When you are injured at work, physical pain is, unfortunately, usually only the beginning. An incident can throw your entire life into upheaval: How long will you be unable to work? How will you pay your bills and provide for yourself and your family? How will you cover medical bills, medications, and therapies? And how are you going to cope with all of this additional stress on top of an injury? Workers’ compensation in Florida is designed to provide answers to these questions. But another remains: what exactly does this state-mandated insurance cover, and what can you expect in terms of your workmans’ comp payouts?
Workers’ Compensation in Florida
If you have been injured at work, prepare yourself for a lot of facts and figures. Each state has its own laws, and in Florida, covered employees can receive temporary total disability benefits if they are unable to work. A by-the-numbers guide:
- Two-Thirds: Your workmans’ comp payouts are equal to two-thirds of your average weekly wage. Say you earn $1000 a week. Your payment would be $666.70. You can use the Temporary Total Disability Benefit Calculator on the Division of Workers’ Compensation website to calculate your payout.
- 80%: If your injury is considered “severe” (e.g., amputation, blindness, paralysis), your payout is higher. Instead of two-thirds, you will be paid 80% of your regular wages for the first six months. Again, if you earn $1000 a week, your payout would be $800.
- $917: Your benefits cannot exceed a maximum amount set by the State of Florida. For 2018, that amount is $917.
- 7: The first 7 days of your disability are not paid.
- 21: If you need more than 21 days off from work, the first 7 days will be paid retroactively.
- 104: This is the maximum period of time for which you can receive temporary total disability benefits.
Note: Your benefits will end when you reach maximum medical improvement. This is when your condition can’t be improved any further or you have reach a “treatment plateau” in terms of your healing.
What if you are still able to work in some capacity? You may qualify for temporary partial disability benefits if you have been medically cleared to return to your job but cannot earn at least 80% of your usual wages.
Now, let’s say again that your usual wage is $1000 a week, but after your injury, you earn $500. To figure out your benefits, take 80% of $1000, or $800, and subtract your current wages, $500. The difference is $300. You then get 80% of $300, or $240.
Permanent Total Disability
Some injuries are so severe that you cannot return to work. After you complete medical treatment or reach your 104 weeks, your doctor will evaluate you. If they determine that you have a permanent total disability, you can receive weekly payouts for life. Just like temporary total disability, permanent total disability pays out at two-thirds of your usual wages with the same $917 (as of 2018) maximum.
Injuries so severe that they automatically qualify you for benefits include extensive brain injury, paralysis, total or industrial blindness, second and third-degree burns, and amputation. If your injury/condition makes it impossible for you to work, even at sedentary tasks, you can receive benefits.
If your injury does not fall into the categories mentioned above, you may still be eligible for workers’ compensation in Florida. You will have to prove that your condition precludes you from working.
Permanent Impairment Benefits
You may have an injury that results in “permanent impairment,” but you are still able to work in some capacity. In this case, you can receive benefits. How much depends on your usual wages and how long depends on your impairment rating.
When you are evaluated by your doctor, they will assign you an impairment rating (from 1% to 75%). This is an assessment of the severity of your condition, and it is used to calculate your benefits. Typically, your payout will be 75% of your total temporary disability rate.
For easy math, let’s say that your total temporary disability benefits amounted to $600. Your permanent impairment benefits would be 75% of that, or $450. However, if you are able to work and earn as much as or more than you did pre-injury, then those benefits are reduced by half. Your payout would be $225.
As mentioned, the duration for which you will receive benefits depends on your impairment rating. The State of Florida uses the following formula:
- 1-10%: two weeks for every percentage point
- 11-15%: three weeks for every percentage point
- 16-20%: four weeks for every percentage point
- 21% and up: six weeks for every percentage point
If you have an impairment rating of 10%, for example, you get 20 weeks of benefits. The Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation has a useful Impairment Income Benefit Calculator so you can plug in your own impairment rating and wages to calculate your benefits and duration.
When you rely on these payments to make ends meet, consult with an attorney who is experienced in workers’ compensation in Florida. The LaBovick Law Group team can help you build a compelling case to ensure that you receive the benefits to which you are entitled.