When it comes to hazardous jobs, what immediately comes to mind? Deadliest Catch and subzero ocean conditions? Police officers battling crime, firefighters battling blazes, or soldiers battling enemy forces? No doubt these are inherently risky jobs, but some of the most dangerous jobs for workplace accidents may surprise you – unless you work in them.
Do you work in a high-risk field? In an area that elevates your risk of injury or illness? What happens if you do suffer a workplace accident, regardless of your industry? Florida’s top Workers’ Compensation attorneys are here to answer your questions – and ensure you receive the compensation to which you are entitled.
Jeopardy on the Job
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, 5190 people were fatally injured at work in 2016, an increase of seven percent over the previous year.
The following are the top 10 most dangerous jobs in the United States:
- Logging workers.
- Fishers and fishing-related workers.
- Aircraft pilots and flight engineers.
- Recycling and trash collectors.
- Iron and steelworkers.
- Truck and sales drivers.
- Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural workers.
- First-line supervisors of construction trades/extraction workers.
- Grounds maintenance workers.
Transportation accidents made up 40 percent of all workplace fatalities, which is why, for example, sales is considered a dangerous profession. Other top causes were:
- Violence perpetrated by people or animals.
- Falls, slips, and trips.
- Contact with objects and equipment.
- Exposure to harmful substances or environments.
- Fires and explosions.
Other jobs that didn’t make the list still hold tremendous risk: correctional officers, for example, have an exceedingly high risk of non-fatal work injuries. Per 100,000 individuals, 544 receive a work-related injury serious enough to miss at least one day of work – four times the rate of workers in other professions.
Among the riskiest jobs in terms of non-fatal injuries and illnesses:
- Wood and product manufacturing workers.
- Air transportation workers (including cargo/freight handlers and mechanics).
- Nursing/residential care facility employees.
- Animal production.
Even if non-fatal, workplace-related injuries and illnesses can have significant physical, psychological, emotional, and financial ramifications. Loss of work, for even a short period, can be devastating to many workers and their families.
This is where Workers’ Compensation comes in.
What is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation, or workers’ comp, is a type of insurance that provides benefits for employees injured or made ill on the job. Each state has its own system, and the federal government oversees a program for federal workers.
These policies protect workers with “occupationally incurred injuries regardless of fault.” It covers three categories:
- Medical benefits (all necessary and authorized medical care related to your injury, as well as reimbursement for travel to and from doctor/pharmacy).
- Lost wages and other monetary compensation (e.g. partial or total disability).
- Death benefits (e.g funeral expenses, survivor compensation).
In Florida, most employers must carry workers’ compensation coverage. The rules:
- Non-construction employers with four or more full- or part-time employees.
- Construction employers with one or more full – or part-time employees.*
- Farm employers with more than five regular employees and/or 12 or more seasonal workers who are employed for 30 or more days.
- All state or local government agency employers.
*What about subcontractors? It falls on contractors to make sure that all of their subcontractors have Workers’ Compensation coverage (or a valid exemption) before they start work. If they don’t? Then in the eyes of the law, the subcontractors’ employees become employees of the contractor. If they’re hurt, the contractor is responsible.
Independent contractors are not covered by Workers’ Compensation laws. For example, if you provide freelance consulting services to a company, you are not classified as an “employee.” However, some unscrupulous businesses try to cut costs by misclassifying people as “independent contractors.”
If you feel this applies to you, please contact a Workers’ Compensation attorney at LaBovick Law Group. We can help clarify your employment status and ensure you receive the benefits you are owed.
Are you covered? Most likely. The majority of Florida’s workforce is protected by Workers’ Compensation. If you are not sure if your employer is required to carry this insurance, we can help you make sure.
Can I File a Workers’ Comp Claim?
If your employer carries (or should carry) this insurance and if you have a work-related injury or illness, then you can file a claim.
First, though, let’s clarify “work-related.” You don’t necessarily have to be on company property when you receive the injury or fall ill. For example, if conditions are unduly stressful at work and you suffer a heart attack at home, you may be entitled to compensation.
Another example: if you are injured off site on a work-related task (e.g. driving to conduct a sales presentation, meeting a construction client at an undeveloped property), you may also be eligible for benefits.
Remember: your employer is prohibited by law from retaliating against you for filing a Workers’ Compensation claim. If you have suffered negative effects – loss of hours, termination, etc. – as a result, contact us immediately.
Injured: What Happens Now?
If you have a work-related condition, report it to your employer as soon as possible. By law, you must report it within 30 days after the incident or onset of illness. After you report it, your employer has to inform their insurance company within seven days.
Within three days of that (or about 10 days after you reported your injury/illness), the insurance company sends a brochure to you. This will tell you how to apply, what benefits you may be entitled to, and your rights in this situation.
You can follow the instructions to file an application for benefits. Before you do, consider this:
If you file for Workers’ Compensation, you cannot sue your employer for this injury/illness.
A Workers’ Compensation claim essential provides them “immunity” from a lawsuit. In many cases, this is the most beneficial way to proceed for both employee and employer. However, if you feel that your injury was the result of negligence, then you may want to waive your right to make a Workers’ Comp claim and pursue a legal case.
If you are uncertain whether your injury or illness was the result of negligence or misconduct on the part of your employer, contact Florida’s most experienced Workers’ Comp attorneys.
Workers, from the construction industry to the retail sector, are the backbone of our economy. When they suffer workplace accidents, they deserve protection. LaBovick Law Group is committed to fighting for the rights of all employees.