Fort Lauderdale
Workplace Injury Attorney

construction workers

Have you been hurt on the job in Fort Lauderdale? If so, you could be entitled to money through the workers’ compensation system or a third-party claim. Unfortunately, many workers find that getting the accountability and support they deserve is more complicated than it should be, which is why many turn to experienced attorneys for help.

At Phillips | Tadros, P.A., our work injury lawyers have more than 40 years of combined experience helping workers in Fort Lauderdale, Broward County, and Southeastern Florida. We have the skills and resources to investigate an on-the-job accident thoroughly, determine what compensation you could be owed, and pursue the total amount you need as aggressively as it takes. Contact us today to get started with a free consultation with a Fort Lauderdale work injury lawyer.

Common Types of Workplace Injuries in Florida

While accidents can occur at any workplace, the nature and severity of occupational injuries vary considerably among different industries, roles, and locations. Common workplace injuries in Florida include:

  • Amputation and loss of limb
  • Bruises, lacerations, and puncture wounds
  • Shocks, burns, and exposure injuries
  • Soft tissue strains, sprains, and tears
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

What Does Florida Workers’ Compensation Cover?

Florida requires most employers with four or more employees to provide workers’ compensation insurance, which guarantees no-fault benefits covering certain costs for workers who get hurt on the job. Workers’ comp benefits are usually available to all eligible, regular employees, including full-time and part-time workers.

The value of your unique workers’ comp claim will vary depending on the nature of your injury or illness and the amount of time and medical treatment you need to recover. At a minimum, your workers’ comp benefits should cover the full cost of any medical care necessitated by your on-the-job injury.

Workers’ comp can also provide wage replacement and disability benefits if your work-related condition temporarily or permanently prevents you from resuming your usual job duties. The key types of wage replacement and disability benefits are:

  1. Temporary Total Disability (TTD) Benefits
    You could be eligible for TTD benefits if you miss work while you recover from a work-related injury or illness. TTD benefits are unavailable for the first seven days after the workplace injury, but if your condition prevents you from working for at least 21 days, you can get retroactive TTD payments for the first seven missed days. The value of TTD benefits is typically two-thirds of your average weekly wage (AWW), up to certain statewide maximums. However, if you sustain a particularly severe injury, such as paralysis, you could receive up to 80 percent of your AWW in TTD benefit payments. You can collect TTD benefits until your doctor says you can return to work, you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI), or you have collected benefit payments for 104 weeks.
  2. Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) Benefits
    If you have yet to reach MMI, but your doctor says you can return to work with certain restrictions, you might be eligible for TPD benefits. TPD benefits cover up to 80 percent of the difference between your current wage and 80 percent of your pre-accident AWW. These benefits are also available for a maximum of 104 weeks by law.
  3. Permanent Impairment (PI) Benefits
    Your doctor should evaluate your condition once you have reached MMI, or your TTD or TPD benefits are set to expire within six weeks even though you have not reached MMI. If you have a permanent impairment but can still work, your doctor should assign you an impairment rating, which is expressed as a percentage used to calculate PI benefits. Your PI benefits are equal to 75 percent of the TTD benefits you received previously, and you can collect payments for up to three weeks for every percentage point of your impairment rating.
  4. Permanent Total Disability (PTD) Benefits
    If your doctor determines that your impairment is severe enough to prevent you from doing any work, including sedentary jobs, you might be eligible for PTD benefits. Certain types of particularly severe injuries, such as limb amputations and traumatic brain injuries, automatically qualify as permanent and total disabilities in Florida. Your PTD benefits are equal to the amount you previously received in TTD benefits. Payments will continue until you reach 75 years of age or for the rest of your life if you are not eligible for Social Security benefits.

Can I Sue My Employer for a Work Injury?

Your employer is one key exception to your right to file a third-party work injury claim. Florida law considers workers’ comp an “exclusive remedy,” which means employers are largely immune from legal liability if they pay for workers’ comp coverage on behalf of their employees.

However, there are certain exceptions. You might have grounds to sue your employer after a work injury if you can prove one of the following with clear and convincing evidence:

Your employer is at fault for your injuries and does not carry workers’ compensation insurance.
Your employer engaged in deliberate behavior intended to harm you.
Your employer contributed to your injuries by engaging in conduct that they knew was dangerous based on prior experience or warnings, but they deliberately concealed or misrepresented the danger, of which you had no knowledge.
Your employer failed or refused to pay you the workers’ compensation benefits you are owed for your injury or illness.

What’s the Difference Between a Workers’ Compensation Claim and a Third-Party Claim?

Workers’ compensation benefits should cover all of your medical expenses and a portion of your lost wages after an occupational injury or illness. These benefits are usually tax-free, available quickly, and paid out on a no-fault basis, which means you do not need to prove that your employer or any other party caused your injury to claim benefits. You can usually collect workers’ comp benefits if you were at fault yourself. Disadvantages of the workers’ comp system include the fact that you cannot recover the full value of your lost wages or money for personal, subjective losses like pain and suffering.

If your employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance, or if someone other than your employer or a co-worker caused your injuries, you can seek compensation from the person at fault by filing a third-party claim against them. Third-party claims are more complicated but can yield higher amounts and more categories of compensation. Unlike a workers’ compensation claim, a third-party claim requires you to prove how the third party in question was negligent or is somehow to blame for your injuries. Third-party claims typically take much longer than workers’ compensation claims, but successful claimants can recover money for the total value of lost wages, personal losses, and more.

Can I File a Third-Party Claim While Receiving Workers’ Compensation?

Generally speaking, yes, you can file a claim against a third party while you collect workers’ compensation benefits. You must successfully demonstrate that the other party’s negligent or wrongful behavior somehow contributed to your work injury to recover compensation from a third-party claim.

Potentially liable parties in a third-party work injury claim in Florida include:

  • The owner of the work site or other property where the injury occurred
  • The architect or engineer responsible for overseeing a work project
  • A general contractor or sub-contractor working on the same job site
  • The manufacturer of poorly designed or defective work equipment
  • A negligent, non-employee driver who causes a workplace vehicular accident
  • A customer or patient who engages in acts of violence in a workplace

Common Third-Party Work Injury Cases

Some common examples of third-party cases that a work injury lawyer in Fort Lauderdale handles include:

  • Motor vehicle and transportation accidents
  • Various construction accidents
  • Slips, trips, and falls, including falls from heights
  • Overexertion and repetitive muscle strain injuries
  • Struck by or against objects, equipment, or structures
  • Caught in or crushed by machines or devices
  • Exposure to toxic substances and environments
  • Fires, explosions, shocks, and electrocutions
  • Acts of violence by people or animals
  • Defective work equipment, devices, or tools
  • Property owner liability, such as unsafe properties due to poor maintenance

Do I Need to Hire a Workers’ Comp Attorney After a Job Injury?

You are not required to hire a workers’ comp lawyer when you get hurt on the job, but it’s often a good idea to hire one anyway. The workers’ compensation system already favors the employer, who can select the doctor who treats and examines an injured employee. Without an advocate in your corner, you must rely entirely on this doctor to establish the extent of your injury and, consequently, the benefits you could receive.

The Fort Lauderdale work injury lawyers of Phillips | Tadros, P.A., can help you pursue the full benefits to which you are entitled. If your employer or its insurer denies your claim, we can file an appeal and represent you at hearings. We can also investigate the accident to determine if you can pursue compensation through a third-party claim.