Workers Compensation Attorney Fort Lauderdale
If you have been injured on the job in Fort Lauderdale, you may be eligible to file a workers’ compensation claim. Unfortunately, employers and their insurers do not always cooperate with this process. When you contact Meirowitz & Wasserberg, a workers’ compensation attorney in Fort Lauderdale will help you fight for the compensation you deserve.
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault insurance policy Florida employers must purchase to cover employees in the event of an occupational injury or illness. Workers’ compensation provides a means for employees to quickly access benefits without the necessity of proving negligence in a lawsuit.
Workplace injuries can be serious enough to result in significant time out of work or even permanent disability. In the worst cases, these injuries can result in death. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 315 workers in Florida suffered fatal work injuries in 2021. Unfortunately, some employers resist workers’ compensation claims because claims can raise their premiums.
This puts injured employees at a disadvantage. That’s where Meirowitz & Wasserberg comes in. As experienced Fort Lauderdale Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, we can help you fight for the compensation you deserve.
- When to Get a Lawyer for Workers’ Comp
- Why Choose Meirowitz & Wasserberg for Your Workers’ Compensation Claim
- What Benefits Are Available Through Workers’ Compensation?
- Common Injuries Covered by Workers’ Compensation?
- Occupations with the Highest Injury Rates
- How Much Time Do You Have to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Florida?
- What to Do If You Are Denied Benefits
- Can You Sue an Employer for Work-Related Injuries?
- Who Can You Sue for Work-Related Injuries?
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Our Fort Lauderdale Personal Injury Attorneys
When to Get a Lawyer for Workers’ Comp
You will need the assistance of an experienced Florida workers’ compensation lawyer to represent your interests and protect your rights if you experience any of the following:
- Your employer fights your claim
- You receive a lesser amount than you are entitled to
- Your employer fires you for filing a claim
Fighting an uncooperative employer when you are injured can be overwhelming, and if you are unaware of your legal rights, you may miss out on an opportunity to get the compensation you need and deserve.
This could impair your ability to support yourself while you are injured. You could go into debt, lose your home, or suffer damage to your credit rating. You may be unable to access the care you need because of a lack of financial means. Don’t let this happen to you. Contact Meirowitz & Wasserberg today.
Why Choose Meirowitz & Wasserberg for Your Workers’ Compensation Claim
Our experienced workers’ comp lawyers in Fort Lauderdale are nationally recognized lawyers with a long, successful track record of outstanding case results for our clients. Below are just a few examples of the results we have obtained for clients who were injured at work:
- $3.15 million mesothelioma settlement for a work-related injury
- $1.2 million asbestos lung cancer verdict
- $675,000 product liability verdict
We achieved these results due to our trial lawyers’ stellar reputation and skills, our hard work in thoroughly investigating cases, and our commitment to fight for our clients until we win the compensation they deserve.
Our accomplishments on behalf of our clients have won the respect and admiration of our peers, who have showered us with such honors and awards as the following:
- Super Lawyers
- Top 100 Trial Lawyers
- Member of the American Association for Justice
We started Meirowitz & Wasserberg because we wanted to offer big law firm results with a personalized experience. We are all about helping people, and our clients know they are our top priority. We treat every client like family, with individualized attention and support, while we passionately fight for the maximum compensation available under the law.
We regularly receive unsolicited testimonials from our clients, such as the following:
What Benefits Are Available Through Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation benefits in Florida consist of partial wage replacement and no-cost medical care for work-related injuries and illnesses.
Wage replacement is paid weekly based on your average weekly wages during the last 13 weeks of employment. The minimum amount you can receive per week is $20. The amount you receive cannot exceed 100 percent of the statewide average weekly earnings. The amount you receive will vary based on your disability status.
Permanent Total Disability
Permanent total disability is paid to workers who are permanently disabled in that they are unable to perform any type of work, including sedentary work. Permanent total disability is 66 2/3 percent of your average weekly wage, available only if you have a condition that prevents you from doing all types of work, including sedentary jobs.
You are eligible for a presumption of permanent total disability if you sustained any of the following work-related injuries unless it is determined that you are capable of performing sedentary work within 50 miles of your home:
- Spinal cord injury resulting in severe paralysis
- Traumatic brain injury that results in cognitive, sensory, or motor impairments
- Severe burn injuries
You do not have to have sustained one of these injuries to qualify for total permanent disability. You may still qualify if you have experienced other catastrophic injuries that prevent you from performing any type of work within 50 miles of your residence.
Permanent total disability is paid until you reach the age of 75 unless your injury prevented you from earning sufficient work credits to qualify for Social Security retirement benefits.
The workers’ compensation insurance carrier reserves the right to require you to undergo vocational testing to determine whether you have become rehabilitated to the extent that you can perform any type of work. If the company determines that you can work, your benefits will be revoked or converted to another type, such as permanent impairment benefits.
Permanent Total Disability
Permanent impairment benefits are paid to workers capable of performing some type of work at a reduced earning capacity. Permanent impairment benefits are 75 percent of your average weekly wage up to the state maximum.
Despite the name, permanent impairment benefits are only paid for a specified number of weeks, which varies based on your degree of impairment. The state refers to this as a disability rating. The higher your disability rating, the longer you receive benefits, as shown in the table below.
Term of Benefit Payments
1% to 10%
2 weeks per percentage point
11% to 15%
3 weeks per point
16% to 20%
4 weeks per point
21% or higher
6 weeks per point
This means that if you have a 10 percent disability rating, you will receive 75 percent of your average weekly wage for 20 weeks—two weeks per point multiplied by 10 percentage points. If you are deemed 100 percent disabled, you will receive benefits for 600 weeks—100 points multiplied by six weeks.
Temporary Total Disability
Temporary total disability is 66 2/3 percent of your average weekly wage, payable for up to 104 weeks following your injury. If you are still receiving benefits at 104 weeks or reach maximum medical improvement before 104 weeks have passed, your benefits will be converted to permanent impairment benefits as determined by vocational testing.
If your injuries are catastrophic, you qualify for an enhanced benefit of 80 percent of your weekly wages for six months from the accident date. Catastrophic injuries for this purpose are specified as follows:
- Partial paralysis of the lower limbs
- Blindness in both eyes
- Amputation of an arm, leg, hand, or foot
Temporary total disability compensation is not limited to a percentage of the average statewide weekly wage as other benefits are.
Temporary Partial Disability
Temporary partial disability is slightly more complex to calculate. The weekly benefit is 80 percent of the difference between 80 percent of your average weekly wage and the wages you can earn with your injuries but in no case exceeding 66.67 percent. This can be calculated by completing the following steps:
- Determine the wages you can earn with your injury.
- Calculate 80 percent of your average weekly wages before your injury.
- Subtract your post-injury wages in step 1 from the amount you calculated in step 2.
- Calculate 80 percent of the difference.
- Your weekly compensation is the amount in step 4 OR 66 2/3 percent of your average weekly wages before your injury, whichever is less.
This benefit is only available if you have not yet reached your maximum improvement level.
If you are a dependent family member of a worker who passed away due to a work-related injury, you may qualify for workers’ compensation death benefits. Death benefits include the following:
- Funeral expenses up to $7,500
- Up to $150,000 in wage replacement paid to the dependent family members, including a spouse, dependent parents, and dependent children, siblings, and grandchildren. These benefits are paid as weekly payments of up to 66 2/3 percent of the worker’s average weekly wage.
Worker’s compensation in Florida includes free medically necessary treatment for work-related injuries, which may include the following:
- Medical supplies
- Durable medical equipment
- Orthotics and prosthetics
- Remedial treatment
- Patient care
- Personal care services
- Vocational programs
- Pain management
- Chiropractic treatments, limited to 24 over 12 weeks unless additional treatments are authorized
Personal care services are only paid by workers’ compensation when ordered by a doctor in writing. A family member may provide these services, in which case workers’ compensation must reimburse the family member for the hours worked. If the family member does not work, the reimbursement rate will be the minimum wage for the prescribed hours.
If your family member takes time off work to provide care, or if the family member provides care in addition to working, the hourly rate is the normal hourly wage for their job, but it cannot exceed the local rate for similar care in your community. The maximum number of compensable hours per day is 12.
Common Injuries Covered by Workers’ Compensation?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks the number of fatalities resulting from each category of workplace injury. The two types of claims include occupational injuries and occupational illnesses.
The most common causes of occupational injuries in Florida include the following:
- Transportation accidents
- Slips, trips, and falls
- Exposure to harmful substances
- Contact with objects and equipment
- Fires and Explosions
- Workplace violence
Transportation accidents are the leading of fatal occupational injuries in Florida, resulting in 35.2 percent of fatalities. Transportation accidents are motor vehicle accidents occurring during the following activities:
- While an employee is driving or riding in a company vehicle
- While an employee is driving a personal vehicle for work-related purposes
- When an employee is hit by a vehicle while on the job
- While an employee is driving a commercial motor vehicle for work purposes
Slips, Trips, and Falls
Slips, trips, and falls are the second leading cause of occupational injury in Florida, causing 21.9 percent of all fatal injuries. This is significantly higher than the national average, which is 16.4 percent. Slips, trips, and falls are common on construction sites, but they can occur in any job as a result of the following:
- Slippery surfaces, such as wet floors
- Trip hazards, such as cords crossing a walkway
- Lack of safety equipment
- Equipment failure, such as ladders or scaffolding
- Poorly maintained stairs, steps, or walkways
- Lack of adequate lighting
Exposure to Harmful Substances
Exposure to harmful substances is responsible for 18.7 percent of fatal workplace injuries in Florida. Since 2020, many of these cases were related to infectious diseases, such as COVID-19, but harmful substances can also include the following:
- Toxic gases
- Caustic chemicals, which could cause severe burns
- Carbon monoxide
- Ammonia, especially if mixed with bleach
Contact with Objects and Equipment
Contact with objects and equipment are responsible for 11.7 percent of fatal workplace injuries in Florida. This is a common construction accident. The most common types of injuries involving contact with objects include the following:
- Being struck by a large object
- Being crushed by a collapsing structure
- Being caught between or compressed by objects or equipment
Fires and Explosions
Fires and explosions are the least common fatal injury in Florida workplaces, accounting for just one percent. Fires and explosions may occur when working with electricity, flammable chemicals, fire, hot objects, or friction, to name a few. When not fatal, these injuries can result in severe lifelong pain, disfigurement, and disability.
Injuries by People or Animals
If you are the victim of violence in the workplace, whether perpetrated by man or beast, workers’ compensation covers it. These types of workplace injuries are responsible for 11 percent of fatal workplace injuries in Florida.
Occupational illnesses are health conditions arising from certain workplace conditions. To qualify as an occupational illness, it must not be considered an ordinary disease of life unless epidemiological studies prove that exposure to a specific product increases the incidence of the disease and the employee was exposed at the levels sufficient for such an effect.
According to Florida law, if you are a dependent family member seeking death benefits, the last exposure must have occurred within 350 weeks of the death.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, occupational illnesses may arise from toxic exposure or repetitive stress. Occupational illnesses may be acute or chronic. Examples of illnesses that may occur from toxic exposure include the following:
- Respiratory conditions, such as asbestosis, mesothelioma, silicosis, and farmer’s lung
- Poisoning by such toxins as heavy metals, gases, solvents, insecticides, chemicals, and resins
- Heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke
- Cancer from being exposed to radiation
- Exposure to anthrax
- Exposure to infectious diseases
- Food poisoning
Repetitive Stress Injuries
The most common repetitive stress injuries include the following:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Hearing loss
- Nerve damage from excessive vibration
Occupations with the Highest Injury Rates
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the most dangerous occupations in Florida are as follows:
- Transportation and material moving – motor vehicle operators, including heavy commercial truck drivers
- Construction and extraction – carpenters, laborers, drywall installers, electricians, painters, and roofers
- Building and grounds maintenance
- Installation, maintenance, and repair
The largest industries in Fort Lauderdale include the following high-risk trades:
- Global logistics
- Recreational marine occupations
How Much Time Do You Have to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Florida?
Most workers’ compensation claims must be filed within 30 days of your injury, but there are some exceptions:
- The employer or the employer’s agent knew about the injury.
- A medical opinion is required to determine the cause of the injury so long as the injury is reported within 30 days of the opinion being rendered.
- The employer did not provide the required notices relating to workers’ compensation.
- You have extenuating circumstances that justify the delay.
The employer must file your claim with the insurance company within seven days of receiving your report.
What to Do If You Are Denied Benefits
If you are denied benefits or believe you have received lesser benefits than you deserve, you have the right to file a Petition for Benefits with the Office of the Judges of Compensation Claims. This petition must be filed within two years of the denial. This is where we come in at Meirowitz & Wasserberg.
The workers’ compensation company and your employer have experience handling workers’ compensation claims, which gives them an advantage. They consult with attorneys when necessary to protect their interests. Likewise, you need an experienced attorney to protect your interests. Our track record proves our Fort Lauderdale employment attorneys know what it takes to get outstanding results for injured workers.
Can You Sue an Employer for Work-Related Injuries?
Florida law makes workers’ compensation the exclusive remedy employees have against covered employers, meaning employers covered by workers’ compensation cannot be sued.
However, there are exceptions. You may sue your employer in the following circumstances:
- The employer failed to obtain the required workers’ compensation.
- The employer deliberately injured you.
- The employer knowingly placed you in danger without informing you of the danger, and you were unaware of the danger.
If the employer failed to obtain the required workers’ compensation policy or self-insure, the employer cannot raise the following defenses:
- Another employee caused the injury.
- You assumed the risk by accepting employment.
- You contributed to your injuries.
Who Can You Sue for Work-Related Injuries?
You can sue third parties who contributed to your injuries other than the employer, such as the following:
- Negligent contractors
- Manufacturers of defective products
- Premises owners
- Vehicle drivers and owners
However, your proceeds offset your workers’ compensation. If you do not sue a liable third party within a year, you lose the right to sue, and the right reverts to the workers’ compensation insurance company. If the insurance company fails to sue within two years of the accident, the right to sue reverts back to you.
If the insurance company sues and prevails, it is only entitled to collect sufficient funds to reimburse it for the actual monies paid. The remaining proceeds must be paid to you. Employees, insurance companies, and employers must cooperate and share nonprivileged information when suing third parties.
When suing a third party, you may be able to sue on the grounds of strict liability or negligence. Strict liability applies to manufacturers and distributors of defective products. If you were using equipment as directed and suffered harm, you may have sufficient grounds to prevail in a lawsuit. You must prove at least one of the following:
- The product had a harmful design.
- The product suffered from a manufacturing defect.
- The manufacturer failed to provide proper warnings or instructions.
Third parties may also be held liable based on negligence, which means they failed to exercise reasonable care, and that failure caused you to suffer an injury.
Compensation in a Third-Party Lawsuit
Compensation in a third-party lawsuit in Florida may include economic, non-economic, and punitive damages. Economic and non-economic damages include the following:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Future lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of society
- Loss of bodily functions
Third-party lawsuits have a statute of limitations offour years under Florida law. However, it is crucial that you not wait to contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in Fort Lauderdale. The longer you wait, the longer you put off receiving your much-needed and well-deserved compensation. If you wait too long, you can lose your opportunity to claim benefits.
Don’t let your benefits slip away.Contact Meirowitz & Wasserberg today for a free consultation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are answers to questions we frequently receive about workers’ compensation.
How Much Are Attorneys’ Fees for Workers Comp in Florida?
Florida law limits how much attorneys can charge in workers’ compensation claims. Attorneys must seek approval from a judge for fees, and the amount the judge can award must not exceed the total of the following:
- 20 percent of the first $5,000 of the amount recovered
- 15 percent of the next $5000
- 10 percent of the remaining amount the claimant will receive during the first 10 years
- 5 percent of the remaining amount the claimant will ever receive
Can I Choose My Own Doctor?
It depends. If your employer has established a workers’ compensation managed care plan, you must choose from the doctors in the plan. You must get approval before commencing any course of treatment, except for emergency care.
You must also obtain authorization to use any particular doctor. If you are unhappy with your treatment, you can change doctors on a one-time basis with preauthorization from the workers’ compensation insurance policy.
Even if you cannot choose your own doctor, you can choose your own pharmacy. It is against the law for the employer to decide this for you.
Can I Be Fired for Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
It is a violation of state law for an employer to retaliate against a worker for filing a worker’s compensation claim. Retaliation includes firing, demoting, changing your schedule to less desirable times, or any other adverse action.
Contact us immediately if your employer retaliates against you. You may have grounds to sue the employer for retaliation, and the remedies can include a court order for the employer to reinstate you.
Are All Employers in Florida Required to Carry Workers’ Compensation?
Most employers, except for small ones with fewer than four employees, must carry workers’ compensation insurance. These small employers still have the option to provide workers’ compensation. If they opt out, they must post notices in conspicuous locations that notify employees they are not covered.
Does Workers’ Compensation cover 1099 Employees?
Workers’ compensation does not cover Independent contractors. However, being paid as a 1099 worker does not automatically make you an independent contractor in Florida. Florida law is very specific about what constitutes an independent contractor. Essentially, an independent contractor owns a separate business that offers services to the employer.
A company that misclassifies an employee as a subcontractor to avoid purchasing workers’ compensation insurance can be fined $5,000 per employee per day, and such an employer may be prosecuted for a felony.
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