Fort Myers, FL Attorney Frequently Asked Questions

Q:            Can I sue my Employer if I am hurt on the job?

A:            We can typically sue only for the workers compensation benefits you are due, i.e. wages and medical care.  Employers are ordinarily immune from suits for negligence, even if you were injured as a result of an unsafe workplace.  Exceptions exist, however, and we can discuss those with you at your free consultation.

Q:            What money benefits does the workers' compensation law provide?

A:            If your doctor feels that you cannot return to work because of your injuries, you are entitled to wage benefits for a certain period of time.  If you can work but your ability to earn wages is compromised because of your injuries, you may be entitled to compensation.  Additional benefits are available in the event you sustain a permanent injury.  Lastly, if your injury is so catastrophic that you face the daunting prospect of being permanently unable to work, the employer and/or carrier could potentially have to pay you for the rest of your life , depending on your age at the time of injury.

Q:            What medical benefits does the workers' compensation law provide?

A:            The law requires reasonable and necessary medical care so long as it is related to your injury. This can include specialists, medicals, therapists, surgeries, testing such as an MRI and even mileage for office visits.

Q:            Are all Florida employers required to have workers' compensation insurance?

A:            All employers with four or more employees, part-time or full-time, are required to have workers' compensation coverage.

Q:            Are workers' compensation benefits taxable?

A:            Wage benefits are nontaxable and workers’ compensation settlements are also nontaxable.  You do not even need to bother informing your tax preparer or accountant.

Q:            What should I do when I am injured / when should I report an injury to an Employer?

A:            You must do two (2) things immediately when you have been injured on the job.

1)  Notify your employer. You must immediately notify your employer, your immediate supervisor or higher if possible.  This can be done orally but doing it writing is always better.  You should request that a Notice of Injury be completed by your employer the same day of the accident if possible.   Even the smallest injury should be reported immediately.

2)  Seek Medical Treatment. Go to the onsite doctor if there is one and ask your employer where to go otherwise, in writing if possible.  If they do not give you a doctor go to your own doctor or go to the hospital  if it is urgent but go somewhere as soon as possible.  The longer you wait,  the harder it will be to obtain benefits from your workers’ compensation carrier.  

Q:            Should I ever use health insurance instead of workers' compensation?

A:            Typically, no.  Health insurance carriers are not supposed to cover on the job injuries. A workers' compensation carrier is not obligated to follow the instructions of a doctor you obtain on your own and the doctor’s opinion is usually inadmissible in court.  In my office, we do occasionally recommend it based upon unique sets of facts, however… we can discuss this at your free consultation.

Q:            If I am undocumented and unable to work legally in this country, am I still entitled to workers’ compensation benefits?

A:            Yes but call us immediately.  If this issue is handled properly, you can receive the proper medical care and in some instances, the wage benefits as well.  However, you can easily be deprived of all benefits by failing to proceed VERY carefully.  We are experienced at representing undocumented workers.  

Q:            Can I choose my own treating doctor?

A:            No.  Unfortunately, the law generally gives choice of medical provider to the insurance carrier. An injured worker is always entitled to one change of treating doctor during their claim although this doctor will likely also be of the carrier’ choosing.  You do have a chance to select an expert of your own choosing for a one-time expert opinion, however the carrier in most cases does not have to pay for this visit.  It must be done properly, however, so call us to find out more and before taking any action on your own. 

Q:            Is it possible to settle a workers' compensation case for cash?

A:            Absolutely.   Many people choose to pursue settlement of their workers’ compensation claims.  Although you do not have a right to settle, you also cannot be forced to settle against your wishes and we can explain to you whether a settlement is in your best interests.  Settlements are negotiated by your attorney and since our fees are a percentage of your settlement, you can be sure that we will seek the best offer possible. 

Q:            Are all types of injuries and diseases covered by workers’ compensation law?

A:            Yes, with one exception.  Purely mental or nervous injuries are not covered by workers’ compensation law unless they are related to a physical injury.  ALL other types of injuries and diseases are covered as long as your employment was the primary cause, which is frequently disputed by employers and insurance carriers.

Q:            Should I contact a workers’ compensation attorney before settling another case related to my injury, such as a personal injury case?

A:            Yes!  When you have a work related accident or injury, and another party or person was partially or wholly responsible for your injury, then in essence you have two claims from one injury, a workers’ compensation case and a lawsuit against someone other than your employer. If you have a third-party claim for the work accident, then call us as the workers’ compensation carrier will retain a lien on that case for any medical and wage benefits which have been paid in relation to your work injury.  Our firm has been very successful in getting this lien reduced and in some cases even waived.

Q:            Are there any programs which assist me in returning to gainful employment?

A:            If you find it difficult returning to the workforce because your previous skills were rendered permanently useless by the limitations caused by your work injury, there are state vocational rehabilitation programs available and in some instances, the employer or insurance carrier may have to pay you wage benefits in the event that you qualify for retraining. 

Q:            How do the fees work / will I ever have to pay attorney fees out of my pocket?

A:            No.  You will never pay one cent out of your pocket for fees as long as we represent you  and you will never receive a bill from us for fees.  We understand how devastating injuries can be and how tough the times are out there.  Hiring an attorney should ease your burdens and not add to them.  We get paid a small percentage of your settlement when your case settles.  We also are entitled to claim a fee any time that, through our efforts, we obtain benefits or care for you.  Most of the time, the carrier is statutorily responsible for this fee.   In the rare instance where an additional fee is claimed from our clients based upon benefits obtained, any additional fees due are almost invariably dealt with at the time of settlement.  Workers’ compensation attorneys cannot simply charge what they want and any fees paid MUST be approved by the Judge of Compensation Claims in advance.