COVID-19, LAY OFFS AND FLORIDA WORKERS’ COMPENSATION
COVID-19 Coronavirus has morphed into a major pandemic throughout the world. Thousands have become exposed to the virus in Florida. The widespread effects of the Coronavirus have led to decisive action taken by our local leaders. The majority of counties in Florida have issued orders shutting down “non-essential” businesses. The drastic changes to our local economy have caused massive lay-offs and in some cases, companies shutting down their businesses altogether. Many injured workers hold back on pursuing medical care or lost wage benefits after an on-the-job accident for fear of retaliation and/or loss of job security. If you are laid off or terminated or your company has closed their doors to the public for good, you still have recourse to file a Florida Workers’ Compensation case. It’s vitally important to report the injury to your boss or former boss within the time frames in the Florida Workers’ Compensation statute.
I WAS LAID OFF BY MY EMPLOYER DUE TO THE CORONAVIRUS. I WAS INJURED MONTHS AGO BUT DIDN’T PURSUE A CLAIM. IS IT TOO LATE?
Generally, the answer to that question is NO. You can still pursue a Florida Workers’ Compensation claim despite being laid off due to COVID-19. Why? Because the Workers’ Compensation insurance follows you wherever you go/while on the job hunt or remaining safely at home. You will not lose the constitutional right to file a claim just because you were let go. This holds true if you reported the accident within 30 days to your supervisor, boss, human resources department, etc. Losing your job WILL NOT force you to lose the essential medical benefits and lost wages you are entitled to under the Florida Workers’ Compensation system. Medical providers remain open either in a full or limited capacity at this point in time. We have had success getting treatment authorized for our current clients despite COVID-19. Do not delay. We highly recommend you call the experienced Workers’ Compensation attorneys at LaBovick Law Group to discuss your rights.
WHAT HAPPENS IF MY EMPLOYER SHUTS DOWN THE BUSINESS FOR GOOD?
Here’s the good news: your employer – if they had five or more employees, or if in the construction industry, one employee – MUST secure Florida Workers’ Compensation insurance. This is not optional. The Florida Workers’ Compensation policy is generally valid for a year from the date of inception. Regardless of what insurer they choose, they must provide medical care, lost wages and rehabilitative benefits depending on your situation. If you lose time from work and require medical care, the Workers’ Compensation insurance company will pay for all lost wages/treatment. If treatment is authorized, you will not have to pay out-of-pocket expenses.
As an example, let’s say that you work for Ronnie’s Ribs in West Palm Beach. Ronnie of Ronnie’s Ribs renewed the company’s Workers’ Compensation policy on January 1 of 2020. Any injury occurring on or after January 1, 2020 would be covered by the insurance policy, whether or not the company remains open. Remember though, that you must report the accident within 30 days of it occurring. If you don’t, generally, you won’t be able to move forward with a Florida Workers’ Compensation claim. Even though Ronnie shut down, you will still be able to file a Workers’ Compensation claim. Do not delay. The Florida Workers’ Compensation law has what’s called a “statute of limitations” that will preclude you from filing a claim within a statutory time period.
WHAT IF I’M FIRED?
If you’re fired due a work-related accident, fear not, you would still be covered under your former company’s insurance policy. We stress that you should call the experienced Florida Workers’ Compensation attorneys at LaBovick Law Group. You may be denied benefits in two scenarios.
- Lost Wages: If your employer tells the Florida Workers’ Compensation insurance carrier that they fired you for cause, the insurer may initially deny benefits. Lost wage benefits are not payable if an employee is terminated for cause, such as missing days of work unrelated to injury, excessive tardiness, or violating the employment handbook. We know that any type of denial is frustrating, especially in these trying times. Everyone needs a paycheck for necessities. We have the ability to fight for your lost wages. Do not delay, we can help you recoup your lost wages.
- Denial of Medical and Lost Wage Benefits: We generally see denials for all benefits when the employer tells the insurer the accident wasn’t reported or this was their first time hearing about the injury. Do not give up. These are matters we litigate on a daily basis. Give us a call so we can discuss the specific details of what happened. We are here to attempt to overturn the denial.
WHAT CAN I DO IF I’M FIRED BECAUSE I FILED A FLORIDA WORKERS’ COMPENSATION CLAIM?
If you’re fire because of filing a Workers’ Compensation claim, you may have a case. Consider the following:
- Florida Workers’ Compensation: On one hand you’d have a Florida Workers’ Compensation case/claim for the industrial accident. This claim addresses lost wages, rehabilitation benefits, medical benefits, etc. This claim begins as soon as you are injured in an accident at work.
- Retaliatory/Wrongful Termination: If your employer fires you after the accident, you may have a wrongful termination claim as well. You would be able to file both claims at the same time while receiving medical treatment. Moreover, whether fired for cause or in retaliation for filing a claim, your entitlement to Workers’ Compensation benefits remain. Simply, report the accident within thirty (30) days and you’ll be good to go. You will want to complete this employment action prior to settling the Workers’ Compensation claim. Why? You may waive rights to the wrongful termination case.
The experienced Florida Workers’ Compensation attorneys at LaBovick Law Group are your Warriors for Justice. We fight the Workers’ Compensation insurance company to ensure you receive all benefits due and owing under the Florida Workers’ Compensation law. We are here to ease your burden in these trying times. Give us a call today to discuss your industrial accident.