When you’re injured at work or when performing work-related duties, your initial thought is usually for your physical safety – followed quickly by pain and/or discomfort. But then your thoughts inevitably turn to other matters. Can you go back to work? When? How will you pay your bills and provide for your family if you are unable to return to work? Florida workers compensation lost wage benefits are designed to help you bridge the gap while you recover from your injury. But how much does workers comp pay for lost wages?
Let’s take a look at what should be covered – and how much you may expect in terms of benefits.
What’s Covered Under Florida Workers Comp Law
If you suffer a work-related injury or illness, workers compensation provides coverage for:
- Lost wages
- Medical care related to your injury or illness
- Reemployment and vocational services, if necessary (e.g., training)
If you can’t go back to work and have earned wages for more than seven days, you may receive partial wage replacement. If you cannot work for more than seven days, you may qualify for:
- Temporary total disability. If you cannot work, temporary total disability begins on the eighth day of disability. You are paid about 66% of your regular wage. If your injury is classified as “critical,” you may receive 80% for up to six months. So, if you were earning $600 a week, you would conceivably receive about $396 (or $480 for critical injury).
- Temporary partial disability. If you are able to work in some capacity (e.g., light work or restricted duties), your benefits will equal about 80% of the difference between what you earned before and your earning potential after injury. For example, if you earned $600 before your injury and can only earn $400 now, you’d get 80% of the difference, or $160.
- Impairment. If you have reached “maximum medical improvement” (MMI) and your doctor confirms that you have a permanent disability, you will be assigned an impairment rating and your benefits will correspond with this designation. If you are unable to return to work at all, you may qualify for permanent total disability.
So, you have a basic idea of your potential compensation. To recap: For temporary total disability, your coverage should extend to 66% of your current wage or 80% for a “critical injury.” If you can work in some capacity, workers comp will cover 80% of the difference between your previous and current wage. And, if you cannot return to work, your doctor will determine your impairment level, and benefits will be assessed according to that rating.
Some Key Factors to Keep In Mind
In most cases, your workers compensation benefits are calculated based on what you were making in the 13 weeks before the injury or onset of illness. Now, if you work in a trade that has seasonal variations (e.g., agriculture, construction), this can affect your lost wage benefits dramatically. What if you’re injured during the “slow season”?
The insurer and your employer may use an alternative calculation. That is, what is your “average” weekly wage”? This can help offset lower wages during a dip, when you also earned higher wages during the busy season.
“How much does workers comp pay for lost wages?” is, of course, an important question. Also critical is, “How long do I receive these benefits?” Your employer’s insurance company is the one writing the checks. They will continue to compensate you for lost wages until:
- The workers’ comp doctor declares you fit and ready for full duty.
- You are able to earn at least 80% of your previous wages.
- You reach MMI. At this point, your temporary benefits may transition to permanent disability benefits.
Now, remember, the doctor who says you’re good to go for full duty is paid by the insurance company. Obviously, it is in their best interest to stop paying you. Are you really ready to return to your previous role and responsibilities? And if you were injured during the slow season, are you receiving the benefits to which you are legally entitled?
These are just a few questions to keep in mind. It can be helpful to have an experienced workers compensation attorney review your case and situation to determine if you have any legal standing for further compensation.
The LaBovick Law Group has decades of experience fighting for workers. We will not let profit-hungry insurance companies trample your rights. If you are entitled to benefits, rest assured, we will work with you to build a compelling case, negotiate with your employer and their carrier, and take every step necessary to ensure you have the financial resources to aid in your recovery.
Florida workers compensation lost wage benefits are intended to protect you. That is also our top priority. Don’t hesitate to contact us for a complimentary consultation.