In central Florida, if you sustain an injury at your place of work, a Winter Haven workers’ compensation attorney will help you determine how much you should receive for a workers’ comp settlement and will help you fight for the maximum available settlement amount.
After you suffer a workplace injury, you have three priorities. Seek medical help at once, inform your employer of the injury as quickly as possible, and – even before you apply for workers’ compensation benefits – arrange a consultation with a workers’ compensation attorney.
A workers’ compensation attorney will ensure that your application for benefits is accurate and complete, so that no mistakes or misunderstandings on your part cause a delay or denial of your benefits. If your benefits are denied, your lawyer will appeal that decision on your behalf.
How Does Workers’ Compensation Work in Florida?
Most employers in Florida that have four or more employees are required by law to provide workers’ compensation insurance coverage for those employees. Employers in the construction industry must provide that coverage even if they have only one employee.
After a work-related injury, workers’ comp pays all reasonable medical expenses for an injured employee, and it partially replaces the injured employee’s lost wages (at a rate of two-thirds of that worker’s regular wages) for up to 104 weeks or until that employee can return to work.
What is a Permanent Impairment Rating?
When you reach the level of maximum medical improvement after a workplace injury and nothing more can be done to improve your condition, if you are still partially disabled, a doctor will reevaluate you and assign you a permanent impairment rating (PIR) that ranges from one percent to one hundred percent.
A one hundred percent PIR is assigned to injured employees who have been fully and permanently disabled. Your permanent impairment rating is used to calculate how much you can receive in long-term benefits and to decide for how long you will receive those benefits.
What is a Permanent Partial Disability?
Permanent partial disabilities are permanent impairments that allow injured employees to work, but not as effectively, efficiently, or for as many hours as they could work prior to their injuries. In the workers’ compensation system, a disability is considered permanent when:
- No further improvement of the injured worker’s condition is possible with currently available technology and treatments.
- Palliative care will be required for the injured worker.
- The impairment reduces the injured worker’s mental and physical abilities and prevents that person from performing the work he or she did previously.
Someone with a permanent partial disability may have to accept a lesser workload at a reduced rate of pay. Because the condition will be permanent, and because the person has lost a percentage of his or her regular income, that person may qualify for permanent partial disability benefits.
Permanent partial disabilities include but are not limited to hearing loss, loss of one eye, back injuries, amputation, carpal tunnel syndrome, and paresis. Clinical depression, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder may also be classified as permanent partial disabilities.
What Permanent Partial Disability Benefits Are Available?
Your permanent impairment rating determines the amount of your permanent partial disability benefits. To calculate the benefits you are entitled to, permanent impairment ratings are split into four levels.
A permanent impairment rating from one percent to ten percent entitles you to two weeks of benefits for each percentage point. Higher permanent impairment ratings entitle you to more benefits:
- A PIR from 11 to 15 percent entitles you to three weeks of benefits for each percentage point over 10 percent.
- A PIR from 16 to 20 percent entitles you to four weeks of benefits for each percentage point over 15 percent.
- A PIR from 21 to 100 percent entitles you to six weeks of benefits for each percentage point over 20 percent.
How Are Permanent Partial Disability Benefits Calculated?
If your PIR is 20 percent, you’re entitled to a total of 55 weeks of permanent partial disability benefits: twenty weeks for the first 10 percentage points, fifteen weeks for the percentage points from 11 to 15 percent, and twenty weeks for the percentage points from 16 to 20 percent.
Permanent partial disability benefits are paid at the rate of 75 percent of your temporary disability benefits, which was two-thirds of your average weekly wage.
If you averaged a weekly wage of $1,000, your weekly temporary disability benefits were $666.67, so your permanent impairment benefit amount will be three-quarters of that, or $500 a week. Your workers’ comp attorney will help you determine exactly what you will receive.
What Can Your Receive and How Can You Receive It?
A lump sum settlement is a single payment that closes your workers’ compensation claim. If you have a permanent partial disability, you may qualify for weekly payments, a structured settlement, or a lump sum settlement.
There is a cap to permanent partial disability benefits. As of 2022, an injured worker may receive a maximum of $1,099 per week for temporary disability benefits. Permanent partial disability benefits pay three-quarters of that amount, so the maximum is $824 per week.
There is no “average” settlement amount that an injured worker can expect. Every injured worker’s condition is unique and every calculation of benefits will be different.
When Should You Speak to a Workplace Injury Attorney?
Determining how much a workplace injury impairs someone’s ability to perform at a job is still, ultimately, a doctor’s opinion, and you have a right to contest that opinion.
If you believe that you have been misdiagnosed and that your permanent impairment rating is inaccurate, schedule a consultation with a Winter Haven workers’ compensation attorney.
That attorney will review your worker’s compensation case, determine what benefits you are actually entitled to receive, and work to increase the amount of your benefits or to negotiate a more generous structured or lump sum settlement and close your workers’ compensation case.
What Else Should Injured Florida Workers Know?
If you sustain an injury at your place of work, undergo a medical examination – and obtain medical treatment for your condition if you require it – immediately. Then report the injury to your employer.
Even before you file for workers’ compensation benefits, you should speak to a Winter Haven workplace injury attorney. Your attorney can review your application for workers’ comp benefits and advise you regarding alternatives and other benefits that you may be entitled to.
If your worker’s compensation benefits are denied, your attorney will handle your appeal, and if you need to challenge any other decision about your workers’ compensation benefits, a Winter Haven workplace injury attorney will advocate on your behalf.