal injury lawsuit. In Florida, there are only damage caps on medical malpractice cases and punitive damages.

In medical malpractice lawsuits, the damage cap is set at $500,000 unless the medical professional is not considered a practitioner, in which case it is instead $750,000. This does not include compensatory damages, such as lost income or other economic hardships. Punitive damage is the extra “fee” that a judge will tag on to a personal injury lawsuit that the one filing the suit may not have necessarily asked for. These aren’t done in common scenarios, but are sometimes in cases of serious or egregious behavior. The damage cap for this sits at either three times the amount of compensatory damages or $500,000, whichever is greater.

What If I’m not Insured and I get Injured?

In Florida, there are specific guidelines governing automobile insurance and personal injury cases. As noted earlier, Florida is a no fault state, which means that that personal injury protection is built into most auto insurance policies. What happens if you do not have insurance though and are injured in an auto accident?

Although there are no special penalties, if you are injured in an accident and do not have insurance, you must pay for all medical expenses out of pocket. Due to the no fault law, you may not file a suit against the other driver because normally that funding is supposed to come from your insurance company. There is one type of exception to this rule, however, and that is that if the injury is of a serious nature, you may then file a personal injury lawsuit, regardless if you have insurance or not. Based on these guidelines, it is highly recommended that you do carry auto insurance to prevent this kind of situation from happening.

Can I File a Personal Injury Lawsuit Against the Government?

It is fairly well known that you can file a personal injury lawsuit against another individual or a company or organization, but can you file a case against the federal government? The answer is that yes, you are free to file against a government employee or, if appropriate, agency, the same way that you would file against anyone else. There are certain filing deadlines and damage caps that apply, since they involve the federal government and do not necessarily have to be in line with individual state laws, however if the requirements are met, then the process for going through the case is more or less the same. Since the filing process is a little different for the federal government, it is always advisable to consult with an attorney before doing so to help you stay in line and give you your best chance of winning the case.

The same applies for state governments as well. If you were injured by a state employee or agency, you are similarly free to file a personal injury lawsuit against them as well. These claims do tend to adhere to normal state laws, so there is typically less complication with the process itself.

Does a Personal Injury Lawsuit Have to be Filed in a Certain Amount of Time?

Like all other forms of law, personal injury law is regulated by certain statutes and rules. These guidelines tend to vary from state to state, so understanding how personal injury law operates in Florida is key to filing for and winning that kind of case. While having a personal injury attorney on one’s side is an invaluable asset in going through such a lawsuit, it is good to be aware of some of the regulating laws. One such is directly related to how long a person has to file a personal injury lawsuit and is defined by Florida’s laws regarding statute of limitation.

The statute of limitation in reference to a personal injury case is how long a claim is considered relevant in the eyes of the State. If an injury was sustained within the statute of limitation, then a lawsuit can be filed for it, however if it is past that time, then no suit can be filed. The reasoning behind having such a stipulation in place is so that people cannot create a case against someone for an incident that happened a long time ago and is no longer relevant to their lives.

In Florida, the statutes of limitation for different kinds of personal injury cases vary depending on the nature of the injury. For the majority of cases, which fall under the legal categories of general personal injury and negligence, a case must be filed within four years of the injury being inflicted. For malpractice cases, either medical or otherwise, the statute of limitation is only two years. There is a clause for personal injury cases in Florida however that state that the statute of limitation can sometimes begin at the time of when the injury is, or should have been discovered. This is aptly called the Discovery Rule, but can vary from case to case.

In all personal injury cases, the lawsuit should be begin as soon as the injury is noted. Although time is somewhat of a luxury in these cases, the sooner that the injury is reported, the better chance the individual has of winning the case and being awarded the financial restitution that they need sooner rather than later. If you or someone you know has been unjustly injured, then it is a good idea to begin the process of seeking justice as soon as possible. To this end, the help of one of the ace attorneys of the Franco Law Firm would be vital to aiding you in navigating the legal terrain and winning a case on a schedule that best works for you. To learn more and to schedule a free consultation, please call us at 813 872 0929.

Is Negligence the Only Basis for a Personal Injury Case?

There are some incidents that occur in which a person sustains an injury as the result of the actions of someone else. This creates grounds for a person to file a personal injury lawsuit in order to gain compensation from the injuring agency to help pay for the costs of the injury. One of the most common causes for a personal injury case is negligence. This is when the carelessness or ill-preparation of a person or company leads to an incident being caused in which someone is hurt. While this is a very common reason for a personal injury case, it is not the only one and there are many other circumstances in which a personal injury case can and should be filed.

A common other reason for a personal injury case is medical malpractice. While all doctors have to go through intensive schooling and practice in order to perform their duties, there are times when a doctor or medical professional will make a dire mistake and indeed do more harm than good. There are even instances where a doctor will intentionally cause harm or lie for selfish gain. This is not an okay practice and creates grounds for a filing of a medical malpractice suit. Other examples include dire and withheld side effects of medication that cause major problems, which are usually advertised in commercials on television. In extreme cases, if a person dies wrongfully due to medical malpractice, the door opens for a wrongful death lawsuit as well.

Another somewhat common circumstance for a personal injury case is for injuries sustained from defective products. A company has an obligation to create safe products and state any precautions that should be taken. If the company fails in that obligation, a lawsuit can be filed. One common example of this is a defective car part that regularly fails and causes accidents. They are usually recalled, but sometimes the damage is done beforehand. Not providing adequate and understandable warning labels also opens liability on the company’s part.

There are numerous other reasons why a person may want to file a personal injury lawsuit, ranging from slip and fall accidents, defamation, or if someone’s dog attacks another person. In any of these circumstances, if a person suffers an injury because of the carelessness or malice of another, then he or she has full rights to seek financial compensation to help offset the costs of these injuries. Have you or someone you know found yourself in these circumstances? If so, then the attorneys at the Franco Law Firm can help you win your case against negligence and other injustices. For more information and to schedule a free consultation, please call us at 813 872 0929.

Negotiating with Insurance Companies

It is very common for a personal injury lawsuit to involve one or both parties’ insurance companies, especially in the State of Florida. This is because when an injury is sustained, the person affected will seek to utilize their health insurance company to help pay for the medical costs of the injury. In a perfect world, the insurance company would dispense all of the funds needed to cover the injury’s bills, however this is not the case the vast majority of the time. Therefore, it is useful to know how to negotiate with insurance companies in order to receive the maximum amount of funding in a personal injury case.

The negotiation process usually begins with a simple phone call to the insurance adjuster. The initial call is important because it establishes both side’s points about the case to the other party. At this time, or shortly after, the individual will probably receive a reservation of rights letter, which states that insurance company is investigating the claim and will not necessary dispense any money right away. This is normal, and expected until the negotiations are finalized.

Once the claim is established, the insurance company will almost always offer the applicant a settlement amount, which is a sum of money meant to cover the necessary costs of the injury, but given outside of the court system. While it may be tempting to take the initial settlement offer, it is never a good idea. Insurance companies will almost always low-ball the first offer, hoping to get away with paying the least amount of funding that they can get away with. Instead, it is a good idea to then present a counter-offer, generally what was initially calculated to be necessary for covering the injury costs. If that is not accepted, then a counter-offer from the insurance company will be offered and it may go back and forth for a bit.

Eventually, and usually only after a few calls and offers, an agreement can be reached as to what the settlement on the personal injury claim should be. One trick to try to gain a better settlement might to be ask the insurance adjuster why he or she thinks the settlement should be that amount, which shows that the filer is aware of how much their settlement is worth. Another tactic might be to emphasize the emotional needs behind the counter-offer, which appeals to the person’s compassion and breaks up the monotony of simply restating the case facts.

In all personal injury cases, it is a good idea to have an attorney on your side as well who can help you negotiate properly and offer guidance in every part of the case. This is especially true if a settlement cannot be reached and the case must go to court. At the Franco Law Firm, we have many years of experience working with individuals filing personal injury claims and the insurance companies that they are appealing to, so there is little doubt that we can offer only the best guidance in winning your claim as well. For more information about how we can assist you and to schedule a free consultation for your personal injury case, please call us at 813 872 0929.

What Does it Mean to Settle a Case?

If you or someone you know is involved in a personal injury case, then you know that the process can be long and daunting. The court appearances and paperwork involved in such a case not only can be tedious for the person who is filing the suit, but also for the defendant. In some cases, the person or organization that be being filed against will seek a settlement rather than going through the entire court process. What is a personal injury settlement and how might it affect your case?

A settlement, as it pertains to personal injury law, is when the injuring party decides, outside of the court system, to relinquish the financial compensation that they are being filed for. This can be done before the case goes to trial or anytime during the trial before a final verdict is reached. The person or organization may want to go this route rather than wait for a verdict for a number of reasons. Sometimes they may feel that the court would mandate they provide more money than they would like to give and therefore they may try to make a lower offer or sometimes they don’t want the ongoing legal costs or media attention associated with a longer trial.

As the plaintiff seeking financial compensation, it is sometimes a good idea to accept a settlement offer, while sometimes it is not. If the person filing the case feels that they may lose it in a court battle, he or she may want to accept what it being offered rather than risk not receiving any funds. Conversely, the plaintiff may choose to reject the settlement offer if he or she feels that the chances of winning the case are strong and more funds may be dispensed than are in the settlement. Remember too that once a settlement is agreed upon, the case is completely over and may not be reopened, so any decision should be made cautiously.

Ultimately, it depends on the individual case as to whether or not a settlement should be taken. Depending on the circumstances and evidence in the case, it may be a good idea to “take what you can get” or to see the trial through to the end and receive more financial compensation than expected. In every personal injury case, it is a good idea to enlist the assistance of an attorney that is well-versed in personal injury law and has experience with such cases. At the Franco Law Firm, we have the skill and the experience in Florida courts, so we are at the ready to offer you the best guidance possible and ensure that you receive the financial restitution that you deserve. For more information and to schedule a free consultation, please call us at 813 872 0929.

Will the Person that Injured me be Punished?

Personal injury law is a branch of legal cases that deal with people causing, through some form of negligence or failure to accommodate safety, injuries and the person who was injured seeking financial compensation for said injuries. The process varies from state to state, however the basic tenants of personal injury law are the same. If a person who has been injured is seeking restitution, the way that they win the case is different than other forms of law.

In general, there are two different types of legal cases handled by the courts. These two categories are criminal law and civil law. Criminal law is relevant when the state or federal government tries someone for breaking a law and committing a crime. In criminal law cases, if the defendant is found guilty, then he or she must be punished, either by large fees or incarceration for a time. While the severity and theories behind these punishments also tend to vary across different states, the sentence is mandated by the court and must be carried out.

Civil law is a little bit different because a person is not necessarily being charged with a crime, but rather with a different kind of wrong committed. In addition, a civil lawsuit is not between the government and an individual, but rather between two separate individuals or organizations. As such, the punishment process is carried out differently. Rather than a person being punished by the courts for the sake of atoning for a crime, they are instead mandated to pay, financially, for the medical and sometimes property damage costs of the person who is filing the lawsuit.

There are circumstances in which a crime is also committed tangentially to the personal injury case being filed. For example, if a person files a personal injury lawsuit for an injury sustained in an automobile accident and it is revealed that the other driver was also intoxicated, he or she may be charged with a DUI in addition to being made to pay the costs of the civil suit. These circumstances vary on a case to case basis however.

Overall, a person who does the injuring in a personal lawsuit is not punished in the same sense that a criminal is, but he or she is still obligated to compensate the injured with financial assistance. It is not truly punishment, as the goal is not to admonish the injurer, but to help justice be seen for the person who is injured and help him or her get back to a normal life. If you or someone you know needs and deserves this kind of financial compensation for injuries, the skilled attorneys at the Franco Law Firm can help see your case won. For more information and to schedule a free consultation, please call us at 813 872 0929.

Social Security

Social Security Law in Florida

The Social Security program is a system managed by the federal government that provides financial support to people that are in situations in which they need a source of income and cannot find it through work. This includes people with disabilities and retired people, along with other people in dire circumstances. Since the Social Security program is a federal one, there is little difference in regulations from state to state, outside of working with office locations specific to a local region. Therefore, social security law in Florida is not too different than any other state’s, however there are some things to keep in mind when it comes to acquiring Social Security benefits in our state.

The type of benefits given by the Social Security Administration is exactly the same throughout all fifty states, however the determining factor on how much those benefits will matter depends on the cost of living in each specific state. For example, the cost of living is much higher in California and New York than it is in Florida, so if the same amount of money was provided, it would be able to be put to less usage in those two states. That is why many of the social security benefits are administered on a percentage sliding scale. Remember that the idea to provide livable income, so if you were to hear of more funds being dispensed in other states, this may be why.

Many calculations involving social security benefits rely on cost of living, which is especially important for retired people who are seeking to utilize the Social Security system. Florida is a state with a high population of retirees, therefore knowing what kinds of benefits might become available upon a person’s retirement is important to be aware of so that an individual knows how much to invest into Social Security, through taxes and cuts from paychecks, at a younger age.

Whether you are a retired or soon to be retired person or a person who requires social security benefits for another circumstance, it is important to be aware of how funds are dispensed and how you can most take advantage of these benefits. The Franco Law Firm has been working with local Social Security Administration offices in the Tampa Bay Area for many years, so we have a good rapport with them and know the system well enough to help you receive the most amount of benefits possible. To learn more about how we can provide guidance in seeking social security benefits, please call us at 813 872 0929.

Who Needs a Social Security Attorney?

Here in the United States of America, we have a number of government programs in place to get individuals who might not have a typical life and need extra support in order to be able to have one. One of, if not the largest of these programs is the Social Security program, a federally-designed system that provides aid for people who are unable to find normal work and therefore need to garner regular wages elsewhere to make ends meet. This includes not only people with disabilities, but also retired people and those who have fallen under temporary difficult times.

Unfortunately, this ideal of having a system in place to help everyone in need is limited by its own resources. Therefore, even though there may be many people that legitimately need the Social Security Administration’s assistance, not everyone can acquire it. Funding is finite and there is a selection process that is required to be able to obtain SSI. This creates situations where a person may be turned away from these benefits and left in a situation where they cannot obtain financial aid through said government funding or elsewhere.

This is where a social security attorney can step in and help. Even if a person’s social security application is initially rejected, there is an appeal process that can take place in which a person can reapply for benefits, while providing more information about their situation that may sway the social security judge, the one who determines if an application is accepted. Having a social security attorney during this process is an invaluable asset and drastically increases the chances of overturning a rejection of benefits. This is because a specialist attorney like this knows the system and how to best present a case to the SSA.

Have you applied for Social Security benefits, but have been rejected? Do you feel that this is unfair and you need these benefits for you or your family? Then now is the time to seek the aid of the Franco Law Firm. With years of experience in Florida and the Tampa Bay area helping people fight rejection and acquire the benefits that they need, we have no doubt that we can help you in your case by guiding you through the appeal process, helping you prepare a case with all the necessary information specific to your rejection notice, and standing up for you in the courtroom in front of the SSA judge. For more information and to schedule a free consultation with us in either English or Spanish, please call 813 872 0929.

What are the Most Common Social Security Application Problems?

In a perfect world, everyone who applies for government assistance would be accepted and be able to receive the benefits that they need and deserve. The system is not perfect however due to limited funding and a necessary selection process, so sometimes an application to a program like Social Security is rejected. This can cause feelings of stress, but thankfully that person can appeal to have their application overturned and the benefits granted. The key to winning an overturn appeal however is understanding why the application was rejected in the first place and compensating for that reason at the hearing.

One of the most common reasons why a Social Security application is rejected is that person applying makes too much other income. The Social Security system is designed to dispense funds on a need-based premise, meaning that the people with lower income not only receive more funds, but are also more likely to be accepted in the first place. This certainly may seem unfair, which is why part of the appeals process would be to prove that the need is there, even if the base income seems to be higher than the appointed standards.

Another common reason for the rejection of a Social Security application is if there is missing or incomplete information. This is especially true for disability applications, where there can sometimes be a lack of documented medical reasons to justify the acceptance of an application. To remedy this, it is always a good idea to provide as much medical documentation as possible, both during the appeal process and the submission of the initial application.

Other common reasons for the rejection of a Social Security application include stains on a person’s record. This includes convictions of felonies or a documented history of drug or alcohol abuse. While certainly not an automatic rejection, these factors can come into play if a person’s application is on the edge.

In any of the above cases and more, the appeals process should focus on remedying the reason why the initial Social Security Application was rejected in the first place. This is one reason why having a social security attorney is a valuable asset, because he or she is able to help fill in the gaps and fight to ensure that an application is accepted. At the Franco Law Firm, we have years of experience with social security law and helping people across Tampa Bay and Florida win their appeal cases and obtain the benefits that they need and deserve. To learn more about how we can help in your battle for Social Security benefits, please call us at 813 872 0929 to schedule a free consultation.

Unemployment vs Disability

The core of American social programs is to help those who are unable to generate enough income have the financial assistance that they need to be able to have a happy and successful life. There are numerous programs that aid in this, two of which are the Social Security program and the Office of Unemployment. Both of these programs do great work in helping provide funding people who can’t work, but they serve different roles, but they generally do not overlap at all. Since this is the case almost all the time, one or the other might be the better program for you and your situation.

Unemployment benefits are given by the government to people that are able and willing to work, but cannot find employment anywhere for any number of reasons, usually poor job markets in a certain geographic area. On the other hand, Disability benefits are granted to people who are unable to maintain a steady job because of some medical condition that prevents them from working or from working for very long. When applying for either one of these benefits, it is important to note the reason why the person is applying and pick one accordingly.

Remember too that Unemployment is a temporary financial relief, whereas Disability is a more permanent type of funding. Therefore, it is recommended that a person seek Unemployment first and then, when their time has reached its limit, apply for Disability. Once a person is approved for Disability benefits, he or she will no longer be eligible for Unemployment, so it is smart to take advantage of both programs in that order. There are specific circumstances in which a person could receive both kinds of benefits, but it is very rare and involves people submitting applications in a specific sequence of events that may leave them vulnerable to legal action from the state. Therefore, that is not recommended except in those very rare instances.

Both the Unemployment and Social Security Disability programs provide financial assistance to those that are unable to find work, but it is important to choose the program that is right for you. Even if you select the correct program, it is still possible to be rejected those benefits, which is where an attorney can step. At the Franco Law Firm, we excel in helping people obtain the benefits that are best suited to their situation so that they can live happy and successful lives. For more information about how we can help you obtain the benefits that you need and deserve, please call us at 813 872 0929.

Changes to Social Security in 2017

Every new year brings with it new and exciting changes and challenges and the Social Security program in America bears no exception to this rule. With the new year having just begun, many people are wondering what changes will be made to one of the most prevalent social funding programs in our country. While there is a lot of speculation still to be had regarding how the changing political atmosphere will impact programs like Social Security there are a few guaranteed changes that will be coming to the Social Security system this year.

The first major change is a welcome one for all people who collect benefits from Social Security. Due to the average increase of wages in America, and partially adjusted for recent market inflation, the amount of money being dispensed per person has increased. It is not a major increase, but it is still welcome and every little bit helps, particularly those who are living off of the money that they receive from Social Security and SSI. There is also an increase in maximum benefits granted, which will not affect everyone, but is good news for those that already receive high amounts of funding.

On the negative side, there are changes coming to Social Security that may not be so good for those seeking benefits. Also due to the average increase of wages in America, the cutoff for increased earnings limit is being raised. This means that people who earn lower incomes might not be in the same bracket of receiving benefits as they were last year, if they are accepted for benefits at all. This may force some people out of receiving benefits if they were right on the cusp last year. In addition, the retirement age for benefits is most likely going to be increasing this year, which means that people who seek benefits for retirement might not be able to receive full benefits until later on.

Overall, there is still a lot of speculation regarding the changes that will be made to Social Security in 2017. Some are projecting retirement age to increase by a lot, or tax funding for the program to be either increased or decreased by a significant margin. There is little to do except watch how the changes will play out in the political arena and plan accordingly. One thing that will never change is the Franco Law Firm’s commitment to helping all people receive the benefits that they need from Social Security and representing those who are seeking approval into the program. To learn more about how we can help you in your application or appeal process for social security benefits, please call us at 813 872 0929.

How Long is the Disability Application Process?

The process of applying for Social Security benefits can seem like a daunting one because there are so many steps to be followed. However, the application process needn’t be as difficult as it initially seems. By understanding the different steps involved in applying for Social Security Disability benefits, and with the right kind of guidance to help sort out any trouble along the way, you can should be able to submit your application and start receiving benefits within a reasonable amount of time. If all the paperwork is submitted correctly, a decision can be made within three to five months. If complications arise however, it can take much longer.

The first step in applying for Social Security Disability benefits is to actually submit the necessary application form. This can be done either online, over the phone, or at a local office of the Social Security Administration (SSA). Again, if everything is in order, a letter should be received within three to five months declaring an answer. Sometimes however certain aspects of the paperwork will be unclear or more information will be required. This can add several months to the application process, so it is important to make sure everything is correct and in order the first time the application is submitted.

If the application is accepted, then the person will begin receiving benefits right away. If not, then the appeal process begins. This is the chance that every applicant has to try to overturn the initial rejection and involves numerous steps. The first stage is the reconsideration stage, in which the SSA will review the application again and make a new verdict. This only takes another few months, but it is unlikely that any change comes from this part of the process. If the application is rejected again, it goes to the hearing stage, in which the applicant will need to present his or her case in front of a SSA judge and try to sway him or her with information as to why benefits should be given. This part of process can take anywhere from a few months to over a year, but it goes much smoother and quicker if you have legal representation on your side.

When appealing the rejection of a Social Security application, it is always a good idea to have a specialist attorney on your side because it not only makes the process quicker by lessening the number of hearings and court appearances, but it also drastically increases the chances of victory. The Franco Law Firm has years of experience helping people in the Tampa Bay Area do just this, so we can certainly help you in your Social Security application process and appeals as well. To learn more and to schedule a free consultation, please call us at 813 872 0929.

Social Security Sites you Should Bookmark

The Social Security program in America helps providing funding for people who need additional resources to live and successful life. Due to the many people that it services and the complexity of the system, it can be difficult to keep track of all of the necessary information to make the most of these benefits. Without the right guidance, it can seem overwhelming trying to apply for and attain social security benefits. Are you looking to apply for social security benefits or overturn a rejected application? If you, then here are some helpful links to websites that help equip you with information about the Social Security program and how you can work through its processes.

The first and most important site that you’ll want to have bookmarked in your internet browser is the official site for the Social Security Administration (SSA). The home page for their site is: https://www.ssa.gov/. On their website, you can begin to apply for benefits, as well as make any changes to your account that affect how funds are dispensed, such as change of address or contact or bank information. A useful subpage of this site, the FAQ page is also a useful resource to help answer any questions that you may have about SS benefits in detail. It can be found at the link here.

Outside of the official government page, the Disability Benefits Help site is a useful resource for helping you navigate the application and appeals process, as well as provide information about which types of benefits might suit you and your situation best. Their home page can be found at: http://www.disability-benefits-help.org/. For an easy to read “cheat sheet” for how to apply for benefits, you should refer to one of their helpful guides that can be found at this link.

A third, and also important, site that you will want to bookmark is that of a skilled social security attorney. If your initial Social Security application is rejected, then you will have to go through the appeals process and having legal representation and guidance is a very useful resource to have. An attorney who specializes in social security law will also be able to help tailor your application and appeal case to best claim victory in a SSA court. What site would be best for one of the best social security law firms in the Tampa Bay area? It would be this one of course, that of the Franco Law Firm!

To learn more about how we can help you through your process of application and appeals with the SSA application so that you can get the best benefits you need for you and your situation, please call us at 813 872 0929.

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