Workers Compensation FAQ

Are Workers compensation Settlements Taxable In Florida?

In Florida Workers’ Compensation settlement checks, as well as periodically paid Workers’ Compensation indemnity checks, or even long term annuity payments, usually do not have any withholdings taken from the payment, other than potentially for child support. They differ from pay checks that often have multiple withholdings including; Federal tax withholdings, Social Security, Medicare and other potential withholdings. The Workers’ Compensation indemnity disability check in Florida is paid at a percentage of the income, and even when combined with other collateral sources cannot exceed 80% of the preinjury earnings or may be subject to an offset.

Tax laws are both complicated, as well as subject to change. To answer any form of tax questions regarding any; Workers’ Compensation settlement, periodic payments, or annuity payments; you should consult with either a Certified Public Accountant or a tax attorney to determine any possible tax responsibilities. By consulting with a Certified Public Accountant or an attorney that specializes in Tax law and that has an LLM degree, you can determine if any of the funds received from a workers’ compensation settlement, periodic payment or annuity, are subject to any form of tax consequences and to thus make sure that you have complied fully with any/all potential tax responsibilities.

Can Employers Check Workers Comp History In Florida?

An employer, and even a potential future employer, cannot discriminate against or harass an employee for seeking Workers’ Compensation benefits that he/she are entitled to by statute. In addition to remedies with the Workers’ Compensation statute, the Americans with Disability Act protect the rights of the disabled. Both State and Federal laws exist to protect the civil rights of the disabled. In Florida, based primarily on Sunshine laws many state maintained documents and information are public record. Many of the documents maintained by the Department of Administrative Hearings Office of the Judge of Compensation Claims Division of Workers’ Compensation are accessible to anyone via the internet through the state agencies website by merely entering a few pieces of information.

If a current or potential future employer should discriminate or harass based on you having had a work related accident, or having sought benefits that you were entitled to, then the harassment or discrimination under certain circumstances may result in a violation of multiple statutes and often may be actionable.

Consulting with an attorney is your best way to determine if your rights have been violated, and what potential remedies exists for you to pursue. Those who are injured at work in Florida are required to report the accident and injuries timely, and the employer is further required to report the accident and injuries timely upon being put on notice by the employee with their insurance carrier. Medical care for work related accidents is to be provided by the Workers’ Compensation carrier.  The injured worker has a right to medically necessary causally related care and treatment, and payment of related loss earnings. Thus employers and future employers cannot discriminate or harass employees for seeking benefits that they are legally entitled to receive.

Can Workers Comp Be Garnished In Florida?

The Workers’ Compensation Judge of Compensation Claims has a duty to determine if any Child Support is owed as of the time the party’s motion to obtain approval of a settlement of a Workers’ Compensation matter in Florida. If there is an arrearage in child support, the Judge will determine an amount that is to be paid out of the settlement to resolve the lien created by the passed owed Child support.  Often employees paychecks are garnished to make regular payments of their child support obligation. If the injured worker is out of work they can fall behind in their child support obligations and thus lead to a situation in which a lien exists on their settlement. Often garnishment of a periodic workers’ compensation payment will help the injured worker to remain current and up to date on their child support obligations and thus prevent a lien from existing at later date when they may want to obtain a lump sum settled their workers’ compensation case. An attorney can help if an inaccurate lien exists when attempting to settle your case; such as if the obligation was fulfilled by another source such as taken directly from a tax refund.  An attorney can submit evidence to a Judge, and can further request under certain circumstances that only a percentage of the total outstanding arrearage be resolved from the settlement.

How-Are Workers Comp Rates Determined In Florida?

The compensation rate is a term used in Florida Workers’ compensation to refer to the dollar amount of periodic benefits paid during periods in which the injured worker is on a “no work” status. These benefits can be either Temporary Total Disability (TTD), or Permanent Total Disability (PTD) benefits. They are calculated at 66 % of the Average Weekly Wage (AWW).  Average weekly wage is calculated using a number of different methods. The most common method is to take an arithmetic average of the gross earnings during the 13 weeks prior to the accident. But in certain circumstances it is more equitable to look at the wage records of a similar employer or to look to an original contract of hire.

When considering employees that work on a seasonal basis or in industries that have significant changes to the employee’s income based on time of year, an average of 52 weekly prior to the accident might be more appropriate. Additional methods exist for calculation of AWW and may be more appropriate under certain circumstances. An attorney with experience in Workers’ Compensation law can determine if all calculations have been made properly, as well as that the most appropriate method of calculations were applied. If it is determined that there has been an underpayment of benefits, in addition to payment of the past owed amount, interest and in some matters even addition monetary penalties may be owed to the injured worker.

What Are My Workers Comp Rights In Florida?

In Florida injured workers’ have many rights. An attorney that specializes in Workers’ Compensation in Florida can explain in detail these rights, answer any of your questions, and further make sure your rights are best protected.  The primary type of benefits that an injured worker in Florida can receive are related to medical care and lost earning. Each of these categories includes a wide range of classifications and types of benefits. The lost earnings benefits, often referred to as indemnity disability benefits, vary in amount and frequency of payment based primarily on work status and whether the injured worker has reached a point in time in which future medical care is more remedial in nature than for medical improvement (a date often referred to as MMI).

The medical care includes a large gamut of benefits from; basic care with physicians and physical therapists, diagnostic testing, and treatments from medications and injections to surgeries, among other types medical care and treatment. In some very severe injury cases medical care can even include aid and attendant care, handicapped equipped vehicles, and even home modification. In order to be fully aware of all benefits that you may be entitled to receive, and to be in the best position to pursue the benefits that you are either being denied or unreasonably delayed, consult with an attorney that specializes in Workers’ Compensation law in Florida. You have the right to obtain representation. An employer cannot legally fire you, harass you or discriminate against you for exercising your rights and pursuing benefits that you are entitled to by law. The sooner you contact a lawyer, the more knowledgeable and better protected you will be regarding obtaining benefits you are entitled to receive, and protecting all of your rights.

 

What-Does Workers Compensation Mean?

Workers’ Compensation in Florida are the laws and system for providing of benefits to workers’ that are injured on the job.  The basic Florida statute is found under chapter 440 of the Florida statutes. The Florida State agency of the Department of Administrative Hearings Office of the Judge of Compensation Claims Division of Workers’ Compensation is where petitions to obtain benefits that are ripe due and owing but either denied or delayed in being provided are filed and addressed. The Judges of Compensation Claims appointed by the Governor hear non jury bench trials on issues and render administrative orders. The orders can be appealed to the 1st District Court of appeals, and District Court matters can be appealed to the Florida Supreme Court. Case law from these courts further clarifies and defines the statute driven Workers’ Compensation laws.

The benefits that an injured worker in Florida can primarily receive are of two basic types; those that relate to causally related and medically necessary medical care and treatment, and benefits that related to various types of loss earning indemnity disability classifications. An attorney that specializes in Workers’ Compensation benefits can explain the Florida Workers’ Compensation laws, system, procedures and benefits in detail.

What Happens If Workers Comp Claim Is Denied In Florida?

If your Workers’ Compensation claim has been denied in Florida, in order to pursue benefits that you believe are ripe due and owing, your remedy is to file a petition for benefits with the Department of Administration Hearing Office of the Judge of Compensation Claims Division of Workers’ Compensation. Mediation will be scheduled in which you can meet with the insurance carrier, and with a mediator to assist the parties in attempts to amicably resolve the issues. It should be noted that although the mediator is an attorney, the mediator is not your attorney but instead is on either side. The mediator primarily acts as a facilitator of communications between the parties.  If the matter cannot be resolved at mediation, a Judge may hold a pretrial and a subsequent Merit Hearing in which evidence will be considered and a Judge of Compensation Claims will rule on whether the denial was appropriate or whether benefits should be provided. In certain matters a further appeal may be necessary subsequent to the Workers’ Compensation Judge’s ruling.

If your Workers’ compensation claim has been denied, a Workers’ Compensation attorney can prepare and file a petition for benefits on your behalf, represent you at the mandatory mediation, and at any Hearings before a Judge of Compensation Claims. As well as the attorney can answer any Workers’ Compensation questions that you may have regarding the denial, its’ legal bases, and the evidence and standard of proof that you will need to meet in order to overcome and defeat the denial before a Judge.

What Happens When You File A Workers Comp Claim In Florida?

When you timely report your accident that occurred at work in Florida, your injuries, and the need for medical treatment with your employer; the employer should prepare a notice of injury or First report of injury and file it with their Workers’ Compensation insurance carrier or servicing agent. The Carrier or servicing agent should file a report with the state and either provide medical and loss earning benefits or issue a denial. Additionally, the carrier or servicing agent should provide you with an information brochure with regard to benefits and time limits.  If medical care or loss earnings are denied or unreasonably being delayed, then you remedy is to file a petition with the Division of Administrative Hearings Office of Judge of Compensation Claims Division of Workers’ Compensation.

In some matters, if the insurance carrier has elected to provide medical care through a managed care network, a managed care grievance may need to be file prior to the filing of a petition for benefits. An attorney can answer your legal questions regarding your rights, and your options, as well as preparing legal documents such as petitions or managed care grievance forms, and can further represent you at legal events such as before a Judge of Compensation Claims, or any other legal event.  If any benefits in which you are entitled to receive are being denied or delayed, a workers’ compensation attorney can help you with pursuing these benefits.

What Percentage Does Workers Comp Pay In Florida?

There are many different classifications of Workers’ Compensation indemnity benefits in Florida; each classification is paid at a different percentage. The determination of the rate of payment is based primarily upon work status and whether the injured worker is at a point of maximum medical improvement. Although, there may also be offsets for collateral benefits received, deemed earnings, and deductions for child support.

An attorney can determine if you have been and are being paid at the correct rate, and make sure that your future checks are paid both in the correct amount and timely. If there has been an underpayment, an attorney can pursue payment of the past owed benefits, and in addition to the underpayment can pursue interest and in some matters even penalties, for the underpayments or late payments. All classifications of benefits are paid on a percentage of how much the injured worker was making at the time of the accident, referred to as the Average Weekly Wage (AWW). Thus it is extremely important that this number be set correctly. The AWW is usually set by taking an average of the gross earning of the 13 weeks prior to the accident. Although often other methods of calculating will lead to a more accurate number, such as in matters in which earnings are affected by the season or in situation in which the employee did not work during the substantial whole of the 13 weeks prior to the accident. Also earning under certain circumstances from; tips, fringe benefits, and concurrent employments can be considered. An attorney can determine if your AWW was set correctly, and calculated in a manner which is equitable for your type of earnings; as well as if all indemnity benefits were paid at the correct classification and make sure they were all paid timely.

When To Get A Lawyer For Workers Comp In Florida?

The Workers’ Compensation laws and system in Florida are complicated and further have many bases in which benefits can be denied. As an injured worker the sooner you obtain an attorney, the sooner you will be able to have an attorney; answer your questions, explain your rights, your options, and various deadlines that may exist regarding benefits that you may be entitled to receive. The attorney protects you and your rights. The Workers’ Compensation attorneys in Florida further work on a contingency basis, which means they only get paid by obtaining for you benefits that you were not going to be provided without their help. In Workers’ Compensation matters in Florida the need for an attorney can relate to any type of medical care or loss earnings issue that is not being provided timely.

Furthermore, the attorney can represent you during any statement in which the insurance company or their lawyers is likely to request, and during any legal proceedings such as mediations or hearings before Judges.  With no detriment to exercising your legal right to obtain counsel, and substantial potential detriments in not obtaining counsel; the sooner after an accident that you consult with an attorney the sooner you will become fully knowledgeable of your rights and best protected regarding obtaining the Workers’ Compensation benefits you are entitled to receive in Florida.

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