Florida’s workers’ compensation law is about 80 years old and has garnered controversy for years. The law is meant to help employees who are injured in work-related accidents in Miami and in other cities. The idea behind the law is that in case of a workplace accident or construction site accident in Miami-Dade or another County, employees don’t have to go through the complicated process of filing a legal claim. Instead, workers’ compensation benefits are supposed to provide money for medical care and lost wages while an employee recovers. Unfortunately, employees and employers often disagree about the effectiveness of the law.
Circuit Judge Jorge E. Cueto in Miami-Dade County recently called Florida’s workers’ compensation law unconstitutional, stating that it has been eroded by years of legislation so that it offers few benefits for workers. The comments were made as part of a case involving an injured government office employee.
The comments reflect what employees have been saying for some time. Many employees find that if they are injured in a slip and fall accident or suffer a head injury in their Miami workplace or another type of injury, workers’ compensation benefits only cover a portion of the costs associated with an injury.
One problem is that workers compensation benefits are capped, while the cost of medical care and lost wages can keep increasing. Someone who has suffered a spinal cord injury or head injury, for example, can expect to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of their injury or in excess of a million dollars over the course of a lifetime if their injury is permanent. Only a very small portion of this will generally be paid by workers’ compensation. With medical costs rising in Florida and other states, the problem is only getting worse.
With workers’ compensation offering only temporary wage-loss benefits, workers who have been seriously or permanently injured also face the possibility of being left with no income if they cannot return to work. Once there benefits run out, they may have no more money coming in for bills, groceries, housing, and other costs. In 1968, when workers compensation benefits were first instituted, employers were required to pay for all medical bills related to work-related injuries as well as other benefits which would ensure that workers were not left without a source of income or money to pay for their bills. Over the years, however, these benefits have been eroded.
Workers’ compensation laws in Florida also make it harder for workers to sue their employers when they are injured on the job. Workers’ compensation is meant to replace the need for lawsuits, and this means that Florida law only allows for a lawsuit in specific cases in work-related accidents.
For employers, workers’ compensation laws are intended to help protect them from lawsuits. However, employers note that the premiums for workers compensation have been increasing, and some claim that this is been stalling economic opportunities in the state. Employers and legislators are reluctant to make any changes that would increase workers’ compensation premiums or costs. At the same time, they point to insurance fraud as one of the reasons why workers’ compensation benefits have eroded while costs have increased.
Are you facing financial distress because you have been injured on the job and your workers’ compensation benefits are not covering the full cost of your injuries? There are legal options available to you. Before you make any decisions, contact Flaxman Law Group for a free, no obligation case review to discuss your situation. You may be able to negotiate with the insurance carrier in your case or you may have a legal claim that allows you to seek justice and compensation. Let our law firm help you understand your rights.