Tampa Workers’ Compensation Claims Process
Hopefully, you’ve never been injured on the job before or it has happened so infrequently that you are unfamiliar with the process. That’s okay; we are here to guide you. It’s important to understand, though, that your employer has likely dealt with numerous workers’ comp claims in the past, and the company’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier handles them every day and does nothing else. Having an experienced attorney on your side can be critical to making sure your claim is presented accurately and on time and that any issues or disputes are promptly and properly dealt with. Below you’ll find a general overview of the process for getting workers’ compensation in Florida. If you have questions about filing a claim or are having trouble getting the benefits you have coming to you, call Franco Law Firm at 813-872-0929 for a free consultation with a knowledgeable and experienced Tampa worker’s compensation lawyer.
Reporting the Injury
Florida law requires that you report your injury to your employer within 30 days after the date of the injury or the date the injury first manifests itself. If you miss this window, your claim will be denied unless one of the following applies:
- Your employer already knew about the injury
- The cause of the injury couldn’t be identified without a medical opinion, and you told your employer within 30 days of learning the injury was work-related
- The employer did not notify you of your obligation to report an injury as required by law
- Other exceptional circumstances
After you report the injury, your employer has seven days to tell their workers’ comp insurance carrier, and the insurance company has three days to get you a brochure that tells you about your legal rights and responsibilities regarding workers’ compensation. If your employer hasn’t notified their carrier, you can do so directly yourself. You can find the insurer’s contact information on the “broken arm” poster at your workplace. This poster is hard to miss; it includes an x-ray picture of a broken arm and is required by law to be posted conspicuously in the workplace. This poster gives you basic information and also includes the number of the Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC). You can call DWC or our office if you have any questions or are having trouble with your claim or getting treatment.
Your employer will direct you to a doctor to see for treatment. If you don’t like this doctor, you can switch to another authorized physician, but you can only make this change one time. If you are getting medications, you can choose any pharmacy you want, but make sure to pick one that participates in workers’ compensation. That way they will bill workers’ comp directly for your medicines, and you won’t have to pay out of pocket for your prescriptions.
Filing a Petition for Benefits
By following the above process, you should start to receive medical care right away without having to pay for it. You should also start receiving wage loss benefits if you are absent from work for more than seven days due to the injury. If for some reason the insurance company denies your claim, or if they are challenging your version of events or taking too long to process your claim, call our office for assistance. We can help you work with the insurance carrier to resolve the issue by answering questions, providing requested information, and explaining why your claim should be approved.
If you are still having difficulty after making a good faith effort to resolve the dispute, you can file a Petition for Benefits with the Office of the Judges of Compensation Claims (OJCC). Make sure your petition is complete and sufficiently detailed; otherwise it will get dismissed, which only further delays your claim and ability to get workers’ compensation. Of course, if you have Franco Law Firm on your side, we will review or prepare your petition to make sure it is solid and strong.
After filing a Petition for Benefits, the insurance company has 14 days to either pay your claim or file a response with the OJCC explaining why they are refusing to comply. A judge will be assigned to hear the case, taking evidence and testimony and listening to the legal arguments presented by each side. You definitely want to have an attorney represent you at this stage if you haven’t already retained one.
If the OJCC hearing doesn’t go your way, you have the opportunity to appeal the decision to the First District Court of Appeal. Attorney Manny Franco of Franco Law Firm is a successful appellate lawyer who can advise you on whether it makes sense to appeal your case and represent you in court as needed.
Contact the Franco Law Firm Today
Our goal at Franco Law Firm is to help you get workers’ compensation benefits when you’ve been injured on the job. Our thorough knowledge of Florida workers’ compensation law and experience with the workers’ compensation system means we can help you get benefits promptly, successfully, and in the full amount due to you. Contact our experienced and dedicated Tampa workers’ compensation lawyers today by calling 813-872-0929 for a free consultation.